Buying & Selling

The Complete Moving Checklist

Let’s be honest about this: Moving is stressful and a chore. Every time you do it, it takes more time, more money and more effort than you remember it taking the last time around – and there’s always something that gets overlooked or forgotten.

You can, however, do things that will make the whole process a lot easier. The more organized you are from the start, the less likely you’ll encounter any serious problems on your actual moving day. With that in mind, here’s the only moving checklist you’ll ever need.

Two Months Before the Move

There’s a lot of planning involved in a successful moving experience, and you need to start earlier than most people realize. Roughly two months before your move (or earlier, if you’re ready) you should:

☑️ Create a Moving Folder: Moving comes with a lot of paperwork, and you need one organized spot for it all. A physical binder or folder is the easiest way to keep everything together, such as estimates from movers, receipts, final bills and reminder notes. You probably also need to create an electronic file, as well, to capture any digital receipts or estimates you may need later.

☑️ Schedule the Important Appointments: These can vary depending on your situation, like the structure of your family and how far you’re moving, but you need to get some important dates on the calendar. This includes things like switching the utilities on at the new place, making sure that the kids are enrolled in their new school, getting a kennel date for your pets (to keep them safe while you move) and asking for a day or two off work to facilitate your move.

☑️ Book Your Movers: Unless you’re planning on doing all of the work yourself, it’s wisest to book your movers early – especially if you’re moving during the peak of spring or summer. Get several estimates, and make sure you understand exactly what is included in each service. 

☑️Start the Pre-Packing Purge: You’re just about to find out just how much stuff you have that you don’t really want. Make a schedule that takes you room to room, closet to closet, and get rid of anything you don’t want to pack, move and unpack again. Donate, sell or toss the rest.

☑️ Buy Packing Materials: As soon as you have cleared your dwelling of everything you don’t want to take with you, it’s time to load up on boxes, bubble wrap, tape and markers.

Pro tip: While you’re picking up other packing materials, pick up a few spare laundry baskets. These can be used to “pack” things that you don’t want to go into the moving truck, like precious mementos, valuables and medications that you don’t trust anybody else to carry. Since the laundry baskets are open, they won’t get buried among other boxes and lost.

One Month Before the Move

This is when the real action starts happening. Pretty much all your spare time needs to be devoted to moving from this point forward as you:

☑️ Pack the Least-Used Items First: If you usually cook with the same two pans, put the rest in boxes. Same with your out-of-season clothing and family photos. Anything that you haven’t used in the last two weeks can go into a box right away. Make sure you label each box so that you know where it goes in your new place and what’s in it.

☑️ Establish a Designated Holding Area: It can be overwhelming to try to thread your way through boxes in every room, and harder to tell what still needs to be done when there’s chaos everywhere you look – so don’t let that happen. Pick a spot in your house that you can pack fairly quickly (dining rooms are great for this) and then start neatly stacking your boxes there.

☑️ Get Takeout Menus for Both Places: This may sound silly, but trust us: You won’t have time to do any cooking for a few days before and after your move, so plan on getting delivery or carryout when things get busy.

☑️ Start a Carry-All Bag: Once you get to your new home, you don’t want to dig through boxes to look for toothpaste, soap and shampoo – and you don’t want to have to buy new socks until you find the ones you already own. Start collecting all the “essential items” that you need for day-to-day life in a carry-all bag or two that you can simply tuck into your car when the big day comes.

The Week of the Move

You’re in the home stretch – but there’s still a ton to do! With that in mind:

☑️ Finish Packing: Ideally, you should be able to get up the morning of the move, load your carry-alls, a couple of laundry baskets and your plants into the car and let the movers handle the rest. It’s better to live out of a suitcase or bag for a few days than to still be packing when the movers get there. If you don’t use it every single day, put it in a box.

☑️ Do a Deep Clean: Whether you sold your home or are leaving a rental, you want to give the place one last wipe-down before you go. Dust the walls, run the vacuum, sweep the floor and wipe down counters and sinks. Empty the fridge and defrost the freezer.

☑️ Change Your Address: Go online and start updating your address with your bank, your physician, your pharmacy, the kids’ schools and your human resources department. Don’t forget to submit a change-of-address form to the post office, as well – and spend a little time updating your information on services you regularly use, like Amazon Prime. That will save you the frustration of a lot of misdirected mail and packages.

That’s it! Those are the keys to a safe and happy move – and, while it’s still a pain, it’s definitely nothing insurmountable. Now, you can take as much time as you want to settle into your new home and put your personalized stamp on your surroundings!