Anyone who has ever had to pack up their entire life into boxes already knows that the potential for stress and disorganization is sky high. Honestly, for a few weeks, it can get to feeling like you took on a second job.
But it doesn’t have to be so rough. What you really need is a lens to focus all that nervous energy, and a guide that spells out every step. This way your move can be more about excitement and anticipation, and less about headaches and time crunches.
We have compiled a moving checklist which keeps the chaos at bay. After years of helping countless families through their new beginnings, we’ve gathered a ton of useful information that we’d like to pass on to you. Find a spot in your house to pin this list, and check it regularly to make sure you are staying on track. Oh, and remember to take it with you when you move – your work isn’t quite over the moment you turn the key on your new home…
Download our moving checklist
8 Weeks Before
Ready to rock?
Time for a little homework! Begin getting estimates from moving companies, and keep printouts of every estimate you get. You will also want to take this time to do a little investigating on your new neighborhood. Is there anything that might affect the moving quote? For instance, are you moving into a three story walk-up?
____Create a “Moving Binder”
Set aside a binder, or file folder to keep track of any receipts, quotes, or other important documents that you will need to bring with you. You will need to access these more frequently than you may think.
____Haul out the Trash
Packing takes long enough as it is, so there’s no need to pack the things you don’t need. You might be amazed at how much “junk” you have accumulated over the years. Begin sorting and purging your belongings. Arrange for a donation service to pick up your usable items, and arrange for a bulk trash service to grab the rest, if necessary. If you have the energy, definitely plan a garage sale!
____Transfer School Records
Get in touch with your children’s schools, and arrange to have their records forwarded to their new school.
7 Weeks Before
Do NOT overlook the paperwork. Here’s what you need:
____Request Medical Records
Get in touch with your doctors, dentists, specialists, and even your vet. Request copies of your medical records from each practitioner. Keep in mind, medical documents can be HUGE files – so find out if you can have them transferred electronically, or if you need to pick up a physical copy. Ask for any referrals that you may need.
____Request Legal and Financial Records
Contact any lawyers, banks, or brokers that you may be doing business with presently, and request copies of all important records. Just like with the medical records, find out if you need to pick these up in person.
____Update Insurance Policies
It goes without saying that your homeowners or renters insurance policy is about to change, but your vehicle insurance might be changing as well. Find out if your rates need to be adjusted for your new address.
____Cancel or Transfer Those Memberships
If you belong to any health clubs, sports clubs, public swimming pools, or social clubs, they usually need six or more weeks notice in order to cancel your membership. Some memberships can be transferred, so be sure to inquire when you call.
6 Weeks Before
The pace picks up at this point:
____Eat It, Drink It, or Use It up
Did you know that there is a list of things which cannot be moved? While perishable food items, and many household cleaning supplies might not surprise you, other items such as motor oil, paint, and fire extinguishers might not have crossed your mind. Try to use up the things that you have, without buying more.
____Order Moving Supplies
Boxes, bubblewrap, packing tape, and markers should definitely be on your list. Consider getting a hold of some specialty moving items specifically meant to transfer your wardrobe, or your dishes.
The last thing you want is to be stuck with the sectional sofa on your front lawn, because it couldn’t fit through your new door. Wherever possible, measure room dimensions, doorways, and large furniture. Get this information to your moving company.
5 Weeks Before
How about we knuckle down?
____Begin Packing Nonessential Items
Five weeks out is a good time to begin boxing up the things you don’t need every day. Even the most diehard packrat will admit that there are some things they can live without for a while. Think along the lines of holiday decorations, or off-season wardrobes.
____Label Boxes Clearly
Using permanent marker, make sure you identify the contents of each box, and the room in your new home where they should be placed. You wouldn’t believe how much easier this makes unpacking, once you’re in the new place!
____Contact the Post Office
File your change of address request. You can also request that any mail forwarded to your new city be held, and then delivered after your move-in date.
4 Weeks Before
Yes, this is really happening now:
____Choose Your Moving Company
After gathering quotes, finalize your decision. Get in touch with the moving company of your choice, and begin going over specifics for your moving date. Keep any information that they send to you in your moving binder.
____Continue Packing Nonessential Items
Picture frames? Lawn darts? That one totally disorganized section of the attic? You can live without these for a few weeks. Remember to label everything clearly.
____Pack Valuables Separately
Items such as jewelry, passports, family heirlooms, family photo albums, and anything else in your home that you might label “Capital I- Irreplaceable” should not be packed with the things that are going on the moving truck. Plan to either transport these items personally, or arrange for a certified mail delivery if you feel comfortable doing that. Be sure to put the moving company quote among these valuables, so that it is easily within arms reach on moving day.
____Notify Important Businesses
Most businesses request about four weeks notice to execute a change of address for their customers. So now is the time you want to begin contacting your bank, any legal or brokerage firms you may have dealings with, and any magazines or newspapers to subscribe to. Household utilities should also be contacted at this time. Remember to get in touch with the electric company, oil or gas providers, land line or cell phone providers, the water company, trash and recycling companies, the cable or satellite company, as well as any local services you may have for your home (ex. Landscaping, snow removal, etc.)
3 Weeks Before
Here’s where we start rounding up the crew:
____Arrange for Your Pets to Travel
If you have questions about the safest way to get Fido and Fluffy to the new digs, get in contact with your vet. Make sure you have any required carriers or restraints that your pet may need. It is not possible for your pets to travel directly with you, ask your vet to refer you to a transportation service.
____Arrange for Your Plants to Travel
Houseplants also have special travel requirements. Call your local plant nursery, or else look up the details online, or at the library. Some plants do need special accommodation in order to be moved safely, so make any arrangements that might be necessary.
____Dispose of Hazardous Chemicals
Can’t stress this enough… any chemicals that are considered corrosive, flammable, or explosive cannot be moved with you. If you have substances around your house that you have not used up, get in contact with your township, or local waste removal service to find out how to dispose of them properly. Some areas will provide hazardous material collections.
____Take Your Car to the Shop
Nothing puts a damper on the new home excitement quite like a tire blowout. Make sure that your tires, brakes, windshield wipers, and everything else are in good working order for the long drive. Check that you are up to date with your oil changes or other regular maintenance, and top off all fluids.
Two Weeks Before
Pay attention now. It’s getting serious:
____Make Arrangements at Work
If you need to request time off from work (and you probably do), talk to your manager, or the HR department to get everything is in order ahead of time.
____Empty Your Safe Deposit Box
Remember those priceless things you left in the bank? Don’t leave without them! If you have anything stored in a safe deposit box at your local bank, be sure to clean it all out. Put this with the valuable items that you will be transporting personally on moving day. Call ahead to your new local bank to let them know that you will need a safe deposit box when you get there.
____Contact Government Offices
Two weeks before your move is a good time to get in touch with government offices to alert them to your address change. Call or email local tax assessors, the DMV, federal tax Bureau, Social Security, and the Veterans Administration if applicable.
____Confirm Parking Arrangements for the Moving Company
you are about to have a gigantic moving trailer, or container right out front of your house. Find out if there any special permits required, or any special arrangements you may need to make Don’t forget to do this for both locations – your current residence, and your new home.
____Plan Meals to Use up Your Food
Time to get creative with the cooking. Plan as many meals as possible with the food you already have in the house (Your family will stop whining eventually, promise). This will reduce the amount of food wasted, and also save you some of the money you might otherwise spend on takeout.
____Call the Movers
Call the moving company to confirm your arrangements. Confirm the arrival and (estimated) departure times. Plan your day around the schedule.
____Pick up The Packing Pace
At two weeks out, it’s time to get a little more serious about your packing. Any items that you do not use on a daily basis can likely be boxed up for two weeks.
One Week Before
Here we go:
____Get Your Medications in Order
If you need any prescriptions refilled, be sure to do that now. OTC medications too – be sure that those remain accessible.
Eventually, all of your belongings will be in boxes. Be sure that you keep a suitcase aside for each member of your family with enough essentials to get them through the move.
____Finalize Moving Company Payment
Call your moving company to finalize payment details, whether you are paying by cashier’s check, money order, or credit card. Add any necessary documentation to your moving file. (If you are wondering about gratuity for the movers, 10 to 15% of the moving bill is considered an appropriate tip.)
____Gather Info for New Residents
Anything pertinent your new residents should know? Make a file folder for them.
____Clean and Make Repairs to the New Place
Here’s the best part:
This might be the only time you see this house empty. Take advantage. If it’s possible to access your new home a little early, do a deep clean, and check for anything that needs repairs or small remodel.
Two Days Before (We’re in the home stretch!)
____Drain Gasoline and Oil from Lawn Equipment
____Empty and Defrost the Freezer
Moving Day (Woohoo!)
Make sure that all of the moving details are in order, and pay especially close attention to the DOT number printed on the side of the truck matches up with your paperwork.
Make sure that carpets, door, and furniture protectors are being used, and that everything is being loaded with care.
____Leave a Forwarding Address
Leave a note for the new residents, letting them know where to forward any stray mail that shows up for you.
____One Last Check
Double check all cabinets, drawers and closets to make sure nothing is being left behind. (It’s okay to get misty-eyed for this part.)
___Sign the “Bill of Landing”
Keep a copy!
At The New Place
The fun really begins now:
Yep. Now you get to do it all in reverse! Although anyone will tell you that unpacking is 100 times more fun than packing.
____Put Your Feet Up
Order takeout, have a glass of wine, and toast your new home!
Moving is, if nothing else, an adventure. By using this printable moving checklist, you can keep that adventure under control, and always know what to expect. Check out our moving checklist pdf that we’ve assembled after years of experience in the business. We’ve seen families make every mistake possible, and we want to help you avoid them all.