At a glance
You’ve found the right home and signed on the dotted line. Now comes the hard part, right?
Not so fast. You can significantly reduce the stress of moving into a new home by carefully planning your move ahead of time. We’ve created the ultimate moving guide to make your move as painless as possible.
Bonus: Use our free printable moving checklist
Get the moving checklist
Your checklist for moving into a new home
8 weeks before you move
Your move into a new home will go more smoothly if you start the planning process two months ahead of time. From creating a moving binder to backing up your computer files, the goal is to get the ball rolling.
Let’s get started.
- Create a moving binder or set up a Google Doc where you can track everything. If you follow this first step, you’ll save a ton of time.
- Print out your moving checklists and put them in your moving binder. We’ve separated your moving tasks into eight chunks beginning two months before you move and finishing two weeks after you get to your new home.
- Determine what else goes in your moving binder. After you’ve added the checklists, you may want to create sections for things like documentation, receipts, and contact info.
- Organize documents. Keep track of your moving estimates, final bills, and other info you get from moving companies
- Identify all your appointments. We’re not referring to doctor visits as much as we are to-do lists for connecting your utilities, scheduling inspections, or enrolling your kids in a new school.
- Keep track of furniture measurements. The last thing you want when moving into your new home is to discover your couch won’t fit through the door. Measure all your big stuff to avoid a big mistake on moving day.
- Start packing your first box. This isn’t the time to get all your dishes into moving boxes but to put all your vital documents and valuables into one place. You’ll be able to identify any important info you don’t have, and you’ll never forget which box has all your critical items.
- Back up your files. Get your files and photos saved to the cloud or to an external hard drive. Your new home just won’t be the same if you lose pictures of your wedding or your baby’s first steps.
- Identify what kind of move you’re doing. For example, do you want to do everything yourself, have someone else do all the work, or find an option in between?
- Start researching moving companies. Check out customer reviews, get at least three quotes, and figure out your budget. You don’t have to decide on a company now, but you do want to research your options.
We’ve done some of the legwork for you and compared the best companies for different kinds of moves.
- Create a room-by-room inventory. It’s not as tough as you think, and it will prevent a massive headache if you have to file a claim for lost, stolen, or damaged goods.
- Request time off from work. Plan a three-day weekend, and be sure to let your boss, coworkers, and clients know you’ll be out of the office.
- Identify items that need special care. A lot of the moving process is pretty simple: get your boxes and do your packing. But don’t forget about some of the big, fragile, and oddly shaped items that require extra attention (e.g., pianos, sectional furniture, or snowglobe collections)—and possibly more of your moving budget.
- Do a deep clean. Not only will cleaning help you organize your stuff, but it can increase the odds of getting back your security deposit if you’re a renter—or make it easier to sell if you’re a homeowner.
6 weeks before you move
You’ve spent the last two weeks getting organized. Now it’s time to dive a little deeper. From collecting free moving boxes to taking pictures of your valuables, your goal is to narrow down which moving services and supplies you’ll need.
- Keep researching moving companies. Narrow your list down to three or four options.
Don’t make moving more expensive—and stressful—than it needs to be. We’ve put together a list of the best moving discounts and deals. If the company you’re thinking of hiring isn’t on here, that’s OK. Just check out their website or give them a call and ask if they have any discounts. It only takes a minute, and it could save you a lot of money.
- Start collecting free moving boxes. Call your local grocery and furniture stores to see if they have any free boxes. If you plan ahead, there’s a good chance you can get most of what you need without spending a dime.
- Label your boxes (e.g., “Kitchen: Dishes” or “Office: Books”).
- Take pictures of your valuable belongings. Not only will this save your bacon if you have to file a claim, but you can also use it to trim time off the unpacking process. For example, if you take pictures of your electronics, you can easily look up which wires go where when you put everything back together again.
- Do small repairs. You’ve looked at that outlet missing a faceplate for long enough. If you knock out some of the simple repairs before you leave, you can increase the odds of getting your security deposit back or selling your place. Plus, karma.
- Reserve a storage unit. If you need to use a storage unit because you shipped your items a few weeks in advance or have to wait for people to move out of your new home, take the opportunity to reserve space now. We’ve researched the best self-storage companies to get you started.
4 weeks before you move
You’re going to be sleeping in your new home one month from now. From choosing a moving company to filling your prescriptions, your goal for the next two weeks is to book your movers and gather all remaining supplies.
- Decide on a moving company. Finalize your budget, get your quotes, and pull the trigger. Remember to keep all your receipts and important dates in your moving binder. If you still have questions, we have a guide to finding the best moving company.
- Get moving coverage. With any luck, nothing will be broken or damaged by the time you get to your new home. Just in case, though, you may want to opt for moving coverage to protect your belongings.
- Make travel arrangements. If you’re driving the truck yourself, this can mean planning your actual travel route. If someone else is doing the driving, then this is the time to book your flight, hotel, or rental car.
- Buy packing supplies. You should have been able to collect quite a few free moving boxes. Now is the time to buy any boxes you still need as well as other moving supplies.
- Think about what your new home will look like. We know, it sounds a bit cheesy—but this is an opportunity to refresh and see if there’s anything else you should add to your moving checklist. If you need to buy drapes or decorations, this is the time to go shopping.
- Tune up your car. Make sure you’re up to date on insurance coverage, mileage checkups, and oil changes.
- Contact your internet, TV, and utility providers to arrange for services at your new home. After all, what good is your new entertainment room if you can’t sing along to contestants on The Voice because your TV doesn’t work?
- Fill your prescriptions. You don’t want to be stuck without meds at your new home if you have to change doctors or pharmacies. Set up an appointment to schedule your refills, and get a head start on finding a new doctor.
2 weeks before you move
T-minus two weeks. From forwarding your mail to packing boxes, the goal of the next week is to update your contact information and finalize moving day logistics.
- Change your address. You know you’re moving, but not everyone else does. Contact all the businesses that may need your new address (e.g., banks and insurance companies) and arrange to have your mail forwarded with the post office.
- Give everyone your new address. Okay, not everyone. But let family and close friends know where you’re moving—especially if you want them to help you unpack at your new home.
- Update or cancel your memberships and subscriptions. A gym membership is useless if you have to drive 100 miles to get there, and grooming will be difficult if you haven’t updated your Dollar Shave Club info.
- Confirm important moving dates with any companies you’ve booked services through. These should already be listed in your moving binder. Now you just need to verify everything is still scheduled as planned.
- Begin packing. You should have your inventory completed, your boxes collected and labeled, and your valuables identified. Now it’s time to do the actual packing. Packing boxes can feel like it takes forever.
We’ve put together several moving hacks to help you speed up the process.
- Plan your final meals. Remember, almost all your stuff will be in boxes—so bookmark your favorite takeout menus or grab a few frozen items from the grocery store. It’s also a good idea to leave a few essentials unpacked so you can still do a bit of home cooking.
- Get a babysitter, pet sitter, or both. Make arrangements to have your kids and pets entertained—or at least out of the way—while you’re loading the truck.
- Update your driver’s license, auto insurance, and car registration.
- Plan a moving party. Invite—or beg—your family and friends to help you move. (Party hats optional.)
1 week before you move
You’re down to the last seven days. From collecting all your keys to packing a 24-hour moving kit, your goal is to have everything ready for moving day.
- Disassemble big furniture items.
- Begin cleaning empty rooms. Even if you’re not working toward getting a security deposit back, you can make the place more attractive to prospective buyers.
- Pack your suitcases. Get everyone in the family a suitcase they can live out of for a few days. Pack essential items like pajamas, clean socks, and swimsuits for the hotel pool.
- Collect all keys and garage door openers. You’ll need to hand these over to the real estate agent, new owner, or next tenants when you move out.
- Schedule a final walk-through of your new home. Make sure you know how to find things like the water heater, circuit breakers, and water shut-off valves.
- Pack a 24-hour moving kit with other essentials besides your clothes. It’s a great idea to include some healthy snacks, flashlights, and phone chargers.
- Take pictures or video of your empty home. You want to be able to prove your house was in good condition when you moved out.
- Get cash. Have enough money on hand to tip your movers and deal with unexpected needs or emergencies.
- Clean your new home before moving in. It’ll save time and the hassle of working around boxes and furniture.
- Identify unpacking priorities. It’s pretty tough to unpack everything in a single day, so we recommend planning out how to tackle the project in chunks.
- Finish packing before moving day. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to try and do your packing on loading day. Make sure everything is ready before your movers or rental truck arrive.
On moving day
Moving day is finally here! You’re in good shape if you’ve kept a moving guide with a checklist. From waking up on time to getting sheets on your new bed, the goal is to move into your new home!
- Don’t hit snooze. This is definitely one day where you want to wake up on time.
- Clear a path. Make sure the people helping you move can get the boxes from your house to the moving truck without tripping over things.
- Check the paperwork. If you hired movers, make sure to ask for official paperwork from the movers to ensure they are who you think and that all the details of your move are what you expect. Don’t get caught in a moving scam!
- Be available to facilitate the loading process. Stick around to answer any questions your movers have. Be sure to provide your contact info and new address, especially if you need to leave while they work.
- Order pizza (or buy donuts). The best thing you can do for those helping you move is have everything packed when they arrive. The second best thing you can do is feed them while they help.
- Sign the movers’ inventory list. Be sure to ask the movers to give you a copy of their official inventory. This will be critical in case something “disappears” during transit and you have to file a claim.
- Conduct your final walk-through. This is your last chance to see if you forgot anything and to make sure the place is clean. You won’t be coming back.
- Tip your movers. It’s customary to tip your movers. We recommend 15%–20% of your total bill for large moves and 5%–10% for small moves. We also have specific dollar amount recommendations in our guide to tipping your movers. While movers prefer to be paid in cash, you can only claim a tax deduction if you tip via check or credit card.
After moving day
You’ve moved into your new home, but that doesn’t mean everything is done. From changing your locks to getting to know your neighbors, your goal now is to get the basics set up and start settling in.
- Go grocery shopping. You will have done a lot of eating out in the last day or two. Your stomach will thank you if you pick up some familiar food and put it in the fridge at your new home.
- Set up your beds and the bathroom. Make sure you know where to find your sheets, pillowcases, and toilet paper. These are a few items you really don’t want to be without on Day 1.
- Change your locks. You don’t know how many people had keys to your new home before you moved in.
- Set up home security. You made the effort to get all your stuff safely to your new place, now you want to keep it safe. This is also a great time to purchase or set up smart home devices.
- Check your utilities. Make sure everything is working, and research ways to save on your utility bills.
- Get to know your HOA. Make sure you understand policies about pets, lawn care, and monthly dues.
- Plan a housewarming party. You’ll host the party next week. For now, set a date and extend invitations to your neighbors.
- Leave a moving review. This is a great opportunity to thank your moving company for doing a good job or to alert other customers to hidden challenges you discovered.
- Send thank-you notes to everyone who helped.
2 weeks after you move
Only a few things left to do! Your goal is to be 100% moved in by the end of the week.
- Finish unpacking. You’ll feel incredible when you break down your last box!
- Make spare keys.
- Host a housewarming party. Reward yourself for a job well done, and get to know your new neighbors. Make a great impression on your neighbors by giving away housewarming party favors. We’ve put together a list of 14 affordable items that will dazzle your guests, including popcorn jars, pine cone fire starters, and, of course, M&Ms.
- Save your moving binder. If you ever need to move again, you’ve already got a roadmap for the process.
- Sit back and relax. You’ve finished everything on the moving checklist!
Move.org’s printable moving checklist
Use our printable checklist and make sure your move goes smoothly. A tiny bit of organization will save a ton of time because you aren’t surprised by any steps and have all the supplies you need. You’ve got this!