You’ve found the right home, you’ve signed on the dotted line, and now comes the hard part, right?
Actually, if you organize well, then you’ve already put the stressful stuff behind you. This checklist will help you to get and stay organized so the move will be as smooth as possible.
Read this entire checklist thoroughly before you start, to give you an idea of what to expect. Then be sure to customize it as needed to your personal situation. Stick to the list, and you’ll be pleased at how stress-free a move can actually be.
Bonus: We’ve created a free printable version of this moving checklist.
Your checklist for moving into a new house
Two months before you move
1. Create a moving binder
A moving binder will be invaluable as you get organized for your move. The more organized your move, the less stressful it will be. Promise.
2. Start packing your first box
Keep your vital documents and small valuables here, separate from other household items.
This will help you keep the most important things safe throughout the process, and it will help you identify any missing documents early.
If you haven’t gone out to grab moving supplies yet, we’ve got recommendations for a few cheap moving boxes.
3. Back up your files
Before packing up your computer in the coming weeks, back up your files and photos on a hard drive or on the cloud. Your files will probably be fine, but it’s not a risk worth taking.
This Seagate one-terabyte external hard drive on Amazon has more than enough space for files, photos, and most anything else you might want to consider copying over. Keep the hard drive with all your back up files in the same box you packed your vital documents and valuables in.
4. Start researching moving companies
If you’re starting at square one, it’s time to think about what type of mover you need (or can afford—we’re not judging, moving is expensive!).
If you already know what type of moving services best fit your situation, it’s time to do some research. Look for moving company reviews, reach out to movers for quotes and estimates, and get familiar with the different types of moving insurance.
We’ve done some of the research legwork for you. Check out our best of lists to see which moving companies deserve a second look.
5. Create a room-by-room inventory
Putting together a home inventory isn’t as tough as you think, and an inventory can be a huge help if you have to file a claim for lost, stolen, or damaged goods.
To top that off, creating a list of all of your possessions can be beneficial once your move is all said and done. It provides documentation for insurance companies in the case your home is ever robbed—and on the brighter side it can give you a better idea of the value of your belongings.
6. Sell or donate what you don’t need
If you’re looking for quick cash, a garage sale or online resale sites are probably your best bet. But you’ll be lucky if you get close to what you originally paid if you decide to host a yard sale or post items on eBay.
Another option is to donate your items. Along with good vibes and knowing that you’ve helped people in need, donations can earn you deductions on your taxes. Just make sure you make a list of all your donated items and their value, then get a donation receipt from the charity you choose.
If you still end up with items you no longer want or need even after plastering the neighborhood with garage sale signs, you might consider a junk removal service. Typically these companies will pick up your unwanted items and haul them away—and even help you lug that old refrigerator that’s on its last leg down the two flights of stairs from your apartment.
One month before you move
1. Decide on a moving company
Whether you’re using movers or renting a truck, it’s time to either sign the contract or make the reservation.
Keep your contract and other relevant documents in your moving binder. You never know when you might need to refer to them again in the future.
2. Buy packing supplies
Don’t take shortcuts here. Having enough of the right packing supplies can make your move much easier.
If you’re aiming to save money with a DIY move, you might still consider getting some help packing and loading. Services like Hire A Helper and TaskRabbit let you book help for tasks like assembling all your IKEA furniture or lifting your 100-pound metal filing cabinet.
You should also look into renting or buying any equipment you’ll need to get your stuff from your home to the moving truck or pod. If you’re not sure what’s worth shelling out some greenbacks for versus what you can rent and return later, we’ve got some tips in our guide to moving equipment.
3. Plan your new home
Whether you’ve already claimed your new space or are still on the hunt, one way to relieve stress is to get excited about planning out how your home will look.
Look for inspiration on Pinterest, check out local and online shops, watch a few episodes of Fixer Upper, and recruit your children to help you plan their rooms too.
Be sure to measure your furniture and grab room dimensions if you can to make sure everything you own will fit the way you want it to.
4. Care for your car
Whether you’re driving or shipping your vehicle, a long-distance road trip or a new climate are both good reasons to check with your mechanic if there are any tune-ups or changes to make before you head out.
Be sure your auto insurance is up to date too—this includes letting your insurance company know your new address or home state.
5. Contact your internet, TV, and utilities providers
Set your disconnect date for internet, TV, gas, electric, water, sewer, and any other utilities you might currently use. This is also a good time to research what options you have for internet and TV providers in your new city.
Some providers are able to transfer your service to your new home—this may be the perfect time to negotiate a lower bill too. Otherwise, sites like Movearoo and HighSpeedInternet.com can show you what internet and TV options you have, then help you narrow them down to your best choice.
6. Fill prescriptions
Be sure you’ll have enough to get you to your destination—with extra time to search for a new doctor and pharmacy.
Now is also a good time to ask for copies of your family’s medical records—especially immunizations.
7. Make travel arrangements
If you won’t be driving a moving truck, now’s the time to book your flight, hotel, or rental car. If you’re driving long-distance, plan your route and stops along the way. (And don’t forget to sightsee if you have the time.)
Start planning games and activities to keep your kiddos entertained during a long drive or flight. And if you’re unsure of how to talk to them about the move, there are plenty of tips for helping kids adjust during a move out there.
Furry family members probably need special consideration too. Make sure you designate a safe space for your pet—especially if you have movers packing up your stuff and carrying it out to the truck. Curious cats and dogs have been known to slip out of open doors or hide in boxes.
Traveling with pets can be quite the challenge too. If you’re flying, be sure to research your airline’s requirements for safe pet travel and kennel sizes. If you’re driving, make sure your pet is kept safe with a travel kennel or carrier in the back seat and that you know where vets and pet-friendly hotels are along your route.
Moving with a cat?
Moving with a cat?
Moving is stressful for everyone involved, and since cats tend to stress out over even slight changes in routine, it can be especially overwhelming for them. Check out our tips on how to move with cats to keep your furry feline comfortable and happy.
Two weeks before your moving date
1. Change your address
Let the post office, your insurance provider, and your bank know about your new address. Cancel or redirect scheduled deliveries and subscriptions, and make sure any important documents, such as tax forms, will be sent to the right location in the future.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to let friends and family know you’ve moved too.
2. Confirm important dates
Make sure these plus any other important dates are marked on your calendar:
- Move out and move in
- Moving company pickup and delivery, or truck rental and return
- Storage unit lease beginning and end
- Internet and TV installation appointments
3. Begin packing
It’s a good idea to create a packing list and keep it in your moving binder. You’ll also want to schedule enough time to have the packing done at least two days before your move date so you don’t feel rushed right at the last moment.
Check online for packing tips and guides if you’re going the DIY route. And don’t forget to ask friends and family for help!
Pack the right way
One week before moving
1. Begin cleaning empty rooms
Even if you’re not working to get a security deposit back, you should do a thorough clean to leave your old home in the best shape to entice buyers.
2. Pack suitcases
Have a suitcase ready for everyone in the family to live out of for a few days as you complete packing everything in the house. Make sure any essential items are tucked inside, like pajamas, clean socks, and swimsuits for the hotel pool.
3. Collect all keys and garage door openers
They’ll need to be handed over to the real estate agent, new owners, or next tenants. If your home comes with multiple keys for different doors, it’s helpful to label them in some way for the next residents.
4. Schedule a final walkthrough of your new home
Take some time with the real estate agent or the builder to make sure you know the locations of important items throughout the house. These include:
- Water shut-off valves
- Circuit breakers
- Gas meter and gas shut-off valve
- Attic and sewer access
- Property line
- Water heater
On top of that, make sure that any agreed-upon maintenance has been performed, like paint touch-ups, replacing burnt-out light bulbs, replacing smoke alarms, and more. If you’re moving long-distance and this walkthrough isn’t possible ahead of your move-in date, try to schedule it on moving day before the unloading is scheduled to start.
Moving day checklist
1. Check the truck
If you hired movers, check the USDOT number on the side of the truck. It should match the number on the contract you signed. Avoid those moving scams!
2. Have info ready for your movers
Get your contact information, the address of your new place, and maps for getting there ready to hand over to your movers.
3. Sign the movers’ inventory list
Make sure the movers give you a copy of their inventory list. This record of what they’re moving ensures that nothing “disappears” en route and will be a vital piece of information if you have to file a claim.
3. Conduct your final walkthrough
Your landlord or your home’s new owners expect to find everything in a certain condition. Double-check every room to make sure no damage occurred during the loading process—and make sure nothing’s been left behind.
2. Check your utilities
Water, lights, plumbing: make sure it’s all working properly. If not, give your utility company a call to make sure your service is turned on.
And if you confirm your service is on but you still can’t get those essential services to work, now’s the time to hop on Yelp or another reviews site to find a local company that’s convenient.
3. Change the locks, if possible
If you’re not the first owner, then you don’t know how many keys to the home are floating around out there. We don’t mean to scare you, but it’s always a good idea to chip in for new locks. (And maybe even upgrade to a smart lock, like this Kwikset electronic keypad from Amazon.)
4. Get to know your HOA
Love them or hate them, HOAs are a reality for many homeowners. Make sure you know your HOA’s dues, pet policies, parking policies, and rules around lawn care, exterior home customization, and more.
More importantly, find out what your HOA can do for you. In certain circumstances, like neighbor disputes, an HOA can become a helpful mediator or even advocate.
5. Plan your housewarming party
Reward yourself! This is a good way to start getting to know your neighbors, which is essential and also fun.
You don’t have to host a huge shindig, and there are budget-friendly housewarming ideas galore on Pinterest and other sites.