Realizing you have a move on your hands is when most people push panic buttons, desperately jotting down things they have to get done on whatever scrap of paper or post-its they can find. And of course, this isn’t an exaggerated reaction. Moving homes is a challenging situation to navigate and can get overbearing mentally, physically and financially as well. However, running around like headless chickens gets nothing done in a calm  manner and only paves the way for more chaos as moving day comes closer. This is when a moving checklist comes in.

A timeline-based moving checklist is the best way for you to approach your move, as it enforces organization and levels out all the stress. If you’re already 2 months away from your moving date, you’re already a little late. But even this isn’t reason to panic as getting organized is better late than never. Read on for the most comprehensive moving checklist, and slowly see the 8 weeks prior to your move become the most systematic few weeks of your life.

Bonus: Use our free printable moving checklist


Why Is A Moving Checklist Important?

  • Taking the time to sit and write out a moving checklist helps you cover every single task you’ll need to complete in the weeks leading up to your move and the weeks beyond.
  • If you suddenly remember something, you can always calculate how urgent or time-consuming it is to do and accordingly fit it into the schedule without worrying about having missed it.
  • Moving houses involves a lot of time-bound tasks, like applying for address changes, heading to the DMV of your new neighborhood, and booking a date with the movers. It is important to slot these into a timeline as there could be consequences and penalty fees involved if you delay.
  • A moving checklist helps you prioritize tasks, something that is of the essence when packing and moving out.
  • Using the timeline helps you not only to plan your move, but to organize the rest of your plans around the move. You don’t want to be desperately unpacking in a bid to find the iron and your formal clothes, the day before you’re scheduled to continue working.

Overall, a moving checklist helps to greatly reduce the stress-load that you will face when moving houses. Your moving checklist should ideally be kicked into action 8 weeks before your move. This gives you enough time to get everything done, plus leaves you a little buffer space in case certain things get delayed.

See also: Best Moving Hacks


8 Weeks Before The Move

  1. Decide On The Kind Of Move You Will Have: Do you have plenty of time and loads of friends to help? You can opt for a DIY move. Don’t have the time to dedicate but want to avoid spending too much? Opt for a portable storage container rental, or partial or no packing services. Need someone to handle everything for you? Go for a full service move. This will help you finalize your budget.
  2. Chalk up a budget: Deciding what your moving budget is should be one of the first things you do. Your budget should include the cost of packing supplies (exclude this if you plan on hiring full service movers), the cost of hiring a mover and transportation (if you’re doing a DIY move).
  3. Look Up Movers: Finalizing on movers isn’t meant to be a quick process, and if it is, you’re doing it wrong. Going with the first moving company you speak to is a rookie move, and prevents you from getting the full benefit of your price. Plus, you’re better off with a moving company that specializes in your type of move, whether it’s local, national, military or apartment. Do adequate research, narrow down to 3 to 4 top movers, and contact them for quote estimates.
  4. Inform Your Landlord: Go over the terms of your lease again and look for the notice period that is required, alongside any other conditions you have to fulfill when ending your lease. Even if you have a while before you officially have to inform the landlord, just give them a head’s-up nonetheless.
  5. Informing Your Employers: Several organizations have a 2 month notice period instead of 1, in which case you ought to be drafting that resignation letter.
  6. Arrangements For Your Spouse And Kids: If you’re an entire family making the move, your spouse will need a new job and the kids will need a new school in your new neighborhood. Start looking them up on the internet.
  7. Hunt For A Roommate: If you’re looking for a roommate to split the bills with, now’s when you should start looking. This way you can get this done alongside all the other things happening, and not rush it as a last minute effort.
  8. Start The Inventory: Walk around the house to gauge how much there is to pack, and list down items that are too old, broken, worn out or simply not worth it to pack. These can either be donated, be recycled or thrown out in the trash.
  9. Contact Charities: There are a number of charities that accept donations in the form of furniture, clothes, household items and so on. Look them up, read about them in our blogs, and begin the contact process so you can finalize a pick-up or drop-off date.
  10. Create Online Resources: An easy way to do a quick inventory is to click pictures. Clicking photos of bookshelves or drawers also serves as a reference for when you want to arrange things in exactly the same way once you’re in the new house. However, so many pictures on your phone will clog it up. Make sure you create online folders to save all these photos in. Everyday till the day when you move, take 10 minutes each evening to upload and sort whatever photos are there so you maintain some clarity about them.
  11. Jot Down A Packing List: We know, too many lists will just get chaotic. But a packing list helps you when you’re busy running around trying to pack things up into the right boxes, and label the boxes with the right rooms.

6 Weeks Before The Move

  1. Finalize Your Mover: If you haven’t yet, it’s time to seal the deal with your preferred moving company.
  2. Dimensions: Measure the dimensions of your elevator to make sure you know just what will fit and what won’t. Also make a trip to your new house and measure the dimensions there; not just of the elevator, but also of your front door and other room entrances. Back home, measure all your big, bulky furniture. This helps avoid any blunders on moving day, helping you plan for storage if you need to.
  3. Finalize A Date For The Move: Narrow down on what will be your moving day and coordinate with your movers about this. Decide between a weekday or the weekend according to your schedule and what the movers recommend. A weekday move during the off-season is normally the cheapest of all the moves.
  4. Gather Your Moving Supplies: Whether it’s buying boxes or looking for free ones, spending a day at Walmart or depending on friends and family to help you keep those costs down, now is when you should start to gather your moving supplies.
  5. Rent A Moving Truck: DIY move? Contact a truck rental company to discuss what they have available and book a truck, reserving it for your moving date.
  6. Notify The School: Now is when you should notify your child’s school and begin the enrollment process. Check for a copy of your child’s progress reports or any other documents you’ll need from their previous school.
  7. Medical Records: Gather the medical records of you and your family members. It also makes sense to look up healthcare providers and GPs in your new neighborhood.
  8. Pet Care: Take your furry or feathered friends for a trip to the vet, and get a copy of their medical records if any. Also inform the vet of the move and ask for any tips or recommendations to make the sudden changes a little easier on them, especially if your transit journey is a long one. Look up vets in your new location, and ask your current vet for recommendations.
  9. Car Care: Get your car fully serviced, as you don’t want a breakdown or a flat tyre mid-move. Look into the process of registering your car at the DMV if you’re moving into a new county or state. Check to see if your auto insurance providers do business in the new location.
  10. Label Organization: All your boxes will be labelled on moving day (and there isn’t a way around this). This is to help the movers unload the right boxes into the right rooms, saving you the hassle of lugging around half-opened boxes into their proper rooms. Start to do this in this week, using numbers or color codes and a permanent marker on the boxes.

4 Weeks Before The Move

  1. Start Emptying The Fridge: Unless you want to have a fridge-load of food going to waste, it’s a good time to start finishing off the things in the fridge.
  2. Get Your Permissions In Place: If you live in an apartment complex, you’re going to need permission to reserve the elevator for the movers on the day of your move. Additionally, you’ll need to organise a parking space for the moving truck. Make sure you get all these details in place so your moving day goes smoothly.
  3. Start To Pack: Starting early always makes your life so much easier later on. We recommend starting with the least used things in the house like off-season clothes and equipment, and rooms like the garage and attic. Make your way through those to the living room, the bedrooms and then the kitchen. Remember to keep labelling as you pack!
  4. Donate, Dump And Recycle: This week is when all your donations go off to a charity, and the junk removal companies come to send off things to the recycling center and the trash.
  5. Forbidden And Hazardous Items: Every moving company has a list of items they will not transport. This includes things that are flammable, certain types of paints, fertilizers, etc. Contact your moving company about this and start to dispose of the things that you can’t carry with you.
  6. Cancel Subscriptions: Contact all the places where you have a membership, whether it’s at the gym or at the neighborhood Bingo club and cancel your membership. You can also ask if they can transfer your membership if they have an outlet in your new location.
  7. Confirm Details With The Movers: With a month to your move, call up your move coordinator and confirm the date, timing and location. Inform them about additional details like elevator use and parking for the truck.
  8. Shipping Your Vehicle: While there are a decent number of moving companies that arrange for shipping your vehicle to your new location, not all of them do. Contact a car shipping service; with a month to go, you want to finalize bigger tasks like this one.
  9. Contact Family And Friends: If your family and friends don’t yet know of the move, go ahead and tell them. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from them, and definitely ask and arrange for help if you’re doing a DIY move.
  10. Childcare: Don’t forget about how overbearing a move can be on children while you’re getting things done. Your kids are about to be exposed to a load of chaos amidst losing a lot of the familiarity. Having to start anew in their new home won’t be easy on them. Explain to them the process they’re going through, and make it fun for them by letting them pack their own toys and clothes while you supervise. Also make arrangements for them to spend moving day at a friend or relative’s place.
  11. Keep Important Documents Ready: You’ve already got your medical history, so keep it together with all the other important documents. These could be financial, legal or even dental; whatever it is, keep it all neatly filed in sturdy folders. These will travel in a backpack that will be on you at all times on moving day.
  12. Address Change: Notify the USPS of your address change via their simple and hassle-free process on their website. You even get to choose the date from which you want your mail to be forwarded to your new address.

2 Weeks Before The Move

  1. Farewell Dinner: Don’t put off that farewell plan for later, as the closer moving day creeps, the busier you’re going to get.
  2. Utilities: Disconnect your internet and cable services, and make arrangements for all other utilities to either get cancelled or transferred.
  3. Check The Dry Cleaners: Make sure you have nothing lying at the dry cleaners, laundry, repair stores or any other store that is waiting to be picked up. There’s a good chance you’ll forget all about it as your mind is occupied with more important tasks. Also pay off any unpaid parking tickets.
  4. Food Preparations: While emptying out your refrigerator, also remember that you need two weeks’ worth of food to live off of till moving day. Store the packed food in the freezer, and don’t worry about running out as you can always order takeout for the last few days so you have no food left in the fridge.
  5. Emergency List: Look up and note down numbers of electricians, plumbers, and other essential service providers. Keep this list handy. Also make sure you have the numbers of service providers in your new location so you have a number to dial if something goes wrong during your first week there.
  6. The ‘Essentials’: You need to have a bag or a small box of essential items all packed up. This should include things you need for your first few days in the new house, such as a toothbrush, a change of clothes, a roll of toilet paper and some money. This will travel with you on moving day, and serves as backup in the event that your shipment gets delayed. You don’t want to be left stranded with nothing when beginning anew in the new house, so make sure your Essentials are all packed up.

1 Week Before The Move

  1. Disassemble Large Furniture: Disassembling larger pieces of furniture like desks and beds make it easier on you and the movers on moving day. Keep in mind that you can always hire for help if you’re already worn down by the work. Make sure you get adequate help instead of burning out before moving day.
  2. Clean Your House: Make sure you leave your house clean, and not a dusty mess. You can also hire for cleaning services, many of which are offered by moving companies themselves.
  3. Walkthrough Inspection With The Landlord: Make sure your house is all cleaned up and prepped for the final walkthrough with your landlord. The cleaner and neater you’ve kept the house, the higher the chances of getting back your security deposit in full.
  4. Withdraw Money: It is always a good idea to keep some hard cash on hand for moving day. The worst thing would be running around looking for an ATM while disgruntled movers wait for their payment.

1 Day Before The Move

  1. Double Check The Essentials: Recheck your suitcase of essentials for your first few days, and keep it alongside the bag of important documents and the money.
  2. Get Rid Of Leftover Packing Supplies: Now that everything is packed up, there’s bound to be packing material lying around the house. If it’s just scraps and pieces, chuck it all out. If it’s a significant amount, keep it at someone’s place to save it up for a later move or give it away.
  3. Ring The Movers: Give your move coordinator a call to remind them about the move and make sure everything is in place.

Moving Day

  1. Be Ready On Time: You have to be ready for the movers before they arrive, in order to properly direct them around the house and instruct them about the boxes. Delaying will only lead to a scatter-brained start to the day.
  2. The Final Sweep: Walk through the house one last time to check that the things that need to be moved out are gone, and that everything else is in place. This includes checking every shelf, cabinet and drawer. You never know what small thing could slip your attention.
  3. Keep Hydrating: You may just get exhausted by the time half the day is up, or run on adrenaline. Either way, your body needs the energy and hydration. Keep some water around, or better yet, keep refuelling with electrolytes.

The Week After Moving Day

  1. Unpacking: When unpacking, remember to look at the labels on your boxes and tick things off your packing inventory. Open the labelled, important boxes first then work your way backwards.
  2. Get A DMV Change Of Address: Depending on which county or state you’re in, you’ll have a limited period to change your address and get your vehicle registered at the DMV.
  3. Childcare: Get to doing some basic child-proofing in at least one room of the house so your toddler can run around and keep themselves occupied in that one space while you run around unpacking.
  4. Security And Alarms: Change the locks to your house, and install a new security system to be as safe as possible in your new home.
  5. Neighbors And The Neighborhood: Once you’re a little settled in, get to know the neighbors. You can even invite them in for a small snack with some boxes serving as chairs and a table. Take walks around your neighborhood to establish familiarity with the area.
  6. Utilities: Make sure all your utilities are set up and in place so that unpacking and settling in becomes a comfortable process. Following this timeline is one of the surefire ways to have a move that is as hassle-free as possible. Remember, just like your wedding day, no move is perfect and there’s bound to be obstacles cropping up. But if you retain a calm mind, you can power through in a way that no list can enable you to.

Moving Astute’s Printable Moving Checklist

Using our free printable moving checklist and to-do list you can make sure that your relocation is going smoothly! Download the checklist by clicking the button below:

PRINTABLE MOVING CHECKLIST