Young family surrounded by moving boxes.

Plan Ahead: The Complete Moving Checklist

Victoria Araj7-minute read

October 23, 2020

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Moving can be stressful. Creating a game plan prior to your move can help make the process a little bit easier.

We’ll show you a few of the major tasks you need to handle before the big day arrives. We’ll also share a timeline of when you should handle each task so you aren’t left scrambling the night before your move.

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2 Months Before Your Moving Date

Two months before your move, you still have plenty of time to get your high-level chores in order. At this point, focus on the big-picture tasks.

Decide how you want to move, what to get rid of and what you want to bring to your new home.

Say Goodbye To Extra Stuff

The key to a low-stress move is to travel as lightly as possible. Two months before your moving date, think about what you need and what you want to bring with you. There’s nothing worse than moving stuff only for it to sit in storage because you didn't need it in the first place. 

If you’ve ever cleared out your closet, then you know that this is easier said than done. Knuckle down and make the hard choices. Donate old clothing, furniture, books and appliances to your local thrift store to make your move easier.

Try to earn some quick cash with a garage sale, or sell items online through Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or another digital marketplace. 

Make Lists And Organize

Now that you’ve cut out the chaff, start organizing the things you want to bring with you. Create a list of everything you’re going to pack and organize it by room.

Sorting out everything you plan on moving by room will make it easier for boxes to end up in the right place. This makes for quick and easy unpacking.

The more organized you are, the less you’ll have to worry about lugging a heavy box of dishes from the basement up to the kitchen because it was mislabeled. 

Decide How You Want To Move

Decide whether you want to use professional movers or doing it yourself (or with the help of friends). If it’s in your budget to enlist some professionals, start collecting quotes from local companies and reading reviews online.

Be sure to get separate quotes from the movers – one including a price for them to pack your stuff, and one for them to move your things after you’ve packed them yourself. The quotes will likely be very different. 

If you want to save some money and handle it all yourself, reserve your moving truck or van now. Reach out to any friends or family to make sure they mark the calendar to help on the big day.

And don’t forget to show your gratitude with free food and drinks.

Start The School Enrollment Process

Depending on the scope and range of your move, you may need to enroll your child in a new school or daycare. Start this process as early as possible. Depending on the type of school you’re interested in, there may already be long wait lists.

Additionally, you may need to: 

  • Fill out lengthy enrollment forms
  • Register kids for extracurriculars
  • Solicit reference letters from your child’s current school
  • Get immunization records sent to the school

Whether you’re sending your child to a private or public school, take care of the paperwork early to avoid worrying about it while moving.

Get Updated Pet Records

Your new homeowners association (HOA) or landlord might need your furry friend’s records. The last thing you wat is to find out that your dog or cat isn’t welcome after you’ve already moved. Call your veterinarian and request a copy of your pet’s medical records as soon as possible.

Inventory Your Valuables

No matter how many precautions you take, accidents happen. That’s where homeowners insurance becomes invaluable. Your insurance company will need to know about the valuables you own.

Inventory your valuables – jewelry, artwork, heirlooms, antiques – as early as possible to streamline the insurance process and ensure that you have coverage for everything. 

Take photos of everything and store your list and any photos to a cloud-based storage system. Then, decide whether you want to purchase an additional insurance rider for very expensive items.

Be sure to ask your movers, if you’re using a company, what their policy on valuable items is and find out what kind of insurance you’ll need.  

1 Month Before Your Moving Date

As your move gets closer, start packing. Take extra steps to ensure that your transition to your new home goes as smoothly as possible.

Schedule Utility Stop And Start Dates

Now is the time to notify your utilities and other service providers that you’re changing addresses. Schedule a stop date for your current address and a start date for your new home. You’ll need to contact:

  • Electricity and gas providers
  • Water and sewage treatment providers
  • Internet, phone and cable providers
  • Medical and dental service providers
  • Home, auto, life and other insurance providers
  • Banks and credit card companies that mail statements to your home
  • Your children’s schools
  • Newspaper, magazine and other subscription providers
  • Home alarm system providers

Additionally, be sure to let the post office know that you’re moving by filling out this USPS change of address form

Collect Packing Supplies

A move requires plenty of sturdy boxes, bubble wrap and rolls of packing tape. If you haven’t hired a mover who supplies the materials and packs everything for you, be sure to order your packing supplies about a month before your move. 

If you want to save some pennies, you can call your local grocery and liquor stores to ask if they have any empty boxes. You can also post on Nextdoor or a similar community site to ask if anyone has spare moving boxes. Bookstores are another great source for sturdy boxes, especially if you’re hauling heavy items. 

Make Travel Arrangements

If you’re moving a long distance, book your hotel and transportation now, if you haven’t already done so. If you’re relocating for a job, make sure you talk to your new employer about whether they offer moving benefits. 

If you’re driving, be sure to schedule car repairs or an oil change before you head out. The last thing you need is to be broken down on the side of the road with a trailer full of your valuables.

Start Packing Early

If packing a month in advance of your move seems too early, the hard truth is that it could be the key to reducing your workload when you get closer to the date.

Don’t box up any items you might want or need in the weeks leading up to the move. Start by packing up out-of-season clothing and holiday decorations instead.

Label all boxes as you pack them so there aren’t any surprises or missing items. 

2 Weeks Before Your Moving Date

Two weeks before your move, get serious about packing. Go through each room in your house and pack everything but the essentials, such as medication or documents you’ll need quick access to.

Label each box with the room it will be moved to and store boxes in a cool, dry area. Here are some additional tips: 

Keep The Essentials Handy

Be sure to leave out some key items that could come in handy on moving day, including: 

  • A rolling dolly
  • An assortment of screwdrivers and wrenches
  • A utility knife
  • Packing tape
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Permanent markers
  • Measuring tape

Return Items You Borrowed

You don’t want to worry about rented items on the day of your move. Go through your home and collect anything that needs to be returned. Schedule a day to take back library books, magazines, furniture, appliances and any other items you’ve borrowed.

Prepare Outdoor Items 

Drain all garden hoses and wipe down lawn furniture before you box it all up. Properly dispose of the gasoline from your lawn mower, trimmers and other landscaping equipment before you move them. Consider selling any items that are old or not functioning at their peak.

Check In With Your Movers

Contact the friends or moving company who agreed to help you and make sure they’re still available. If not, see if you can find an alternative solution. You don’t want to find yourself with zero help on the big day.

1 Week Before Your Moving Date

It’s now time to finalize your move and finish up last-minute tasks. In addition to packing up the last of your household items and taping the boxes shut, here are a few other last-minute things to do: 

Create An ‘Essentials Bag’ For Moving Day

Create an “essentials bag” for each of your family members on the day of the move. Some things you should put into your bag include:

  • 2 – 3 sets of clothing
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo)
  • Phone and computer chargers
  • Medications
  • Snacks
  • Books, toys and games
  • Computer and/or tablet
  • Headphones

Keep this bag separated from the rest of your moving supplies so it doesn’t get mixed in with your other boxes. If you’re moving with kids, make sure their favorite blanket, stuffed animal or lovey are packed in this special bag. If their comfort blanket ends up packed in a box somewhere, you could have a big problem on your hands.

Clean Out The Refrigerator

If your fridge is moving with you, make sure you empty and defrost it at least 24 hours before the day of your move. If you’re leaving the fridge at your old home, remove all leftover food and wipe down the interior.

Consider donating any nonperishable food items that you’re not bringing along to a local food bank or shelter.

Deep Clean Your Space

Do a room-to-room deep clean of your space before you move if you’re renting. As soon as you finish cleaning out a room, close it off to prevent it from getting dirty again. Make a note to perform any necessary repairs to ensure you get your security deposit back.

It may be worth hiring a cleaning service that specializes in deep cleaning homes for move-out. Although a move-out clean may not be cheap, hiring a cleaner can save you some of the hassle during the last week before your move. 

2 To 3 Days Before Your Moving Date

If you’ve followed this moving checklist so far, then the last few days before your move should be a piece of cake. Cross these off your to-do list before you close the door on your old home. 

Grab Cash To Tip The Movers

If you’re working with a professional moving company, it’s customary to tip the people who lend you a hand. If you don’t have cash on hand, visit the bank and grab some to tip your movers. Most people tip each mover $4 – $5 per hour, but you may want to tip a little more if you have a lot of heavy boxes or furniture.

Contact A Locksmith

Contact a locksmith a few days before the move if your lease stipulates that you need to change your locks before you move. You may also want to change the locks on your new home if the old owners did not.

Get The Kids Ready For An Early Day

Get the kids into the routine of waking up early a few days before your move. This may save you the headache of dragging the kids out of bed while packing up your moving van. Make sure you’ve got some disposable bowls, plates and cutlery on hand so breakfast doesn’t create another mess to clean up before you head out. 

Find A Home And Plan For Your Moving Day

A solid moving checklist can help you make your moving day much easier. Start 2 months in advance and you’ll have plenty of time to get everything in order, rather than rushing on the last day. Pack early, clean early and make sure you have all your ducks in a row. 

If you’re early in the process and still shopping for a new home, you don’t need to go it alone. We’re here to answer your most pressing questions and get you closer to your big moving day.

Get started by talking to a mortgage professional today.

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Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Quicken Loans and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.