Moving Checklist

Before The Move

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. Your move into a new home will go more smoothly if you start the planning process at least 8 weeks ahead of time. From creating a moving binder to backing up your computer files, the goal is to get the ball rolling. You should know that preparing for a move also means preparing for upheaval. Life happens. Prepare for things to get a little messy and set aside time each week just for you. Grab that face mask, take a bath, exercise, do whatever you have to, and take care of yourself during this time.

Moving Tracker:

This is the time to create a moving tracker. It can be a binder or a moving file on your computer. You can also set up a Google Doc where you can track everything. Having a way to store all of your moving paperwork and organize your timeline is an absolute necessity.

You should have a folder for all moving documents. This might include contracts, receipts, passports, social security cards, mortgage agreements, leases and so forth.  You will also need to keep track of your moving estimates, final bills, and other info you get from moving companies. Request dental and medical records, as well as school records, if you have kids. If your records and important documents are digitized, get a printable version to keep with you. Add them to your moving folder or notebook, so they’re ready to pass on to your new schools and providers once you reach your new home.

With your checklist, you can start building your timeline. Generally, it’s helpful to plan your move in weekly increments: 12 weeks, 8 weeks, 4 weeks, 2 weeks and so on. This way you break your move into smaller projects that you can easily tackle.

Determine a Budget:

Create a budget that covers all your moving expenses so that you know how much your relocation will cost you and can see where you can cut costs and prevent inevitable surprises. The main component of you budget will, of course, be the moving method you opt for. Will you be using professional movers for the entire move or do it yourself? Be sure to include all of your moving costs and how much money you’ll need post-move for furniture, repairs, etc.

Research your new area:

Look into some details about your new area before calling it home. Check out factors such as quality of life, transportation, schools, health care centers, and job opportunities. If you have school-aged kids, they’ll eventually need to enroll in a new school. You should start researching schools in your new area early to get information about them and find top-rated schools for your children.

Start getting your home in order:

Decluttering your home will help you organize your stuff better and help sell your house faster if you’re an owner.  This can be done over several months but its best to start as early as possible. If major repairs are required or an entire property overhaul is needed, you’ll likely locate an experienced and reputable general contractor well in advance.  Have a garage sale or start donating or disposing of items you aren’t going to take with you when you move. Remember, the less stuff you have, the less it will cost to transport it all during your move. A deep clean will help you organize your stuff and make it easier to sell if you’re a homeowner. If you’re a tenant, ensure the house is in good shape by filling any holes and making minor repairs. It will increase your chances of getting your deposit back.

8-12 weeks before you move

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. Narrow your list down to three or four options. You don’t have to decide on a company now, but you do want to research your options. Don’t make moving more expensive or stressful than it needs to be. There are plenty of resources to help you find the right mover who will work with your budget.

If you’re a renter, notify your landlord. This early notice allows your landlord plenty of time to find a new tenant and may minimize the time between your move-out date and the new tenant’s move-in date.

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.

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.

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. Sell or donate unwanted items. This is the perfect time to have a garage sale for the stuff you’ve always wanted to get rid of anyway or to finally follow through on your promise to donate to charity.

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. It might seem like it’s too early, but depending on your company, giving an early notice of your moving day and asking for time off is a smart move. A great tip is to request a day off on Friday so that you have a three-day weekend to get yourself organized in your new home.

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 and possibly more of your moving budget.

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 can also start packing items that aren’t used frequently. 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.

4-8 weeks before your move

From choosing a moving company to filling your prescriptions, your goal for the next two weeks is to book your movers, coordinate a moving permit if you need one, and gather all remaining supplies. You’ve spent the last couple of months 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.

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. You can save money and time by gathering your moving supplies before the big day. You can also order your moving supplies online. But before you do that, consider the sizes of the items you’re packing and select boxes accordingly.

Label your boxes (e.g., “Kitchen: Dishes” or “Office: Books”). Get a box-labeling system in place. Numbered boxes and color-coding by room are key elements.

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.

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.

2-4 weeks before you move

If you have decided to go with 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.

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.

Determine whether you need storage. You might need to put your items in storage for some time until you can take them to your new home or if you won’t have room in your new home. It is best to opt for a short-term storage option that is convenient, affordable, and hassle-free.

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.

Obtain 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.

As long as you aren’t moving in a hurry, you can start to pack up your home in stages. This will give you enough time to decide what you want to keep and what you should get rid of. It’ll also get rid of panic packing and stress on the big move day.

Think about what your new home will look like and see if there’s anything else you should add to your moving checklist. If you need to buy drapes for your new home, for instance, 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, utility, and home security providers to arrange for services at your new home.

Fill your prescriptions. If you have to change doctors or pharmacies, you might consider getting a head start on those things.

2 weeks before your move

The goal now 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.

Plan your final meals. Remember, almost all your stuff will be in boxes—so bookmark you 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. Not sure what the specific process is for the state you’re moving to? Take a look at our complete guide to updating your license and registration.

Plan a moving party. Invite your family and friends to help you move.

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. It will save a ton of time if you break down large furniture items like bed frames, section couches, and bookshelves before the movers arrive.

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.

Schedule or confirm 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.

1 day before the move

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.

Get cash. Have enough money on hand to tip your movers and deal with unexpected needs or emergencies.

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.

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.


On Moving Day

Moving day is finally here! You’re in good shape if you’ve kept a moving guide with a checklist. Don’t hit snooze. Getting up early will help you finish any last-minute packing. From waking up on time to getting sheets on your new bed, the goal is to move into your new home!

If you hired movers, clear a path for the movers. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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.

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.

Conduct your final walk-through to ensure that everything is in good condition and nothing is being left behind. 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. Don’t forget to look in your drawers, kitchen cabinets, and any other easy-to-miss spots.

Unless you plan to come back after the move to tie up loose ends, ensure you hand over the keys to your landlord or new owners. It’s important that they be returned to your landlord at the end of the tenancy, or to the new owners after closing. 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.

Document the condition of your old home through pictures. Your landlord may try to pocket your security deposit by blaming you for any damage or charging you with cleaning fees. You need to have those photos as proof that you left the house in good condition.


After the move

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. Save your moving binder. If you ever need to move again, you’ve already got a roadmap for the process.

On day 1 after your move

Take pictures of your new place as you walk in. This will help prove that you are not responsible for existing damages. This is especially important if you are a tenant. Walk through the home before unpacking and keep an eye out for areas that might pose a risk for your children or pets.

Check your utilities and internet. Try to be present during setup and make sure everything is working and operational.

Locate any repairs that might be needed and try to take care of them immediately, if you can. Check all smoke detectors and shut-off valves. Check the air filters on the a/c units and heaters. Take some time to clean or paint, if necessary. It will never be easier to clean your home. Painting makes a new home feel airy and welcoming. Clean your new home before moving in. It’ll save time and the hassle of working around boxes and furniture.

Introduce your pets to your new home. Show your pets around, indoors and outdoors, and show them the food bowls and sleeping areas. Explore the area with your pets before entering it. This will help your pets assess their new domain and establish the boundaries of their new home.

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.

Start unpacking efficiently. To prevent unwanted insects and to ensure your items stayed intact during the move, inspect your boxes before opening them. Unpack the essentials you will need to keep your home running in the short term. 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 the very first day.

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.

Within 1 month after your move

In all likelihood you’ll be unpacking for several weeks after your move, but you’ll feel incredible when you break down your last box.

Send thank-you notes to everyone who helped.

Discover your new neighborhood. It’s a pleasant way to integrate yourself in your new community. Walk around the block and introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Most people will appreciate the gesture, and you might make a few new friends. Consider hosting a housewarming party. Reward yourself for a job well done.

Get to know your HOA and make sure you go over the CC&Rss. Make sure you understand policies about pets, lawn care, and monthly dues.

Keep your house safe by changing your locks. If that sounds like too much, try installing an additional deadbolt instead. You have no idea how many copies of the keys the previous owners had made and how many might still be floating around. Make spare keys to keep somewhere safe as a backup or in case of emergencies.

Sit back and relax. You’ve finished everything on the moving checklist!

Start Your Journey with Confidence

Start your journey with AIM Relocation and experience a seamless transition to your new home. Our expert team and comprehensive resources are here to guide you every step of the way.