The Ultimate Moving Checklist

16, February, 2024

Moving – the most polarizing word in the English language. For some people, moving is all about the excitement of a fresh start and the promise of a new beginning. For others moving can be nothing but a serious headache.

Even with the mixed emotions that only moving can bring, one thing is true. Eventually, everybody moves, and having a thorough moving checklist helps make the process stress-free. Use this in-depth guide to have less stress and more success on your moving day.

Read on to learn the ultimate moving checklist and be sure to download our free PDF to make moving day a breeze.

8 Weeks Before The Move: Your First Steps

1. Organize Yourself

Simply put, moving day success boils down to one word: Organization. Your first step is to create a "moving binder" to house your important documents. This is where you can store your quotes, checklists, contact information, receipts, and notes, for easy reference.

2. Determine Your Type Of Move

Are you planning to take on the task of moving by yourself? Are you looking to hire professional moving services? Whatever move you make, understanding your resources will help you create the perfect plan.

3. Create Your Moving Budget

Getting your budget set weeks in advance will avoid stress down the road. Be sure to factor in moving costs, new housing expenses, and potential travel arrangements.

4. Research and Compare Movers

The ultimate moving day checklist pdf download walks through the steps to prepare for your move.

If you've decided to work with a moving company, now is the time to find the right partner. You'll use the budget you've created as a guideline for the types of services you can afford. Most companies will give you a free estimate, which can help you budget. The difference between good movers and bad movers is the difference between a horror story and a love story, so don’t settle for the first quote.

You want to get estimates from at least three reputable companies and be sure to do your research. This means reading online reviews, asking friends for recommendations, and verifying licensing and insurance. If you’re moving across state lines, see if they are licensed with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

5. Put A Date On The Calendar

This is the moment when your move becomes calendar official. Choose the perfect moving date, considering school schedules, work deadlines, and weather.

6. Get Your Notifications Ready

You'll want to notify and connect with these entities to prevent any moving day hiccups.

  • Landlords and Associations: If you’re a renter, provide official notice to your landlord. Ensure you follow the fine print to avoid fees. This also applies to homeownership associations. Pro tip: Many landlords want your notice in writing!
  • Government and Financial: Update addresses with banks, Social Security, and utility companies. Consider double-checking your credit card statements in case any subscriptions need updating.
  • Medical and Educational: Inform doctors, dentists, and children's schools about your move. Request the transfer of your medical records in advance.
  • Mail: Go to your local post office and reroute your mail or fill it out online by going to If you’re close with your neighbors, ask them to check the mail for you (up to a month) after you move for any loose letters.
  • Memberships and Subscriptions: Don't forget about gym memberships, streaming services, and even delivery services. Trust us, you don’t want to order pizza and have it go to the wrong house.
  • Friends and Family: Tell your family and friends that you are moving. This may win you a few free helpers too!
  • Work: Make sure you call off work for your move. If you have the PTO, aim for the day after too. This will give you much-needed time to unpack and destress.

7. Transfer Your Essential Services

You'll need to disconnect the services from your old home and book what you'll need for your new home.

  • Schedule utility connections/disconnections for both homes.
  • Arrange internet installation and secure cleaning services if needed.
  • Check parking permits, especially in high-traffic, metropolitan areas. If you’re using movers, this is something they can take care of.
  • If moving school districts this is the time to handle transcript transfers and enrollment in the new school.

8. Measure And Prepare

Good preparation sets you up for a great move. Grab your measuring tape and start planning what items will make the move with you.

  • If possible, measure doorways, hallways, and corners in your new home to help avoid furniture mishaps and mad movers.
  • Determine if there is any furniture you might not be able to move to your new space. You may discover the need to purchase new furniture to fill some of the spaces available in your home.
  • Order boxes, packing materials, and labels. Consider specialty boxes for fragile items.

6 Weeks Before the Move: Start Decluttering

1. Declutter Ruthlessly

Channel your inner Marie Kondo and purge the unloved, unused, and unwanted items of your life. Less stuff means less to move and a lighter load.

A garage sale is a great way to declutter while adding extra cash to your moving budget. It also gives you the chance to share your moving news with neighbors.

Wait until after your garage sale to make a few trips to your local thrift store. This way you ensure any unsold items make the trip along with those you already marked for the donation bin.

2. Enlist Help

Don't be afraid to ask friends and family for assistance. They can be an extra set of hands for sorting items, garage sale attendants, or donation trips. Or, they can make great baby or pet sitters while you are hard at work. Remember, the moving etiquette is to supply your helpers with food.

3. Packing Hacks

Embrace online resources like YouTube and TikTok to learn space-saving packing techniques. You'll be amazed at what you can fit with a little know-how.

Create a detailed packing list for each box to avoid post-move confusion. This is a great time to double-check that you have enough boxes and supplies for your list.

4. Inventory Control

Create a detailed digital inventory of your belongings. Include where the item lives in your current home and where you plan to put it in your new space.

By creating this list online you'll be able to access it from both your computer and your mobile device. It also provides the opportunity to share it with those who may be helping you move.

5. Eat Smarter

Start consuming your freezer and pantry items – it’s less food to move and more money saved. Consider hosting a going away party that serves up the food items you're hoping to leave behind. This gives you a group to help clean out the pantry while also providing an opportunity for friends to say goodbye to your home.

6. Take Photos

Take pictures of complicated electronic setups before dismantling them. Anything that you have to disassemble and re-assemble would benefit from photographic documentation. This can include furniture and gym equipment, too. Future you will thank you.

Declutter Your Home Checklist

Declutter your home with our step-by-step guide.

Download The PDF

2-3 Weeks Before the Move: Put The Pack In Packing

1. Label Everything

From "Winter Clothes" to "Halloween Decorations," labels are your best friends. Trust us, it will help prevent where-in-the-heck-did-I-put-this?! headaches. Mark which box label matches which item in your detailed digital inventory for an easy reference guide.

2. Non-Essentials First

Start with items you won't need immediately. Think holiday decorations, out-of-season clothes, or that one fondue machine you haven’t used in eight years. You won't miss them in the weeks leading up to the move and they can be the last items you unpack after the move.

From there, gradually work your way toward everyday essentials. Be sure not to pack up the things you'll want easy access to during the moving process. Leave out cleaning supplies, paper towels, trash bags, and other items that come in handy during your final sweep.

3. One Room A Day Mindset

Aim for manageable goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Focus on one box or one room at a time. Create a schedule for each day so you know how long it will take to make your way through each room in your home.

4. Valuables and Insurance

Separate and label valuable items that may require additional mover insurance. This insurance helps to cover the cost of your valuables in case there's an issue during your move.

Another option is to keep your valuables on you during the move. This provides extra security and peace of mind.

5. Furniture Disassembly

Start disassembling your large furniture pieces early to prevent delays. These items typically include bed frames, dining tables, dressers, and entertainment centers.

You have the option to pay for the moving company to do the work of disassembling for you. This can be a huge time-saver on your end.

6. Inspection Time

If you're moving out of a rental, be sure to schedule your final walk-through. This is your landlord's opportunity to check out the property before you move out.

Be sure to join them if you can. In case there are any issues you'll be able to discuss them together. This can be a huge help in being sure you get your security deposit back.

1 Week Before The Move: The Finishing Touches

1. Pack the Must-Haves

Prepare a readily accessible "moving day survival kit" box with toiletries, medications, essential clothes, documents, phone chargers, and snacks. Think of it as everything you would need if you were traveling.

Consider including a few sets of cutlery and dishes in your survival kit as well. When you have your first takeout order in your new place you won't want to go hunting for bowls and spoons.

Having these essential items within arm’s reach makes moving day less of a headache and moving in just as easy.

2. Last-Minute Cleaning

Tackle remaining drawers, closets, and cabinets. Remember not to pack those essential cleaning supplies that you'll need for this process. You may consider hiring a cleaning service if you need extra hands.

3. Fridge Refresh

Defrost and clean your refrigerator and freezer at least 24 hours before the move. Especially if you’re a renter.

4. Move Confirmation

Double-check with your movers on dates, times, fees, and services. Finalize arrangements with new service providers as well if you haven’t already. Check in with anyone you have asked to help with your move – from babysitters and pet sitters to extra hands. You should feel confident in the schedule for the day and share timing expectations.

Your Moving Day Music Playlist

Set the mood for your move with our curated “Pack It Up” playlist on Spotify.

Stream Now


Moving Day: Your Plan For A Smooth Move

1. Early Bird Gets the Worm

Wake up early and fuel up with a hearty breakfast. Moving requires energy, and a full stomach keeps you focused and ready to face the day head-on. Keep in mind that you may not eat for a bit after this, which is why you'll be glad you added snacks to your moving day survival kit.

2. Direct the Action

Whether you work with professional movers or your friends, you're the captain of the ship. Ensure that you guide the loading process, taking care to handle fragile items and large furniture. Remember, clear communication is the key to a smooth move.

3. Manage the Inventory

Maintain your inventory list, keeping track of packed boxes and valuables. This is your safety net against missing items and a reference point for peace of mind. This becomes even more true if you're planning a long-distance move.

Use your digital inventory list to ensure that you leave boxes in the right rooms. This will make the unpacking process a lot smoother.

4. Self-Care Champion

Stay hydrated, take breaks, and delegate tasks to avoid burnout. Moving can be physically and mentally draining, so prioritize your well-being throughout the day.

After the Move: Unpacking & Settling In

1. Unpacking With Intention

Prioritize essential rooms like the kitchen and bathroom first and then go from there. The rule of thumb is to focus on what you need right away.

For boxes that you won't be unpacking first, be sure they are sitting in the appropriate room. Leave walkways through the home so that you don't feel blocked in or overwhelmed.

2. Work Room By Room

Once you've made your way through your essential rooms it's time to get to the rest. Unpack room by room, utilizing the labels you created. Remember, if you set it up right the first time, you won’t have to come back a second time. 

3. Change Your Driver’s License

Depending on if you move to a new state, you’ll need to go to everyone’s favorite place, the BMV. You'll have to update your driver’s license and register your vehicle. 

4. Housewarming Party

Everyone loves a house party. Have yourself a housewarming party and celebrate your fresh start. If you're new to town, consider a virtual party with a glass of wine and a few friends who can toast to your new start. Give them a quick house tour and share your hard work with your support system.

Additional Considerations

Moving with Pets

Don't forget to make a plan for your furry friends! Arrange travel, get medical records, update licenses and microchips, and pack familiar items to ease their transition.

Long-Distance Moving

Factor in additional logistics like overnight stays, temporary storage for essentials, and potential delays. Research local stores and services around your new home for extra confidence.

Moving on a Budget

Explore DIY options where possible. Negotiate with movers or do as much of the moving on your own.

The more you prepare for the movers on moving day the less time you'll have to budget for their services. Utilize free resources like online packing guides and donation programs. Get creative to get results.

First Home Essentials

Stock up on necessities like cleaning supplies, kitchen tools, linens, and light bulbs to avoid last-minute scrambling. Double up on your bed sheets too so your bed is comfy when you wash.

Download The Ultimate Moving Checklist

Don’t forget to grab your own copy of the moving checklist pdf to guide you through moving day.

Get The Checklist

Moving FAQs:

  • Tipping Movers: While there's no set rule, 15-20% of the total moving cost is common practice. Consider the effort, efficiency, and overall service quality when deciding on a tip amount.
  • Partial Mover Hire: Yes, many companies offer loading/unloading services only. This can be a cost-effective option if you can arrange your truck.
  • Packing Services: Some companies offer full-service packing, while others only handle loading and unloading. Discuss your needs and budget with potential movers to find the right fit.
  • Leaving Things for New Buyers: Consider leaving user manuals for appliances, warranties, and maintenance records – it’ll be appreciated. Spare light bulbs, batteries, or trash bags can help too.

Remember, a successful move is about organization, preparation, and being able to pivot. By following this moving checklist and having a good mindset, you’ll navigate the moving process with ease.

Cheers to new beginnings!

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