The Moving Checklist: Everything You Need to Know to Move

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Updated (12/3/2019): New info for 2019

The moment you know for sure that you’re about to move, life seems to turn on its head.

You instantly have a million questions on what to do next, but often feel like you have no place to turn for those important answers. That’s where we come in! This moving checklist will ensure that you get all of the essentials done so you stay on track for a stress-free move.

Create a Timeline to Tackle Your Move Using Our Moving Checklist

Moving is a process. It shouldn’t (and can’t) happen overnight. Our checklist provides a detailed and resourceful step-by-step guide as you start your journey to a new place, big or small. What should you be doing now? What should you be doing the month, week, or even day of the move? Heck, is there anything extra to do after the move, besides unpacking? We’re here to answer all of those questions for you!

Table of Contents

6 Weeks Before the Big Move

4 Weeks Before the Big Move

3 Weeks Before the Big Move

1 Week Before the Big Move

A Successful Moving Day

Following Up After the Big Move

6 Weeks Before the Big Move

Moving Checklist: 6 Weeks Out

How do I plan to move out? And what are my moving options?

Before you begin this moving checklist, we highly suggest you read this Moving 101 guide to get all of the details on your moving options. Essentially, moves fall into one of these three categories:

  • Do-It-Yourself Move: You rent the truck (or find a friend’s truck), load it up, then drive it all to the next location by yourself or with friends.
  • The Hybrid Move: You hire help to load and/or unload the truck, you drive and rent the truck.
  • Full-Service Move: You can relax while the movers take care of loading and driving. The movers you choose will depend on a number of factors, including budget and timeline.

Moving101 has charts and up-to-the-day costs to help you find the right move for your situation. Plus, you can use the Moving Cost Calculator to get your budget in order from the very start.

When should you schedule movers?

For the absolute best prices and flexibility, start purusing available movers and trucks now, at roughly six weeks out.

If you are renting a truck for your move, make sure to compare your options. U-Haul isn’t the only option anymore. Budget and Penske are just two of the rental truck competitors that have their own fleets available all over the country.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to stress about actually booking movers just yet … you have until about three weeks before the move to do it comfortably. And if you’re just booking labor-only move helpers from HireAHelper, you also have plenty of time to secure them – you don’t necessarily have to start worrying until two weeks before the move. After that, though, movers and trucks become harder to come by.

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How do I prepare to move to another state?

However, if you are booking a Full-Service Move, complete with movers, a truck and even a container, then booking now at six weeks out will keep you right on track. This is especially true if you are moving to another state, where things like state laws and paperwork for movers going across state lines come into play. This month and a half timeline is more likely to ensure the things you need on moving day are available and reserved just for you!

Consider renting a container for your things.

Container moves are a perfect way to move in some situations, especially ones where your new property is not ready yet. This container guide lays out the pros and cons to help answer whether or not a container move is a good fit for you. Did you know most moving companies will store your container for one month for free? Yes, this guide has the scoop to help you decide what’s the best plan for your situation.

Get rid of the stuff you don’t need now before you think about packing.

Purging before a move is a great idea for a number of reasons. Not only will you have less to pack up and move, but you’ll also have less to unpack and organize in your new place. The easiest way to slowly purge is to keep a small box or bag in every room of your house (especially in the closets). Items you find that are broken, missing or just never used should be added to these boxes and eventually donated or thrown away. You can also have a garage sale or sell your old items online, which will help you make some last-minute cash right before your move. For items you end up donating, be sure to save the documentation from the donation center so you can use it as a tax write-off at the end of the year.

What exactly can I do with my old stuff?

When it’s time to finally sort through the items in those donation boxes, here is a list of items you can donate to particular spots in your city. And if you have any random items to get rid of (a mattress, outdated appliances), we’ve got you covered too. Read up at those links!

4 Weeks Before the Big Move

Moving Checklist: 4 Weeks Out

Start notifying businesses about your upcoming move.

Four weeks before your move is a good time to start notifying the necessary people or companies about your relocation. These parties include:

  • Utility companies
  • Local schools
  • Homeowner’s insurance company
  • Current landlord
  • Bank/credit card companies
  • Government agencies
  • Anywhere you hold subscriptions
  • Anyone else who may be sending you important documents over the next few months

Not only do you want to notify them of your move, but of course you will need to give them your new address to them if you will still be using their services. When it comes time to change your mailing address, this step-by-step guide was extremely helpful for us.

Start collecting moving boxes now.

No moving checklist is complete without helping you figure out what kind of moving boxes you want. And there are plenty of ways to get them on the cheap … or even FREE if you do a little research. This checklist outlines all of the places you can score free boxes, and here’s a list of places you can try to at least get a deal on the ones you do purchase. But always remember that wherever and however you get your boxes, be sure they are clean and in good shape. No matter how cheap they are, there’s no value in getting your stuff dirty or crushed.

Since you still have plenty of time before the move, you don’t need to be frantically throwing items into boxes. Four weeks is plenty of time to start packing your stuff with an organized game plan. Will you pack items from one room together? Will you pack items of the same size together? Whatever method works for you is great, just be sure you are labeling your boxes as clearly and as detailed as possible so the unpacking process is even easier! If you’re not sure what labeling system is best for you, we really love this trick because it makes moving day efficient.

Purchase furniture to be built or delivered. 

Buying furniture now is a great idea so it can be ordered and delivered to your new home just as you’re about ready to set things up. Instead of lugging over that king-sized bed or oversized buffet, sell those items on Craigslist and look for new items that will fit. If they’re back-ordered or will take time to ship, that’s perfect because you still have a month to go!

Remember: if you have them shipped to your new address, you won’t have to worry about moving them. For items you end up buying on Craigslist, be sure to set up the pickup date on your moving day so that you can utilize the truck you have already rented! You can use this same trick at stores like IKEA. You can do all of your shopping and arrange to pick up these large pieces on your moving day so you can get the most bang for your buck for your moving truck rental.

3 Weeks Before the Big Move

If you decided to rent a truck, figure out which one and how big it needs to be about now.

Now that we’re three weeks out, it’s time to book your truck. The kind of truck you rent will be different for each move, but it will mostly depend on how much stuff you’re moving from point A to point B. You may want to shop around to find the best deal and see which day will be the least expensive. This post guides you through all of these important truck rental factors.

Okay, who exactly should I hire to move my stuff?

That’s the easiest question on this list! Just check out HireAHelper for all of your heavy lifting needs. You can find local movers to help you on moving day so you won’t have to lift a finger. It’s suggested that you book your Helpers about 2-3 weeks in advance, so now is the time to get this checked off your to-do list.

It’s (officially) time to start packing.

It’s finally time to start packing up. And since you already figured out where to get boxes on the cheap, you can go ahead and pick up all of your moving supplies. Don’t forget to consult this post for a list of all of the supplies you will need for packing (plus tips to pack them up efficiently).

Make sure you know what you’re not allowed to transport on moving trucks.

Yep, you can’t bring it all! Here’s an entire list of things you should keep off the truck come moving day. Be sure to have a game plan to get these items to your new place.

How do I pack strange objects?

Moving Checklist: 3 Weeks Out

Let’s face it, not everything you own is going to fit nicely into a cardboard box. But we’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions to pack up even the most unusual objects, such as these: 

1 Week Before the Big Move – What should I do a week before moving?

Do the mandatory cleanups of your old place.

It’s always nice to leave your old property in good shape for the new homeowners, but for renters, it’s imperative to do a few things before you leave in order to increase the chances of getting your security deposit back. After your place is emptied, make sure to patch and paint any holes in the walls so you don’t get charged for this simple repair. If there is anything else your landlord requires (like getting the carpets professionally cleaned), be sure to coordinate this before you head out.

What else should I pick up at the store?

Call us crazy, but we think a fanny pack may be the best thing to wear come moving day … and here’s why! Now’s the time to find a sweet one so you’re all prepped and ready.

Also, consult this list so you have the seven items you absolutely need for moving day.

Prioritize the right cleanups for your new place.

Cleaning is the next big one on our moving checklist. If you can get into your new house, we highly suggest you head over there before you actually move everything in to give the space a good, deep clean. Here are five areas that need some TLC right away. You can also setup time for a locksmith to come over to your new place to re-key the locks shortly after your move.

A Successful Moving Day

Moving Checklist: Moving Day

Be fully prepped with all the right stuff.

  • Put on your handy dandy moving day fanny pack and make sure you have these moving day essentials all ready to go.
  • If you booked a container, it should be fully loaded before moving day … especially if you have a morning pickup for your container.
  • If you rented a truck, make sure you get to the rental place early to avoid a line. Start your day on the right foot and totally on time! Also, if you hired Helpers, make sure you allow yourself at least an hour for picking up the truck so you can get back in time. You don’t want to waste any valuable time with your hired help!
  • The best thing you can do is to have a talk with you and your moving team at the beginning of the day. Go over all of the key pieces of information so everyone is on the same page from the start. You need to be a confident leader!

If I hired movers what should I do?

Sit back, be a manager and watch them do the heavy lifting. Yes, this may feel a little awkward, but it’s what they’re there for! (Plus, for insurance reasons, you’re usually not allowed to help anyway.) Don’t be afraid to speak up if you want them to do something differently, like wrap the piece of furniture with one more pad for safety!

If I didn’t hire movers what should I do?

Get ready to hope your friends show up! Maybe do some stretches so you can avoid injury and mentally prepare yourself for being on the downside of a couch in a stairwell praying your friend holding the top doesn’t let go! At the very least, it’s going to be a long day, so stay hydrated and nimble. You’ll be extra excited to check this off the moving checklist.

Unload and label your stuff in the most efficient way.

If you used our labeling tips to make a gameplan for which room each box should be delivered, then you’ll want to label the doors in the new place based on the key. This will keep things organized and will ensure that your Helpers get the right boxes in the right rooms of your new pad.

Should I tip my movers? If so … how much?

There’s a lot of debate on whether you should tip your movers or not, and if you do tip…how much should you cough up? For more clarification, check out this post and then make your call.

Following Up After the Big Move

Moving Checklist: Hiring Movers

Get rid of or utilize all your moving boxes correctly.

Chances are you’ll have a lot of leftover boxes. Here are some ideas to make the most of all of that cardboard:

If you can keep those boxes around for your next move, your future self will thank you. But if you don’t want to repurpose or don’t have the room to save them, please, don’t forget to recycle them! Here’s a searchable database that’ll let you know the closest place to recycle anything of yours that can be reused, including those moving boxes!

Meet your neighbors online!

Nothing like starting off on the right foot with the people you’ll be living next to for quite some time. Check out this post on neighbor etiquette, download the Nextdoor app (must have!), and then muster up the courage to head next door and say, “hello.”

Unpack (efficiently). 

Of course! We’ve got industry tips to make your unpacking party more manageable and more enjoyable. (Yes, it can be fun, but make sure you don’t hurt your back!).

Can I finally relax?

Yes, it’s time to celebrate! You definitely deserve to focus on this celebration step before moving onto the few remaining steps! After your move we think it’s important to take a deep breath and celebrate in your new home. You’ve earned it!

What’s next?

Now the fun finally begins … getting settled into your new home! Consider painting the walls one of our favorite neutral colors, adding some smart home accessories, and even try tackling some of these DIY projects to transform your new home into home, sweet home. 

Two Ways to Take This Moving Checklist With You

    1. Tried and True Printer Friendly PDF – A ready-for-paper checklist. Pencil sold separately.
    2. Digital Friendly *Expanded* Version – Download/screenshot/save to your camera roll.

Illustrations by Dola Sun

Inventory Sheets Legally Keep You From Losing Your Stuff on a Move. Here’s How to Use Them

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Among the many pieces of paperwork that a full-service mover will ask you to sign is a piece of paper called a “Household Goods Descriptive Inventory”. It’s more commonly known as an Inventory Sheet, and it’s basically an itemized list of everything the movers are transporting for you, from your furniture to your boxes to every last golf club, garden tool and garbage can in the shed.

We know, you hardly have time to search for a coffee filter, let alone make a list of every single thing you own. But why is writing all that stuff down so important before the movers haul it away?

You Probably Want Your Stuff Back

On move day, before the rest of the crew starts carrying your stuff out the door, the lead person or someone else who knows the drill will be going around putting numbered stickers on everything and writing a description of each item on the corresponding numbered line on the “IS”. So if you make one, you’ll get a copy of that inventory sheet – or more likely several inventory sheets – and when your stuff is delivered you’ll check off each numbered item as it comes off the truck. Armed with your inventory sheets, you can make sure everything is there.

Here’s what happens on a move with completed paperwork.

Example #1: Your movers have emptied the truck, everything is moved in and accounted for according to the inventories. You and the mover both sign each IS as documentation that all items have been received.

Example #2: Once the movers have emptied the truck, you find that one item on your inventory sheets has not been checked off. You and your movers search high and low for the item (because you both want to find it!), but it is nowhere to be found. Near the bottom of the IS you will write very clearly which item is missing, then you and the mover both sign off on the paperwork. (Make sure to keep a copy!) This is your documentation for filing a claim for your missing item.

Inventory Sheets Also Keep Track of the Condition of Your Stuff

Nobody wants to end up with a scratched and dinged up dining room table. Likewise, your movers don’t want to be held responsible for any scratches and dings that were already in that table. A special column on the inventory sheet, where your movers can record any existing damage, serves as a safeguard for both of you.

Example #1: If your dining room table is all scratched up upon delivery, but those scratches are documented on the inventory sheet as already existing when the movers came to move you, you cannot hold your mover falsely accountable.

Example #2: If there is any discrepancy between the condition of your dining room table as recorded on the IS with the condition of that table when it gets delivered, you’ll have the legal evidence and documentation you need to get reimbursed for the damage. Describe clearly the new damage in the “Remarks/Exceptions” box, then take pictures of the damage as further proof. (These pictures can also help your moving company determine whether to repair or replace the item.)

It’s Important to Prepare Ahead of Your Move

It’s hardly practical to follow your mover around to witness every notation they make on every inventory sheet and to check every box, every piece of furniture and every loose item in your garage. Go ahead and try if you like, but I bet you’ll drive both yourself and your mover crazy.

Instead, be proactive before the move. On the day of your relocation, check your furniture, your appliances, your bookcases and your bicycle. The actual paper itself is pretty straight forward: Just plainly denote any significant scratches, gouges and dings. Then point them out to your inventory taker. Seeing how you are paying attention, they’ll be inclined to do more of the same.

On packing: If you’re doing your own packing, keep track of how many boxes you have. Number them as you label them with what is inside. Make a rough list of your boxes if you like, noting what size or kind each box is. Such a list may not amount to a legal document but you can use it to make sure your mover has the same number of boxes listed on their official inventory sheets.

Finally, familiarize yourself with a typical IS, including the most common abbreviations movers use when taking inventory:

  • PBO – a box that was packed by the owner, i.e., you
  • CP – a box that was packed by the mover, i.e., the carrier
  • MCU – Mechanical Condition Unknown, to prevent false claims by the customer that something “was working before I moved.”

For a good example, take a good look at this standard Household Goods Descriptive Inventory form:

The inventory sheet is your best (and perhaps only) friend if something gets lost or damaged. Make sure you are well-acquainted – both before and after your mover fills it out – before it’s finally time to sign off at the bottom.

5 Ways to Show Your Movers Some Love

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Not many people love to move. But doesn’t it feel good to be moved? To have your entire world hauled safely onto and off of a truck by a crew of quick, efficient, polite movers?

This week in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’d like to share five things you can do to return that love, whatever time of year you move.

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In What Order Do I Remodel My House? In This Order

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Homeownership can be confusing and comes with a lot of expenses. Even after you write that big check for a down payment, you’re still going to feel like you’re bleeding money. New furniture, DIY updates, fixing this and that…it all adds up! It can be overwhelming.

So today we wanted to give you some tips on how to prioritize all of those early expenses. What should you splurge on right from the start? What should you wait on to help you save some cash? We answer all of those questions…and more!

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Help a Friend Move (Without Lifting Anything)

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Let’s say your friends are moving into a new home. And if these friends of yours are smart they’ve already hired helpers, so they’re all set for their big moving day. But you – being the amazing, thoughtful, generous friend that you are – still want to somehow help these friends with their move. Since the physical moving and lifting part is covered (thanks, HireAHelper!), you need to get a bit more creative when it comes to helping out.

Fear not! Moving is more than just picking up boxes; Here are five ways to help your friends move without any heavy lifting.

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A Customer and His Gun

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[Synopsis: Remind your customer what can and cannot go on the truck before there’s a showdown.]

Once upon a New York move, one of my crew came across a wooden box high up on the shelf of a customer’s walk-in closet. Naturally he opened it to see what he was going to be packing – and found himself looking at a handgun.

He closed the box and put it back on the shelf, then told me what he found. I went to the customer – who had already told us to pack up everything in the closet – and let him know that he still had his handgun in there and that if he wanted us to take it he would need to confirm a couple of things for us: was it in working condition? Was it was loaded? If so, he would have to unload it, as we are not allowed to transport ammunition. In cases of guns, we have to also record the make, model and serial number.

“I’ll take care of it,” he said rather curtly, and went upstairs.

Later he approached me with a concerned look on his face.

“So why was your guy looking through the boxes in my closet?” he asked. This is a fair question for any customer. For a guy with a lot of valuables, not to mention at least one gun, it can be an even greater concern.

“It’s not unusual,” I replied. “Some things we’re not allowed to take, so for liability reasons we need to know what we are packing.” In this case, we wouldn’t be able to take any ammunition that could have been in there. Plus there are things like jewelry and other valuables that we always suggest the customer take with them, instead of a moving truck. Our job is to keep things safe.

That answer seemed to satisfy him, albeit barely. He ended up taking his handgun away with him.

From the customer’s perspective, having one of their move crew open up a box and find their gun can be unsettling, and can even seem pretty shady. Same if it were a box full of jewelry, or expensive watches, or cash. That my guy came straight to me and told me about it so I could bring it up with the customer shows a solid level of honesty, not to mention responsibility. But from the customer perspective, all they see is a mover who was opening boxes and found their gun.

So what should you do?

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An informed customer will know that we can’t take certain things and should take other sensitive items with them, versus putting them on the truck. But most customers, no matter how informed, can hardly be expected to remember all the things movers won’t take. They’re kind of busy, you know, moving.

So remember to give your customers a verbal rundown of these things before the actual move, and again on the actual day of the move. This can minimize – if not eliminate – the chances of you or your crew someday coming face to face with a loaded gun.

Is It Weird to Help Your Movers? 10 Things Movers Absolutely Love

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Our movers love to move quickly and efficiently, so take it from me, it’s definitely not a weird thing to help your own mover… but not by lifting anything! Helping them in other ways is more than just a load off their backs: the faster they can get done, the more money you will save.

To help move your move along, I can say from experience that these 10 areas are the best, most useful things you can do ahead of your Hybrid move. Of course, most movers will be happy to do the things on this list for you, but do everyone a favor – yourself included – and consider being mover ready if you’re looking to save the absolute most amount of money. I’ll tell them it was your idea.

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7 Tips for Saving Money When Relocating

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These Are The Money Saving Moving Tips You’ve Been Looking For

No matter how you slice it, moving is expensive. According to Worldwide ERC, a workforce mobility association, the average cost of transporting household goods in 2012 stood at $12,459. But just because moving isn’t cheap, doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save. Employ these seven tips to save money when relocating.
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7 Tips for Moving Into a College Dorm Room

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It’s August, and that means that many parents & students have BACK TO SCHOOL on the mind. If you’re heading off to college for the first time, then we’re guessing you’re pretty psyched to get the year underway. But before classes begin, you’ll need to get your dorm room in tip-top shape and no one wants to start things off with a chaotic, moving day!

Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Consider yourself enrolled in Dorm Room Moving 101. (more…)

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