The Ultimate Moving Checklist: Essential Tips for a Stress-Free Move

Stephanie Booth


When you’re in your twenties, moving is pretty simple. You throw your belongings into a few boxes (or garbage bags) and bribe your friends with pizza to help you lift and transport the few heavy pieces of furniture you may own. But as you get older, you start to accumulate stuff. And before you know it, moving takes more than an afternoon.

In fact, moving shouldn’t start the day of, but two months before, your actual move date. Below, we take you through the ultimate moving checklist.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand why a moving timeline is key (and what should be on it)

  • Consider professional tools, like a moving checklist app, that can help you

  • Put together a customizable moving checklist

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8 Weeks Before Moving

Step one? Figure out if you’re going to a) pack and move yourself, b) hire a professional company to do it all for you, or c) choose something in between — ie, you pack, then hire a company to transport your boxes.

Some questions to help you make up your mind:

  • Is your employer paying to relocate you?

  • How far are you moving?

  • Is your move international?

  • How much furniture or how many personal items do you have?

  • Do you have items that may need to be disassembled, like a home gym, or are extremely heavy, like a three-door commercial-sized refrigerator?

Once you decide which route is best for you, you can:

Get in touch with your inner Marie Kondo. 

You may be surprised at the amount of non-essentials you own, especially if you’ve lived in your current home or apartment for a while. Before you call movers to give you an estimate, take stock of what you love and want to keep (as Marie Kondo would ask, “Does it spark joy?”) and what you’re ready to throw away, give away, sell, or recycle.

Find a mover. 

Call a few moving companies to do a walk-through of your house and estimate how much they’d charge to pack and/or move your belongings. While most companies will send a professional estimator to your house, some now do virtual walk-throughs.

Ask questions. 

You want to be able to trust a mover with your most valuable property, so take note of their answers to questions like these:

  • Is this a binding quote?

  • Are there extra fees or extenuating circumstances that could increase my final fee? 

  • Can you guarantee pickup and delivery dates? 

  • Do you charge extra for heavy items, or items that are awkward to move?

  • What’s your cancellation policy?

  • How much will I save if I pack some, or all, of my belongings?

  • Do you provide unpacking services? If so, how much does that cost?

  • What happens if something gets damaged?

  • Do you have U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) registration? (If so,  they’ll have to follow certain safety requirements.)

Schedule a truck. 

Going the DIY route? Make reservations now so the size of truck you need will be available on your moving day. (This is especially important if you move during the summer, which is the busiest season to relocate.)

Get organized. 

You’re going to need a secure, easily accessible place to keep all your moving-related info. Trustworthy can help with this step. Take a few minutes to upload everything move-related to our streamlined platform, and know that you can instantly access it when you need to. (This will come in handy once your belongings are packed away in boxes.)

Among the move-related documents you’ll need to keep track of:

  • Your moving estimate

  • A bill of lading (the legal contract with your mover) 

  • Your employer’s relocation policy (if applicable)

  • Your homeowner’s insurance policy

6 Weeks Before Moving 

Identify the apps that can help you. 

For instance, you could make a packing checklist for moving on Google Keep, or post the items you want to get rid of on OfferUp. Join Nextdoor and you can start familiarizing yourself with your new neighborhood and asking for local recommendations.

Inventory your items. 

Make a list of everything you’re moving, and its estimated value. While you’ll need a hard copy for your homeowner’s insurance, shooting a video is a great idea, too. (Going room by room will help this task feel more manageable.).

Request records.

Depending on how far away you’re moving, your home address may not be the only thing that’s changing. Get the ball rolling now and request necessary records from places like:

  • Schools

  • Doctors

  • Veterinarian

Upload them to Trustworthy so you’re not hunting through file boxes in a few weeks, once you’re ready to enroll your kids in a new school or need medical care for yourself or your pet. 

Make a list. 

Jot down every institution and organization that will need to be notified of your change in address. 

For instance:

  • Your employer

  • The post office

  • Electric company

  • Water/sewer department

  • Cable company

  • Cell phone provider

  • Internet provider

  • Garbage collector

  • Banks

  • Investment firms

  • Credit card companies

  • I.R.S.

  • Social Security Administration

  • Medicare, Medicaid, and any other government programs

  • Local registrar of voters

  • Department of Motor Vehicles

  • Health and dental insurer

  • Life insurance provider

  • Auto insurer

  • Homeowner’s insurance provider

  • Your doctor, dentist, and other health providers

  • TSA Precheck (if you’re enrolled)

  • Online shopping sites (like Amazon)

  • Print newspaper subscriptions

  • Print magazine subscriptions

You can hold off on contacting anyone until your move is closer. (Keep reading for the perfect time to get in touch.) For now, simply gather phone numbers or websites where you can submit an address change/update your account. 

Pro tip: Trustworthy’s streamlined platform gives you the ability to access whatever information you need, when you need it. The Family Operating System ® is the perfect place to keep all your important information (including important contacts like doctors, insurers, and service providers), and it’s designed to protect you from identity theft, breaches, and other threats.

4 Weeks Before Moving 

Start packing. 

You’ve still got a ways to go before your move date, so only pack up non-essentials at this point. That fondue set you dust off and use once every three years? The perfect candidate.

Other things you may want to start boxing up now:

  • Books

  • Home decor

  • Holiday decor 

  • Seasonal items (including clothes) that you won’t need for a while

  • Archived or storage items (like the drawings your teenager did in second grade) 

Get acquainted with your new neighborhood. 

Before you move into your new home, do what you can to get your bearings. Whether you look online or are able to drive around your new neighborhood, take time to:

  • Research a new doctor and pharmacy

  • Locate the nearest urgent care center and hospital

  • Find a new veterinarian

  • Check out local stores

  • Look for a neighborhood gym

  • Scout out potential outdoor activities like hiking trails or golf courses

  • Find resources for your kids, whether that’s a dance studio or a new math tutor

Schedule professional repairs, services, and installations

Make appointments now for an electrician, plumber, landscaper, carpenter, cleaning service — whatever professional services you may need.

2 Weeks Before Moving 

Make sure you have time off work. 

If you haven’t already requested time off for your move, it’s time to do so!

Get your car checked out. 

Moving to a different climate? Have a long drive ahead of you? Shipping out to a different country? Have a mechanic make sure your car is ready.

Make your travel arrangements.

 For instance, If you have a cross-country drive ahead of you, make sure you know when and where you’ll stop along the way. Heading abroad? Gather all the documents that are required for international travel.

Clean out your safe deposit box.

 If you’ll be changing banks, get everything out of your safe deposit box so you can take it with you. (And when we say “take with you,” we mean “Don’t let these valuable items out of your sight.” More on that coming up.)

Make your address change official. 

Yes, you’re already starting to feel time-crunched, but now is the time to go through that list you made weeks ago, and officially notify organizations and institutions of your new address. (Aren’t you glad you put it all in Trustworthy so you can fly right through this task?) 

Measure and plan. 

Get room measurements (including door and window dimensions) from your real estate agent or home builder. That way, you can decide where furniture and items will go in your new house. You can then use this info to label your boxes and direct your movers.

Set up your new internet and cable.

It can sometimes take weeks to set up wifi or cable installation. Check with your new neighborhood provider and schedule a service appointment if you need to.

The Week of Moving 

Backup your important documents. 

Passports, car titles, social security cards, tax returns — Take time to make sure all these sensitive documents have been uploaded to Trustworthy. In case something gets misplaced after you move, these extra copies will be crucial.

Pack your suitcases

Include a few changes of clothes and essentials (like your toddler’s favorite stuffed animals) that can tide you over for a few days.  

Prepare your fridge.

 If a refrigerator or freezer is coming with you to your new home, make sure to empty and clean it. (And defrost it, if it doesn’t do so automatically.) You’ll also want to disconnect any water lines and properly turn it off. Some movers won’t do this themselves because of liability issues . If you’re not sure what to do, consider scheduling a plumber and/or electrician to come out.

Refill any prescriptions. 

You don’t want to be caught without medications that you and your family rely on. 

Cancel any memberships. 

Don’t forget to formally end agreements with any local businesses (from health clubs to self-storage units) that you won’t use once you move. Make sure to get confirmation of the cancellation in writing. 

Set up your utilities.

Gas, water, garbage, oil — make sure you either transfer your accounts to your new address or close them out.

Day of Moving 

Get an early start.

This is especially important if you’re handling any parts of the move yourself, ie, the truck rental or filling a self-storage container. Give yourself a cushion of time in case anything takes longer than expected. (Because let’s be honest, it always does.)

Clear the decks. 

If possible, arrange for your kids and pets to be somewhere more fun and less stressful. (If you don’t have family nearby, now’s a great time to call in favors from friends or neighbors.)

Make way. 

Ensure that there’s a clear path between your house or apartment and the moving truck. That may entail shoveling snow, asking your neighbor to move their car, or reserving a spot on the street with orange safety cones…whatever it takes to make this process go faster.

Verify your movers. 

Scams can happen. When a truck pulls up in front of your house, confirm that the USDOT number on the side matches the movers’ USDOT number you have in your files. 

Do a final walk-through. 

Conduct a last-minute check of drawers, cabinets, and closets to make sure you didn’t forget anything. You’ll also need to make sure it’s “broom-swept clean” for the new owners. (For peace of mind, consider hiring a professional housekeeping service.)

Hang onto sensitive docs. 

Valuables from your safe deposit box and hard copies of sensitive documents like tax returns, bank statements, and birth certificates should go in a file box and stay with you. If possible, you’ll be the only one handling them between your old house and new abode.

Review the moving paperwork

Once you’re at your new house and have received your belongings, you’ll be asked to sign off on the movers’ bill of lading. Before you do, look over it and verify that it’s accurate. Don’t sign until you feel confident that your items are, indeed, all there and re-assembled, if that was part of the deal.)

Test your smoke detectors. 

(And carbon monoxide and radon detectors and alarm systems.) Before spending a night in your new home, you want to make sure everything works properly and you and your family will be safe.

Your After-Moving Checklist

Inspect your belongings. If you notice anything broken, scratched, or missing, notify the movers right away.

Contact your new pharmacy. Ask them to transfer over prescriptions from your old Rx provider. 

Submit school records. Besides transcripts from your kids’ old schools, prepare to share vaccination records and proof of your new residence.

Reach out to your neighbors. Hopefully, they’ll beat you to it, but it’s always a nice gesture to introduce yourself and start familiarizing yourself with your new community.

Relax and enjoy! Moving is a huge, stressful undertaking. Try not to pressure yourself to unpack everything right away. Instead, give yourself — and your family — time to settle into your new neighborhood and routine.