Your move consists of two distinct phases: Preparation and Planning and Getting Your Move On.
Phase 1: Preparation and Planning
You should begin planning and preparing for your move at least two months before your departure date. Here’s a basic schedule you can follow.
Eight Weeks Before You Move: Get Started
At 8 weeks (2 months):
- Begin your moving-company search. First step: Gather multiple quotes from reputable moving companies.
- Create a moving binder. This folder will contain all your research, quotes, directions, contracts, to-do lists – everything you create should go into this folder.
- Organize family records. Bring the entire family’s medical records up to date. Don’t forget your pets! Next up: family and personal business records.
Two months before your departure date, you need to get started on your move. First of all, it’s time to begin your moving company search.
Begin your moving company search. Do you need full service, or do it yourself? Interstate moving? intrastate or local? International or long distance? Do you want to rent a truck or a container? You can read our ultimate list of the best moving companies in America for all of your moving needs. Once you gathered multiple quotes, you can begin comparing and contrasting services.
It’s also time to create a binder to hold all your moving documents. Speaking of documents, you also need to get the ball rolling on the transfer of your family’s important records.
Create a moving binder. First tip: Make sure your binder is brightly colored and big, so you don’t lose it. If you’re moving more than 50 miles, use your binder to hold all your receipts.
Organize family records. Before you pack one thing, get your family records together. Start early enough, and some schools and doctors will mail your records to your new providers. You still need to make paper copies to take with you – just in case. Start with these four sets of records:
- Medical. Ask your primary care physician for complete copies of your family records. See if they’ll transfer your records to your new doctors. Expect to pay copying fees.
- School. Most schools will only accept official sealed records of transfers. Talk to the admin office. Meanwhile, gather examples of work, teacher recommendations and awards to show your child’s new teachers when you arrive at your new home.
- Insurance. Contact your insurance agent to transfer medical, property, and auto insurance policies, and while you have them on the phone—be sure to ask about coverage while you’re in transit.
- Employment. Time to grab any documents from work that you don’t have but should, before you announce your intent to move. It’s a good chance to get your records fully organized.
What about DMV and voter registration records? You’ll want to have access to those records when you establish your new residency, so you might as well locate them now – before the move.
Six Weeks Before You Move: Decision Time
At 6 weeks:
- Start gathering moving supplies. Are you self packing, or will you hire people to pack? Either way, it’s time to buy or collect your moving supplies.
- Begin the purge. Use household goods you don’t want to move (such as frozen foods, bleach), hold a garage sale, haul unwanted items to Goodwill or the dump. Lose it or move it!
- Decide how to move your valuables. Valuable items, such as jewelry and electronics, require special consideration. Don’t wait until the rush of packing your house to make these determinations.
You’re two weeks into your move, and it’s time to make some decisions. You’ve settled on your moving company. Now you need to start gathering supplies, purging your home of unwanted items, and determining how your most valuable possessions will travel to your new home.
Gathering Moving Supplies
Are you self packing, or will you hire people to pack? Either way, it’s time to buy or collect your moving supplies. If you’re self packing, here are some ideas on where to find cheap boxes:
- Craigslist. Look for people who recently moved and are giving boxes away, or post an ad.
- Liquor stores and grocery stores. Strong and sturdy, plus they’re not too big.
- Office supply and electronics stores. Good places to look for larger boxes.
- Storage centers. Check your local storage-unit center for discarded boxes in good shape.
Begin the Purge
Lose it or move it. Why pay to haul stuff you really don’t want? Proper preparation can save you big money. To help jump-start your purge, you can:
- Create an inventory list of your belongings. How much you got? Plan the garage sale, start the pile for Goodwill, and return the items you’ve borrowed from your neighbors.
- Go on a shopping diet. Use household goods you don’t want to move, such as frozen foods, opened foods and bleach. Plan meals that will utilize all the stuff in your pantry and fridge.
- Use a floor plan to determine where you’ll place larger items. If you can’t find an official floor plan of your new place (online?), take photos or measurements of all the rooms in your new home and make your own blueprint. Make sure to include windows and ceiling heights.
- Pack first the least-used items. This will provide you with an opportunity to reduce your clutter. Go through knick-knacks, paintings, books, out-of-season clothing to see what goes and what stays.
Move Your Valuables
Valuable items, such as jewelry and electronics, require special consideration. If you choose to send them with your shipment, fill out a High Value Inventory form from your mover. Take a photo or video to document the condition of your most valuable items. Other steps to take to protect your valuables include:
- Creating a list. Write a descriptive list of your valuables, including serial numbers where available. Make two copies, one for you and one for your mover.
- Gaining an appraisal. Antique dealers, or your local auction house, will know where to obtain an appraisal. For electronics, your sales receipt is the best proof of value.
- Identifying family heirlooms. Some items have sentimental value that outweighs their monetary worth. Pack these separately in a secure, water-proof container.
- Packing your valuables in the trunk or the glove compartment of your car. If you must stop overnight while traveling with valuables, try to stay in a hotel with a safe.
Four Weeks Before You Move: Start Packing!
At 4 weeks (1 month):
One month to go before you move. If you haven’t selected a moving company, do so immediately. It’s time to schedule your utilities disconnections. You also need to begin packing your belongings for the move. There’s no time to waste!
Select your moving company. Don’t wait until the week before you move to choose a moving company. People who book at least one month in advance have more options. You also should have travel arrangements complete for moving to your new location, including flights, car rental and lodging.
We can match you with the best mover for your needs!
And make plans for your plants. Two choices: Take them with you in the car, or give them away. Most long distance movers won’t ship plants due to state agriculture rules.
Notify household services providers. It’s good to give one month’s advance notice of your move to your utilities providers. Ask if you can collect deposits before you leave town. A little extra traveling cash never hurts. Also, remember to:
- Order your new utilities for your new home now, including electricity, gas, phone, internet and TV.
- Cancel your lawn company and your pool cleaning service. Does anyone still get the newspaper delivered? If so, remember to cancel.
- Submit your change-of-address forms. Visit https://moversguide.usps.com/ the official USPS Change-of-Address website. You will be able to ppdate your address in minutes! Safe, simple and secure.
You may want to arrange with a neighbor to check your mail the week after you move, in case any stragglers make it through.
Begin Packing Your Belongings. At first, concentrate on packing things you use the least. Rule of thumb: If you haven’t used it in the past year, do you really need it? If you haven’t used it in the last month, pack it up now. Make sure you label each box with the proper destination in your new home. To start:
- Plan which clothes your family will wear over the next few weeks. Pack the rest.
- Pack kitchen, bathroom and garage items you don’t use daily. Hazardous? Use it or toss it.
- Begin dismantling any outdoor furniture or toys, including slides and swings.
Finally, it’s time to hold the garage sale. You need time to dispose of items that don’t get sold. And it’s a good opportunity to connect one more time with people from the neighborhood.
Now that you’ve prepared your home and family for the move, it’s time to enter the second phase: Getting Your Move On.
Phase 2: Getting Your Move On
You’ve been packing now for two weeks, you’ve selected a mover, and you’ve notified the utilities companies of your plans to relocate. Now you begin your big two-week push toward moving day.
Time seems to speed up when you reach two weeks to go before your move. You’ll be glad you prepared the past six weeks, because the time for planning has evaporated.
Two Weeks Before You Move: Time To Get Serious
At 2 weeks, you should:
- Re-confirm moving arrangements with moving company. Speak again with the moving company you’ve selected to make sure both parties are on the same page.
- Notify professional-services firms of your move. Now’s the time to tell bankers, accountants, physicians, attorneys and school officials of your plans to move.
- Service your vehicle, take off moving day from work, and empty your safe-deposit box. Nothing worse than breaking down during your move, unless it’s forgetting to take off moving day or forgetting to clean out your safe-deposit box.
Organize your packed items. You should organize your packed items into distinct categories. Your most valuable possessions should be gathered first, and put to the side so that they’re not mistakenly packed with the rest of your belongings. If you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to decide exactly how those most valuable possessions will travel to your new home.
You might have a list of high-value items that will be transported on the moving vehicle. These pieces must be declared on your bill of lading to receive extra coverage. Once boxed, gather these high-value items in one location so you can discuss their handling with your movers before loading begins.
Also set aside items your family will need the next two weeks, so they don’t end up on the vehicle. Not only clothes, but also reading material for the trip, electronic games and personal favorites. Pack your small child’s favorite teddy bear on the truck and see what happens.
Ask Yourself These Questions
With two weeks to go, it’s time to start asking yourself if you’ve forgotten anything. Have you left clothes at the dry cleaners? Do you have any borrowed items you need to return to your neighbors? How about library books? A few more questions you can ask yourself include:
- Have I taken off moving day from work? Time for family members to submit resignations from any part-time jobs or volunteer responsibilities.
- Does my personal vehicle need servicing? Break down on the road and fail to meet the truck, it’ll cost you big time in storage and re-delivery fees.
- Did I remember to empty out your safe-deposit box? Think about any other hidey holes you may have established, say in the garage or the attic.
Continue packing. By the time you reach one week to go, everything you’re not using over the next 10 days should be packed for your move.
One Week Before You Move: Here Comes Moving Day!
At 1 week:
- Defrost the refrigerator. If you are moving appliances, make sure they’re disconnected and ready to go when your mover arrives.
- Back up your computer. Copy your files to a portable memory device, then take the backup files with you in the car. Just in case.
- Prepare your moving-day bag and your moving-day box. Your moving-day bag contains items for your family, such as snacks, directions and overnight needs. Your moving-day box contains items for the move, such as tape, scissors and a first-aid kit.
If you’ve been checking off items from your Moving Checklist, you won’t be scrambling one week before moving day. You’re almost packed, your family’s records have been secured, and your movers are on-schedule for your pickup. Just a few more things to do, and you’ll be ready for moving day.
You’ll need to set aside clothes and other family needs for the next 10 days, so they don’t get packed. Don’t forget medications and sample-size personal-hygiene products. Choose a spot to place items you’re not packing. Here’s one temporary storage idea: The bathtub!
Next, prepare your moving-day bag and your moving-day box. Your moving-day bag contains items for your family, such as snacks, directions and overnight needs. Your moving-day box contains items for the move, such as tape, scissors, simple tools and a first-aid kit. Set both of these packages aside in your temporary storage area until moving day.
Prepare your family for moving day. Your next step is to sketch out a floor plan of your new home for your moving crew. Label the rooms to correspond to the labels on your boxes. When you arrive at your new home, you can tag each room with a sticker that matches a label on your boxes. Other ways to prepare for moving day include:
- Defrost the refrigerator. Give your fridge 48 hours to defrost. If you’re moving appliances, make sure they’re disconnected and ready to go when your mover arrives.
- Back up your computer. Copy your files to a portable memory device, then take the backup files with you in the car. Just in case.
- Conduct a “practice pack” of the family car. The moving vehicle likely will be gone when you finish packing the car, so anything that won’t fit in the car will have to be left behind.
Remember to grab comfort items for your crew on moving day. Want them to take special care? Have icy Gatorade on hand, along with chilled bottled water. No beer though. Long distance moving companies forbid their employees from entering the company vehicle once they’ve consumed alcohol.
Last minute items. Make sure you have plenty of zip-lock plastic bags on hand to store nails, screws and what-have-yous. Don’t forget to check the attic! Other last-minute tips include:
- Carefully pack your flat-screen TVs. Never lay flat-screen TVs or monitors on their side, the glass usually isn’t strong enough to support the guts of the machine. Wrap your TV with padding and pack it standing up in a box.
- Arrange for parking for the movers. Make sure the moving vehicle can fit in your driveway or on the street and that the distance from vehicle to front door isn’t more than allowed in your contract.
- Buy traveler’s checks, if needed. Heading out of the country? Convert some dollars to local currency before you leave. Airports often have currency exchanges.
Finally, make arrangements to have friends or family members look after your kids and pets for a few hours on moving day. It’ll be good for them, and good for you too.
Moving Day: All Your Preparation Was Worth It
Plan your move, and follow your plan. Moving day doesn’t have to be a big scramble!
On moving day:
- Verify everything. Double-check your paperwork, especially the bill of lading. Make sure the truck assigned to you is the proper one, and that you have on hand the correct number of workers.
- Create a floor plan of your new home for your movers. You also can label each room so your movers know exactly where to deposit each item.
- Plan on being present for the move. If at all possible, you should be there when your possessions are loaded and unloaded. Be ready to supervise the packing process, and to distribute refreshments (and tips!) to your movers.
Crucial Moving Day Duties
Whew! That was a rough week. You’ve spoken recently to your movers, and everything’s set. All your stuff is packed and labeled. Your furniture is disassembled, your appliances are ready to go. Now it’s time wear your supervisor’s hat. On moving day, you should:
- Be there for the move. Somebody has to sign papers, direct the movers, answer any questions. You’re taking a big chance if you leave this up to a friend or relative.
- Be ready to pay your movers. Many moving companies require only a deposit at hiring, with the rest due on the moving day.
- Grab your copy of your inventory list and stand by the door. Your moving company will be checking things off the list as they go on the vehicle – so should you.
Verify everything. Make sure the truck assigned to you is the proper one, and that you have on hand the correct number of workers. Double-check your paperwork, especially the bill of lading. The bill of lading is your contract. Note any inventory discrepancies on the bill of lading, and take photos of any mishaps. This is your move, and you’re in charge.
Are You Cleaning the House after the Movers Load?
Perhaps you have a deposit you want back. Maybe it’s part of your sales contract. Either way, your old house is a lot easier to clean once it’s empty.
If you’re cleaning your old house or apartment right after your movers load up, make sure you’ve purchased cleaning products before moving day. Have everything ready to go the minute the doors on the moving vehicle close. In the:
- Living rooms, bedrooms and hallways. Clean ceiling fixtures, ledges, windows, doors and door knobs, light switches and outlets, walls and baseboards. Vacuum the rugs, mop the floors.
- Kitchen. Clean the sink, oven, exhaust fan and all the cabinets and drawers. Make sure you pull out the large appliances and clean behind them.
- Bathrooms. Clean the tub, sink, toilet, and mirror. Wipe out drawers, check the exhaust fan and, if needed, replace the toilet seat.
Use a Magic Eraser to clean marks from your walls. Be easy, you don’t want to lift the paint. Make sure you remove all nails and screws from walls and ceiling. You might have to putty over each hole, depending upon your agreement.
Double Check Things Before You Leave
Only a few last minute questions remain. Are the windows shut and locked? Furnace and air conditioner shut down? Light switches turned off? Also ask yourself whether:
- All your utilities are arranged for disconnection?
- You left the garage-door opener and the house keys for the next occupants?
- Your truck driver knows the address and directions to your new home?
One last suggestion: Leave your family’s cell phones charging throughout moving day. You might not get a chance to charge them again before you arrive at your new home.