When you make the decision to move, the clock starts clicking to your moving day.
But don't worry, we can help. This is a handy checklist of major accomplishments you should tackle before you move.
The tasks to accomplish further from moving day might seem trivial now, but staying on schedule will help you avoid last minute headaches. Time will be at a premium on the days right before your move, so be diligent in checking off these tasks.
60 Days Before You Move
This is the time to start strategically planning your move, step-by-step, to alleviate the stress of last-minute packing and planning.
- Get quotes from at least three moving companies, and make sure they do in-home assessments so your quote is as accurate as possible. Talk to family and friends for recommendations, or get free moving quotes from websites like Relocation.com.
- Determine how many packing supplies you’ll need, and designate a room where you can begin to store and organize them and other items that will assist you in your move.
- Research your new community and schools so you know as much as possible before you move.
- Got enough people to drive your cars to your new home? It not, you’ll need a car mover.
- Get an appraisal on your expensive items so you can insure them for your move.
- If you are being transferred by work, understand your company's moving policy.
- Pare down -- use up, sell, recycle or donate anything you don't want to move. Make it a family project.
- Make a moving folder or booklet -- include an inventory of your household items with a video or photos.
- Contact your insurance agent to transfer medical, property, fire and auto insurance policies, and while you have them on the phone -- be sure to ask about coverage while you’re in transit.
- Create a designated folder for moving-related expenses where you can file all receipts. This will come in handy as many moving expenses are tax deductible. Obtain an IRS Change of Address form, Form 8822, by calling (800) 829-1040 or visiting the IRS website. You will be able to download and print form 8822 and most other IRS tax forms; e.g., Form 3903 to help deduct moving expenses.
- Notify old and new schools and arrange for the transfer of school records and begin the process of registering in new schools.
- Notify doctors and dentists of moves, and seek referrals and collect all medical, dental and school records to ensure you do not forget to obtain them at a later date; some require written permission for this. Keep these in a safe place.
- Belong to any membership associations? Be sure to transfer membership to your new hometown.
Your Family and Pets
- Make travel arrangements for you and your family. Whether it’s renting a car, scheduling a flight or reserving a hotel room, book it at a time that will give you flexibility in case anything goes awry. Be sure to arrive well before your movers’ scheduled arrival.
- If you’re nearing a pet’s regular exam, schedule it now, and start getting recommendations for veterinarians in your new town.
- Contemplate holding a garage sale prior to your move; this will help you reduce the amount of stuff you need to move, and earn some extra cash on the side. Start planning one now, or think of charities that could take your stuff.
- Unless you’re buying packing materials new, keep an eye out of for used items that could be used for packing, like old towels and sheets that could be used as packing material.
- Do you need storage? Start researching your storage options now.
30 Days Before You Move
- By this point you should have already received estimates and hired a mover. Check with you mover to confirm all the details of the move are set. If you are packing on your own, make the proper arrangements and get the right supplies.
- Make the arrangements to connect and disconnect your cable, internet, electric and any other services you currently use and arranged for service at your new home. Dealing with this at an earlier date will prevent any date and time conflicts you may incur.
- If you need new blinds, curtains or furniture for your new home, buy them now and arrange it so they arrive at your new home when your things do.
- Start planning where things will go in your new home.
- Create an inventory of your stuff so that you can compare against the moving company’s list to ensure you don’t lose anything in the move. It’s also a good aid in determining how much moving insurance you need.
- Are you taking appliances? If so, draw up a plan for how to handle them.
- Get a head start on your packing by packing things that you won’t need before the move, like seasonal items such as summer sporting gear.
- Arrange childcare and pet care for the day of your move, or think about a "safe" room they can be during the move itself so they’re out of the way.
- Make a packing plan -- assign everyone a task and involve the kids.
- Make an unpacking plan for the new home -- who does what and diagram where the furniture goes. The movers will not rearrange your furniture for you, so think this through.
- Contact or visit your local Post Office to obtain a Change of Address form. You can also obtain this form online at the Postal Service website.
- Give a change of address to the following: Banks, schools, friends and family, insurance company, doctors and specialists, cell phone company, credit card companies, and magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
- You may have to switch banks because your current bank doesn’t have branches in your new town. Investigate the popular banks in the area you will be living in so that you can close and open new bank accounts as needed.
- Check the requirements for a new driver’s license and complete auto registration at your new motor vehicle location.
- If you will be making an international move, make sure your passport is up to date and has not expired. Passports generally take three weeks to process.
- Let service providers -- landscapers, cleaning services -- know you’re moving, and look for new ones in your new hometown.
Your Family and Pets
- If time permits, you may also want to take you and your family to your dentist and/or eye doctor to get your routine check ups done. It may take a while for you to find new family dentists and doctors in your new city that you are comfortable with so it can be a good idea to take care of these things while you still have access to professionals that you know.
- Encourage children to make an address book of friends.
- Driving to your new house? Make sure your car’s ready for the trip, and that you have all the proper maps -- make extra maps for the movers, just in case.
14 Days Before You Move
- Begin cleaning any rooms in your house that have been emptied, such as closets, basements or attics, and check to make sure you did not leave anything unpacked.
- Moving plants? Check on their special moving needs.
- Make arrangements to clean your new home, and the home you’re moving out of. Also, arrange for any services for your new home that will be easier to do before your things arrive: carpet-cleaning, wood floor cleaning, painting, etc.
- Find pharmacies in your new town that you can transfer your family’s prescriptions over to. Make sure you have enough required medication in case you don’t locate a new pharmacist/doctor immediately.
- Organize important documents -- will, passport, deeds, financial statements -- to carry with you when move; make copies that you can pack with your household goods, but carry the originals with you.
Your Family and Pets
- Is your pet ready for the move? Make sure you have transportation arranged, and that you have someone who can watch the pet during the move. Also, make sure the pet is up to date on its shots.
- Collect valuable items such as jewelry or heirlooms and keep them separate from the rest of your packed belongings so you don’t risk losing them.
- Return any borrowed items, such as library books, and collect any clothing that you may have taken to be dry-cleaned.
One Week Before You Move
- Pack any items you have not had a chance to pack yet. Your final week at home has the potential to be very stressful; don’t push things off until the last minute.
- As you’re packing, be sure you’re labeling each box for where it goes in your new home -- if you don’t do this now, you might very well forget what’s in what box. Also, where applicable mark the boxes “Fragile,” “Do not load,” or “Load last.”
- Call your mover and confirm your move date, and make any special arrangements for items like a piano.
- Arrange for payment for movers, a $20-25 cash tip per mover is usual.
- Confirm closing/move-in dates with your real estate agent; confirm dates with your storage people.
- Discuss contingency plan for the movers running late. Where will you sleep?
- Disconnect and disassemble your computer and peripherals. Back up your computer files on a disk or flash memory drive. You should plan to take these files with you in the car or whatever mode of transportation you will be using to get to your new home. Exposure to extreme temperatures can damage your software and files.
- Dispose of paint, oil, and weed killers. Drain fuel out of mowers. Discard propane tanks from grills.
- Make sure all scheduled deliveries (newspaper, milk, etc.) have been canceled or redirected to your new home.
- Open a new banking account. Don’t close your old one until you move. If you bank online, be sure to update your address for statement delivery.
- Get together all keys, alarm codes and garage door openers and place them in a folder so that you can be prepared to hand them over to the new owner or real estate agent.
- Start preparing your kids for the move. Talk about it, and engage them in the process -- maybe they can help color-code boxes to help the movers know where stuff goes.
- Empty all lockers at school, work or at your gym.
- Return any borrowed items from friends, the library or video store -- you don’t want to fumble with this on your moving day.
- Think about quick and easy meals you can prepare for your family to use up the remaining food in your refrigerator so that it does not go to waste, and also allow you to pack some kitchen items.
On Moving Day
- Put together a moving day survival kit with items you will need for the trip and immediately when you arrive at your new home. These items include toilet paper, snacks, bottled water, dishes, toiletries, towels, a few days’ worth of clothes. Be sure to plan for the contingency that your household items may arrive a day or even a few days late if you are doing a long distance move.
- Doublecheck any arrangements you might have made to transport your pet. Do you have proper travel gear?
- Write out a list for your movers of things they’ll need: phone numbers; exact moving address and maps.
- Check the inventory list and sign it. Put your copy in your moving folder.
- Read the Bill of Lading carefully and sign it, if it is correct.
- Make sure you have the moving companies contact information with you in your moving folder.
- In your new home, tape names to doors to assist movers; map out the floor layout so movers know what’s going where; finally, prepare your new home for moving to prevent any damage.
- If you don’t have professional cleaners coming in, make sure you clean your home before leaving.
- Pack a moving day box of things you’ll be moving yourself so you have access to them right away. Cell phone, light bulbs, tool kit, scissors, flashlight, trash bags, paper towels, toilet paper, aspirin and bed linens. Make sure you have extra packing material on hand for things that arise last minute.
- Pack pet food and pet litter.
- Be sure you have cash on hand for the move. Find out if you’ll owe money after the move and find out what form of payment they accept.
- Double check to be sure you’re on target for your utilities to be hooked up.
- Do the walkthrough with your real estate agent. Make sure everything’s where it should be. Also ask for appliance manuals and such.
- Empty, clean and defrost your refrigerator/freezer and use baking soda to rid it of any foul odors.
- Notify the police in your town if your home will be uninhabited for a long period of time.
- Before you move, mow your lawn one last time, especially if your home will not be unoccupied immediately after your departure.
- Make sure you know what to do with final trash.
One Week After You Move
- Get your kids involved in the unpacking process, and help them find activities in your new town.
- Did you get your moving deposits back yet?
- Make sure you have fire extinguishers and fire detectors in your new home.
- Do any quick repair work that needs to be done, if you didn’t do it before moving in.
- Tackle some fun first projects to help make your house a home, like hanging pictures and other simple projects
- Explore the new town -- get acquainted, find out where everything is, etc.
- Replace the locks if you’re uneasy about keeping the locks that came with the house.
- Check on licenses for pets.
- Update your address for all these: voter registration, drivers license, tax forms, new bank account, etc.
- Start thinking about the larger home-renovation projects you’d like to get started, and prioritize them.