Start packing. It's never too early! Rule of thumb: If you haven't used it in a month, chances are you won't need it before you move. Safe bets include holiday decorations, last season's clothes, your espresso maker, and about 99% of your books, movies, and music.
- Pack heavy items in small boxes and light items in big boxes.
- Wrap breakables in bubble wrap.
- Fill in empty spaces with clothes, linens and window treatments.
Empty your kitchen. Give the grocery store the brush-off and start eating everything in your cabinets -- the more you eat, the less you'll have to lug between houses. Make refrigerated and frozen foods a top priority, since they're hard to ship and prohibited by some moving companies. Canned goods have a better shelf life, but they're essentially small dumbbells, so polish off as much as you can.
Sell your stuff. If you're not going to need it in your new house, convert it into cash. The sooner you start, the more money you'll get -- buyers are more likely to haggle with a must-go ad.
Know what you've got. Number your boxes as you pack, and write the room where they belong. Keep a detailed inventory of their contents so you can make sure everything arrives safe and sound. Take photos of big-ticket items like antiques or fine china, and call your insurance company to make sure your valuables are covered in the case of loss or breakage. Your insurance company may request appraisal certificates as proof of value. You can get these from a professional appraiser. Find one on the American Society of Appraisers' Web site.
Protect your tech. Back up any important data on your desktop or laptop -- your insurance will cover a busted computer, but it can't buy back your digital photos or half-finished novel. Unplug appliances and electronics 24 hours before you pack them so they have time to cool down. And if you're moving to a new climate, make sure your car is prepped for the trip -- think antifreeze and snow tires for cold weather, coolant for the sun belt, and an oil change for long-distance moves.
Check your mail. Make a note of who sends you snail mail, and notify those companies of your new address. Most banks, credit cards, and service providers send bills on a monthly basis, so if you start keeping track now, you'll have your bases covered by moving day.