Moving checklist: How to move out, stress-free

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

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Why use a moving checklist?

Moving can be exciting, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. That's where a moving checklist comes in handy. It's like a roadmap for your move, helping you stay organized and can help with reduce stress. Here's why having a moving checklist is a smart move:

It keeps you organized

A checklist helps you keep track of everything, so you don't miss a single detail.

Reduces stress

A checklist helps break down the tasks into manageable steps. This way, you can focus on one thing at a time, making the whole process less overwhelming.

Saves time and energy

You won't waste precious minutes or hours searching for important documents or last-minute packing supplies if you have everything centralized in one place.

Step 1. Pre-move considerations

Planning ahead when moving to a new home is super important because it helps you avoid last-minute stress and unexpected problems. Here are some important steps to consider before the big day:

Create a budget

One of the first things to do when preparing for a move is to create a budget. Moving expenses can add up quickly, so it's essential to outline your costs and allocate funds accordingly. Consider expenses like packing supplies, professional movers (if you decide to hire them), transportation and some padding for unforeseen expenses. Having a budget will help you stay organized and avoid financial stress during the moving process.

Choose a moving date

Picking the right moving date is key to a successful relocation. Consider factors such as work schedules, school calendars and weather conditions. May through September are popular moving times – moving outside of the peak moving season can have some benefits, according to Architectural Digest. You increase your chances of better prices with professional movers and more leeway when it comes to scheduling the move.

Research professional movers

If you're considering hiring professional movers, it's essential to do your research, says Forbes. Look for reputable moving companies with positive reviews and a good track record. Get quotes from multiple companies to compare prices and services. Keep in mind that professional movers can make the process smoother and less stressful, especially if you have large or valuable items to transport.

Are professional movers worth it?

While hiring professional movers may come with a cost, it can be a worthwhile investment, says CBS News. Professional movers have experience handling fragile items and navigating the logistics of a move. They can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on settling into your new home. Just be sure to get your contract in writing to understand the rates, services, etc., advises The New York Times. Consider your budget and the complexity of your move when deciding whether professional movers are the right choice for you.

Check when you need to notify your landlord (if you’re renting)

If you're renting your current home, don't forget to check your lease agreement for any specific requirements regarding the notice period. Notify your landlord well in advance to avoid any issues for a smooth transition – ideally around 30 to 60 days’ notice, according to Apartment Guide. This will give both you and your landlord enough time to handle any necessary paperwork or inspections.

Moving to a new home is a significant undertaking, but with careful planning and a checklist in hand, you can make the process more manageable and less stressful. Stay organized, stick to your budget, and enjoy the excitement of starting a new chapter in your life.

Step 2. Eight weeks prior: Get started

As you embark on your moving journey, it's essential to kick off the process eight weeks before the big day. Here's what you need to focus on:

Declutter your home

Go through your belongings and decide what you want to keep, donate, or sell. This not only lightens your load but also helps you bring items you truly need and love to your new home. It's a great way to make your move more efficient and organized.

Inform important parties about your move

Let the right people know about your upcoming move to keep everything in order, advises HGTV. This can include reaching out to:

  • USPS for mail forwarding
  • to update your voter registration
  • The IRS (complete Form 8822 for change of address)
  • DMV
  • Medical provider(s)
  • Employer(s)
  • Educator(s)
  • Bank(s) / credit card(s)
  • Insurance provider(s)
  • Subscription service(s)
  • Friends and family

This step helps makes sure you won't miss any important communications and helps maintain your connections seamlessly.

Measure your furniture

Before moving day, measure your furniture to make sure it fits through doorways and into your new space, explains Forbes. This simple step can prevent unexpected challenges on moving day and help you plan the layout of your new home. It's a small task that can save you big headaches later. So, get out that measuring tape and confirm that it your furniture fits through any openings (doorways, halls, staircases, etc.) it needs to pass through.

Step 3. Three weeks prior: start packing and update information

As you approach the three-week mark before your move, it's time to dive into packing and check that your information is up to date.

Begin packing less frequently used rooms

Start packing up rooms that you don't use every day, advises Apartment Therapy. This might include items like seasonal decorations, extra linens or kitchen gadgets you don’t use often. By tackling these less frequently used spaces first, you can gradually work your way through the packing process without feeling overwhelmed. Remember to label your boxes with the contents and the room they belong to – it can make unpacking much easier.

Contact your utility companies

Get in touch with your utility companies to setup at your new place. This step enables you to have electricity, gas, water, internet and other essential services ready to go when you arrive, says U.S. News. It's a simple step that can prevent any disruptions and make settling into your new home less stressful.

Also, if your utility company offers paperless billing, you may want to consider this option so that you can access your statements online. This eliminates the chance of your bills getting sent to the wrong address.

Check your address update

As mentioned earlier, you want to make sure that your new address is with important entities. Check with the post office, your bank, insurer and other relevant parties that they have an accurate address change. This helps to make sure that your mail is forwarded to the right place, and you don't miss any important documents and bills. By keeping your address current, you're setting the stage for a smooth transition to your new home.

Step 4. Two weeks prior: continue packing and prep final details

As you approach the two-week mark before your move, it's time to ramp up your preparations. Here's what you should focus on:

Pack most of your belongings

Continue packing items you use less often, like extra clothes, books, or decorations. Be sure to label your boxes clearly so that unpacking will be a breeze once you reach your new home.

Confirm details with the moving company (if you’re using one)

Touch base with your moving company to double-check all the essential details. Confirm the moving date, arrival time, and any specific instructions they may need. Having clear communication helps get everyone on the same page, making your moving day smoother.

Organize personal documents

Gather and organize your important documents in one place. This can include things like IDs, passports, financial records, and any other paperwork you might need. Keep them in a secure folder or box that you'll personally transport. By having these in one place, it’ll eliminate the scramble to find them if you need them the week of moving.

Step 5. One week prior: cleaning and walkthrough

With only a week left, it's time to focus on cleaning and finalizing your move. Here's what to tackle:

Deep clean your home

Give your current home a thorough cleaning. This includes scrubbing surfaces, vacuuming and tackling any neglected corners. A clean home not only leaves a good impression but also makes it easier for the next occupants and will increase the likelihood of getting your security deposit back (if you were renting and depending on laws in your state), according to The Balance. Don't forget to check closets and cabinets for any leftover miscellaneous items.

Disassemble furniture (if necessary)

For disassembled furniture, keep track of screws and small parts by placing them in labeled bags. It may be helpful to use something that closes, like a ziplock bag, and tape it to the piece of furniture it belongs to.

Have a final walkthrough with your realtor or landlord

Schedule a final walkthrough with your realtor or landlord. This is an opportunity to address any last-minute concerns or questions. Make sure all utilities are turned off (or transferred) and that the property is in good condition – again, this can help minimize issues, post-move.

Set aside your personal essentials

Pack a bag with the essentials you'll need for the first few days in your new home. Include items like toiletries, a change of clothes, important documents and any valuables. Having these essentials easily accessible will make the initial transition to your new space more comfortable.

Step 6. One day prior: last minute basics

As the big day approaches, focus on these final preparations for a smooth move:

Get cash, water and snacks for the day-of

Consider having cash on hand for unexpected needs or tipping movers, suggests The New York Times. Tipping isn’t always required but movers work hard and a tip of around 15% to 20% is standard. Also, grab water and snacks to keep everyone fueled and hydrated on moving day.

Remind your neighbors

Consider giving your neighbors a friendly heads-up about your move, advises the New York Times. This helps maintain good relationships and avoids surprises for them. Let them know about potential noise or temporary disruptions and express your gratitude for their understanding.

Try to relax and get a good night’s sleep

Take a bit of time for yourself. Try to get a good night's sleep to be well-rested for the big day ahead. A calm and rested mind will help you tackle any unexpected challenges that could arise on the moving day.

Step 7. Moving day checklist

On the big day, follow this checklist to keep things running smoothly:

Wake up early

Start your day with an early wake-up call. This gives you a head start and enough time to take care of any last-minute tasks. A good morning routine can set a positive tone for the day.

Final check of the mover’s paperwork

Review all paperwork provided by the movers. Confirm details like the inventory list, delivery time and any specific instructions. To reiterate, having a clear understanding of the paperwork helps create a more seamless moving process.

Keep an eye on the time

Time management is crucial on moving day. Keep a close watch on the clock to stay on schedule. This includes coordinating with the movers, meeting any deadlines, and making sure everything is progressing as planned.

Final walk-through

Before leaving your old home, conduct a final walk-through, advises Forbes. Double-check rooms, closets and storage spaces to make sure nothing is left behind. This ensures you leave the property in good condition.

Leave the keys

If you're handing over keys to a landlord or new owner, make sure to leave them in the designated spot. This simple step avoids any last-minute confusion and promotes a smoother transition for the buyers or future renters.

Transportation of your belongings

Coordinate with the movers to oversee the transportation of your belongings. Make sure everything is loaded securely and double-check that nothing is left behind. Communicate any specific instructions for delicate items to the moving team. With these steps, you'll be on your way to your new home with confidence.

Settling into your new home

Now that you've made the move, focus on settling into your new space with these essential steps:

Clean your new home

Before unpacking, take the time to give your new home a good cleaning. This helps create a fresh start and allows you to settle into a space that feels clean and welcoming.

Start unpacking

Begin the unpacking process room by room. Tackle the essentials first, like setting up the kitchen and bedroom. Unpacking gradually helps you organize your belongings and makes the transition smoother.

Confirm everything was finalized with your previous home

Double-check all the details regarding your previous home. If you were renting, confirm whether the security deposit was returned. Most landlords send your security deposit no more than 30 days after you’ve moved out, according to Fannie Mae. Make sure your landlord has your most updated banking details. For homeowners, check that your previous mortgage was properly closed out. Taking care of these details ties up any loose ends from your old residence.

Check locks, smoke and CO detectors

Secure the safety of your new home by checking all locks, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, advises U.S. News. Replace batteries if needed and make sure everything is in good working order. This step is crucial for a secure and well-prepared living space.

Confirm updated address everywhere and IDs

Verify that your updated address is reflected across all your accounts and official documents, Forbes suggests. This includes updating your address with banks, government agencies and any other relevant entities (mentioned earlier). Don't forget to update your IDs to match your new residence. You can typically update your banking information online, if not by phone.

Protect your new home with insurance

If you didn’t transfer your old insurance during the updating process, make sure you have homeowners, condo or renters insurance. This will help safeguard your new home and provides peace of mind. Insurance is designed to cover your home, personal belongings, other structures on your property and personal liability for a wide array of risks, including fire damage, weather-related damage, theft, vandalism and more.