Making the decision to move to a new home can be scary, but it can also be exciting. When you know you’re moving, you may be spending your days thinking about the extra space waiting for you in your next home, how you want to decorate your new bathroom or the parties you’re going to be able to host.
Stop right there.
It’s easy to get caught up in fantasizing about a new place and the new adventures you’ll have, only to realize you haven’t finalized the details of the actual “moving” part – or worse, that you haven’t really planned your move at all.
If you leave everything for the last minute, your moving experience can quickly become a rushed, stressful nightmare.
Before you get too carried away with plans for your new home, let’s make sure you make it out of the home you’re in right now. The team here at Moving APT has a few valuable tips for your upcoming move. As the big day approaches, you’ll be thankful for this moving checklist.
STAGE 1: RESEARCH
2 – 3 Months Before the Move
Once it’s been determined that you are indeed moving, there’s no more will I or won’t I, you now know you need to pack it all up and move out. Now let’s begin.
1. Create and Organize a Moving Binder
If you want to create a moving plan that is effective and reduces your stress, this is where you should start. Get a brightly colored binder and clearly label it, so you know it’s the place to keep all things moving-related. Print out this moving checklist and place a copy in the binder.
In addition to moving paperwork, this is where you should keep phone numbers, receipts, swatches, and all the scraps of paper you’re been jotting details on. You’ll add more to the binder as your move progresses.
This binder should only be used for items related to moving, and nothing else. When questions come up about moving, you’ll always know where to turn to look for the answer.
2. Develop a Realistic Budget
Create a moving budget template and start setting your budget. To get an estimate of how much your move may cost, use our moving cost calculator or search for moves similar to yours online and see how much they cost.
Keep in mind the distance you’re traveling and the number of possessions you are taking with you since those are major factors in determining the total cost. If you’re shipping a vehicle to your new home, budgeting for that now will save you the headache later.
Don’t forget to calculate additional costs for travel expenses such as plane tickets (if you’re going out of state), living expenses for the first month at your new home, and packing materials.
3. How to Create a Realistic Budget
You will have to decide on how much of the moving work you want to hire someone to do for you, and those tasks that you can handle yourself to reduce your expenses. Your highest cost will likely be for transporting your items from your old location to your new space, whichever method you use for that.
There are several moving options to choose from, each with varying costs, advantages, and disadvantages:
- Full-service move: With a full-service move, the movers handle everything from packing and loading to transportation, to unloading and unpacking. This is the most expensive type of move. The American Moving and Storage Association estimates that the average cost of a full-service local move is $2,300, and $4,300 for a full-service long-distance move with an average weight of 7,400 pounds.
Read more: How much does it cost to hire movers
- Partial-service move: If you’re planning to do some, but not all, of the moving work yourself, you can hire a moving labor company to handle the loading and unloading, and/or the packing and unpacking. Generally, moving labor companies require you to rent the moving truck, and their team will handle the heavy labor for a set hourly rate. Hiring moving labor is cheaper than a full-service move, and more expensive than doing it yourself – the trade-off is the time spent (or saved).
- Movable freight containers: This is a cheaper option than moving labor, and maybe more or less expensive than renting a moving truck, depending on how far you’re moving. This method involves renting a freight or storage container that you pack with your household items. Then, the rental company will transport the container to your new home, and you’ll do the unloading. Costs start from $70 for each locally transported container and can range up to $5,000 to transport the contents of a large home long-distance, as stated by PODS.
Read more: How Much Do Pods Cost to Move?
- DIY: This method involves – you guessed it – doing it yourself. You handle the packing, unpacking, and everything in between. With a DIY move, your biggest expense will be renting a moving truck. When calculating the total costs of DIY moving, remember to consider the value of your time, as this method is likely to take a lot longer than the others.
Want to know more about the different ways you can move? Skip ahead to the section “What Are Your Options for Moving?” for more information about moving strategies and costs.
4. Additional Budget Factors to Consider
Based on the method you choose, here are some extra items you may want to add to your moving budget:
- Professional cleaners: Home Advisor states that the rates for hiring house cleaners range from $25 to $90 per individual cleaner or $50 to $90 per hour for professional cleaning service.
- Packing supplies: For convenience, you can purchase packing supplies for your move. U-Haul provides a 3- to 4-bedroom household kit of moving supplies for around $300.
Read more: Top 10 Places To Buy Moving Supplies Online
- Moving insurance: Insuring your move can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,250 or more depending on what type of insurance you get (full-value protection or third-party insurance), as estimated by Consumer Affairs.
- Professional organizers: Hiring a professional home organizer to unpack your new home can not only save you time but also give you a great start in keeping your new home clean and organized. Expect to pay from $55 to $100 per hour for home organizers, as stated by Home Advisor.
- Travel expenses: These costs will be determined by the distance of your move, and whether there will be expenses for meals and lodging in addition to fuel and tolls.
- Lost wages: Remember to calculate the costs associated with the inability to earn income, if you have to take some time off work to move.
- Temporary housing: In some situations, you may need temporary lodging before you can move into your new home. Factor this into your budget, as well as any potential costs for short-term storage if you need to make arrangements to store your household items until your new home is move-in ready.
5. Research and Interview Moving Companies
After deciding whether you’re going to hire someone to help with some or all of your moves, you can use Moving APT to schedule in-home estimates with reputable companies or start researching companies and scheduling walk-throughs yourself.
Ask for moving company recommendations from friends and family, and collect information on each company to make sure they’re trustworthy and reliable.
Let them know your budget and see if a company is willing to work with you, or if you need to adjust the numbers. Either way, you’re still ahead of the game!
6. Prepare Your Family
If you have young children, it’s a good idea to start prepping them mentally for the change that is about to occur. Moving to a new place can be hard on them, so start getting them excited about the move now – so they have as much time as possible to process the upcoming changes.
If you are anxious about telling your children that they have to change schools, you aren’t alone – there are resources to help you, though.
STAGE 2: PLANNING
8 Weeks Before the Move
At this point, you should know the precise day of your move. You’ve been doing well so far, getting the preliminary work out of the way – and you still have some breathing room.
This is the stage where every aspect of your move needs to be scrutinized and planned out. But there’s nothing to worry about – that’s what this moving checklist is for!
1. Finalize Your Moving Methods
This is the time to determine exactly how your things are going to be moved from point A to point B. If you’re doing it yourself and have friends and family helping, make sure they’re committed to and available on the day of your move. If you are using professional cross country movers or moving labor, make sure they are licensed, insured, scheduled, and ready for that day.
2. Request Time Off
If you’re not changing jobs, let your boss know you are moving and ask for the day(s) off. For those who truly hate the moving process, try to schedule your move day on a Friday, so you can have the weekend to settle in a bit and organize the essentials – along with yourself.
3. Make Any Required Arrangements for Children
If you’re moving out of your current school district, this is the time to choose a new school for your kids. You should also request their transcripts for the new school. This ensures that your children are ready to enter their new school routine after the move.
4. Declutter Your Home
You knew this time would come. It may be hard to throw out that fake tree that you stuck in the corner and never really liked, but you can do it! Don’t waste time packing and moving things you don’t really want or need.
You’ll save time and money when the packing process starts by not adding to the size of the load, since movers charge based on the weight of your shipment – or, if you’re doing it yourself, you’ll have less stuff to cram into the moving truck.
Start with the garage, closets, basements, storage areas, and attics. Go through everything and separate items you’d like to donate, recycle or toss. This is also a great time to have a garage sale, so you can unload some of your unwanted items and pick up a bit of extra cash.
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STAGE 3: Getting Your Ducks in a Row
6 Weeks Before the Move
What could be different in two weeks, you ask? Everything! After the planning phase has ended, it’s time to start moving and shaking – lots of small tasks need your attention during this time, but don’t stress. You are right about the schedule.
1. Make Time for Loved Ones
If you’re making an interstate or cross-country move, now is the time to start saying goodbye. You don’t need to have a fancy party (though you certainly can!), but set aside time to squeeze in some extra memories before it’s time for you to go. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t.
2. Collect Boxes
Start looking for free boxes from retail stores, liquor stores, grocery stores, and restaurants. Any business that gets deliveries will typically have extra boxes, and they usually toss them outside without a second thought. Most have empty boxes they’re happy to hand over, free of charge. Be sure to collect boxes for fragile items too.
If you don’t have the time or the patience to collect free boxes, you can also purchase moving boxes online from several places.
3. Moving Box Labels
Before you start packing, print out labels or label your boxes directly using stickers and tape. Mark each box according to which room it goes in. This will make life easier after you’ve moved in and would love nothing more than to brush your teeth since you’ll only have to look through the boxes labeled for the bathroom.
It’s also a good idea to mark boxes that are fragile. Stacking your electronics on top of a box of glassware in the moving truck is not an ideal placement.
4. Create a Moving Inventory Sheet
This is a list or spreadsheet to track where your items are, which can be printed out and placed in your moving binder. It’s a good idea to designate a new tab or page for each room. Give each box you pack a number and record the number on your inventory list, jotting down notes about what’s inside each box.
If you need to find something very quickly, you’ll know exactly which box to open. This also helps to ensure that every box is loaded and unloaded off the truck.
5. Packing Preparation
Take pictures of all of your electronics before you unplug and pack them, so you can reconnect them correctly after the move. Place furniture hardware in separate labeled bags to make reassembling your furniture much faster and less nerve-wracking.
Gathering towels, socks, and linens to use as packing peanuts is useful around this time, too. You can wrap your glasses and other fragile items in towels and save money on bubble wrap.
6. Ask About Moving In/Out Requirements
Find out if your new home has any requirements you need to take care of before moving in. For your current home or apartment, start doing minor repairs before you leave. If you’re selling, you want to get the highest price. If you’re renting, you want to get that security deposit back!
7. Get Your Car in Shape
If you’re driving across the country, please get your car serviced. The last thing you want is for your car to have issues while you’re on the road to your new life. If you are shipping your car, take everything out of it, including the spare tire and tools – you never know what might go missing.
8. Measure Your Move
We are talking doorways, hallways elevators, and stairs – it’s important to know whether all of your furniture will fit, and what might need to be disassembled. Measure as many times as you need to comfortably know how much clearance you have throughout the house.
9. Do a Little Reconnaissance
Take the time to do some research on the new area you’re going to be living in. It will be nice to have some points of interest, after-work spots, or restaurants you’re looking forward to visiting.
10. Start Packing Items You Do Not Use Every Day
Last but not least, during this stage, you should start packing a little every day. The earlier you start packing, the less it will feel like an insurmountable job. Start by picking a room and packing up everything you know you won’t really need or use for the next couple of weeks.
STAGE 4: PACKING PREP
4 Weeks Before the Move
The one-month mark is officially here and it’s time to collect important documents and sell/donate items you are not taking. This will make completing your moving checklist easier.
1. Wrap Up Moving Details
Now is the time to purchase moving insurance to cover the move and confirm the necessary parking space for a moving truck. It’s possible you may need a permit for the truck on moving day.
2. Start an Essentials Kit
What are you going to need in the weeks during and after the move? This kit will be unique to you and your family. Clothing should be included, but if you have children, maybe a special blanket or stuffed animal is also non-negotiable.
The idea is to get ahead and start thinking about what to include. Make sure these boxes stay open and are easy to identify. You will most likely continue adding things up until the day of the move.
While you’re going through your belongings and sorting out the essentials, make arrangements to donate unneeded items that you can’t sell or pack, like frozen food or bleach.
3. Organize Your Valuables and Important Documents
Decide how you’re going to transport any valuables, such as cash, jewelry, paintings, and sculptures. Important government-issued documents like your birth certificate, passport, and social security card should also be packed at this time. Keep these items separate from everything else and take them yourself when you move, rather than packing them on the moving truck.
4. Moving Day Tunes
Make playlists to pack to, drive to, unpack too, and do anything else you may be doing during this stressful time. Music makes everything better!
STEP 5: PACKING
3 Weeks Before the Move
Now that you’re organized, it’s time to start packing.
All furniture you aren’t going to use can be disassembled and prepped. Pack up that guest bedroom furniture and other rarely-used items. Learn how to protect large pieces of furniture during a move, as there are other ways besides taking them apart.
Pack Up Your Dishes
Dishes take a long time to pack, so think about using specific boxes for this task. It’s important to wrap them correctly so that they arrive in one piece.
You might want to invest in paper or plastic dishes in the meantime, so you can ensure that all your dishes are packed and ready well before moving day.
Pack Out-of-Season Clothes
Clothing is another thing that takes a long time to pack. Figure out the best method for packing clothes for a move, and then start packing all clothing items that no one will be wearing for the next few weeks.
STAGE 6: ERRAND-RUNNING
2 Weeks Before the Move
Even though you’ve done everything right, panic is most likely still going to set it in during this stage. Enjoy it! Panic just means you want to get things done correctly, and we are here to help.
- Be a good citizen: Return your library books, people! But also return movies, games, and other borrowed items to friends/family. Pick up your clothes from the dry cleaner’s. The point is to move without leaving a bad taste in anyone’s mouth when you’re gone.
- Plan meals: This may be the first time you’ve ever done grocery shopping with the intention of having less food, but you’ll be happy you did. Shop sparingly, and plan meals so that you can eat leftovers as often as possible. Also, eat as much perishable food from your fridge as you can.
- Set up services in your new home and city: If you’re doing a long distance move, find a new dentist, doctor, veterinarian, and any other professional provider you visit frequently in the new town you’ll be living in. This is also the time to shop around for internet, cable, and phone bundles, as well as scheduling installation. Set up recycling and trash for your new place – and don’t forget to cancel your old services and return any rented equipment to avoid charges.
- Refill prescriptions and buy travel necessities: It’s important to have your scripts filled before you move. Travel-sized essentials like contact lens solutions and mouthwash should be purchased as well, so you can pack up your full-sized daily toiletries.
- Back up your computer: The universe is a crazy place, and you never know what might happen. If anything goes wrong during your move, you’ll be happy to know you have backup files saved.
- Check for overlooked fragile items: Take the light bulbs out of the lamps you’re moving and wrap them for packing. You may also want to remove batteries from remotes, and disconnect any other fragile components that might get damaged during the move.
- Make care arrangements: If you’re worried about small children or pets on moving day, arrange a playdate, babysitter, or doggy daycare/pet care services to make sure they are safe. Moving can be dangerous for the little ones we love.
- Update your address: At the post office, have your mail forwarded and fill out a change of address form. Change your address for your car insurance and registration, driver’s license, and any monthly subscriptions you may have. Update your voter registration as well. You can also send out a change of address to friends and family. There are some very creative ways to do this.
- Log your changes: Update the moving inventory in your moving binder to reflect everything you’ve packed so far.
STAGE 7: FINALIZATION
1 Week Before the Move
Only one week left – time to organize your things, finish packing, and clean up. Doing a little bit every day goes a long way toward reducing stress and making the moving day something to look forward to, rather than dread.
1. Reconfirm Plans with Movers or Friends/Family
We all have busy lives, and it’s easy to forget about obligations. Make one last call to confirm the date and time with the people helping you move.
2. Transfer Medical and School Records
Usually this is something that must be done in person. Don’t wait to complete the necessary forms to have your info transferred – get this out of the way before you forget.
3. Finish Any Last-Minute Packing
The majority of your household is packed, so you should only have to wrap up your essentials kit and any clothing you’ll need to pack in suitcases for the trip.
4. Prep Appliances
Get that grass out of your mower, disconnect the stove’s gas line, and prep the fridge if it’s coming with you.
5. Shut Off Utilities
You don’t want to do this too soon, in case your moving date changes.
Once everything is packed, a thorough cleaning is in order. At the very least, sweep up. Take pictures to make sure you can prove you left things the right way, if you’re renting, or schedule a walk-through.
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STAGE 8: MOVING OUT
The Big Day
This is exciting! You’re so close to the end. Let’s start your moving day off right.
Confirm Details and Keep Things Moving on Schedule
You’re paying by the hour, so keep your movers on schedule. Set your intentions for the move and let them be known, so everyone can work in harmony toward the same goal.
Check off your moving inventory to ensure all your boxes were loaded, and that they arrive at your new home. Take pictures of anything that was damaged during the move. Don’t forget to tip your movers, either – they’ve worked hard.
Pop the Champagne (or Take a Nap)
Either way, celebrate! You’ve completed your move!
What Are Your Options for Moving?
Based on your moving budget and the scope of your move, there are several options for moving your items from one point to another.
Below are five of the most common methods for moving.
1. Full-Service Movers
This is the least stressful option (both physically and mentally) – and the most expensive. A full-service move includes the following:
- Professional movers who pack all your things, disassemble and reassemble your furniture, load and unload your household items, and drive to the destination location
- A moving truck
- All the required packing supplies
- Liability insurance (in case of loss or damage)
Know that a lot of full-service moving companies only provide basic liability insurance, which covers you for only around 60 cents per pound. With this type of coverage, for example, if your 100-pound TV is damaged, you would only be reimbursed $60.
If you have valuable belongings, you should opt for full-value protection, which provides full reimbursement of your item’s replacement value if anything gets damaged during the move.
To find a reputable long distance mover, check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as well as the American Moving & Storage Association for moving company credentials, including licensing.
2. Moving Labor (Partial Movers)
Hiring a moving labor company can save you some time and money, but will require more work on your end. Moving laborers offer a variety of services, depending on the company. The most common service they provide is loading and unloading your moving truck – which means you will be responsible for packing and unpacking your household items. You’ll also have to rent your own truck.
Home Advisor estimates that the costs of having a 3+ bedroom home professionally packed range from $1,000 to $2,200. You can save considerable money compared to a full-service move, and still avoid having to load and unload your furniture and boxes. The tradeoff is the time and stress of packing everything yourself.
3. Do It Yourself (DIY)
As the name suggests, this option involves handling the move without professional help. You will need to purchase packing supplies, pack up your entire household (goods and furniture), and load it into a rented moving truck. Then you’ll drive the truck to your new home, unload it, and set things up at your new space.
With this method, the biggest expense will be renting a moving truck. The cost of the largest rental truck at U-Haul is $125 per day, but this is just the base price. You’ll also have to pay for fuel, mileage charges, and insurance protection.
Any move comes with a risk of damage to your items, and with this moving option, you are not insured (unless you bought separate moving insurance). Most home insurance policies don’t cover relocation damage.
4. Movable Freight Containers
The use of movable freight containers like PODS is one of the newest options available for people who are moving. With this option, you can choose from three different sizes of PODs. The POD is delivered to your home, and you can take your time loading your furniture and boxes into it. Then, the container is picked up, driven to your new home, and dropped off so you can unload.
One positive feature of PODS containers is that the container entrance is at ground level, so you don’t have to carry heavy furniture up and down a ramp, as you do with moving trucks.
The cost of renting PODs containers for your move starts at $70 for local moves and can go up to $5,000 for long-distance moves. However, most long-distance moves are cheaper, with the price range starting at $800.
Other companies, such as U-Haul and U-Pack, provide the same type of movable containers for rent.
Many of the major airlines, and large courier companies such as DHL and UPS, offer airfreight cargo transportation. This option is worth considering if you are moving overseas.
Air shipping rates are calculated by the weight and dimension of the belongings. You’ll also need to know the specific time and place to deliver your belongings in order to get an accurate quote for airfreight shipping.
Different air shipping companies provide different packing guidelines, so be sure to read the contract and ask questions before you begin to pack your boxes for shipping by air.
First, pack non-essential goods. These include the things you won’t need in the weeks before your move, such as your books, electronics, and decorative items. Essential goods should be packed last. These include items from the kitchen, clothing, toiletries, dinnerware, and any other everyday household goods.
These basics apply to every move, no matter how big or small, whether local or long-distance.
There are some items that you’ll have to be responsible for moving, as professional movers will not move them. This can include:
- Food and other perishable items
- Scuba gear
- Family heirlooms and other expensive/sentimental items
- Hazardous materials (e.g. aerosols, nail polish, paints, fertilizer, propane tanks)
- Certain plants
If you’re not sure whether a mover will handle a particular item, ask the company about their policies.
We suggest you pack an essentials kit that will remain open until you move. This should include bathroom supplies such as toilet paper and travel-sized toiletries, kitchen items like paper plates and paper towels, cleaning supplies, a tool kit, and some food items or snacks that can be easily prepared.
Hiring a professional packing service typically costs between $25 and $40 per hour, per mover, excluding materials. Usually, you will need a minimum of two movers.
Overall, you will spend between $100 and $400 in labor to pack a one- to two-bedroom home, and $480 – $1,440 to pack a three-bedroom or more home. If you need to hire additional help, many companies offer discounted hourly rates for more than two packers.
If you don’t have a lot of time for your move or want to reduce your stress, hiring movers to take care of everything for you can be money well spent. You’ll also have better protection in the event something goes wrong during the move. Most full-service moving companies provide damage coverage, in case your possessions are damaged during packing or transit.
We Wish You a Happy Moving Day
At Moving APT, we’re committed to helping you ensure that your move is as smooth and stress-free as possible. We hope this checklist helps you organize your next move so that everything goes according to plan, and you arrive safely at your new home with all your household items.
There are many decisions involved in planning a move, and it’s important for you to choose the methods that best suit your situation and your budget. This timeline will help you stay on track, no matter how you’re getting your things from A to B. Don’t forget, you can download our moving checklist and save or print it out for reference.