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Ultimate Moving Checklist: 37 Things You Must Do Before Your Next Relocation

A moving checklist can be the difference between a pleasant, organized, and error-free move and a chaotic one. Without a checklist, it’s nearly impossible track all the critical activities and pack all the important things for your move.

Your moving checklist becomes all the more important if you plan on storing away some of your belongings in a warehouse or moving to a new city. When packing things in your moving boxes, you don’t want to lock away items you’d rather keep handy.

Relocating to a new apartment brings a special kind of joy, but moving could be dreadful. 

So, we created a six-week ultimate moving checklist to make things as painless as possible. You’d be sure to have everything completely done ahead of time.

Read on to get the full benefit of the weekly checklists.

6 Weeks Before Relocation

Start planning your next relocation six weeks ahead of time. This ensures you avoid the inevitable moving-day stress.

Use this week to set the ball rolling and make a choice on the right movers.

1. Take inventory of all items

Take inventory of all your stuff room-by-room, including garage and basement areas, and save the list in a Word Document or Google Doc. 

Under each room, garage and basement, categorize the list’s items into three: 

  • Items to move
  • The ones you’d give out
  • The items you’d dispose 

Print a copy of the list, you’d use it as your packing checklist.

2. Create a provisional moving budget

How much will it cost to move to your new place? Of course, you’d need to find out. Not budgeting enough money for relocation could be risky, so you’d need to sort this out ahead of time.

Using the activities on this ultimate checklist, estimate how much it’d cost you to move and create a provisional moving budget. 

Use the budget to plan your spendings.

3. Request an in-home estimation from moving companies

Research a list of good movers within your area and schedule an in-home estimate. 

You could build a list by searching on Google, asking relatives and friends for referrals, or using a website like Moving.org (1) to find American Moving and Storage Association certified professional movers.

Run an in-depth background check to ensure they’re reliable and offer quality services. Narrow down the list to three to four companies and invite them for estimation. 

4. Select a mover

Hire the moving company with the best estimate.

Ensure to ask the estimators about service and insurance terms, prohibited items, and extra fees. Avoid paying a deposit until after delivery. Put everything in a contract and sign.

Don’t forget to verify their Department of Transport Number (2).

Of course, you have the option to move everything yourself, but this is not recommendable. Professional movers provide insurance on your belongings and use the right equipment to transport them.

You’ve got nothing to lose using one.

5. Choose a school for your kids

Relocating also means a new school for your kids, and it’s essential you sort this out as early as possible before getting overwhelmed with relocation-related tasks. 

Research all the good schools in the area you are moving to and pencil down the ones that meet your needs. If you need help identifying these schools, you could use Great Schools (3) or Niche (4) for the research.

When you’ve made your choice, then schedule a call with the school.

6. Collect school records and transcripts

Since your kids would be changing school soon, you’d need their school records and transcripts. Make a formal request to their current school asking for these records.

Of course, use the opportunity to inform them about the intended move.

When you receive the records and transcripts, tick on your moving checklist to mark the activity as completed.

You could forward the records to the new school to start processing the admission or wait till you finally move.

7. Notify your homeowners or renters

Your lease contract would probably require you to notify your homeowner or renter at least 30 days before moving.

But notify the landlord six weeks before the relocation date. Doing this ahead of time will ensure you address repairs, refunds, inspections, and other issues early.

Your written notice should contain:

  • Your move-out date
  • The would-be new address
  • A brief statement about the excellent condition of the rented property
  • A request to refund the security deposit

8. Research your new environment

You should start learning about your new environment in the sixth week.

Research for the nearest places to get supplies, nearest police station, and other points of interest in the area. 

Also, learn about the rules and regulations governing the area.

5 Weeks Before Move

You’ve spent the last week getting organized. Now, start collecting packing boxes and labeling them. The goal is to declutter your home and set the stage for packing.

9. Downsize your stuff

Downsize your stuff to reduce the number of items you’d take to your new home and make packing more seamless. 

Here, you’re not deciding on the items to toss away or donate. You already did that last week while taking inventory. 

Go from room to room and use the packing checklist you created to sort all the items you don’t need and dispose of them.

Follow best practices while disposing of hazardous items or get professionals to do that.

10. Inform families, neighbors, and friends

Make a list of all the people you care about and inform them about your intended move. Check against their names to ensure you call or email everyone on the list.

You could ask the ones close-by to help you move.

If you’re relocating to a place that won’t allow you to continue with your current employment, then formally notify your current employers of your imminent move.

Do this five weeks earlier to enable them to take care of the paperwork without a hassle.

11. Collect free packing boxes

You’ll need many boxes to pack up your items. So use this week to gather as many of them as possible, more than you’d even need to be on the safe side.

Opting to buy them could significantly add to your moving expenses, so we recommend you go for free moving boxes.

Here are some places you could get them.

  • Ask your families and social circles for unused packing boxes.
  • Go to recycling centers and ask them for some.
  • Grocery stores, home improvement, and liquor stores are places you could also check.
  • Freecycle.org (5) has over nine million members and 5,000 groups. Visit their website to find a group near you and check if any member has some packing boxes to spare.
  • You could find large cardboard boxes in auto supply stores.

Ensure also to collect trash bags, couch covers, permanent markers, and packing tapes.

12. Label your boxes

Label the boxes according to the items they’ll contain and the room the things are from. 

You could label the box that contains all the picture frames in the sitting room as Sitting Room: Picture Frame. If there is more than one box, you could add a number suffix or use alphabets to differentiate them, for example, Sitting Room: Picture Frames A.

When you completely label the boxes, mark this task on your moving checklist.

13. Start packing non-essentials room by room

Start packing all the items you’ll not need for the next five weeks into the appropriate boxes and tape them. Carry out this task room by room using your packing checklist to ensure you don’t miss out on any.

Tick any item you packed.

Clear a space in your apartment and store the taped boxes there. 

14.  Address minor home repairs

Take an inventory of all the things requiring quick repairs in the apartment and ensure to fix them. You could take care of the major repairs three-two days before the move, or you could pay the homeowner to repair them when you move.

Addressing repairs will help you get your security deposit refund.

4 Weeks Before Move

Continue to pack the non-essential items in each room and ensure to get them done this week. While packing, also take care of other minor relocation-related tasks. Always ensure to tick any task you completed on your moving checklist.

Paste a copy of the moving checklist on the wall for easy access.

15. Request for your health records

Don’t move to your new place without collecting your health records and those belonging to your family. 

Getting these records could take some time, so you’ve to start the process four weeks ahead.

The HIPAA law allows providers 30 days to complete a record request. It also grants them a single 30-day extension, but the health provider must explain the cause of the delay.

You could arrange with your health providers to transfer the records to your new physicians — medical doctor, dentist e.t.c.

16. Research for a physician, dentist, and vet

Research new health providers in your new area and a Vet for your pets. 

Search online, read reviews, ask friends and your current health providers for referrals and shortlist possible candidates.

17. Schedule a call with new your physician, dentist, and Vet 

Schedule a call with your shortlisted new health service providers. You could share your health experience with them if you feel free to do that.

But importantly, try to learn more about them, their charges, and their mode of service. Book an appointment with them and set it one to three weeks after your move. 

If you’re hiring any of them before the in-office visit, you could arrange for your current health providers to transfer your health records to them.

18. Get a pet sitter

The coming weeks will transform your home into a sea of unorganized boxes and properties. Don’t allow your pets to get drowned in the chaos.

Of course, they’d get in your way when packing, and this could result in damages to some of your properties. So you’d need someone that would take the pets away, feeding, playing, and caring for them.

You could hire a pet sitter in your neighborhood (6) for three to four weeks.

19. Pack your garage and basement

A lot of non-essential items reside in your garage, basement, and storage areas, so pack them up four weeks before the move. 

Divide them into areas and use the packing checklist to make the packing seamless.

Wrap sharp items and tape them securely. Pack tools in their original containers, disassemble bicycles, pack lawn furniture, mowers and tools.

Get professionals to disassemble satellite dishes and other connections or items requiring expert knowledge. 

3 Weeks Before Move

Continue to pack your garage, basement, and storage and also take care of other minor relocation-related tasks. The goal is to clear the garage, set up new utilities, and update all relevant information.

Like always, ensure to tick any task you completed on your moving checklist.

20. Create a list of all utilities 

You’d need electricity, internet, gas and more in your new place. Your current area could give you an idea of all the utilities you’ll be needing.

Create a list of all these utilities and save it on a Word Document or Google Doc.

Also, call your current utility providers and inform them of your intention to discontinue using their services in three weeks.

21. Research utility providers in your new area

Research utility providers serving your new area and schedule a call with them. Don’t forget to ask them about available discounts or possible ways you could lower your bills.

Use your utility checklist to ensure you called or email every name on your list — schedule installation appointments with them ahead of time.

22. Change your postal address

Change your postal address online via the United States Postal Service website (7). Running this task online will save you the stress of driving down to a local postal office.

You could also request the postal service to hold your mails (8) and packages till you relocate.

Here are other government agencies to contact when changing your address:

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) — if you’re a veteran
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — if you’re a non-US citizen

You could also file a change of address with the state’s motor vehicle agencies and the election office.

23. Update your bank information

Update your banking records with your new address. You could visit them or send them a mail requesting information on how to update the records online.

Also, update your information with other financial institutions, and don’t forget to order new bank checks.

24. Update records on clubs and organizations you belonged to

Notify the clubs and organizations you belong to of your imminent move and ensure to update your records with them.

25. Wash dirty clothes

It won’t make sense to move in with dirty clothes. 

So, wash the dirty clothes or get them to the laundry. If you’re opting for the latter, ensure to document the clothes you are sending to the dry cleaner and, if possible, get a photo of them on your mobile device.

Doing this ensures you don’t lose or forget any of your clothing or have them mixed up with some else’.

26. Prepare a two-week meal

When you start packing your kitchen next week, you might not have everything you need to prepare a decent meal, and dining out for the next two weeks could inflate your expenses.

But you could avoid all these by preparing a two-week meal for the family. Enlist the help of families, friends, and neighbors to get this done as soon as possible.

Properly store and refrigerate the foods to ensure they don’t sour or lose their tastiness. Get disposable plates, cups, and spoons that’ll last the family for two weeks and keep them aside until you need them.

And that’s going to be soon.

27. Host a modest farewell dinner

You’ll be leaving a lot of people soon, people that mean so much to you and people that care about you. So take out some time this week to share some moments with them.

Host a modest dinner in your place to say goodbye to them. It might be the last time you’ll see some of them.

So make it worthwhile.

2 Weeks Before Move

The big day is almost upon you, and this week, you’ll be getting a bit more sweaty than the previous ones. The goal is to pack and clear all non-sleeping rooms.

28. Pack the guest room

Start the second week with the packing of the guest room. Pack the fragile items first and ensure to tape them securely. Pack the bedsheets, closet and remove all decorations.

Bring down the curtains and pack them neatly into the appropriate boxes. Use the tape to hold the curtain rails together. Pack other curtain accessories into a separate box.

Pack the bedding and pillows in separate boxes and protect the mattress with a mattress cover. After clearing the fragile items into the appropriate boxes, start packing the heavier stuff until you clear the room.

Move to the bathroom and pack everything gradually and with care.

Use your packing checklist to ensure you pack the guest room meticulously. Tick this task on your moving checklist when you’re satisfied with your effort.

29. Pack the home office and documents

First, back up all your electronic files on the cloud and external disc or USB flash drive. Carefully gather all your documents, including medical and educational records, and pack them into the appropriate boxes.

Move to the library and start packing. Use sturdy boxes to pack the books and pay attention to the spines so they’ll not get damaged. Tape the boxes securely.

Unplug your computer and other hardware and pack them carefully. Ensure to follow the manufacturer’s advice when packing them. Pack other fragile items in your home office and tape them securely.

Organize the packed boxes in secured spaces and begin packing the heavier items.

30. Pack the living room and the dining

Some people prefer to pack their electronics very close to the big day so as not to miss their favorite shows. Leaving your TV and home entertainment sets unpacked could put them at risk when packing other items in the living room, especially the heavy ones.

And opting to leave everything unpacked till the moving day is not optional. So, pack your living room and the dining ahead of time.

Unplug all the electronics and carefully pack them in cardboard boxes. 

Remove wall frames, family photos and pack them into the appropriate boxes. If the living room has bookshelves to pack the books.

Pack other fragile items first before moving to the furniture, dining tables, and other heavy items. Use couch covers to protect the cushions.

31. Pack the kitchen

The kitchen is the most delicate place to pack. Packing it requires extreme care and a structured approach if you want to avoid breaking your kitchenware. 

Pack the kitchen cabinet-by-cabinet and remove fragile items first. 

  • Wrap each plate with newspapers and load them on their sides into tightly-sized boxes, and tape the boxes.
  • Do the same for mugs, but use crumpled newspapers or unused clothes to stuff the boxes to pad empty spaces and reinforce them.
  • Disconnect and disassemble kitchen appliances and wrap them with newspaper before packing them into the appropriate boxes.

Carefully pack other items into designated boxes or containers and tape them securely.

32. Service the car

Service the car and get it ready for the journey. 

If you’re moving cross-country and don’t fancy driving, prepare and send the car to a delivery company to move it to your new address. 

If your moving company also moves cars, then negotiate it as part of the contract.

1 Week Before Move

In about seven days, you’d be moving, and the excitement would begin. The goal is to complete every task on your moving checklist and ensure a stress-free move.

33. Call to confirm with movers

Call the moving company one week before departure to confirm your appointment with them. Call them 24 hours before the move to verify if they’re getting ready for the big day.

34. Pack the medications

Pack the medications with care to avoid mixing them up.

Cut newspapers and glue three sides to form a small pouch. Label the pouches according to the name of the family member it belongs to, the prescription, and prescribed dosage. For example, Emma: Headaches 2×1. The dosage of 2×1 means two capsules daily. 

You could use milligram, for example, 250 mg x 1 for syrup drugs.

After labeling all the drugs, pack the pouches into an appropriately labeled box and tape the box securely.

35. Pack the bedrooms

Pack the bedrooms one after another. Follow the same routine you used when packing the guest room to pack each of the bedrooms.

36. Gift unneeded items and clean up the apartment

If you’ve been using your packing checklist, only the unneeded items will remain at this point. There’s no wisdom in moving to your new place with them, so gift the items to people that’ll appreciate them.

You could also auction some online on Craigslist (9).

Dispose of all the waste, clean up your apartment and get it ready for the next tenant. Take a photograph of the empty rooms as proof the apartment is in good move-out condition.

Don’t forget to backup the pictures to the cloud.

37. Take inventory of all packed items

Take inventory of all the packed boxes and record their label names. 

You could prepare the document with Google Doc or Word Document and save it on the cloud to make it available online anytime.

That’s it.

This ultimate moving checklist is everything you’d need to ensure a painless move. Use it to get everything done before your relocation.

Check the items as you complete the tasks sequentially.

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