Our ultimate guide and checklist for moving is the secret to a smooth move every time.
Use this checklist so you know everything you need to do and when for your big move!
Understand Your Obligations
You’ll have certain obligations you’ll have to meet before moving based on your living arrangements:
- What does your lease require as far as notice goes?
- What does your landlord expect you to do before moving such as repairing damage to walls from pictures, repainting the rooms to a neutral color, taking down things like replaced light fixtures, replacing lightbulbs, professional carpet cleaning, rehanging window treatments that came with the unit, property maintenance if you rented a house, etc.?
- What would interfere with getting your deposit back if you provided one?
- How far out do you need to schedule the freight elevator for the move?
Your real estate agent is your best source to tell you what you’ll need to do before you move. In many cases, it can be the same things required on a lease listed above. However, it could also be work required based on the home inspection or other contingencies.
Condo owners will face a good mix between a homeowner and a tenant. This is because you have certain terms based on the sale of your unit, as well as obligations to your condo’s rules and regulations.
Other obligations include:
- Switching over maintenance plans or ongoing services like lawn care or cleaning services
- Home/Condo/Renters insurance updates to suit your new living situation
- Transferring utilities and other services
As soon as you confirm you are moving, look into this information so you can plan accordingly.
8 Weeks Out: Decluttering, Storage Space & Movers
Decluttering reduces the number of boxes and furniture you need to move. Aim to tackle one or two rooms a day over a two-week period if possible. Follow these steps:
- Sort: Go through all of your items room by room, closet by closet and decide what items you want to keep, give away/donate, sell or toss. Don’t worry about the items you plan to keep for now. Instead, pack the things you can sell or giveaway in boxes, and the stuff you plan to toss in garbage bags.
- Sell: You can either hold a garage sale or post the items you wish to sell on community boards or resale platforms. Anything you don’t sell can be given away or donated.
- Pickup/Drop-Offs: Anything you are donating or giving away should be picked up or dropped off as soon as possible to get them out of your home before you start packing.
- Toss: Garbage can either be picked up by junk removers, carried to the curb/garbage chute, or shredded such as documents, magazines, and newspapers.
When decluttering storage areas like the garage or attic, you can actually pack as you go. This kills two birds with one stone, while also keeping your storage areas organized. You also create space to store away boxes as you pack.
Consider Renting Storage Space
You might find you need a rental storage space once you declutter. Some reasons to rent storage space include:
- Losing storage space at your new home
- Items you are giving way can’t be picked up yet
- You can’t take all of your belongings to your downsized space, but you aren’t ready to part with them just yet.
Renting a storage space can help in all of these scenarios.
Find a Mover or Truck
Start by asking people if they can recommend a service, or check online reviews and ratings. Choose a few moving companies with the proper credentials and insurance and call for quotes. Once you find the right company, book your movers or rental truck. Also, make sure you understand if they charge a penalty for last-minute cancellations.
6 Weeks Out: Reassess and Get Ready to Pack
Reassess your progress, adjust your checklist and get ready to pack. Start gathering boxes from family and friends and local businesses. If your budget allows, consider renting reusable packing containers from a local storage company. They are sturdy, easy to label, and best of all stackable. You’ll also need:
- Packing tape
- Permanent markers
- Bubble wrap/packing paper.
4 Weeks Out: Move Notification and Start Packing
There are a lot of notifications you’ll want to send out at this stage including:
- Informing your building management of your move
- Notifying your superintendent or building manager you need the freight elevator
- Notifying your kid’s school of the move and requesting their transcripts
- Change of address notifications
The sooner you start packing, the easier the job becomes. Here are some packing tips:
- Start with Storage: Anything in storage you haven’t already tackled should be packed first, since you won’t need them prior to the move.
- Cabinets and Shelves: Pack all nonessentials like books, DVDs, collections, décor accessories, etc.
- Spare Rooms: Chances are the things in spare rooms will not be needed in the weeks before your move. This does not include a home office you use often.
- Label Clearly: Instead of just labeling by room, add a bit more detail such as Kitchen Glasses, Office Computer Equipment, Bob’s Room Toys, Master Bedroom Shoes, etc.
- Pack Smart: Smart packing allows you to use soft items to wrap breakables. For example, when packing up the good China, consider wrapping them in your good napkins, table runners and table cloths. By doing this you can reduce the number of boxes needed and avoid the cost of bubble wrap. Items like stuffed animals make excellent padding, as do clothes, drapes and bedding.
- Box Size: To avoid making boxes too heavy use small boxes for heavy items like books and large boxes for lighter items like drapes and clothes.
3 Weeks Out: Pack, Pack, Pack
Packing is ongoing at this stage, but the focus is changing as time is running out. You’ll want to look at:
- Reducing repeat essentials like hair dryers to one shared by the household
- Packing most toys
- Breaking down furniture or things like swing sets
Don’t forget to book time off work if you haven’t already!!! Also, arrange for a baby or pet sitter on moving day.
2 Weeks Out: Pack and Confirm
In this two-week stretch, packing is down to crunch time, and you want to confirm things like movers, rental trucks, utilities, etc.
Some tips to make it easier:
- Transition to travel-sized toiletries
- Use paper plates
- Live out of suitcases sticking to a few key outfits
- Help your kids adjust to the new routine and prepare them for the move to a new home
Start cleaning in stages using this cleaning checklist:
- Around the toilets
- Grout and bathtubs
- Ceiling fans, light fixtures, blinds
- Closets, shelves, and drawers
- Windows and mirrors
1 Week Out: The Final Steps
Here is a checklist of the final steps:
- Thoroughly clean appliances including the dishwasher
- Scrub sinks and countertops
- Wash doors, walls, and windows
- Rent a carpet cleaner if applicable
- Recaulk the tub
- Repaint and patch walls and doors
You’ll also want to pack a suitcase or box containing all the essentials you’ll need the night and next morning of the move. This includes sheets for each family member, toiletries, medicine, sleepwear, clean underwear, TV remotes, laptops, chargers, etc. This box goes with you in the car so you can find it easily.
Keep in mind how your boxes are loaded on the truck! This impacts how easy your unloading and unpacking is at the new home. Anything you feel you’ll need first should be loaded onto the truck last. You can use color-coding to mark priority boxes for the movers.
The Night Before Your Move
Collect all the items you’ll need to return including:
- Home keys
- Parking pass or garage door remote
- Mailbox key
- Wireless sensors for gates
- Gym/common area access cards or fobs
Finalize cleaning tasks:
- Scrub toilet, shower, tub and bathroom floors
- Spot-clean everything
- Remove food from the fridge and clean it well
- Take pictures of each room as proof of the home’s condition when you left, preferably with a date
- Put your essentials suitcase or box in the car
- Lay down mats to keep the floor clean
- Get a good night’s sleep
Check your list and make sure you didn’t miss anything. Go through the home room by room and closet by closet to make sure everything was packed. Make sure you keep a broom and cleaning materials handy for a final cleaning once the movers leave.
Check the home to make sure all windows and doors are locked. Pass on keys as required by the building or sales agreement in hand with contact information.