A Home Moving Checklist to De-Stress Your Move

Want to see your friends get real busy real fast? Tell them you need help packing and moving – it’s amazing the number of times you will hear, “Oh-I’m-sorry-but-I-have-to …” So, plan on minimal help unless you hire someone. Even then, there’s a lot more to do than merely hiring a moving company.

The moving process can be downright overwhelming, but using the home moving checklist at the bottom of this page can help make the process easier.

Bins and Purge

You don’t necessarily need to run out and purchase a bunch of bins for this part of the process; big boxes will suffice. You’ll need three boxes, and if you have a lot of stuff, you’ll need three boxes for each room in the house. One box will be for items you wish to donate to charity, another for items you want to sell, and a final box for items to give away.

What to do With all Your Stuff

  • Sell: If you’ve decided a garage sale is just too much work but have items that you want to sell, consider Craigslist, eBay or Amazon.
  • Give away: Many people and places will take items you no longer need. Consider giving blankets, sheets and towels to your local animal shelter or rescue organization. Hospitals may take old books and magazines. Homeless shelters may take extra food. Place a “curb alert” ad on Craigslist to let folks know that you’ve placed free items at your curb. Tip: Don’t list your phone number in your curb alert or you’ll have people phoning you to find out if the items are still on the curb.

Hire Movers or Do it Yourself?

DIY Moving

By far, the least expensive way to move your belongings from one point to another is by packing your own belongings, renting a truck, loading, and unloading it yourself. You can also hire someone for help with part of the moving process, such as driving or loading the truck you have rented. You can find moving labor online at sites such as Craigslist, MovingHelp and U-Haul’s Moving Helpers® service.

Tip: Keep in mind that many of the laborers you’ll encounter on Craigslist and other sites may not have worker’s compensation insurance coverage and you may be liable if they are injured on your property. Talk to your homeowner’s insurance agent to determine if your policy covers this circumstance. If not, hire laborers who carry their own policies.

Hiring a Moving Company

Hiring someone to do all the packing and heavy lifting is expensive but may be necessary for a long-distance move. Finding the right moving company to fit your needs and budget may be the most time-consuming and challenging aspect of the entire move. It also happens to be the most important step.

Ask for referrals: Ask everyone you know for a referral to a good moving company. The consumer advocates at MovingScam.com claim that most of the complaints they receive are from consumers who used the Internet to find the mover. They also suggest:

  • Choosing a company that has been in business, locally, for at least 10 years.
  • Disregarding any company that won’t give an in-person estimate.
  • Avoiding moving companies that will sub-contract your job to other movers.
  • Not hiring movers that give you a quote based on cubic feet.
  • Asking each company for their Department of Transportation (DOT) and MC (Motor Carrier Authority) license numbers – these numbers can be used to research the company at SaferSys.org.

Request a quote: Request that the representative come to your home for the most accurate moving quote. Ask about any conditions that may cause the cost to escalate, such as additional mileage, weight restrictions, charges for homes with stairs, and add-on costs for items such as bubble wrap and dollies. Find out how the mover deals with repairing, replacing or compensating for damaged items. Finally, ask for all of the information to be provided to you in writing.

Tip: Thursday through Monday moves, and those between June 15 and July 31, are typically more expensive.

Find references online: When you’ve settled on two or three moving companies, check websites like Yelp and Angie’s List for reviews of local businesses written by people who have actually used the service. Also check to see if the business is listed in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.

Don’t neglect checking the mover’s licenses at SaferSys.org. You can even check the insurance each mover carries.

Sign the contract: Ensure that the contract clearly spells out the price you were quoted, pick-up and delivery dates, and all policies you discussed with the representative, including insurance, and that the contract is signed. Ask if they offer a tracking service and find out how to track your belongings as they are transported.

Tip: Most professional movers don’t ask for a deposit up front. Never pay in full until you’ve received and checked all of your belongings.


Tasks such as remembering to ask for time off from work to help facilitate the move; forwarding magazine subscriptions; and gathering school, veterinary and medical records for the new location can fall through the cracks during a major move. Keep a pad of paper handy and jot down these tasks as you think of them so they aren’t forgotten.

Don’t forget the essentials you’ll need at the new house when you first arrive. This might include toilet paper, the coffee maker and coffee, pet food, snacks for the kids, toiletries, a complete place setting for each family member, towels, a shower curtain, the mover’s written estimate and the lockbox you purchased for your valuables. This box should remain with you, not the movers.

Now that you know the basics, use our home moving checklist to keep you on track.

Home Moving Checklist

Two Months Before the Move:

  • Create a timeline of tasks to do in preparation for the move.
  • Sort through all of your belongings room-by-room, discarding, giving away or selling anything you won’t be taking with you.
  • Call the charity to pick up items you will be donating.
  • Place ads for items you’ll be selling or giving away.
  • Hold a garage sale.
  • Research moving companies and set appointments for them to visit and provide estimates.
  • If you’ll be doing the move yourself, reserve a truck and dollies and purchase boxes, tape and protective wrapping.

One Month Before the Move:

  • Start using up perishable food.
  • Confirm the details with your mover.
  • Pack items that you don’t use all the time, clearly labeling each box.
  • Number each box and keep a separate written inventory of the contents of each one.
  • File an official change of address with the post office.
  • Ask your physician for copies of all medical records to give to your new health care provider.
  • Arrange for your children’s school records to be transferred to the new district.
  • Ask your veterinarian to forward your pet’s records to your new veterinarian or ask for copies to take with you.
  • Call your current utility companies to have the services shut off the day after you move. Don’t forget the cable company, newspaper delivery, gardener, pool person and home security company.
  • Call the utility companies at your new destination to have utilities turned on the day before you arrive.

Two Weeks Before the Move:

  • Purchase a box with a lock in which to keep your valuables, such as jewelry, prescription medications and the contents of your bank safety deposit box, during the move. Keep this box with you at all times – do not allow the movers to pack it.
  • Notify your bank, employer, insurance company and any others who need to know of your new address and its effective date.
  • Ensure that your pet is ready to travel. Will it need a crate? Gather up a leash, collar and food and water dishes if traveling by car.
  • Start packing the items you won’t need until you reach your new home.

Two Days Ahead:

  • Defrost and clean the refrigerator/freezer if it’s making the move with you.
  • Assemble all the tools you’ll need to take apart furniture.

The Day Before the Move:

  • Pack suitcases with clothing for the first two to three days in the new location.
  • Pack a box with the essentials you’ll need immediately upon arrival at the new home.
  • Unplug electronics so they’re ready to pack. Tape each component’s cords to the component so they aren’t lost in the move.
  • Disassemble furniture.
  • Pack any remaining items.
  • Purchase bottles of water for the movers, yourself and family members.

Moving Day:

  • Verify that the movers are the ones you contracted to hire and that they have the correct address for delivery. Verify delivery time.
  • If you are driving, give a friend or family member a copy of your itinerary.
  • Arrive at the destination before the movers.


Walttson Holt - November 13, 2013 at 3:34 am

Hiring local moving services is the best and perfect idea for shifting your all staff from one place to another place, because they used to pack each and every things in a safe manner with high secure materials.

linda - February 19, 2013 at 5:49 am

Great post Shannon.It really important to plan out your days 2 months before while you are moving.I think donating stuff really helps in sorting out thing which we will be taking with us and can decrease the removal budget. I always prefer opting for good man and van service in London because its really difficult to DIY removal process.

Shannon O'Brien - August 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Thanks Antonita! It’s always nice to get feedback.

antonita - August 17, 2012 at 11:15 am

Hi Shannon..
Very informative post!! The Right Moving Company can Relieve a Lot of Moving Anxiety..Thank you for writing such good posts..Keep up the work..