The Ultimate Moving Checklist and 8-Week Timeline

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated December 9, 2021
A young couple moving into their new house
Jacob Lund /

Time flies when you're having fun and getting ready to move

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Planning to move is like training for a race. Over the course of a few months, you’ll prepare for a series of small successes. In the end, you’ll cross the finish line and enjoy an unpacked and organized new home. 

Use this eight-week checklist to get organized ahead of your move, and maybe, just maybe; you’ll even enjoy the process. 

8 Weeks Before Moving Day 

Create an Organization System 

The first step to planning your move is finding a way to keep all of your important documents organized. Choose a program that’s easy to use, like Excel or Google Drive, as a central information hub. Add documents like:

  • Receipts

  • Price quotes

  • Photos of the new and old house

  • Lease

  • House sale paperwork 

You’ll end up with some paperwork (like food and gas receipts) so tuck those sheets in an accessible file, especially if your employer needs them for reimbursement purposes. 

Research Moving Companies or Plan Your DIY Move 

The decision to either manage the move yourself or hire local professional movers depends on the distance to your new location and the number of moving boxes and items. If you’re moving for work, your employer’s relocation package also influences the move’s logistics. 

  • Interview Professional Movers: After you’ve selected a few moving company candidates, set up informational interviews and ask each mover questions about their fees, schedule, pre-moving procedures, and available types of moving insurance. If you have any specialty or oversized items that need specific handling, such as antique furniture, a hot tub, or home gym equipment, mention that during your informational interview. 

  • Employer-Funded Move: If your company is paying for your move, comb over the relocation policies, so you know what you’re responsible for during relocation and what the moving company will handle. 

Schedule a Moving Truck 

It’s never too early to lock in the dates that you’ll need a moving truck, especially if you move during the summer, which is the moving industry’s busiest time of the year. Talk with the rental truck company about the deposit, daily or weekly rates, truck sizing, and moving insurance.

Determine Whether You’ll Fly or Drive to Your New Home  

A man unloading boxes from moving truck
Monkey Business /

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to drive or fly to your new location. The choice comes down to your personal preference and budget. Here are some of the factors to consider:

  • Drive time, including breaks

  • Airfare fees and schedules 

  • Family and pet needs

  • Car shipping costs 

  • Pre-trip car maintenance, like new tires or an oil change

Create a Budget for Moving Expenses

Moving expenses can creep up on you, even if your employer is covering the move. However, if you create a budget early, you can control your spending. Here are some of the moving expenses you can expect to incur:

  • Moving truck rental fees

  • Packing supplies

  • Gas 

  • Hotels or other types of lodging

  • Dining

  • Moving insurance 

  • Fees for oversized items

  • Weight limit overages

Sort Your Belongings and Start Decluttering 

The sort-and-declutter process is daunting, but if you make some progress each day, you’ll have a manageable amount of items left on packing day. Or, if you need additional help, consider hiring a professional moving organizer

Use the following tips to get started:

  • Decide which items you’re going to sell or donate

  • Snap pictures of the items to sell or donate them online  

  • Set aside old blankets, towels, and clothing to use for packing material 

  • Schedule bulk trash pick-up days  

  • Coordinate with neighbors to organize a community yard sale

  • Consider using a junk hauling company 

  • Research long or short-term storage, if needed

Six Weeks Before Moving Day

Inventory Your Items With Photos and Video

Now that you’ve decluttered your home, look at the items you’re keeping and create an inventory list. When you update your homeowners or renters insurance, you’ll need to provide the insurance company with an accurate estimate of how much your things are worth if they need repairs or replacement. Use photos and videos to supplement your notes.

Review Your Homeowners or Renters Insurance Policies

The chances of theft or damage to your household goods increases during the moving process. Ensure that you have the right coverage before the moving truck arrives, especially if your coverage changes from state to state.

Start Your Hunt for Boxes and Packing Materials

A DIY move calls for plenty of boxes, so start your hunt early. You can buy specialized boxes like dish packs for the kitchen or wardrobe boxes for your clothes online or at home improvement stores and moving companies. 

To save money, ask the following retailers if you can recycle some of their used boxes: 

  • Grocery stores 

  • Department stores

  • Office supply stores 

  • Liquor stores 

Check with local online groups and marketplaces to find recycled packing materials. You’ll probably need more packing supplies than you think, so start collecting the following:

  • Rolls of packing tape

  • Moving blankets, old blankets, and towels

  • Packing paper and bubble wrap

  • Small plastic bags for furniture hardware

Measure The Rooms in Your New and Old Houses

If you use a moving company, they’ll take notes when they come to inventory your items about any odd angle or tight space that needs some finesse to move around. You should also give them a head’s up about the same information for your new home.  

But, if you’re taking on the move without help, make a detailed list of the new house’s measurements. That way, you can avoid hauling a sectional sofa across state lines if it won’t fit through the front door. 

Ask your real estate agent or landlord for help gathering these measurements:

  • Rooms that hold furniture or appliances

  • Dimensions of doors, windows, and closets

  • Oversized furniture or appliances

Shop for Your New Home  

One of the best parts of moving is buying new furniture, rugs, window coverings, and appliances. These items usually have a long wait or delivery periods, especially if they’re customized, so shop early to avoid moving into your new home without your new pieces.

Four Weeks Before Moving Day

Start Packing 

A couple packing their belongings in cardboard boxes
BalanceFormCreative /

A basic moving plan helps you work efficiently and with less stress. A simple way to start is by packing the rooms that you use least. Or, box up the items you don’t use every day, like seasonal clothes and decorations. Then, when you’re ready, make space in each room to begin boxing. 

  • Don’t pack hazardous household items, like pool chemicals, fertilizer, pesticides, and alcohol. 

  • Note each box’s contents and mark them if they include fragile items.  

  • Disassemble your furniture when possible. It saves space in the moving truck, and it's easier to carry in and out of the house.

Change Your Address

You might not think you get a lot of mail, but you should still officially change your address with the United States Postal Service (USPS). It's a simple process and shouldn’t take long to complete. However, USPS doesn’t conduct these services automatically; it’s up to you to make the changes. Ensure that the following items reflect your new address:

  • Voter registration 

  • Social Security

  • Banking information

  • Insurance information

  • Employer

  • Car registration 

  • Financial advisors

Make Plans for Your Pet’s Travel  

Don’t forget to consider how your furry friends will get to their new house. Flying with your pet requires extra planning and precautions because of weather conditions and limited slots available for pets per flight. Contact airline carriers early to find out about their policies and pet fees. 

Driving could be an easier way to travel, but if your pet doesn’t have experience riding in the car, you should practice car trips ahead of time so everyone in the car is comfortable. Consider purchasing pet travel gear, like a pet seatbelt or a car crate. If necessary, talk with your vet about solutions for car sickness or anxious behavior. 

Schedule a Professional Cleaning Crew 

Mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms are probably the last things you want to do after moving out or moving in. Let professional house cleaners work their magic and make your house spotless ahead of your move-out date. Check your home sale agreement or rental lease; it has details about the condition in which you need to leave the house. 

Carry Your Personal Records 

Hold onto your hard-to-replace documents during the move. Give yourself peace of mind by hand-carrying the following documents: 

  • Medical and dental records 

  • School transcripts

  • Prescription records 

  • Veterinarian records

  • Legal documents 

Back Up Your Computer 

Moving is the perfect excuse to back up your computer. You should back up your computer or laptop before disassembling and packing it, even if you’re planning to carry your laptop with you during the move. A back up saves important moving information in case of theft or damage. 

Three Weeks Before Moving Day

Schedule Start and Stop Dates for Utilities and Professional Services 

Contact your utility and service providers in advance of your move to make them aware of the upcoming change. Don’t forget to ask whether there’s a refund or a deposit that you need to pay. Connect with these providers to avoid interrupting services: 

  • Phone, cable, and internet 

  • Electricity and gas

  • Water provider

  • Fuel/oil delivery

  • House cleaners

  • Babysitter

  • Dog walker

  • Gardeners

  • Pool service

  • Newspaper delivery

  • Parking

  • Bank and safe-deposit box

  • Gym memberships 

Two Weeks Before Moving Day

Find Moving Day Care for Your Family and Pets 

Moving day is a flurry of action and not the best time for your kids and pets to play underfoot. Instead, schedule babysitters and pet care ahead of time to keep everyone safe and happy during the commotion. Plant parents: If you haven’t rehomed your plants by now, decide if you want to move them in your car because most moving companies won’t truck houseplants. 

One Week Before Moving Day

Confirm Your Moving Plan With the Movers or Rental Truck Company 

There’s no such thing as being “too sure” when it comes to moving. No one will blame you for triple-checking the move details, including verifying the old and new addresses and final payment amount. 

Pack Your Move-In Essentials Boxes Last 

As soon as you arrive at your new house, you’ll want to start creating a new sense of home. The best way to invoke that homey feeling is by having your box of essentials ready to unpack. Label these boxes as “essentials'' and “load last” so you can find them quickly. 

Make sure these items are on hand when you arrive at your new location:

  • Linens and towels

  • Paper goods

  • Disposable plates and silverware

  • Foil and wax paper

  • Plastic food containers

  • Microwave

  • Vacuum cleaner

  • Garbage bags

  • Tool kit

  • Step ladder

  • Extension cords

  • Light bulbs

  • Cleaning items 

Two Days Before Moving Day

Finalize the Last-Minute Details

There are some moving chores that you can’t take care of ahead of time. Keep these details in mind during the last couple of days before moving. 

  • Defrost and dry refrigerators and freezers

  • Donate extra canned and boxed food

  • Change your address with delivery services and place an order for anything (like groceries or water delivery) you’d like to receive after your arrival

  • Secure your valuables in a safe spot until you leave, and then keep them with you 

  • Carry cash for tipping your service providers such as the movers, pet and kid sitters, and door attendants 

Moving Day

You made it to moving day! You’ll feel relief and excitement when you arrive at your new home, but there’s still more work to do before you can have that end-of-the-day celebration. 

  • Protect your floors from move-in traffic by using mats and towels

  • Find your “essentials” or “load first” boxes  

  • Sanitize your bathrooms and add soap and toilet paper

  • Wipe down the refrigerator and microwave 

  • Before the movers leave, ask them to assemble the beds. If you’re the mover, tackle this job first before you get too tired 

  • Unpack the personal items in your car

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.