How to Prepare for Movers, From DIY Packing to Full-Service

Deane Biermeier
Written by Deane Biermeier
Updated February 8, 2022
Couple wrapping sofa with protective plastic
Photo: EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER / E+ / Getty Images


  • Create a plan to help your movers make your moving day great.

  • Develop a strategy to keep moving day organized and simple.

  • Build checklists to keep you on track for a smooth move.

  • Tailor your plans to your specific needs. 

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Moving day can be challenging. Even after you’ve taken the time to hire the best movers, there may still be some uncertainty about what to expect when they arrive. Eliminating every stressor may not be a realistic goal, but knowing how to prepare in advance for the big day can go a long way toward making it an enjoyable experience.

Whether your movers will be performing full-service packing, moving-only service, or somewhere in between, there are a number of things you can do before they get there to help your movers focus on what they do best while keeping your day moving as smoothly as possible.  

How to Prepare for a Move

Every moving day is a big deal. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed. The following tips can help you prepare for any kind of moving, no matter what you’ve hired your movers to perform. 

First Things First

In the weeks leading up to moving day, knock off a few of these to-dos to lessen the odds of moving day surprises happening.

  • Determine exactly what to expect from your movers on moving day by referring to your moving company’s documents or speaking with them directly.

  • Create a plan of action by writing down an expected timeline of events for the big day.

  • Make a pre-moving-day checklist.

  • Make a moving-day checklist.

  • Determine how your motor vehicles will be moved and make plans.

  • Make a plan to have young children and pets not present on moving day if possible and practical.

  • If you choose to, purchase moving insurance and understand the policy limitations.

Pre-Moving-Day Checklist

Put these items on your pre-moving day list and begin checking them off as soon as you can.

  • Schedule address changes at the post office and financial institutions.

  • Take down any items that are mounted on the walls.

  • Thoroughly clean and organize the house.

  • Measure doorways and large furniture pieces and create a plan for moving oversized items. 

  • Back up your computer, and any other electronic data information, and plan on bringing the backup copies with you to your new home. 

Day-Before-Moving-Day Checklist

Man washing lawn mower in his yard
Photo: VukasS / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

These things can wait until the last few days before moving day:

  • If your yard equipment is going with the movers, clean up the items and drain the gasoline from their tanks.

  • Clean out, unplug, and wrap up the cords of appliances you’ll be taking along. 

  • Dispose of any hazardous materials that moving companies can’t move by law.

  • Remove interior doors from their hinges if large furniture is being removed from the room.

  • Disassemble computers and electronic entertainment systems and secure any wires.

  • Gather up chargers, toiletries, and other essentials you’ll need access to before everything is unpacked. 

Moving Day Checklist

These are the last few details to take care of before the movers get there.

  • Follow your plan to get pets and young children out of the house.

  • Protect the floors with drop cloths or contractor’s paper where needed.

  • Remove vehicles from driveways and parking areas if access is needed to those locations.

  • Remove entry doors from their hinges if necessary. 

When the Movers Arrive

When the movers get there, keep these tips in mind. 

  • Avoid interrupting the workers as much as possible to allow them to do what they’re trained to do.

  • Remain onsite to attend to any unusual situations that may come up.

  • Keep all moving company documents with you for reference if needed. 

  • Have tip money on hand. 

  • Having drinking water and snacks available for the movers is optional, but it’s a nice gesture that’ll likely be very appreciated.

Preparations for Various Types of Moving Services

Between the many types of moving companies, you can hire movers for any service you desire. Most often, customers hire them to perform just one or a few of the services they offer. Full service moving includes a team of workers that not only move your possessions, but they’ll pack them all up for you as well. 

If you choose to pack for your move on your own, you may have hired movers just to get your stuff from one place to the other. In either case, here are a few suggestions to make moving day the best it can be. 

DIY Packing Considerations

If you’ve chosen to do the packing yourself, take note of these items in addition to the above checklists before moving day arrives. 

  • Be fully packed before the workers get there to save time and the cost of unnecessary labor hours.

  • Label everything according to your moving company’s guidelines.

  • Mark fragile items and boxes containing fragile items.

Full-Service Moving Considerations

Full-service moving is just what it sounds like. However, there are several things you can do to keep moving day moving along. 

  • Pack your clothing and related items if your contract with the movers doesn’t include this service. 

  • Refrain from pre-packing anything other than very small items and items that you’re moving in your own vehicle.

  • Remove batteries from electronic devices.

  • Designate and boldly label (or remove from the home) items that the movers aren’t taking on their truck. 

  • Put items in each room that corresponds to rooms in your new residence.

  • Disassemble beds and other furniture in advance if possible and sensible. 

  • Make a detailed inventory of your items, including photos and descriptions. 

Preparations for Specific Circumstances

You’re almost ready for moving day. Here’s a few items to attend to in your specific situation.

Container Moving

Container moving is a good option for many reasons. If you’ve hired professional packers, or are loading the container yourself, there are just a couple of guidelines to help you prepare: 

  • Have everything packed and loaded into the container when the moving truck arrives.

  • Be certain that no hazardous materials have been placed in the container.

  • Keep vehicles away from the moving container to allow the truck the access it needs.

Apartment or Condo Moving

Depending on the layout of the apartment or condominium building you’re moving into or out of, give your movers a hand by taking care of these items.

  • Notify the management of the buildings involved about dates and expected times of your moving activities. 

  • Ask management to arrange for elevator protection pads to be available or installed before the time of your move.

Local Moving

Here are a few things you can do to help make your local move easier.

  • Inform your new neighbors about your moving plans if possible.

  • Give a description of the new location to your movers so they’ll have an idea of where they can park and unload their moving truck.

  • It’s not a bad idea to label the rooms at the new location if you have early access to the property. 

Vehicle Moving

There are certain laws that movers must abide by when moving a vehicle. If your movers, or your vehicle moving company, will be moving your vehicles, be sure to understand what items can and can’t be left in your car when the movers get there. 

  • Remove items that aren’t allowed to travel with the vehicle.

  • Take several photos to capture the condition of the automobile before moving day.

Long-Distance and International Moving

Moving long-distance or overseas requires significant advanced planning. Starting a long-term moving checklist as early as possible is key to getting a solid start on your move. On your list, be sure to include a contingency plan for living in your new location without your belongings, in case the shipment gets delayed in transit. 

Ready to Move?

With a little planning and an understanding of what to expect on moving day, you can keep stressors to a minimum and simply enjoy the process. Moving companies near you are always ready to provide any additional information you may need to make your move as relaxed as possible. 

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