The Only Moving Checklist You’ll Ever Need

Congratulations on your new home! Before you pop the champagne, it’s time to get down to business. Moving is no small feat – the sheer amount of planning and coordinating involved is enough to make even the most organized person feel panicked.

No need to stress. These comprehensive moving checklists tell you exactly what to do before and after you’ve settled into your new place, so you can focus on the task at hand instead of worrying you might be forgetting something important.

The list is long, but take it step by step. Soon enough, you’ll be relaxing in your new home, completed to-do list and celebratory glass of bubbly in hand.

Click any of the links below to jump to a specific checklist:
Before Move-In
After Move-In

Before Move-In

1. Figure out what to sell or donate.

a living room with a big bookshelf

As soon as you know you’re moving, walk around your current home and make a list of all the pieces of furniture and indoor and outdoor decor you plan to sell or donate. From there, determine which pieces you can realistically live without until you move into your new home (like the accent chairs you never sit on), and either drop them off at a nearby donation center or begin the selling process online with an app like OfferUp.

Pro Tip: Check out our detailed guide on where to donate furniture, clothes, books, toys, cell phones, and more.

2. Pare down and purge.

a closet that has been decluttered
Just A Girl And Her Blog

Declutter by category and start with whatever feels easiest to you, whether it’s books, clothes, or decor. As you sort through your things, try not to overthink it: If you love something and use it regularly, keep it. If not, let it go.

And remember: Every item you get rid of before your move is one less thing you have to bring with you.

Free Bonus:   Here’s what to store and toss before moving.

3. Research moving companies.

a woman is smiling while holding moving boxes
Flickr/Meathead Movers

After you scour online reviews and testimonials, narrow your list of moving companies to three or four, then make some calls to get direct quotes. The cost shouldn’t be your sole deciding factor, though – inquire about the company’s insurance policies, timeline, method, and liability practices, too.

4. Stock up on moving supplies.

a box of moving supplies
Flickr/Guy Kilroy

When you finally get in the flow of packing, you don’t want to halt your progress with a trip to the store for more boxes. Save yourself the hassle and pick up everything ahead of time. Collect  different-sized boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap or padded blankets, scissors, trash bags, and tools.

5. Take photos of your house before you pack.

a colorful wall with a bright shelf

Walk through your space and snap photos of each room from at a least a couple different angles. Include close-ups of gallery walls, styled bookcases, and tabletop surfaces.

That way, when you’re setting up your new home and can’t remember where you hung the bird painting or how you arranged your coffee table books, you’ll have a solid resource to refer to.

6. Complete a change-of-address form.

a closeup of a mailbox outside

If you’re game to wait in line, you can do this at your local post office. Otherwise, the quickest and most convenient way to update your address is to visit USPS.com/move.

7. Transfer your utilities. the hand of a man working at his computer

 

Gather the contact information for your various utility companies (internet, cable, gas, water electric, trash, sewage), then sit down to make some calls. Schedule the shut-off day for the day following your move, then pay off any existing fees. If you’re using the same providers, you can update your mailing address and schedule an activation day for your new home.

If you’ll have different providers, follow these two steps:

1. Call and schedule activation dates for the day before your move.

2. Give your previous providers your new address in case they have final bills or deposits to send.

8. Back up your computer.

a woman sits on the couch with her computer
Sugar and Cloth

Don’t take any risks when it comes to your computer – back it up in at least two places, like the cloud and a hard-drive backup disk. Do the same with your phone. Your digital information is just as important as your physical stuff, so make sure it’s all protected.

9. Arrange transportation for your pets.

a woman smiles at her really cute dog

Several weeks before your move, figure out where your pets will be during the process. Are they going to hunker down in the backseat of your car with blankets and toys? Rest in pet cargo on a plane? Stay with a friend until you’re settled in your new place?

Once you’ve taken care of logistics, pack your pet’s food, favorite toys, and medication, as well as any other essentials like pet beds, collars, and leashes.

Free Bonus:  Here’s everything you need to know about safely moving with dogs and cats.

10. Cancel or forward subscriptions.

a pile of magazines on a coffee table

Moving homes is the perfect excuse to assess whether or not you actually want the newspapers, magazines, and catalogs that arrive in your mail. If you don’t want them, cancel them and rejoice in the extra money you’ll save. If you do want them, call customer service and update your mailing address.

11. Double-check the dimensions of your new home.

a well-lit room and a sofa

You fell in love with a sectional and think it’ll be perfect in your new living room. There’s just one problem:

It’s about two feet too big on each side.

Avoid this nightmare. Sell your used furniture online.

Now before you start ordering furniture for your new place, be sure you have the measurements and scale right. Note the square footage, ceiling height, and window height of each room, as well as its general configuration and any stand-out characteristics like pony walls or chair rails. Then invest in any of these stylish space-saving sofas that will actually fit in your home.

12. Make copies of important documents.

a closeup of filed papers
Clean Mama

Dedicate an afternoon to sorting through your files and making copies of insurance papers, medical records, birth certificates, social security cards, and tax returns.

Better yet, scan these papers to your computer (or phone with Scanbot) in case the hard copies get damaged or lost during the move. If you’re worried about keeping private files on your computer, store them in a password-encrypted folder.

13. Pack fragile items first.

A closeup of fragile items that have been packed away
Flickr/aprilandrandy

Before your energy flags and your motivation inevitably diminishes, focus on safely and efficiently packing fragile items like dishes, art, and holiday decorations. You can save the easy, no-brainer tasks, like packing clothes and linens, for last.

Free Bonus:   These 10 genius packing tips make moving so much easier. 

14. Pile heavy items inside your rolling suitcases.

a collection of books inside a suitcase
The Organised Housewife

Haul out your rolling luggage and fill it with all the heavy, bulky stuff you don’t want to carry. Think: books, boots, or even bottles of wine and jars of food.

15. Insure your stuff.

a red sofa and a houseplant in a living room

Everything you put on a moving truck, especially big items like pianos, chandeliers, and art, should be insured in case it gets damaged or stolen. Check with your homeowner’s insurance provider or ask your moving company if they offer insurance for an additional fee.

Afterward, take inventory of your valuable items. Record their current condition and snap photos in case there’s a dispute or mishandling.

Free Bonus:   These 41 easy moving and packing tips will save you tons of stress, money, and time.

16. Carry small valuables with you.

the contents of an overnight bag
Flickr/Do8y

Pack valuable items, like expensive cameras, laptops, jewelry, and passports, in a bag that you carry with you during the move.

17. Donate non-perishable foods.

a closeup of non-perishable beverages
The Merry Thought

Despite your best efforts to polish off everything in your pantry, you’ll probably still end up with a couple unopened boxes of pasta, cans of soup, or bottles of olive oil the night before you leave.

If you don’t want to lug these non-perishable foods with you, drop them off at the nearest shelter or church. You can also see if Move for Hunger serves your area.

18. Label your boxes like a boss.

Free printable moving labels. Print on copy paper and cut out, and using Scotch Brand Moving and Packing Tape to attach to boxes and bins
A Tidy Mom

The key to painless unpacking is to over-prepare. Search Pinterest and you’ll find countless ways to label your boxes. You can create a number key, use color-coded tape, or cover each box with detailed Sharpie notes.

However you decide to do it, make sure you record the following three things

  1. Which room the box goes in
  2. A general description of what’s inside the box
  3. A detailed list of the box’s contents

That way you won’t have to dig through three boxes marked “Kitchen Utensils” just to find your whisk.

19. Pack an overnight bag.
An overnight bag next to a chair

 

Fill a carry-on sized bag with everything you’ll need to get settled into your new home, like toiletries, medication, pajamas, shoes, and a couple days’ worth of outfits.

20. Clean your house.a green duster sweeps a hardwood floor

 

You know the drill: vacuum, scrub, and polish every surface until it looks new – or, at least, better than when you lived there. You can either hire a professional cleaning crew to take the work off your hands or follow our ultimate move-out and move-in cleaning checklists.

While you’re at it, consider scheduling a cleaning team to get your new home in shape before you move in, or arrange to show up early so you can clean it yourself before unpacking.

Want more brilliant cleaning tips, hacks, and tricks?

Try these 20 genius green cleaning tips and tricks for every room in your home.

After Move-In

1. Take photos of your place and note any damages.

a giant empty room
Flickr/wisley

Before you start schlepping boxes and moving furniture inside your new place, do a quick walk-through and record any existing damages. Take photos of broken window treatments, carpet stains, chipped paint, or anything else significant.

2. Inspect your boxes.

an assortment of boxes for moving
Flickr/Nicolas Huk

Go through your boxes and look for tears, dents, or any kind of mishandling so you can report it to the moving company if needed.

3. Clean up.

 

some cleaning supplies gathered in a bucket
Flickr/Nicolas Huk

Even if you’ve already given your place a deep cleaning, it’s still a good idea to spruce it up before you move everything in. Vacuum the carpet, wipe down countertops, and dust drawers and shelves before you put anything away.

4. Set up the bathroom.

a white bathroom with a blue striped shower curtain
Flickr/Wicker Paradise

Right away, make sure you have a functional and clutter-proof bathroom. Hang a shower curtain and stock the bathroom with plenty of toilet paper and hand soap.

Free Bonus: When you’re ready to start unpacking, check out these 42 bathroom storage hacks and solutions that will make getting ready so much easier.

5. Check the gas and water valves.

a close up of a water valve
Flickr/Liji Jinari

Your utilities should be activated by this point, but it’s still a good idea to double-check that everything is working properly. While you’re at it, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are on and loaded with fresh batteries.

6. Set up your technology.

A collection of Apple products on a desk
Flickr / Robert Hawkes

Take the time to hook up your TV or plug in your desktop monitor. The unpacking process will be so much more enjoyable if you can stream your favorite Netflix show or listen to Spotify as you unload boxes.

7. Check the fridge.

a kitchen with hardwood floors and steel appliances

Plug in your fridge and set it to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Keep your freezer at zero.

8. Unpack the kitchen.

wooden floating shelves in a kitchen
Lemon Thistle

Unpacking the kitchen is a tedious process, so it’s smart to get started right away. Don’t worry about organizing everything in your kitchen perfectly yet. Start by putting away the basics, like pots, pans, dishes, mugs, and silverware. Go ahead and set up everyday appliances like coffee makers, toasters, and microwaves, too.

9. Make the beds.a bed next to flowers on a nightstand

 

Spend a few minutes making your bed with fresh sheets and your favorite comforter or duvet.

A cozy bed instantly makes a new space feel more familiar and lived-in, and you won’t have to stress about sleeping on a bare mattress when you hit the wall after a long day of unpacking.

10. Go shopping for essentials.

a pile of groceries on a kitchen table
Flickr/Meaduva

Before you’re completely zapped of energy, take a quick trip to the grocery store to load up on a few snacks and easy meal staples to hold you over as you settle in.

11. Let MakeSpace pickup and store your extra stuff

If you need help storing your stuff before, during, or after the moving process, schedule a MakeSpace pickup. We’ll pick up any items you don’t need right now, like your snowboarding gear, skis, and other winter gear.

Then, we’ll transport your things to our secure temperature-controlled storage facility, and create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you always know what you have in storage.

The best part:

When you want something back, simply log into your MakeSpace account, select the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it to you.

Top image via Death To Stock

This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.