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Moving Checklist

Contact your utility providers to schedule the shutdown of services—and be sure to give them your new address so they can send any remaining bills after you move. (This is also a good time to see what services you’ll need at your new place, in case you’re able to schedule those in advance.) For most homes, these are the service providers you’ll need to contact:

One to two months before moving

Schedule cancellations of utilities and services

Contact your utility providers to schedule the shutdown of services—and be sure to give them your new address so they can send any remaining bills after you move. (This is also a good time to see what services you’ll need at your new place, in case you’re able to schedule those in advance.) For most homes, these are the service providers you’ll need to contact:

  • water and sewage treatment
  • internet and cable services
  • electricity
  • natural gas/propane
  • trash and recycling pickup
  • homeowners or renters insurance
  • gardeners, landscapers, snowblowers
  • gym

Give notice

If you’re a renter, give notice to your landlord. The standard notice for most landlords is between 30 to 90 days. But this can vary by state and rental agreement, so be sure to check both state laws and your rental agreement. To get your deposit back, you’ll need to schedule a walk-through. And homeowners may have to give notice to a homeowners or neighborhood association, if applicable.

Start culling your possessions

“It doesn’t make much sense to move belongings you really have no intention of ever using at the new place,” NorthStar Moving Company’s Laura McHolm said. She recommends starting eight weeks before the move and suggests tackling one to two rooms per weekend. Organize everything into three piles: keep, give away, and recycle/trash. If you have a lot of clothing to donate, we have a handy guide on how to responsibly donate or repurpose it all.

Take a hard look at any bulky furniture. Moving costs often come down to weight or size, so ask yourself whether you’re ready to invest in an item again just to get it from point A to point B. Before the move, try selling couches, grills, patio furniture, and other big stuff that’s usable but not worth bringing along.

If you’re hiring movers, pick a moving company

Brian Brooks of E.E Ward Moving & Storage advises that you start the search for a moving company as soon as possible—preferably two months before your move—to get the best price. (Prices can fluctuate based on demand, so it’s better to have enough time to compare a few quotes.) And Brooks advises that you choose a company carefully. McHolm agrees with this, saying, “When choosing a moving company, reputation and experience are crucial.” Ask friends for their recommendations. Read Yelp or Google reviews (and always verify with different sources, to avoid misleading or fake reviews). And scroll listings on the Better Business Bureau. If you belong to special-interest groups online (like parenting forums), find out whether these sites include reviews of local movers.

For a big move (a whole house, out of state), most moving companies will offer a free on-site estimate; take them up on this. Even for small moves, Brooks said, it’s wise to do a virtual walk-through so the movers have a comprehensive idea of how much time and labor it will take to move you—since even small details, like where the truck can park, can affect the job. He recommends getting three estimates before committing to a company.

For interstate moves, the moving company should be licensed with a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number—you can search for it in this database. Finally, rental buildings may require a certificate of insurance (COI) from your moving company; this offers protection against things like damage to the building elevator and dents in walls. So be sure to ask your moving company if it is able to provide one.

You can also rent a PODS portable container and load it yourself, or you can hire a team to load it for you. This is an especially good option if you prefer loading a portable container slowly over a few weeks (make sure you have a very good lock and a secure spot to place the container, like a driveway). PODS also offers storage options at one of its facilities, so this is a solid storage alternative if you won’t be moving to the new place immediately. When Kit was moving to Hawaii, he wasn’t yet sure of his permanent address there, so he stored his belongings in a PODS container in California for a year before shipping everything out.

Determine whether you (or your movers) need a parking permit for moving day

Whether you’re renting a truck or hiring movers, it’s a good idea to do some research. According to Brooks, “Parking permits are common for moves in downtown and metropolitan areas of high-rise living.” Frustratingly, different cities have different rules and different terminologies for these permits. (Try searching Google for “street occupancy permit,” “moving van permit,” or “encroachment permit,” plus your city’s name; you should be able to find the local guidelines.) Even if your city doesn’t require a parking permit, there may be other rules—like street-sweeping regulations—you need to follow. And remember, you’ll have to do this research for your old place and your new place, since the rules can change even street by street.

Some cities have rules on how large a moving truck can be for the permitted space, as well as how many days and which hours you may park it. McHolm stresses that it’s worth putting in the effort to secure a permit. “The closer the truck is to your front door, the more money you will save. If the truck needs to park down the street, you will pay for the time for the movers to unload and walk to the front door.” If your street or city requires a parking permit for moving vans, ask your moving company who will be providing it.

Get supplies and start packing

Unless you’re paying movers to pack your stuff (in which case you’ll still have to delegate tasks and oversee things), packing is the next big step. Though packing isn’t usually considered fun, if you are armed with the right supplies and packing tips, it can go smoothly. A lot of moving/packing companies (including rental box companies) also sell packing supplies and can help estimate how much you’ll need; this is a good option if you prefer an all-in-one solution. But if you prefer to pick the supplies yourself, we have an in-depth guide on what to buy to help make moving less miserable.

Send notice of your new address

Changing your address may be a “before” or “after” item on your to-do list, depending on when you have access to your new place. Here are the places you should remember to notify when you’re changing your address:

  • USPS Change-of-Address (probably the most important step; USPS will forward your mail for free for one year)
  • voter registration (can sometimes be done via USPS or the DMV)
  • medical and dental providers
  • educators (your kids’ school or your university)
  • credit card companies and banks
  • subscription services (including meal-prep deliveries, prescription deliveries, newspapers, magazines)
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Social Security Administration
  • employers (for W2 forms)
  • accountants
  • Amazon (or any other store that delivers to you regularly)
  • friends and family (our top-pick holiday card recommendation offers moving announcement cards)

Request time off as needed

Even the most organized moves can take time. Don’t schedule anything for the day of the move, including work or promising first dates. If you have young kids or pets, consider sending them off with sitters for the day. And to be sure things are done the way you want, you or a trusted representative should be on hand (and are often required to be) to oversee the move, at both your old home and your new one.

Eat through your home

This is a good time to get creative with the food in your freezer and pantry. You can theoretically transport perishables in a cooler, but if you eat up what you have on hand, you’ll have less to pack.

Moving week

Confirm your move

If you’ve hired movers, contact the company to confirm the service. If you haven’t hired movers, confirm with rental companies, whether you’re renting a truck, ordering PODS containers, or other similar services.

Warn neighbors

If you’re going to be blocking a shared driveway, give neighbors a heads-up so they can plan accordingly, whether that means telling their visitors to park down the street or moving their own cars.

Confirm appointments for utilities and internet at your new place

Ideally you’ve already booked these, and now’s a good time to confirm appointments for cable service, internet installation, and new utility providers (to avoid hiccups with water and electricity services). If you haven’t already scheduled these new installations, there’s no time like the present! These can sometimes get booked up, so schedule them as soon as possible.

Clean the old place

We have a handy newsletter packed with information on cleaning just about anything, so you may want to refer to this if you’re expecting to get a rental deposit back. If you can afford to hire a pro to do a deep cleaning, it will likely lower your stress. This is also the time to spackle over any nail holes in walls and repair tiny damages. When you’re cleaning things out, we recommend using contractor clean-up bags for sturdy trash bags that won’t rip.

Pack your personal essentials

Make sure to keep everyday essentials—including things like clothes, medication, and toiletries—separate and easily accessible. Packing your personal items in a suitcase will help set them apart. And if you choose to spend the night of your move in a hotel, rather than in the new location, they’ll be easier to transport. You can read our guide for specifics on what to keep handy during those first days.

The day before

Remind neighbors

If you’re going to be blocking a shared driveway, give neighbors a heads-up so they can move their cars. (And if there are some neighbors you love, don’t forget to give them goodbye hugs.)

Get cash

Tipping is not a requirement, but professional movers work hard, and many get paid just a little over minimum wage. The right thing to do is tip—roughly 15% to 20% of the total cost of the move—and in cash. If you can, try to tip each mover individually. This is a nice way to say thank you, and then there’s no doubt everyone received what you’d intended once the job is over. If your friends are the only ones assisting with the move, you’ll still need cash to tip the pizza delivery person later.

Treat yourself

At this point, all of your kitchen gear should be packed away, and all of your groceries will basically be consumed. Now is the time to get one last meal at your favorite neighborhood restaurant with friends or perhaps have a little glass of bubbly for the occasion.

Try to relax

Even if you’ve followed all of our instructions and are totally prepared, “moving homes is a huge undertaking and one of the most stressful events in a person’s life,” Murphy said. Do something relaxing, such as taking a quiet walk, meditating, or whatever else will calm your mind.

Moving day

Keep an eye on things

Whether you’ve hired professionals or are bribing your friends with pizza and beer, you’re now the project manager for the safe transportation of your stuff. Walk through your home before leaving it, and once you’re at your destination, peek into the truck to be sure nothing was left behind. Check for any damage to furniture or boxes that got crushed; this should be covered by your movers insurance or third-party insurance policy.

Have snacks and drinks

In the thick of a move, you may not have time to run out for lunch. To keep your energy up during crunch time, be sure to have healthy snacks on hand. And it’s very thoughtful to offer refreshments to your movers. “As a mover I’ve almost never accepted food or drink from a client,” Kit said. “We pack our own food and water. But I’ve always noticed and appreciated the kindness of water or a soda being offered.”

Close up shop

Be sure to check each room before you leave. Close all of the windows, turn off all the lights, and lock the doors behind you.

Return your keys

In the rush and chaos of a move, it’s easy to forget one final step: returning keys. Be sure to return them to your landlord (though this will typically happen when you do a final walk-through). Or coordinate with your real estate agent on how to hand keys over to the new owners/realtors. If you do forget to return the keys, you can mail them back later, but you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble by remembering to do this the day you move.