What Is a Moving Checklist?
A moving checklist is a document that highlights actionable items that a homeowner or tenant needs to perform as they complete the moving process. It can make the transition from one place to another seamless and organized.
Comprehensive moving lists typically include four sections and primary milestones, which are:
- Taking inventory and pre-move essentials (6-8 weeks before moving)
- Packing and moving stage (2-4 weeks before moving)
- Last-minute final details and considerations (1 week before moving)
- The move-out day itself
Why You Need a Checklist for Moving
During your relocation, a moving checklist can help you:
Prevent Lost and Damaged Property
A moving checklist can help you account for all your property and its current condition.
In general, moving companies are responsible for the loss or damage of property. However, sometimes it can be hard to prove negligence.
With concise documentation, you can access a clear-cut resolution should anything go missing or become damaged.
Minimize Lost Time and Arguments with Movers
Without a checklist, you risk complete chaos when packing and unpacking, which may cause you to waste time and energy on your move-out and move-in days.
By having a checklist to follow, you can also prevent arguments with moving company employees. Setting up a schedule and ensuring they understand your timeline can help you establish your expectations.
If you have been the victim of a careless or unsafe moving company, you can report them by calling the FMCSA nationwide complaint hotline at 1-888-368-7238 (1-888-DOT-SAFT) or by visiting their website.
If the professional movers you hire lose or damage anything during the relocation process, you can improve your chances of getting a refund or reimbursement when you have a checklist detailing your belongings.
You can also save money by using a checklist to tidy up or account for a specific property. When you follow the steps on a checklist to clean up your old property thoroughly before moving out, you can improve your chances of getting your security deposit back when you leave.
Tips for Creating a Moving Checklist
The following tips may help you use a moving checklist more effectively:
Conduct a Property Audit
Before moving, conduct a property audit to determine whether or not you even need or want to pack each of your items.
A property audit can also help you organize your packing plans and understand everything you’re responsible for.
Our professionally drafted moving checklist template helps you account for all properties before moving into a new place.
Whether it is something seemingly insignificant, such as labeling boxes, or something more critical, like notifying government and administrative agencies of your move, this checklist has you covered.
Think About Which Items to Keep
Once you complete your property audit, you can fully realize everything in your possession.
Consider your new living situation. If you’re moving into a smaller space or have an apartment that’s coming fully furnished, you may not need all your items.
In these cases, you can gather all your items that aren’t necessities and put them up for sale or donation. This way, you can get rid of clutter and simplify your move.
Research Relocation Packages Through Your Employer
If you’re relocating for work, you may not have to pay all the moving costs. Instead, find out if your employer will help you arrange moving services or reimburse you for the services you seek independently.
Even if your employer doesn’t normally offer this benefit, you may consider contacting your company’s human resources department to find a suitable arrangement. Your company may be willing to consider assisting you, especially with a large-scale move.
Research Movers to Hire
Before selecting your movers, you should conduct online due diligence to ensure you’re hiring a reputable company. Instead of selecting the mover with the lowest quote, choose one with a solid reputation and a history of performing quality work.
For interstate moves, you can check the FMCSA’s mover tool and review potential movers’ registration status and complaint history.
As you continue your research, you can also consider hiring a mover or a moving broker. Depending on your needs, a moving broker can arrange a mover on your behalf, which can take some of the stress out of planning for your relocation. However, if you use a moving broker, ensure that they’re registered with the FMCSA and only work with FMCSA-approved movers.
For a seamless moving process, make sure you outline your expectations with the company in a moving contract.
How to Move into a New Home
Here are some timeframes you can follow when moving into a new home and action items to complete during each phase:
Step 1 – Six to Eight Weeks Before Moving
About two months before a move, homeowners and tenants can take inventory of their possessions and begin planning the details of their relocation.
During this stage, they can organize the move’s logistics and complete action items like:
- Sort and purge. Take inventory of household items and decide whether to keep, donate, or sell them.
- Pack. Pack non-essential items and out-of-season goods and clothes.
- Sell or donate. Hold a garage sale or donate items.
- Get quotes. Get quotes from movers, car movers, moving trucks, and storage facilities.
- Collect records. Obtain medical, dental, and insurance records, plus school records for children.
- Find an agent to sell or lease property. Secure a real estate or property management agent to handle the property sale or lease.
Step 2 – Two to Four Weeks Before Moving
Anywhere between two to four weeks before your moving date, you can continue with the packing process. You can also set up utilities at your new address and notify the appropriate organizations of your change of address. Other tasks to complete during this stage include:
- Reserve movers. Reserve movers, moving trucks, and storage facilities.
- Cancel services. Cancel recurring services and memberships, such as newspapers, cable, water, electricity, gas, trash collection, sewer, internet, lawn care, pool cleaning, gym, and landline phone.
- Notify government offices. Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security, IRS, and voter registration office.
- Start packing. Pack by separating items for movers and for yourself to take with you.
Step 3 – One Week Before Moving
In the week leading up to your moving date, you can confirm details with movers and perform final packing tasks and other duties, including:
- Pack for travel. Ensure you take items unsuitable for movers, such as valuables, pets, and plants. Also, bring items you may need during travel and your first few days after moving in.
- Confirm movers (and babysitters). Confirm reservations with movers and ensure you have someone to watch small children during the move.
- Clean. Start cleaning your old home to save time on your last day.
Step 4 – Moving Day
When your moving day arrives, you can maintain active communication with your mover to ensure the process goes smoothly. You can also perform the following tasks with a real estate professional if you’re a homeowner or with a landlord if you’re a tenant:
- Final walkthrough. Do a final walkthrough to ensure you don’t leave anything behind.
- Final clean and inspect. Ensure your old home is clean.
Moving Checklist Sample
Below, you can explore what a moving checklist typically looks like and download one as a PDF or Word document:
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to pack a house?
The time it takes to pack a house will depend on its size and the items you need to pack. In general, you can figure that an average home takes anywhere between several days to one week to pack.
This amount of time considers sorting through, packing, and labeling any furniture, artwork, electronics, home decor items, dishes, personal belongings, cleaning supplies, plants, pet supplies, and other items you want to bring to a new residence.
The packing time for a house also depends on the time you commit each day to packing and the number of people helping you.
How do I declutter before moving?
You can declutter before a move (which saves time and money) by following these tips:
- Start early
- Begin with items and rooms you use the least
- Try not to go down memory lane
- Designate, throw, donate, sell, and give away piles
- Let kids help declutter their rooms
- Schedule time each day to declutter
What should I not pack when moving?
Avoid packing explosive, corrosive, or flammable items like propane, pool chemicals, and car batteries. These items may emit harmful fumes or cause fires if you leave them in the back of a moving truck during a long journey. Instead, you can dispose of these kinds of items properly and purchase new ones when you settle into your new place.