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The Ultimate Moving Checklist

Taking care of personal information changes and creating an unpacking schedule makes settling into your new home easier.

Author Image Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 03/11/2024

There’s a lot that goes into moving besides packing up your stuff and heading to your new place. Having a moving checklist can help you stay organized and keep your stress levels down, but many homeowners and renters don’t know where to start.

We’ve created a comprehensive moving checklist that covers everything from finding the best moving companies to exploring your new neighborhood. Read on to learn what you need to do before and after moving.

Pre- and Post-Moving Checklist

A comprehensive checklist isn’t only important before you move—it’s also the key to an organized post-moving process. Here’s what to do before and after you arrive at your new home.

Before You Move

Here are a few things to take care of before you move into your new place.

Research Movers or Rental Truck Companies

About eight weeks before you move, you’ll want to research moving companies and collect estimates from at least three movers. If you are taking the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to moving, find the best truck rental companies for your budget and needs. Reserve a truck or book a moving company about seven weeks before a move.

Declutter Your Home

Six weeks prior to your move, start purging items you no longer need or want. Decluttering your home will lighten your load for a DIY move. It may also lower the cost of hiring movers because it’ll take them less time to move your belongings.

Order Moving Supplies

Prepping for your move wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t have packing supplies. You’ll likely need boxes, packing paper, bubble wrap, and tape to pack and protect your items during transit. You can purchase these items online or at stores, but you may also find them for free. For a DIY move, consider purchasing or renting moving equipment, such as furniture straps and dollies, to make lifting easier.

Set Up Utilities

Set up electricity, gas, water, and internet connections at your new home. Before you move in, contact the landlord if you’re renting or ask your real estate agent for utility contact information if you’re purchasing the home. Follow up with each utility to set up an account and note the start date for billing.

You can set up an internet connection by either sticking with the same provider already servicing the residence or contacting a few local providers to find a plan that suits you best.

Test Your New Home’s Fixtures

You may want to take the following steps to ensure your home’s fixtures are functioning properly:

  • Confirm all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors work properly and have new batteries.
  • Evaluate your HVAC system, ensure the thermostat works properly and check whether the air filters need replacing
  • Test your water fixtures. Ensure all toilets flush correctly and the water pressure for each faucet and shower head is sufficient. Run water in your sinks and showers for a few minutes to test for clogs.
  • Visit each room and test the electricity.

If you notice any issues and you have a landlord, contact them or your building’s superintendent to request repairs. If you own the home, you’ll typically need to make minor repairs on your own or contact a local contractor. If the home seller or your real estate agent included a home warranty in your real estate transaction, let the service provider know if a covered system or appliance is malfunctioning.

Change Your Address

Fill out a free change of address form at your local United States Postal Service (USPS) branch.You can also change your address online for a small additional charge if you cannot make it to your local branch. This form is simple and straightforward; you’ll need to submit your previous address and the new address where you’d like your mail to be delivered. 

Submit your change in address form ahead of time and select your move date on the form. This ensures you won’t have mail delivered to your old address after you’ve moved.

Clean and Photograph Your Old Place

Before you leave your old place, make sure all your items are out and do a quick sweep of the rooms. If you were renting, ensure you’ve patched up any holes in the wall, re-painted any walls to the original color, and fixed anything else required in your lease.

Take clear photographs before you leave your space to prevent your landlord from withholding your deposit. The best time to do this is after your belongings have been loaded into moving trucks or your own vehicle and you’ve cleaned the home. Take pictures of each room to record their status when you move out.

After You Move

Once you’ve arrived at your new address, there are a few things you’ll need to do.

Tip Your Movers

Consider tipping your movers when they finish unloading your belongings. While not required, tipping is always appreciated, especially if your movers went above and beyond. If you’ve hired a professional moving company to unpack, clean, or assemble furniture for you, you can wait until they’re finished with all the services you booked before tipping them.

The industry standard for tipping is $5 per hour per mover for local moves or $40–$50 per mover per day for long-distance moving services. You can adjust these rates to reflect your satisfaction with your services.

Update Your Contact Information

If you haven’t already, update your address with your bank, credit card company, doctor’s offices, child’s school, and local election offices. If you fail to update your contact information, you could risk losing access to important account information and bills.

You will need to visit the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to change the address on your driver’s license. You can typically check online to find your state’s requirements. Sometimes you can make this change online, especially if you move within the state. 

Collect Your Security Deposit

If you rented your previous space, you may be entitled to a refund of your security deposit. You might need to prove that you left your space in good condition when you moved out to ensure your deposit’s return.

Your real estate professional or landlord has between two and four weeks in most states after you move out to do a walkthrough of the home and create an itemized list of any repair costs they will deduct from your deposit. Keep an eye on your mail for a check or letter from your previous landlord, and record the date when you move out and receive payment.

Restock Items Movers Wouldn’t Move

Movers will not transport flammable items such as propane, gasoline, and paint thinner. They also won’t move certain cleaning products containing abrasive chemicals. If you enlisted a junk removal company to dispose of such items before moving, you’ll have to re-stock when you get to your new home.

Unpacking can be just as grueling as packing. Here are a few tips to make it easier.

Unpack Necessities First

Make sure items such as toiletries and everyday clothes are close at hand on moving day. Some essentials you will need immediately after you arrive include:

  • Bed sheets
  • Change of clothes
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Medications
  • Paper towels
  • Soap, toothpaste, and other toiletries
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels

When you pack, bring these things with you, pack them last, or label the box that they’re in so they’re accessible as soon as you arrive.

Tackle One Room at a Time

The key to a stress-free unpacking day is having a plan. Once you’ve unpacked your essentials, place each remaining box in the room where its contents will go. Then, unpack the items in the room you intend to use next. The bathroom and kitchen are probably the places you’ll need access to first. 

Make a Plan for Your Closets

The moving process is tiring, and you may be tempted to place things you don’t use often or that you’re unsure what to do with into spare closets so you can move on. However, this will cause unnecessary clutter and likely annoy you later. Instead, start off organized. Make a plan for each closet and indicate which items will be stored where. If you have items left over, consider if you really need them. You can rent a storage unit or use a garage or basement for additional storage.

Find Places for Your Valuables

Organize valuables and important documents, such as passports and school records, in a safe place so they don’t get lost in the shuffle of unpacking. Then, choose a place where you want to keep them. Not all valuable items must be stored in the same place. A secure filing cabinet for important papers and a lockable safe or jewelry box for small valuables are enough to protect most items.

How To Get Accustomed to Your New Location

Whether you’ve moved to a neighboring city or across the country, here are some things you can do to make yourself feel at home.

Explore Your New NeighborhoodDiscover shopping centers, restaurants, bars, boutiques, hospitals, parks, and possibly your new place of work or your children’s new school. Take time to walk around and explore. If it’s more accessible to drive around the neighborhood, take a trip to the main street and familiarize yourself with your new community.
Introduce YourselfIf you live in an apartment, introduce yourself to your neighbors. Meeting your neighbors is a great way to learn about your new neighborhood’s culture and get recommendations for restaurants, coffee shops, and more.
Build Your Network – Your community center or library may host events in which you can connect with others in your new town or city. You can also download community apps, such as Meetup, to meet like-minded people, or you can connect with coworkers or fellow parents if you have school-aged children.

Our Conclusion

Whether you’re planning a long-distance move or your new neighborhood is only a few miles away, the logistical processes are similar.

We recommend creating a moving checklist to help you save time, money, and stress. Include the steps outlined above to ensure a smooth transition to your new home and community and remember to connect with others to avoid feeling lonely in your new location.

FAQs About Moving

What should you pack first when moving?

When moving, you should first pack purely decorative items, such as photographs, artwork, and knick-knacks, then things you don’t use daily, such as books and out-of-season clothes. Pack things you use every day last, such as toiletries, so they remain easily accessible.

What should I do if I am moving a piano?

If you are moving a piano, hire professional piano movers. Certified piano moving service providers have specialized tools and training, meaning they are less likely to injure themselves or damage the instrument.

What is the last thing you should do when moving?

The last thing you should do when moving is verify your pickup and delivery details with your mover, ensure your estimate is accurate, and sign the inventory list. You will also likely have to pay a portion of your estimate to your movers upon the pickup of your items. If you were renting, take photographs of your rental property before leaving as evidence if your landlord tries to withhold your security deposit.

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