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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.

Besides packing all your items and transporting them to your new home, there are a few logistics you’ll need to take care of when you move, such as changing your address and setting up utilities. Further, with all the work that goes into relocating, you may not have a plan for how you’ll settle in once you arrive at your destination.

We’ve created a comprehensive moving checklist to help you get settled stress-free when you move, whether on your own or with one of the best moving companies. Read on for everything you need to do before and after moving, plus tips for unpacking and acclimating to your new locale.

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.

Set Up Utilities

You will need to 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

After ensuring your electricity and water are functioning, confirm all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors work properly and have new batteries. Evaluating your HVAC system is essential, too; ensure the thermostat works properly and the air filters don’t need replacing.

You should also 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. 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

You’ll have to fill out a free change of address form at your local USPS branch, which you can do before you move by indicating the date your address will change. 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 more things you’ll need to do.

Tip Your Movers

First thing’s first: 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 moves. You can adjust these rates to reflect your satisfaction with your services.

Update Your Contact Information

Your address and phone number are on so many things. Your driver’s license, medical records, bank accounts, children’s school registrations, credit card statements, and voter registration are just a few examples. All these must be updated individually with your new address shortly after moving. If you fail to update your contact information, you could risk losing access to important account information and bills. If you already updated your address with the USPS, forwarding services should catch any mail sent before you update your address with each account.

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 your move was within the state. 

Get Back Your Security Deposit

If you rented your previous space, you are entitled to a refund of your security deposit. The only time renters may not receive a deposit back is if they significantly damaged the residence or otherwise violated their lease. 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, paint thinner, and automobiles with gas in the tank. Movers will also not 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. You’ll likely have to refill your car’s gas tank, restock on cleaning products, and purchase propane for a grill or gas fire pit, if applicable.

Tips for Unpacking

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—these will be the first things you will need in your new home. Toilet paper, soap, paper towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste, medications, and cleaning supplies are all examples of things you’ll probably want to use within a few hours of arriving at your new property. When you pack, bring these things with you or pack them last 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. Unpack what you will need immediately, such as cleaning supplies and toiletries. Then, unpack other everyday items, including bedding, towels, and clothes.

Once you’ve unpacked everyday items, 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 toss 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. If not, donate or sell them. Otherwise, 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.

Organize Your Packing Materials

Once you’ve unpacked, you will likely have piles of bubble wrap, moving boxes, and other packing supplies. Instead of throwing them out, break down boxes and store them out of the way to reuse them later. Make sure to properly recycle paper-based supplies that can’t be reused.

You can use extra bubble wrap to protect delicate items you don’t want to showcase in your home year-round, such as holiday ornaments. You can also use it to pack items you bring to a storage unit. If you still have extra supplies, consider advertising them for free on an online marketplace to help someone else who is moving.

How To Get Accustomed to Your New City

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 Neighborhood

Your neighborhood is more than just an arrangement of houses or apartment buildings. It also includes shopping centers, restaurants, bars, boutiques, hospitals, parks, and possibly your new place of work or your children’s new school. Take time—either by yourself or with your family, if you have one—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 Yourself

If you live in an apartment, introduce yourself to your neighbors. You never know when you could need their help with something, and it’s always good to have friendly faces nearby. If you just moved into a new house, make acquaintances with the residents of nearby homes. You can bring them some baked goods as a friendly gesture or invite them over for coffee. Meeting your neighbors is a great way to learn about your new neighborhood’s culture and get recommendations for restaurants, coffee shops, and more.

Go Out on the Town

One way to get to know your new city is to simply go out and explore. You can choose a new restaurant to try each weekend or see what museums and other attractions are popular in the place you now call home. The best way to do this is to plan a few days to visit new places, such as historic sites or art installations, either by yourself or with family.

Our Conclusion

Whether you’re planning a long-distance move or your new neighborhood is only a few miles away, the logistical processes are much the same. While creating a moving checklist might seem like yet another task, it can save you money, time, and stress down the road.

Be sure to change your address, sign up for utilities, and test your home’s fixtures as soon as possible. When unpacking, start with necessities and your most-used rooms first. Then, take it room by room until you’re fully unpacked. Remember to make a plan for closets and other storage spaces to avoid clutter.

Once you’ve taken care of these tasks, make a point to explore your neighborhood and introduce yourself to your neighbors. You’ll feel more at home and involved in the community. Moving requires a lot of work, but you can streamline the process by following these tips.

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, you should 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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