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Essential Checklist for Moving Into a New House (2024)

Author Image Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 04/19/2024

From researching highly-rated moving companies to updating your state ID or driver’s license, moving involves a lot of time and work. Amidst all the chaos and change, even important to-dos can fall through the cracks. A moving checklist makes it easier to stay organized and on-task. It also helps you plan ahead for various moving costs.

Creating a moving checklist may sound like another annoying chore, so we rounded up the essential tasks to complete before and after the move. We also share important things to consider when moving into a new house.

What To Do Before the Move

In the months and weeks before your move, most tasks revolve around planning and packing. You’ll also need to handle a few administrative tasks, such as forwarding your mail and transferring utilities.

Research Moving Companies

If you’re moving to a new state, research the best long-distance moving companies in your area. While it costs more to hire professional movers than to rent a truck and move yourself, this option will save you time and hassle. For a move within the same city or to a nearby area, look for local movers. Some companies offer both local and long-distance services, but not all movers operate in every state.

Before booking your move, we recommend requesting quotes from at least three providers. Ensure that any company you consider is properly licensed and registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Set a Moving Budget

Research all of the costs associated with moving and use that information to create a moving budget. Include the cost of renting equipment or hiring movers, as well as packing supplies, moving insurance, and travel expenses. You might need to set aside money for temporary housing, short- or long-term storage, babysitting, and pet boarding.

Create your budget promptly so you have plenty of time to save up. Factor in the expenses you’ll have immediately after moving into your new home, such as your first grocery run and new locks.

Compare the Cost of Living

In addition to setting a moving budget, adjust your monthly or annual household budget to account for your new living situation. Start by comparing your current housing costs with your new rent or mortgage payment. Then, research utility rates in your new area. Find out how much trash pickup costs and whether you have well or city water. Source quotes for cable, satellite, and internet service.

If you need help estimating how far your paycheck will stretch, sites such as Best Places offer cost-of-living calculators. Consider health care and childcare costs, if applicable, and gas and grocery prices.

Set Up Utilities and Services

Call your current utility companies and service providers to inform them of your moving date and new address. Call the providers in your new area to set up service. If you’re not moving far, you may be able to stick with some of the same providers and update your information online.

You can likely stick with your current cell phone carrier—but it doesn’t hurt to check. Most carriers have interactive coverage maps posted on their websites, so start there. You may need to sign up with a new carrier to ensure good service at your new house, especially if you’re moving to a different state or from a big city to a rural area.

Dedicate ample time to sorting through each room of your house. Before a big move is the best time to declutter. Sell or donate any items you no longer want or need. Measure large pieces of furniture to ensure they will fit in your new space.

For DIY moves, you can start packing as you purge. You can even create a moving inventory and labeling system as you go. If you decide to hire professional movers, take note of any items your moving company won’t move. Make plans to move them yourself or, if you don’t need or want them any longer, dispose of them.

Update Your Address

Go to the USPS website or your local post office to submit a change of address. This allows the post office to forward any mail that goes to your old address. Update your address with your bank, credit cards, and any subscriptions or services. Ensure your employer, friends, and family members have your new address. If you handle these tasks prior to moving, you’re less likely to experience mail delays.

Prepare Your Kids

If you have children, talk to them regularly about the move. They’ll likely be anxious, especially if it’s their first time moving. Focus on the positive aspects and frame the experience as an adventure, but be prepared to listen, empathize, and answer questions. Take them on a tour of your new house, neighborhood, and city—either in person or virtually through Google Maps. Ensure your tour includes their new school.

Your work doesn’t end once your belongings are in your new house. Even if you hire local or interstate moving crews to handle unpacking and furniture assembly, you still have several tasks on the to-do list after moving day.

One of the first things you should do upon arriving in your new home is stock your kitchen and bathroom. Take a quick trip to the grocery store or place an order for pickup. You can even have your groceries delivered through a service such as Walmart+ or Instacart.

In addition to pantry staples and bathroom essentials, purchase any small items that may have gotten lost or left behind. Do a quick walk-through of the kitchen and bathroom to see if anything is missing. Do you need to pick up dish soap and a sponge? Is there a shower curtain rod in the bathroom? What about a toilet paper holder? Make sure you have everything you need for a comfortable first night and morning in your new house.

While you’ve likely had your home inspected before moving in, check for and handle any safety issues. Start by changing the locks on the exterior doors. Test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the house, replacing the batteries if necessary. Also, consider whether you want to install a home security system.

If you have pets or young children, you may need to take extra precautions. Make sure cleaning supplies and sharp objects, such as kitchen knives and box cutters, are out of reach. Babyproof outlets, doors, and cabinets as needed.

Develop an emergency response plan and review it with your partner and kids so everyone knows what to do in case of a fire or other emergency. Pack an emergency kit or go bag with flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, toothbrushes, phone chargers, and other essentials.

Moving to a new city in the same state requires updating your driver’s license and voter registration. To do that, you will need your current ID plus one or two documents that confirm your residency, such as a utility bill or bank statement with your name and new address. 

Moving to a new state is more complicated. You have to get a new driver’s license or ID issued by your new state, plus update your vehicle registration and obtain new license plates. This can be done at the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. You can register to vote while you’re there. Before you go, ensure your car insurance policies are up to date and that you have all the documentation the DMV requires.

Moving can be stressful and scary for anyone, but kids and pets often have the hardest time adapting. To help your kids adjust, make time for fun and togetherness, and give them chances to make decisions. For example, if you order takeout, let them choose the restaurant. Find a list of family-friendly places to visit and ask what they’d like to do. You can also help them stay connected with any friends and family they left behind.

Ask your vet for advice about anxious pets. Some dogs and cats might benefit from a prescription medication or calming aid. Soft music, treats, a favorite blanket or toy, and extra cuddles may help. Change as few things as possible about their daily routine.

It can take weeks to settle into a new home, but it helps to have a plan. Decide how and when you’ll tackle unpacking. Unpack the most important boxes first, and set a goal for when you’d like to be done with everything.

It often makes sense to start with bedrooms, bathrooms, and the kitchen, as these rooms are used daily. If possible, get your bed set up the first night in your new home. This is important for kids, who may struggle to fall asleep in an unfamiliar environment.

If you would rather avoid having piles of boxes stacked all around your home, consider renting a storage unit. Short-term storage allows you to settle in gradually and enjoy your new home without tripping over unpacked moving boxes.

As soon as you have a spare moment, start exploring your new community. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Find the nearest park and shopping center. Learn about upcoming events and activities, from festivals to youth sports leagues. Take your kids to see their new school and drive them by your new workplace. Familiarizing yourself with your new town will help you feel at home sooner.

How Much Does Moving Cost?

The cost of moving varies significantly depending on factors such as the distance of your move, the size of your home, and whether you hire professional movers or do it yourself. International Van Lines, one of our top-rated moving providers, estimates that the average cost for a local move (within 50 miles) is $150 per hour for a team of three movers. 

Long-distance moving costs are calculated based on the weight of your belongings, distance traveled, volume of your shipment, and level of service. American Van Lines, another top-rated mover, estimates the average cost for a roughly 2,000-mile move to be $4,799. 

Full-service movers that pack and unpack for you will cost more than moving container companies or truck rentals that involve DIY packing and loading. 

Factors That Affect Moving Costs

Several key factors impact the total cost of a move, including the following:

  • Accessibility challenges such as stairs or long carries
  • Amount and weight of belongings
  • Distance (local versus long distance)
  • Packing services needed
  • Packing supplies
  • Size of your current home
  • Specialty items that require extra care
  • Storage needs
  • Time of year (summer is the peak moving season)

Getting multiple quotes, decluttering before you move, and scheduling your move during an off-peak season can help keep costs down. Overall, DIY moves are the cheapest option, while hiring full-service movers offers the most convenience but comes with a higher price tag. Consider your budget and moving needs.

Our Conclusion

With a comprehensive moving checklist, staying on budget and on schedule will be much easier. Before move-out day, research moving costs and build a budget. If your goal is to save money, compare quotes to find the best cost-effective moving companies or look into renting a truck for a DIY move. Work on any administrative tasks that can be handled ahead of time, from changing your address to setting up utilities. 

On move-in day, prioritize setting up your family’s beds. Stock up the kitchen and bathroom so you can shower and eat the next morning. Move on to changing locks and checking smoke detectors. Set aside an afternoon to handle paperwork at the DMV and make time to explore your new neighborhood. Other tasks, such as painting and landscaping, can wait until later.

FAQ About Moving Into a New House

What essentials are needed when moving into a new house?

The essentials needed when moving into a new house are toiletries, food, bedding, and a change of clothes. Other essentials include a first aid kit, new locks and keys, a fire extinguisher, your phone charger, and cleaning supplies.

What should you not bring to a new house?

Here are a few items you should not bring to a new house:

  • Any objects you seldom use
  • Borrowed items
  • Clothes you rarely wear
  • Duplicates or extras
  • Expired food and medications
  • Furniture that will not fit
  • Hazardous materials
  • Items you no longer want or need
  • Perishable good

What should you pack first when packing for a move?

When packing for a move, the first things you should pack are those you use least. This could include the following:

  • Artwork and decor
  • Books and magazines
  • Camping equipment
  • Extra towels and blankets
  • Jewelry and shoes
  • Out-of-season clothes or gear
  • Seasonal decorations

What should you do before you fly to your new house?

Before you fly to your new house, you should do a final walk-through of your old house. Make sure all of your belongings have been removed and everything is clean. Take out the trash, turn off the lights, and lock the doors on your way out.

Our Rating Methodology

We back up our moving company ratings and recommendations with a detailed rating methodology to objectively score each company. We conduct research by reading through the company websites, analyzing customer reviews, conducting consumer surveys, requesting quotes, and speaking with customer representatives. We then score each moving company against our review standards for services, contents coverage, scheduling options, additional benefits and custom service options, and reputation among customers to arrive at a final score on a 5-point rating scale.

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