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Essential Checklist for Moving Into a New House (2024)

What do you need to do before moving into a new house, and what comes after? Our checklist will help you keep track of the essentials.

Author Icon By Shane Sentelle Updated 01/14/2024

From researching the best 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 easily fall through the cracks. A moving checklist makes it easier to stay organized and on-task. It also helps you plan ahead for the various moving costs you will encounter.

Creating a moving checklist may sound like another annoying chore, so we at the This Old House Reviews Team are here to help. In this article, we rounded up the essential tasks to complete before and after the move, plus important things to consider when moving into a new house.

In the months and weeks leading up to 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 different 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, then use that information to create a moving budget. Include not only the cost of renting equipment or hiring movers but also packing supplies, moving insurance, and travel expenses. You might also need to set aside money for temporary housing, short- or long-term storage, babysitting, and pet boarding.

Create your budget promptly so that you have plenty of time to save up. Remember to 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. Get quotes for cable, satellite, and internet service, too.

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, as well as 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. Then, 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.

Chances are, you can 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 decent service at your new house, especially if you are moving to a different state or from a big city to a more rural area.

Declutter and Donate

Dedicate ample time to sorting through each room of your house. Right before a big move is the best time to declutter. Sell or donate any items you no longer want or need. Measure any 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 will not move. Make plans to dispose of those items or move them yourself.

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. You should also update your address with your bank, credit cards, and any subscriptions or services. Make sure 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. Make sure your tour includes their new school.

What To Do After the Move

Unfortunately, your work doesn’t end once your belongings are in your new house. Even if you hire local or interstate movers to handle unpacking and furniture assembly, you still have several things to do after moving day.

Fill the Fridge and Pantry

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.

Address Any Safety Issues

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

If you have pets or young children, you may need to take a few 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.

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

Establish Residency

Moving to a new city in the same state only 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 a bit more complicated. Not only should you get a new driver’s license or ID issued by your new state, but you will also need to update your vehicle registration and obtain new license plates. Fortunately, all of this can be done at the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. You can even register to vote while you’re there. Before you go, make sure your car insurance policies are up to date and you have all the documentation the DMV requires.

Help Kids and Pets Adjust

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.

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

Make a Plan for Unpacking

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

For many people, it 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 especially 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 makes it possible to settle in gradually and enjoy your new home without tripping over unpacked moving boxes.

Explore Your New Neighborhood

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 all the sooner.


Other New House Considerations

To round out your new house checklist, here are a few other moving tips and considerations:
Hold off on painting and redecorating. Spend at least a few weeks in your new home before picking paint colors, replacing light fixtures, or making any other big home improvements. This will give you a better feel for the space and time to think through the pros and cons of any design ideas.
Make a list of potential problems. Keep a running list of problems you encounter and any needed repairs. Be sure to prioritize wisely, tackling the most urgent repairs first. Start saving for home services and upgrades you foresee needing in the near future.
Consider a home warranty. A home warranty can help cover the cost of unexpected leaks, electrical issues, and appliance breakdowns. Home warranties can be especially useful if you are moving into an older home where issues with the HVAC system, water heater, and major appliances are likely.
Research the local climate and landscaping. Avoid planting a garden or making landscaping decisions until you’ve had time to research the climate of your new home. You might also consult with a local landscaping or lawn care company, especially if you’ve moved to a new growing zone.
Get professional help when needed. As you work through your moving checklist, be honest about which tasks you have the time and skill to handle. If you’ve never changed a door knob, it might be worth hiring a locksmith. If you don’t have time to pack, hire professional movers who offer packing and unpacking services. Know when to DIY and when to bring in an expert.

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 new budget. If your goal is to save money, compare quotes to find the best cheap 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 that you can shower and eat the next morning. Then, 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 first things you need when moving into a new house are toiletries, food, bedding, and a change of clothes. Other essentials include a first aid kit, a new lock and keys, a fire extinguisher, your phone charger, and cleaning supplies.

What should you not bring to a new house?

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

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

What should you pack first when packing for a move?

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

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

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

The This Old House Reviews Team backs 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, trailer and container options, additional benefits, and reputation to arrive at a final score out of 100.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.