Moving to a New Home- A Timeline and Checklist to Ensure Success

Sterling's moving timeline and checklist

Moving to a new home is a daunting undertaking. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. The best way to get it under control and ensure that your move is successful is to get organized. And the best way to get organized is create a checklist of what you need to accomplish and when that should happen. Time it all out and check it all off when done!

This timeline will help you get a handle on all the moving parts involved in a move and when they should be done. Use it to identify what items you need on your checklist so you can do the advance planning needed to make your move as stress free as possible. Here is a detailed list of important considerations:

8 Weeks Before Moving

Create your checklist – Review the suggestions here to decide what your priorities are and your timeframe for getting them done. You may not have 2 months, or your may have more time. Things like finding you mover can be done further out than 2 months. If you have a summer move, it is better if you do have more time. This is the busy season for movers, and they fill up quickly.

Find your mover – Time to do some research. Go online and check out different companies. Talk to your family and friends to see if they have any recommendations. Aim to get 3 different estimates from companies that will come out to your home to discuss all your concerns and inventory all your items. Let the mover know about items in storage spaces such as attics, basements, and sheds so they can give you an accurate estimate. There should never be a charge for this.

Book the move – Once you’ve done the research and checked references, t’s important to book a mover as soon as you can to ensure they are available in your time frame. Remember, summer is the busiest time of year.

Sort through your belongings – Now is the time to go through each room and decide what is being kept, what can be donated, and what can be thrown out. You don’t want to waste time, energy, and money moving items you no longer use or are damaged.

Create a binder or folder (physical and computer) for paperwork – There’s a lot of “paperwork” involved in a move. Having a convenient and secure place to access everything is important.

Renters – notify your landlord – This may vary from state-to-state and lease-to-lease, but you must usually notify your landlord 30-60 days prior to a move.

 6 Weeks Before Moving

Collect boxes and packing materials – Your mover may supply these. If not, start getting boxes, tape, labels, bubble wrap, and wrapping paper together.

Make travel arrangements – If you are moving far, make any hotel and airline reservations.  If you have pets, make sure they can travel with you – if not, make other plans for their transportation and accommodations.

Contact old and new schools – Notify the old school of the move and get copies of all school records. Find out all the information you need to enroll your children at the new school so you can begin that process.

Medical records – Get copies of medical records for every member of your family. Make sure you include your pets; their records will be helpful for your new vet. Begin looking for new doctors and dentists in your new location.

Start packing – Any items that you don’t use regularly (books, holiday dishes, knick-knacks, out of season clothing, etc.) should be packed first. Make sure to label each box clearly. It will be much easier at your destination if the mover places every box in the correct room. If they contain fragile items, make sure that is written clearly on the outside of the box. More tips on packing can be found here.

Measure your new space – If you live close enough, measure the rooms in your new home so you can plan the layout of your furnishings. This was you’ll know if everything fits, and your mover does all the heavy lifting, so you only have to empty your boxes.

Decisions regarding items that can’t be transported – There are a number of items that cannot or should not be transported by your mover. You will have to decide if you wish to move them yourselves (such as cash and medications) or find out how to safely dispose of them (such as gas canisters and propane tanks).

4 Weeks Before Moving

Contact your insurance company – transfer your policies to the new address. Make sure they have the correct date so you will remain covered in your current location until the move.

Separate out valuables – important personal papers, papers in your moving binder/folder, jewelry, etc. should be kept apart in a secure container. You will move these yourself or need them for reference on the day of the move.

Notify important contacts – Banks, state’s registry of motor vehicles, your employer’s human resources department, any subscription services, and credit card companies, are among those that should be notified of your new address and date of your move. If you are a retiree, don’t forget to notify Social Security.

Shut off and set up utilities – Make sure all dates for turning off and turning on your utilities are set. You don’t want to get to your new home and be setting up in the cold and dark!

Request time off from work on the day(s) of the move – It almost goes without saying, on moving day, you will need to be present and available the entire day. If possible, take the day after the move also. This will give you time to start the long process of unpacking and settling in.

3 Weeks Before Moving

Forward your mail – Once you submit your change of address request, it usually takes around 7-10 postal business days to process the request.  Forwarding your mail can be done in person or online. For complete information on mail forwarding see our article on How to Forward Your Mail.

Apartment building moves – For both sides of the move, make sure you know the rules for moving vans and elevator access in your building(s). Book times for service elevators. Furniture is usually too large for the regular elevators and there are often rules against using them for moving furniture.

Get parking permits if needed – Some cities require a special parking permit for the moving van. Professional movers are aware of this and they usual handle it, but it is best to make sure, so nothing goes wrong on the day of the move. Some cities require up to two weeks of advance notice.

2 Weeks Before Moving

Eat up the food in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer – If you don’t plan to move it, use it up. Another option is donating any unopened, nonperishables. If your mover works with Move for Hunger, donating will be easy. Ask them about this when they visit your home.

Arrange to have family or friends mind children and pets if feasible. If not, have a suitcase of toys, activities, and snacks to keep them occupied. Try to create a safe space for them out of the noise and activity. Prepare children for the move by explaining what will happen and answer all of their questions.

Confirm all arrangements with the moving company – Make sure all the addresses and times are correct. Ask any last-minute questions that you have.

Refill and transfer prescriptions – Make sure you will have enough to carry you through the move and the first weeks in your new home. Have your prescriptions transferred to a pharmacy convenient to your new home and make sure any mail order pharmacies have your new address.

Pack! – If you have been packing items you don’t use regularly, you should be in good shape and can work on those items you use more often.

Get rid of any other waste and unwanted items – As you continue to pack, you will probably find more items you won’t want or can’t move. This is a good time to do a final clean out.

1 Week Before Moving

Pack overnight bags for the first night – Having some personal items and toiletries available for that first night will save you from digging through your boxes for essentials after a long and tiring day. For more tips on what to put in that bag see “Packing an Overnight Bag for the First Night in Your New Home”.

Plan for the Movers Payment – If they take credit cards, it’s simple: if not, be sure to get a money order or cashier’s check (if they won’t take personal checks). Have cash to tip the crew.

Clean – Now that most of your belongings are packed, now is a good time to clean. If you are renting, this is an important part of getting your deposit back. If you can get into your new home, it is easier to do before you move in. Consider hiring a cleaning service if you don’t have the time. Renters have certain conditions in their lease pertaining to cleaning and making repairs. Make sure you have addressed those.

Review your checklist – Make sure you have everything up to this point completed and that nothing fell through the cracks.

Disassemble any furniture – If your mover is not doing this, this last week is a good time to get this done.

Considerations for renters – If your apartment complex requires a walk-through, schedule that.

1 to 2 Days Before Moving

Clean out the Refrigerator and Freezer – Other than some snacks and drinks for both you and the movers for the day of, this should be emptied and clean.

Make sure your important documents and valuables are separate and packed to be moved with you – These are items that will not go with a mover. Be sure you know where they are and are ready to go.

One last confirmation call to the moving company – Make sure all the addresses, times, contact phone numbers, and any special instructions are correct.

Moving Day

Be available – If all your plans have gone according to schedule, your biggest task today is to be available to answer any of your mover’s questions, address any issues, and sign off on the bill of lading to verify that everything has been loaded. If you are moving locally, be in your new home when the movers arrive to check things as they are unloaded. Note if there is any condition issues. You should have clearly labeled all your boxes so they will be delivered to the right room in your new home, but it is good to be there to double-check.

Keep Children and pets out of the way – Make sure your plans to keep your children and pets safe and out of the way are enacted before the movers arrive.

Keep all papers safe – You will receive a number of important documents from the mover. In all the activity, make sure they are placed safely in your binder/box you created just for the move.

Do a final check – After everything has been loaded, take one last tour of the home to make sure nothing was left behind, all windows and doors are closed and locked, and lights are shut off.

Considerations for renters

  1. Be there for the walk-through (if required). That way you can address any issues directly. If you can’t, document (pictures and videos) the condition of the apartment when everything has been moved and the apartment has been cleaned.
  2. Turn in all your keys/key cards – door, mailbox, pool, etc. They will charge you to replace any that are missing.
  3. Make sure your final check includes making sure your apartment is cleaned according to the conditions of your lease.


Moving to a new home is a major undertaking. If you create a checklist and schedule everything out accordingly, it will remove much of the stress. Having the time to get everything done is also an important component, so starting the process as soon as you can will definitely put you on track for an easy move.