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Moving timeline checklist

Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, there are heaps of tasks and chores you must complete to get to your new home. From a small apartment to a three-bedroom house, organizing, packing, storing, moving — and then doing it all in reverse — can be so intimidating that many people don’t know where to begin.

However, where isn’t the question you should really be asking. The real question is when to begin. Having a plan in place can help you break down a daunting move into manageable chunks that not only keep you motivated, but also can reduce the stress of feeling overwhelmed.

Here are a few reasons why a moving timeline checklist can be your best friend when planning and executing a home transition:

  • Creating a timeline checklist for a move helps to make sure you don’t forget an important task in the middle of all of your hectic moving preparations.
  • Organizing your tasks with a checklist can prevent unfinished tasks from piling up, thereby reducing relocation stress.
  • Using a checklist will help you keep your time and budget organized so there are no big surprises come moving day.
  • Following a timeline checklist lets you prioritize jobs and tasks so you can complete the most important ones first, and delegate others to friends and family.


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This guide breaks down a major move into an 8-week timeline, giving you two months to prepare your house, family, employer and yourself for this major life change. Just remember, each move is different. What works for someone else may not be applicable to your specific situation, or things that worked for your last move may not be necessary in this case. That’s why it’s important that you personalize your moving timeline checklist to include the following factors that are distinct to you:

  • Size of the home you’re leaving
  • Size of the home you’re moving into
  • Distance of the move
  • Number of people and pets moving
  • Time of year for the move
  • Amount of time you need/have for the move

Once you have an idea of these answers, you’re ready to start laying out your moving timeline checklist. Let’s get started!

8 Weeks Before the Move

Two months before a move is a reasonable moment to start organizing your plan, time and belongings.

  • Paperwork: Create a folder — either a physical version or a computer version — where you plan to put all paperwork related to the move. Dedicate a notebook — again, either an actual book or on your computer — to start keeping track of important notes.
  • Sorting: Go room-by-room and decide what items you want to keep, discard, donate, sell or store. Knowing the size of the place you’re heading to can make the decision-making process a bit easier.
  • Research self-moving vs. hiring movers: If you have loads of volunteers willing to help out, you may already know that a few friends and a big moving truck is all you need. However, you should still take the time to research which moving trucks have the best size and quality for your budget. If you plan on hiring movers to load and haul your belongings, the same kind of research applies. Be sure to read reviews and ask your personal network for their recommendations and experiences.
  • Know when to notify your landlord: If you’re renting, check the terms of your lease to make sure you give your landlord plenty of notice so you can get your deposit back.

7 Weeks Before the Move

After you’ve set up your organizational style, it’s time to take a few steps forward.

  • Budget: Decide on a realistic budget for your move. Make sure you have the resources already in your savings account or note how much you’ll need to accomplish each week’s tasks.
  • Acquire supplies: Now is the time to start purchasing moving supplies, like tape and bubble wrap. You can purchase boxes, or start stockpiling them from work or friends.
  • Plan a yard sale: Review your sorting decisions and set aside a date for a yard sale. Not only will the purge help save room in the moving truck, but the money you earn can go toward moving costs. Ask neighbors and friends if they want to join in.
  • Get records: If you’re moving to a new city, you’ll want to snag copies of your family’s and pets’ medical records so that you can easily transition to new doctors and veterinarians. If you have kids, you’ll want to get copies of their records from their schools as well.
  • Research new schools and doctors: In order to set up your life in a new city right away, start keeping a spreadsheet of schools, physicians, daycares, dentists, groomers and other services you and your family deem essential.

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6 Weeks Before the Move

With one-fourth of your timeline complete, you should be moving from the bulk of your planning into starting to work on actionable tasks.

  • Arrange movers: Whether you’re renting a truck or pods or bribing your friends, now is the time to pay deposits, sign contracts and make arrangements.
  • Submit your change of address: Contact your credit card companies, student loan debtors, car insurance company and cell phone provider to inform them of your new address. Complete a change of address card with your post office.
  • Choose storage: If you’re not moving everything right away, choose a storage facility in your current city or new city.
  • Start boxing non-essentials: Begin packing up the belongings you won’t need for a while, like books, out-of-season clothes, tools and toys, making sure to properly label and store all of the boxes.

5 Weeks Before the Move

Now is a good time to look back on the last three weeks and make sure to accomplish anything that hasn’t been checked off the list. You may also need to revisit your budget.

  • Notify schools: Let the staff at your children’s schools know that you’re moving. Call the schools on your list of possibilities to learn about their enrollment process.
  • Close out and set up utilities: Let the utility providers for your current home — like those that supply your water, heat and internet — know of your last day there. Start calling and setting up utilities at your new residence.

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4 Weeks Before the Move

Now is the typical time to give notice to your landlord or anyone else that you rent items from, like rental appliances. With only a month left, you should be on track, but the priorities now get more time-sensitive.

  • Get busy packing: Organize your packing by room. Start a packing plan, making sure to leave out essential items, like clothes for the next few weeks, a few pans, plates and cups for eating (or pack it all up and buy disposable versions). Pack up everything you plan on storing and, if you’re storing in your current city, go ahead and start making trips to your unit. If you’re working with a company that transports your belongings to and from your storage unit for you, work with them to get as much stored ahead of your move as possible.
  • New home paperwork: Be sure to have a copy of your new lease or deed, set up a transfer date for your homeowners or renters insurance, and collect any other paperwork you need to be safe and secure from day one in your new home.

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3 Weeks Before the Move

For the next three weeks, you should be packing frequently. Follow your packing plan so that you’re not still filling boxes while the movers are loading them onto the truck.

  • Plan your trip: If you’re moving long distance, now is the time to plan your trip. How many days will it take? Will you arrive before your belongings and, if so, by how long? Will you need help transporting a second car?
  • Car items: Valuable and sentimental items may need to travel with you. Decide what those will be, and pack them in suitcases.
  • Pets and plants: Make arrangements to get your animals and plants to your new home.
  • Proper disposal: Make sure to properly dispose of any cleaning materials, oil, hazardous waste or paint that you’re not taking with you.

2 Weeks Before the Move

The move is right around the corner! The next few weeks are about tying up loose ends and finalizing priorities.

  • Service your car: If you’re embarking on a long-distance move, get your tires checked, oil changed and other services performed as needed.
  • Confirm arrangements: Call your movers, moving truck company and any other service providers you’re using for the move to confirm your dates and deposits.
  • Cleaning plan: Hire a cleaning service or begin cleaning baseboards, floors, windows, blinds, ceiling fans, appliances and closets. Create a checklist for cleaning the rest of your house, from toilets to carpets.

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1 Week Before the Move

The day is almost here. Even if you haven’t followed the timeline exactly, if you’ve been steadily checking tasks off your list, then you likely are approaching a low-stress moving day. Now is a good time to check in with your new landlord, if applicable, to let them know everything is on track for the move-in date you originally decided on.

  • Pack your essentials: Pack items you will need right away at your new place.
  • Clean the fridge: Make sure to empty out your fridge and freezer and do a thorough cleaning. Check your cupboards and pantry for additional food items. Consider donating what you can.
  • Finish cleaning: Finish cleaning all of the areas on your checklist.
  • Final sweep: Be sure to double check areas like your garage, shed, attic and basement to make sure all items have been packed or disposed of.

Moving is a stressful time, regardless of the distance or duration. A timeline checklist can help you stay on track so that you can focus on the adventure ahead. When you’re organized and on time, you might find you even enjoy moving — at least a little!