Moving Timeline and Checklist

The best thing you can do to stay organized is to make a moving checklist of everything you’ll need to do, including when you have to have them done by. Stay on track with this timeline and checklist.

If you’re moving, you’ll have a lot to do in the coming weeks, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Whether you’re selling your home or renting a new apartment, most experts recommend that you start preparing for your move about eight weeks in advance. Kyle Hiscock, a Realtor in Rochester, NY, suggests getting the process started as soon as you decide you’re moving:

When I meet with homeowners for the initial consultation to list their home, I always suggest that they begin preparing for their move immediately. If a homeowner is serious about selling their home, it’s inevitable they’ll have to move so why not get a head start on it!

Jump to:

A weekly timeline and a checklist for moving can help make your mountain of moving tasks feel less intimidating and easier to tackle. If you don’t know where to start, follow this timeline:

Eight Weeks Before

Get Organized - Make a moving binder to keep track of all the important paperwork you’ll need during this time. This will include your bill of lading, estimates, receipts, inventories, and other agreements.
Start Sorting - Go systematically through your home room by room and decide what to keep, sell, donate, or recycle. Need help decluttering? Get our tips.
Make Your Choice - Are you going to DIY your move or hire a moving company? Get our tips for when to hire movers.
Research Your Options - Start looking for moving companies and begin the process of getting estimates. Check online for companies with positive reviews, ask friends and family for references, and take some time to really research who you want to work with to ensure you won’t get scammed.
Notify your landlord - If you’re renting, the earlier you let your landlord know you’re moving, the better. Check your agreement for the minimum amount of notice you can give them and find out how and when you can get your security deposit back. There may also be fees associated with breaking your lease to factor into your moving budget.
Inform your Employer - If you are leaving the city and planning to quit your job, or you just need to book time off work around your move, give your employer some advanced notice.
Build a Budget - Figure out how much money you’ll need to set aside to fund your move. Build your moving budget with our guide.
Take Inventory - If you choose to hire a moving company, they will make an inventory of any items they pack for you, but it’s still a good idea to make one of your own, especially if you do all the packing yourself. Have one for each room, as well as a separate one for especially valuable or expensive items. Document the condition of each item in case something gets damaged during the move - you’ll need this information if you make a claim against your moving insurance.
Start Shopping for Supplies - You should start to pick up boxes now, especially if you’re trying to collect them from stores or other free sources. Or, pick up a moving kit that includes everything you’ll need for your move.
Begin to Pack Non-essentials - It might seem early to start packing, but it’s better to start now and pack a little at a time than leave it all for the end. This way, you can consider your items more carefully and ensure that fragile items are well-protected. Start with attics, basements, and storage spaces, which tend to require the most time. Label your boxes as you go with what items the box includes, how heavy it is, and what room it belongs in. Check out our Room by Room Guide to Packing your Home for details tips and suggestions.

You can start preparing for your move as far in advance as you wish. Some of Nancy Tallman’s clients have even begun preparing as far in advance as six months, but Nancy knows that not all movers have this much time to prepare:

Sometimes a relocation or opportunity to upsize or downsize mean people need to move in a matter of days or weeks. There are professional movers, packers and organizers that can help if someone has more money than time to allocate to the task. Don’t be afraid to ask and or pay for help. And you can never start too early. Once the home is on the market, the packing process should continue. After a buyer is found, the home will change hands in a matter of weeks. Usually a home inspection will reveal items that need to be repaired, and this accelerated timeline can cause additional stress for people who have not prepared to move.

Six Weeks Before

Get Serious About Supplies - You’ve started to pack a little bit, so you should know exactly what types of materials you require. Head to the store, or order online, and pick up packing peanuts, tape, boxes, bubble wrap, and anything else you need.
Contact Your Moving Company - You’ve done your research, gotten an estimate, and made your choice. Contact them to confirm your moving arrangements, including the date and time.
Use It Up - If you have any food or cleaning supplies you’d like to use up rather than transport, now is the time to start.
Separate Valuables - Designate a box for valuables and expensive items that you will keep with you in your car during the move.

Four Weeks Before

Select an Auto Transporter - If you’re not planning on driving to your new home, now’s the time to find a reliable auto transporter to ship it so it’ll be there when you arrive.
Make Travel Arrangements - Book any flights, hotels, rental cars, or train tickets you’ll need for moving day.
Continue Packing - You should be making significant progress on your packing plan, but if you’ve been putting it off, you should start packing now.

Three Weeks Before

Make Work Arrangements - If you haven’t booked time off already, now is the time to put in a request with your boss, especially if you receive your work schedule on a bi-weekly basis.
Visit Your Doctor - If you have any medications you’re going to run out of during your move, make an appointment to get a new prescription. You should also transfer your script to a new pharmacy, if possible.

Two Weeks Before

Make a Plan for Your Garbage - If your arrival at your new home doesn’t coincide with collection days, figure out where you can drop off your trash or schedule a pickup.
Goodbyes - Don’t rush goodbyes and try to cram them all in the week you move. Plan a goodbye party or take some time to get together with friends, family, and coworkers.

One Week Before

Refill Prescriptions - Fill or refill any prescriptions you’ll need that you couldn’t pick up earlier.
Start to Pack Up Everyday Items - Pack up everything that’s left unless you absolutely need it before moving day. If you’ve fallen behind with packing up, it’s time to enlist your friends and family for help.
Confirm Moving Arrangements - Contact your moving company and confirm your arrangements.
Prepare an Essentials Box and Suitcase - These are the items that you will need in the first 24 - 48 hours of moving into your new home, including things like:
  • A set of sheets
  • Toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • One or two changes of clothes, including socks
  • Pajamas
  • Medications
  • Bandages
  • Moisturizer, chapstick, and other essential toiletries
  • Snacks
  • A couple dishes, some cutlery, and a few pots or pans
Pay Your Bills - Where possible, pay off any bills that will come due around your move. It’s easy to forget when there’s so much going on.
Disassemble Furniture - Start taking apart desks, tables, bedframes, and other large furniture.
Return Borrowed Items - Take back any books, movies, and other borrowed items to libraries, rental places, and friends.
Clean House - Start vacuuming, wiping down, and washing the floors in rooms that are all packed up.

A Few Days Before

Ask a Neighbor to Check Your Mail - You’ve already set up a forward with USPS, but it’s a good idea to have a neighbor or the new tenants check your mail and forward anything that ends up at your old address.
Double-check Your Documents - Go through your moving binder and ensure everything is in order.
Protect Your Valuables - Move boxes and items you don’t want placed on the truck into a room and keep it locked with a sign on the door to avoid confusion.

Moving Day

Make your Bed - The first thing you should do in your new home is set up and make your bed. That way, it will be ready for you to fall into it at the end of the day when you’re dead tired from unpacking.
Set Up Your Child’s Room - If you have children, make it a priority to set up their room the day you move in. The first night in a new house will feel a little weird for them, and this will help them regain a sense of normalcy and make it easier for them to stick to their sleep schedule.

The Day(s) After

Unpack the Most Important Rooms - If you didn’t have time to fully set up your child’s room, start there, otherwise begin with the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.
Childproof - If you have a toddler, make sure to childproof your home as you set things up to ensure their safety.
Greet Your Neighbors - When you have time, stop by and say hello to your new neighbors or make time for them if they drop in on you.
Leave a Review - After the chaos has settled a bit, leave a review of your moving company. These reviews make it easier for other consumers to make an educated decision about which company to select.
Organize Your Paperwork - Sort through your important moving paperwork and file it away so you can easily find what you need come tax season or the next time you move.
Start Making Memories - Enjoy your new home, get to know your neighborhood, and get out and explore the city.

Download a Printable Moving Checklist

Click to download (PDF)

Keep Reading the Ultimate Guide to Preparing for Your Move

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