Preparing to move to your new home seems like a relatively simple task — until you actually take stock of everything you own and consider both what to pack and what to leave behind. The process gets even more complicated when you factor in the opening and closing of utility accounts, cleaning and the additional planning required to get your household from point A to point B. When possible, it’s best to start planning for your move more than a month in advance — even if you don’t yet have the address of your next home.
To help make your move less stressful, here’s a checklist counting down six weeks from moving day.
6 Weeks Before Moving Day
Take stock of your belongings. Take a walk through your home and create three lists of furniture and appliances: those you know you’re taking, those you will definitely leave behind and those that you haven’t decided on yet. To get an accurate estimate of the cost of your move, include all the items on the “yes” and “maybe” lists when you consider the size of truck needed and total weight of your belongings.
Contact movers and get estimates. If you’re moving in the summer, you should make initial contact with moving companies at least six weeks in advance. The rest of the year, four weeks is often enough time, but earlier is always better. “The majority of people we talk to don’t know when they’re moving — they’re still trying to sell their house or buy a house,” says Jeff Nogg, co-owner and vice president of sales and business development for I-Go Van & Storage Co. It’s a good idea to contact at least three moving companies for estimates.
Initiate school transfer for your kids. If you have school-age children and are moving to a new district, you’ll need to contact both schools to initiate the transfer of information and school transcripts.
5 Weeks Before Moving Day
Begin collecting packing supplies. Start collecting boxes, bubble wrap, packing paper and tape in advance so you have it on hand for packing. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s safer to buy new boxes rather than rely on Craigslist or your local stores for used boxes, says Rachel Peretz, director of marketing and business development for the American Moving & Storage Association.
Schedule a donation pickup or list belongings for sale. If you have large pieces of furniture or other items you don’t plan to keep, post them on Craigslist or a neighborhood site for sale, or schedule a donation pickup. Charities like Goodwill and the Salvation Army will pick up donations from your home — just be sure to follow guidelines for local pickup.
4 Weeks Before Moving Day
Verify your new location and the date you’ll be moving. By a month out, you’ve hopefully set either a closing date or a lease start date for your new home. As soon as this information is available, contact your mover to provide the information and confirm if this changes the expected cost of the move.
Book a self-moving truck if needed. If you would rather complete the process yourself, it’s still a good idea to book a moving truck and rental materials as soon as you know your moving day to ensure you have access to the vehicle.
Start packing room by room. Start with the rooms you use the least, such as the guest bedroom. If you’ve opted for a full-service move and will pay movers to pack and unpack your belongings, you can skip this step.
Schedule turnoff for utilities. Utility information and advice company Callmepower recommends providing one month’s notice to electric and gas companies, though the minimum notice required may be between 24 hours and five business days, depending on where you live. Be sure to schedule turnoff for after you will be fully moved out of your home and not the morning of — moving in the dark and without water would be especially inconvenient.
Set up utilities for your new home. Typically, you can only set up service with your utility company once the previous residents have scheduled their turnoff, so you may need to call back at a later date.
3 Weeks Before Moving Day
Reserve parking space for moving. You may need to get a parking permit from the city that establishes a no-parking zone for the moving truck. If you live in an apartment building, you’ll likely need to reserve the elevator and loading dock to make moving furniture easier and faster. Often, this falls to you as the customer, but it may worth inquiring with the moving company if you’re using one. “Depending on the city, sometimes the mover will include a parking permit in their bid if they’re familiar with the property,” Nogg says.
2 Weeks Before Moving Day
Continue packing. Pack up bookshelves, decor and seasonal clothing you won’t need before moving day. Label everything so you know what’s in each box and what room it should go into at your new house.
Spackle nail holes. While you’re packing, remove artwork from the walls and fill in nail holes for the next residents.
1 Week Before Moving Day
Check for major events in the area. Check local news sites and neighborhood blogs to see if any events could lead to road closings, additional traffic or trouble parking on moving day.
Pack everything you don’t need for the next week. Keep a week’s worth of clothes out and just enough kitchen utensils to make meals for the next few days. Everything else can go in boxes.
Donate items you aren’t taking. While packing, you likely found quite a few clothing and decor items you don’t need. Load up your car with everything that’s still in decent condition, and take it to a donation drop.
Day Before Moving Day
Confirm with movers. It’s a good idea to remain in contact with your moving company and confirm the day before what time they’re likely to arrive.
Clean the bathrooms and kitchen. Whether you’re leaving a rental or a house you sold, you typically need to leave the space broom-clean, which means every space should be free of grime, crumbs and dust. Take on the bathrooms and kitchen before movers arrive the next day.
Confirm key pickup. If you don’t already have the keys to your new place, confirm with your real estate agent or landlord exactly where and what time you can expect to get your keys to avoid delays in the unloading process.
On Moving Day
Let the movers in. Be ready to let the movers in at the scheduled arrival time. If any items are to remain in the home, make it clear to the movers so they don’t accidentally load them onto the truck.
Wipe down any self-moving materials. If you’ve rented a truck, take the time to disinfect the interior. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, “movers are doing things like sanitizing trucks between moves,” Peretz says. Even if the rental facility notes that all trucks are cleaned, it’s a good idea to play it safe and wipe it down yourself.
Clean as you go or let cleaners in. As each room is cleared of boxes and furniture, wipe down walls, vacuum and sweep floors. For good measure, disinfect doorknobs, light switches and countertops. If you’ve hired professional cleaners to come after the movers leave, designate someone to lock up after the process is complete.
Take out the trash. You should never leave trash inside the house you’re vacating, so take out the trash ahead of time. If it’s close to trash day, take the cans out to the curb as well.
Let movers into your new home. Be sure to arrive at your home at the same time as or shortly before your movers. Provide any necessary instructions for unloading furniture and boxes.
Start unpacking. Just as packing was a long process, expect unpacking to take time as well. Go room by room, starting with the bedrooms so everyone will be able to sleep comfortably.