Moving out of a home is usually a large project, especially if you've been at one address for many years. Some people feel so overwhelmed at the thought of going through all of their belongings that they would rather discard everything and start fresh in a new home.
You can be less overwhelmed with some preplanning, organization, and effort applied well in advance of your move. If your moving timeline is tight because you are selling your house and have accepted a quick closing date, push everything forward as necessary to accomplish your move as quickly and easily as possible. The following steps can take you through each phase of your move.
- As soon as your house goes on the market, it's time to start cleaning, decluttering, and organizing your belongings.
- Once you have a set moving date, it's time to figure out exactly how you will move, such as whether you will hire movers or rent a moving truck.
- As the moving date approaches, slowly begin canceling services, packing up boxes (unless you plan on hiring movers), and updating your address with your subscriptions.
As Soon as Your House Goes on the Market
Now is the time to purchase packing supplies, such as tape, boxes, and wrapping papers or plastics. Buy stickers or red markers to flag your fragile packages.
- Start keeping track of all moving expenses, because some might be tax-deductible.
- Clean and organize all closets.
- Clean and declutter every room in the house, including the garage and basement, discarding anything you don't want to pack or won't need in your new home.
- Pack unused items that you plan to keep. Label each box's contents, and store the boxes in a safe but out-of the-way location where they won't interfere with showings.
- Donate unneeded items to charity, or have a garage sale to get rid of them. You can even sell unwanted clothes and accessories on sites like Poshmark.
Once You Have a Moving Date
Decide whether you need to hire movers or you can handle the move on your own, which is easier if you're a single person living in an apartment or small home.
- If you're hiring movers, get price estimates and a list of services. Place your order when you know you have a firm moving date.
- If you're moving everything yourself, check moving truck prices, reserve a truck, and find out about hiring help or recruiting friends or family to assist you on moving day.
One to Two Months Before Moving
Continue to pack up things that don't get used very often, start terminating services that you use each month, and start preparing the home for its new owner.
- If movers will pack you, ask the moving company for advice on the best ways to prepare.
- Contact people who work for you regularly—such as pool maintenance companies, housekeepers, and gardeners—to cancel their services. Leave their business cards for the new owners.
- Place reference manuals for major appliances in a kitchen cabinet or drawer where new owners will find them. Label extra keys, and place them in the drawer.
Two Weeks Before Moving
As you terminate services at your existing home, such as utility accounts, newspaper delivery, and other services, start setting them up for your new home. Start collecting important documents and other items that must not get lost or misplaced during the move.
- Call utility companies, and arrange for meter readings on the day of closing so that all services after that date are the responsibility of the new owner. The new owner should also notify the utility companies of the switchover and set up new accounts.
- Have utilities disconnected—or removed from your name—at closing as the new owner needs to establish accounts.
- Stop auto-delivery of any propane gas or fuel unless it is needed.
- Arrange to discontinue your telephone service on the day of closing. Give your cell phone number or another contact number to everyone associated with the move and real estate closing, just in case they need to reach you after the home phone has been disconnected.
- Arrange to disconnect your satellite or cable TV coverage.
- Now do just the opposite to begin establishing services at your new home.
- File a change-of-address notice at the post office, making it effective on your moving date or a few days before.
- Notify your creditors, magazine subscriptions, friends and family, doctors, dentists, and others of your new address.
- Schedule a cancellation date or new address for newspaper deliveries.
- If you're moving out of the area, start picking up items you sent out for cleaning or repair. Be sure to return library books and rented DVDs and videos. Arrange to have your prescriptions transferred to a pharmacy near your new home.
- Start an essentials box or two of all the things you'll immediately need after you unload at your new location. Such items may include toiletries, cleaning supplies, a broom, towels, sheets, blankets, a change of clothes, and nightwear.
- Find certificates verifying that your pets are up-to-date on required vaccinations. Gather other important documents, and plan to carry them with you on the day of moving.
- Open a bank account at your new location, or, if you're staying in the area, order checks with your new address.
One Week Before Moving
Check with your agent to make sure the transaction is on schedule, continue wrapping up service accounts, and do some cleaning.
- Confirm that your closing is still on track, and handle tasks required by your closing agent.
- Confirm moving and delivery dates with movers, or check your truck reservation.
- Clean each room thoroughly as you finish packing. Don't forget the major appliances. Wait to pack your vacuum and other tools necessary for last-minute cleaning on moving day.
- Arrange to cancel the existing homeowner's insurance coverage after the closing is complete, and you no longer own the property. If there's a delay, call your insurance agent immediately.
- If applicable, arrange for someone to read the level of propane gas or fuel oil in tanks that remain on the property if your sales contract requires the new owners to pay you market price for the fuel.
On Moving Day
Keep an eye on the movers, and make sure they take care to prevent damage to your belongings. Double-check closets and cabinets for left-behind items, and get ready to start setting up your new home.
- Walk through every part of the house to find stray items—opening cabinet and closet doors.
- Make sure you have keys to your new home.
- Supervise movers as they load, then again at delivery to make sure boxes and other items go to the right rooms at your new home.
- Watch for damaged items or damaged boxes. Note all damage on the mover's bill of lading, and ask the supervising person to sign off on the notation.
- Unpack your essentials box—then try to relax for a while before you start the big unpacking job.
If you've ever moved, you know there's more to it than this! Transporting pets, plants, and people in a comfortable way should top your list, and nearly everything you cancel at your old home must be started again at the new location.
While these tips offer a guide to get started, you can also create your personalized list of moving tasks that need to take place on your moving day.