The Ultimate List of Things to Do When Moving

There’s something about packing all our worldly possessions into a bunch of cardboard boxes that seems to strike fear in our hearts–especially when moving to another state. While the process of preparing to live in a new home or city can be daunting, there are ways to ensure you have a seamless moving experience. 

One of the best ways is surprisingly simple: Prepare a to-do list of things to take care of when moving.

The minute you learn of your residential move it’s a good idea to have a detailed checklist to keep yourself organized. Moving requires a lot of effort, and even a few sacrifices along the way to bring the adventure to a successful conclusion.

Here are some time-tested steps to include in your list of tasks to do when moving:

The Move Itself

  • Decide whether to do it yourself or hire a professional mover. You certainly can move yourself. But if you don’t want to take chances, hire a professional. It probably will cost you more, but at least your property will be in experienced hands and insured. Ask if the company belongs to your state’s moving association, an accredited van line, or American Moving & Storage Association.
  • Donate food that you don’t want to or can’t take with you. Organizations like Move for Hunger recommend moving companies that will collect any non-perishable food you can’t take with you on moving day and deliver it to the local food bank.
  • Obtain appropriate packing supplies from your movers or an office-supply store: moving boxes, packing paper, bubble wrap, packing tape, labels, markers, etc. Be sure to look through old craft boxes (that you will soon be packing up) before you head to the store–you never know what you could have laying around!
  • Go through each room and compile a detailed inventory of your entire household. Give a copy to your movers or see what their policy is in case anything is lost in transit.
  • Note any possessions that require special packing or handling requirements.
  • Consider buying additional insurance for your valuable possessions.
  • Sell (online or at a moving sale), give away to friends or family, donate to charity or throw away all the items you won’t be needing anymore. OfferUpFacebook Marketplace, and Craigslist are three popular online sales websites and apps.
  • Set aside the belongings you’re taking with you in your personal vehicle, and get them ready for packing.
  • Start packing from the rooms you use least frequently, such as the attic, garage, basement, and guestrooms, to avoid cluttering your home too early in the process.
  • Label at least two sides of each packed box with vital information, such as content and destination room, plus special instructions.
  • Consider placing color codes (labels, stickers, etc.) on your packed boxes for easier identification during the sorting and unpacking processes.
  • Prepare your largest household goods for packing first, and then think about how to pack your smaller items.
  • Pack an “Open First” box with the absolute essentials you’ll need on your last day in your place or during your first day in your new home. Make sure this gets packed into the truck last or travels with you for easy access.
  • Pack your valuables securely and keep them with you during all stages of your relocation.
  • Don’t waste your time packing any household goods that movers are prohibited from transporting (non-allowable items). If in doubt, ask the moving company.
  • Prepare your pet for the move. Ask your veterinarian if you need to take any special precautions when it comes to move-in day.
  • Make sure your large furniture pieces (beds, wardrobes, dressers, bookcases, desks, etc.) are fully or partially disassembled at least a few days before moving day.

Now that you’re ready to pack for your move like a pro, you might still have questions about selling your home

Staying Organized

Whether you’re moving to a neighboring community or a whole new city, staying organized is key.

  • Create a moving file or binder and keep your important moving paperwork inside: contracts, agreements, checklist, inventory lists, receipts, records, notes, etc.
  • Change your address at your post office in person or online at
  • Notify close friends and important institutions of your address change over the phone, via email, or through your preferred social network.
  • Cancel or change your mailing address on your subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, or delivery services.
  • Obtain your child’s school records or arrange for their transfer directly to the respective new school.
  • Ask your family physician and dentist for any required documents for finding a health-care provider in your new city. Plus, ask them if they can recommend potential new doctors or dentists in the city you’re relocating to.
  • Take your pet for a full medical checkup and, while at the vet’s office, ask for your animal friend’s immunization record. Don’t forget to ask if they know of any good vets in your soon-to-be hometown.

Transferring Utilities

You’ll want to make sure that you’ve set up your utilities, such as internet, cable, water, gas, and electricity.

Here are a few steps you’ll want to take for transferring utilities when you move:

  • Determine when you’re moving so that you have accurate shut-off and activation dates.
  • Reference your recent bills so that you have your account numbers ready.
  • Schedule your transfer with your current utility company as soon as possible. Give yourself several weeks if possible so that you don’t have to worry about it on moving day.
  • Ask about remaining balances and pay the balance so that your credit is not affected.
  • Provide a forwarding address.
  • Check with your REALTOR® find out if you will have a new utility company and call to set up activation and pay any necessary deposits.
  • Conduct a final meter reading and take photos in case there are any disputes.
  • Be present during the activation, or find someone who can be, to answer questions and be present in case special instructions are needed.
  • Conduct an inspection of all your fixtures following activation. If something was installed incorrectly, you’ll want to catch it sooner rather than later.

Update Your Address With the DMV

No one wants to deal with the DMV, but it’s important to update your driver’s license when you move to a new address. Plus, U.S. citizens are required by law to update their voter registration when moving to a new permanent residence.

Visit the California DMV website for more information or, if you’re moving to a new state, be sure to review all the necessary steps well in advance.