Move Planning Guide:

Week by Week Tips


6-8 Weeks Before Moving:

  • Organization – the KEY TO A SMOOTH MOVE. Start your planning ahead of time, and you’ll eliminate problems before they even start. Now is the time to start getting all of the details of the move.
    • Now is the time to go through all of your belongings and make decisions about what you want to keep, what you could sell, what to give away, and what to throw away.
    • Start planning your garage sale, if you intend to have one. Refer to our guide for helpful tips and tricks.
    • Contact a local charity and choose a date at least two weeks prior to the move for them to pick up your donations, or make arrangements to drop them off yourself.
  • If you plan to do your own packing or partial moving, start collecting packing materials and supplies. You can choose to purchase them from your moving agent or another moving supply company.
  • The boxes you purchase from your moving company are specially designed to protect your belongings while moving. If you obtain boxes from other sources, they will probably irregularly sized and may not be sturdy enough to prevent damages to what is packed inside.
  • Start thinking about the layout of your new home, and begin to plan the layout of your furniture. Create a diagram (or use the diagram and guide on this site) to hand out during the move. This will streamline the move, speed things up, and reduce your stress, since you won’t feel pressed into making snap decisions.
  • Learn about your new community. Contact the Chamber of Commerce and request information about schools in the area, community programs, and the parks and recreation opportunities. They will also have information about services and contractors in the area, if you need to make repairs on your new residence.
  • Make all the travel arrangements (hotel/motel, flights, car rental, etc.) for your family now. Ask if you are able to switch dates if you need to due to any changes or delays.
  • Keep all receipts from any moving-related expenses. Make a folder just for this. You’ll want to hang onto all of them in one place, because when tax time comes around, you’ll want to see if any of your moving expenses are tax deductible.
  • See our pamphlet about tax-deductible moving expenses on this site. You can obtain an IRS Change of Address form (FORM 8822) by calling (800) 829-7040 or visit the IRS website. You can download this form, and other IRS tax forms (like FORM 3903 to help deduct moving expenses).
  • Finalize all mortgage and rental needs and requirements.
  • Contact your insurance agent to transfer medical, property, fire, auto, and life insurance.
  • Place all medical and dental records in a safe and accessible place. Include prescription and vaccination records, and your eyeglasses prescription.
  • Make plans to personally carry/transport all one of a kind items (jewelry, coin collection, photos, etc.) and your important documents such as wills, stock certificates, etc.

4-5 Weeks Before Moving:

  • Contact the Post Office and obtain the Change of Address form to inform them of your move. You will want to personally contact the following to inform them of your new address:
    • Friends and Family
    • Post Office
    • Utility Companies
      • Telephone Company
      • Trash Company
      • Cable Company
      • Water Company
      • Electric Company
      • Internet Provider
    • Insurance Companies (Fire, Home, Life, Dental, Medical, Car, etc)
    • Banks and Financial Institutions
      • Checking
      • Savings
      • Loans
    • Creditors
    • Local Government agencies, Federal Government agencies, the IRS
    • Health Providers
      • Doctors
      • Dentist
      • Veterinarian
      • Pharmacy
    • Schools
    • Subscriptions
    • Magazines
    • Book Clubs
    • DVD or CD Clubs
    • Newspapers
    • Travel/Auto Club
    • Church

  • Take stock of what you own, and make time to thin out your belongings. Decide what goes, and what stays behind. Remember, adding more weight to long distance shipments, or more volume to local ones adds more to the costs of your move. Get rid of old books, magazines, old toys, broken items, etc.
  • Make decisions about whether the items you do not intend to take with you should be given away, sold at a garage sale, or thrown out.
  • Get organized by making lists of the items that you will have the moving company transport, and which ones you will transport personally.
  • Decide who will do all or most of the packing. You might want to consider allowing the moving company or van line agent to do all or most of the packing – they know the best ways to get your items to the destination safely, since this is what they do everyday.
  • Start getting your children involved in the move to get them excited about what’s to come. Let them plan out their new rooms, and help with some of the packing. You might want to think about taking them for a “tour” of their new neighborhood.

3 Weeks Before Moving

  • Contact your agent or moving company representative and let them know if any of the details of the move have changed:
    • Verify the dates of the move,
    • Notify the company if you find that you will need any additional services, such as a piano move, storage, or packing and unpacking services,
    • Obtain pricing for any additional services you request,
    • Inform your moving representative if you’ve added to or reduced the number of items going with your shipment.
  • Make a realistic decision about how much of the packing you intend to handle yourself. If you decide that you will need packing or unpacking services, or you need more packing than you initially decided, notify your moving representative. It is a good idea to let your moving representative know what types of items you will need them to move so that they can schedule the proper amount of time and bring the appropriate packing materials.
  • If you are not driving your car to the destination, you will need to make arrangements and final reservations for car pickup either with your moving representative or with a car carrier at this time.
  • Plan how you intend to transport your plants now. Remember that some states do not allow you to transport plants from one state to the next. If you haven’t got an emotional attachment to your leafy green tenants, then consider donating them to charity or giving them away to friends and family. If it is important to you that your plants go where you go, then there are ways to get them there. (See our moving guide on this topic on this site).
  • Arrange for the transportation of your pets. Make time to take them to the vet and have them checked out, and get their shots up-to-date. Some states will require that you present them with a bill of health and a certificate verifying that your pets have had all of their shots (especially their rabies vaccination). See our moving guide on this topic on this site for more information.
  • Plan to transport your jewelry and other valuables personally. Make a list of these items and then check them off into your care before leaving the house, so that you know they are all accounted for.
  • Return any borrowed items (library books, movie rentals, etc). Pick up all items out for repair or cleaning (clothing, fur, shoes, etc).

2 Weeks Before Moving

  • Transfer all prescriptions to a pharmacy near your new residence.
  • Call your bank and make arrangements to transfer your accounts. Clear all safety deposit boxes.
  • Back up all your computer files onto disks. You may want to transport your backup disks with you in the car because exposure to extreme temperatures can ruin them. Disassemble and disconnect your computer system.
  • Make all final packing decisions. Take time to go through your attic, basement, closets, and your home to clean thoroughly, and double check that you haven’t missed anything.
  • Dispose of all items that are not allowed to be transported. See our list of non-allowable items.
  • Make sure that all cleaning fluids that are non-toxic and non-flammable are taped and sealed into plastic bags.
  • To ensure safe transportation, drain your lawn mower, snow blower, power tools, and all other equipment of all the oil and gasoline.
  • Schedule the disconnection of your appliances with a service provider. Make sure you ask them to prepare your appliances for travel.
  • Determine whether or not you will need to store any of your belongings. Ask your moving representative about storage through their company, or make arrangements to store your belongings with another company.
  • Inform your service providers (gas, electric, cable, telephone) of your move. Make arrangements to have them disconnected from your current home the day after the scheduled moving day. Sign up for services at your new address and arrange to have them connected on the day you move in.
  • If you intend to travel by car, have your automobile serviced and road-ready.

1 Week Before Moving

  • Mark all of the items you plan to transport personally, so that your moving crew won’t accidentally take them or wonder if they are supposed to go with the load.
  • Double and triple check all of the rooms of your house, including closets. You want to make sure that you haven’t overlooked anything.
  • Take time to make sure that all boxes are marked appropriately (“fragile,” “do not load,” “load last”).
  • At least 24 hours before the move, empty, defrost and clean your refrigerator and freezer. Use baking soda to eliminate any odors. Leave them open to allow them to air out (this prevents mold and mildew).
  • Clean out your stove and get it ready to move.
  • Set aside all of the things you will need while your belongings are in transit. Confirm travel arrangements for you and your family. Pack your suitcases. Try to keep your schedule as flexible as possible in case you need to reschedule due to unexpected delays or scheduling changes.
  • Make sure your moving agent or representative knows the address and phone number of your new residence. You also need to provide them with an address and phone number where you can be reached until you have settled into your new residence.
  • Determine the method you’ll use and arrange for payment to your mover or van line agent. Contact the company to find out which payment methods are accepted.
  • Ask your moving representative or van line agent about the available methods for insuring and otherwise protecting your shipment.

The Day Before You Move

  • Gather together a box of things that you will need right away at your new residence. You might want include non-aerosol cleaning supplies, disposable plates & cups, light tools, snacks, bathroom items, and trash bags. Either take this box with you, or have the driver load it last. This is usually done the day you move.
  • Before you sign for packing services, make sure that all the services you requested have been performed.
  • Refrigerators and freezers need to be defrosted, cleaned, thoroughly dried, and aired out by this time.

Moving Day

  • Be on site and available when the driver arrives and throughout the loading process. If for some reason you are unable to be there, you should make sure that someone you trust is there to direct the movers and answer questions. You need to supply the moving company with that person’s name and phone number so that the driver has this information in writing.
  • During inventory, accompany the driver and be sure to check on the condition of your goods as they are being loaded.
  • Take a final tour of your home, thoroughly checking each room to make sure that nothing has been overlooked or forgotten.
  • Before you leave, make sure that all of the windows and doors are locked, and all switches are off.

Moving In Day

  • If possible, arrive at your new home a day ahead of the truck to make sure that all of the utilities have been hooked up and to begin planning the placement of your larger items.
  • Be on site and available to pay the driver with cash, traveler’s check, certified check, or money order prior to your goods being unloaded.


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