Moving Checklist: Your Ultimate Timeline to A Stress-Free Move

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From the moment you decide to move to unpacking your final box, moving can be a lot of work. Typically, this process takes between 2 and 3 full months to complete. With help from America’s #1 Mover®, you can do this.  

United Van Lines has compiled a complete checklist to help you manage your move, and stress less throughout the process. In this helpful checklist, our experienced movers walk you through each milestone in the moving process – from getting organized to celebrating. 

Know You’re Moving Soon? These Are The First Things To Do.

Timeline: 2-3 months before your move

Once you have decided to move, the planning process can begin. Whether it’s around the block or across the country, there’s a lot that goes into making this big change. 

Get Organized

Have a dedicated space to save everything associated with your move. The old-school approach of using a binder or planner may work best. You may also find success using an organization app on your phone. Here, you can plan to keep your contracts, receipts, reminders and contact information for your moving contacts. 

If you plan to move with United, we offer the MyUnited Move Portal App, to help streamline your move.

Know Your Moving Budget

Moving can be expensive, but it’s important to set limits and know where to cut costs.  

  • Determine how much you want to/can spend. 
  • Consider a full-service moving company like United Van Lines that will assist you with the entire moving experience.

Hiring a moving company can be more cost-effective in the long run. Your move can be completed in a single trip.  

The price of a long-distance move depends on several factors. These can include distance, load weight and your move-in date. Weekends and peak moving season (May through September) tend to be more expensive. Add-on services such as packing and unpacking or car shipping can add to your bill, but simplify your move.  

If you’re going to do all the moving yourself, consider all of the expenses associated with a move. These include:  

  • Moving supplies 
  • Transportation  
  • Labor  
  • Storage and more.

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Tasks To Complete 8 Weeks From Moving Day

At least two months before your move is a good time to start researching moving companies. It’s also important to educate yourself about moving scams. The cheapest mover can often be too good to be true – or not a mover at all.  

Research Moving Companies & Services

Research moving companies in your area online. Asking a friend or a family member for recommendations is also a great way to find a reputable mover. Once you have narrowed down your list of potential movers:

  • Make sure your selected mover is a member of the ATA Moving & Storage Conference.
  • Compare your movers through online reviews and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • If completing an interstate move, ensure the companies you are looking at have Household Goods Motor Carrier authority from the FMCSA. This federally authorizes them to transport your belongings across state lines. 
  • Once satisfied, contact these moving companies for a quote. Document everything they say to you and write down the quote during this process. 

When asking for a moving quote, be prepared to answer basic questions about your move. These include things like: 

  • Your move dates 
  • Origin/destination zip codes 
  • Home size
  • How many floors your home has 
  • Which additional moving services you need  
  • Inventory of special items 

Determine which moving services you need. Full-service movers, like United, offer a wide array of services that customers can choose from to meet their unique needs. These value add-on services may include packing, unpacking, storage, debris pickup, car shipping, tv mounting, and more.

Additionally, consider the following when selecting a moving company:  

  • If you’re paying for your interstate move, the moving company is required by law to provide you with 2 informational packets; the “Ready to Move” along with your quote; and the “Your rights and Responsibilities When You Move” before you book your move. Review and understand these documents in full.  
  • If your employer is paying for your move, refer to their moving policy. This determines the services the mover will be authorized to perform. 
  • Understand your move protection options and claims process. Interstate moving companies are required to offer Full Value Protection for moves that involve transporting goods across state lines. 

Schedule A Virtual Or In-Home Estimate

After selecting a moving company, be sure your mover completes a virtual or in-home survey. This will help you get a more accurate quote for your move. This is required by law (unless you agree to waive your right to a visual survey in writing) for interstate moving companies to help avoid surprises on moving day. 

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7 Weeks From Moving Day – Get Your Family & Personal Details In Order

The 7-week mark provides ample opportunity for you to make sure everything is handled with your employer, childcare providers, and pets. Now is a good time to start planning your strategy for both moving out and moving in. 

Job-Related Moving Tasks

If you are moving for a new job, make sure to confirm your start date and time.  

If you are staying with your current employer: 

  • Put in for time off during the move. 
  • Let them know your upcoming change of address.

In either case, it may be worth checking with your employer if they provide relocation packages. 

Notify Your Schools & Medical Providers

  • If you have children in school, notify the current school about your upcoming move and register with a new one.  
  • Transfer school and medical records for everyone in the family (including pets). 

Make a Decision On Storage

You should have a good idea whether your new home will be move-in-ready. If not, you will need temporary storage. You can rent a storage unit near your new home or work with your mover to arrange storage for your belongings. Consider United Van Lines for your storage needs.

Start A Shopping List

Shopping for your new space is arguably the most fun you can have moving. Create a list of items you need for your new home. If you need larger pieces of furniture, begin shopping for them now. Sofas and other custom pieces can take up to six weeks for delivery. Be sure you have all the correct measurements, so items fit nicely in your new space! 

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Start Planning Travel 6 Weeks Before Your Move

You know how your belongings are getting to your new home, but do you know how you are getting there?

  • Book airfare if needed. 
  • Book a hotel if you need lodging on the road 
  • Set up childcare and/or pet sitting services. 
    Secure transportation from the airport if needed. 
  • If you are moving long-distance, make appointments to have your vehicles serviced. This should be completed about 2-weeks prior to your move.  
  • If you need your vehicle(s) shipped, make arrangements to do so. Many moving companies, like United, can provide car shipping services  for you.

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Five Weeks Out: It Begins To Feel Real

At this point in the moving timeline, you will want to start gathering boxes and packaging supplies. You will also want to protect your important documents and start to declutter belongings. 

Back Up Important Digital Files

Important documents are not something you want to lose track of during a move.  

  • If you have physical documents, consider scanning them to the cloud. 
  • Update your computer and download any software updates. 
  • Ensure that all of your digital files and photos are backed up. 
  • Make sure to secure your logins and passwords for online accounts in a safe place. You may want to use a physical file, cloud storage or a password service. 
  • Place documents like passports, birth certificates, social security cards and financial statements in a secure place. You should bring these items with you and not have your mover put them on the moving van. 
  • Collect all product warranty documentation and manuals in one place. 

Packing Yourself? Start Gathering Moving Boxes & Supplies

You’ll be surprised how much of your life doesn’t fit in a suitcase. With just over a month before your move, start cataloging your belongings and collecting boxes for your move.  

  • Get familiar with the different types of moving boxes, such as dish packs and wardrobe boxes. Determine how many you will need. 
  • Research moving supplies and watch videos on packing tips to help ensure your packing process goes smoothly. 
  • Purchase boxes and moving supplies online or from your local moving and storage outlets.

Declutter & Determine What Isn’t Coming With You

Over the years, you’ve accumulated a lot and you may not wish to bring everything with you. Now is the perfect time to declutter.

  • Return items you borrowed from neighbors, friends, family, etc. 
  • Go room by room and set up four piles: Keep, Sell, Donate and Trash. 
  • For the items you wish to sell, organize a garage sale or sell them using an online consignment service or marketplace. 
  • Take the items you wish to donate to a charity organization such as Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Some excellent donation-worthy items include: clothes, costumes, kitchenware/appliances, books, linens, toys and games, decor, sporting goods and furniture. 
  • Contact a junk removal company to pick up any unwanted items. 
  • Take documents that need to be disposed of to be shredded. Many times, banks or office stores will offer this service to the community. 
  • Dispose of hazardous items properly to comply with federal, state and local laws and to protect the environment. Contact your city or county for a list of these items and where to dispose of them.
 

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4 Weeks Out: It’s Time To Start Packing

It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to pack. You’ll want to start roughly a month before your moving day. 

  • Start gathering your basic packing supplies, like boxes, scissors, tape, markers, baggies, padding and hardware/tools. 
  • Utilize our packing and preparing tips for helpful information on packing specific items and rooms. Items in different rooms will likely require different packing materials. For example, you might need a dish pack for packing kitchen dishes or a wardrobe box for hanging clothes. 
  • Start with garages and storage spaces since they generally hold seasonal items and/or items that aren’t used frequently. 
  • Designate an out of the way area in each room for packing ahead. 
  • Pack items in each room that you know you will not need immediately. These include seasonal items such as winter or summer clothes, holiday decorations, special dishware/china, decor items, etc.  
  • Make sure you understand what items are hazardous and/or not allowed on the moving truck. Whether you plan to move with us, or a different moving company, these general guidelines typically apply. (United Van Lines Non-Allowables List).
  • Keep a running list of each box, what items are in the box and which room it belongs in. You may want to take photos of your items for your inventory as well. 
  • Mark each box — on the side of the box — with its contents and the room it should be placed in. Make sure to note if the contents inside are fragile or heavy. 
  • For small furniture hardware, use separate plastic baggies and label accordingly.  
  • Measure your doorways and tight spaces against your larger, oddly-shaped items to ensure each item can fit through. 
  • Consider items you’ll need for the first night or weeks at your new house and begin setting those aside. This first night kit should include items such as bedding, clothes, snacks, laundry detergent, dish detergent and toiletries. See our guide on what to include in your “First Night Box“. 

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3 Weeks Before The Move: It’s Time To Start Saying Goodbye

The next 3 weeks will be very busy. Now is a great time to get your affairs in order before the big move. 

  • Change your address with your local post office; have your mail forwarded.  
  • Set up any on-going services for your new home and cancel services to your existing home. These include house cleaning, lawn care, pool maintenance, snow removal, pet care and more. 
  • Update your community memberships, subscription services, and gym or club memberships. 
  • Update your address with agencies such as the IRS, Veterans Affairs, Medicare and Medicaid offices. 
  • Update your address with all local parties or organizations. These include your employer and payroll department, your local voter’s registration office and your financial institutions. 
  • Schedule some time to visit your favorite places with your favorite people before you depart.  

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2-Week Notice On Your Move

With two weeks to go, there’s still tons to get done before the big move. Now is a great time to clean and prep your home and finish up any other outstanding tasks before you go. 

Clean And Prep Your Home

Get your home ready for life after you. At this time, begin to live with only essential items. Starting early can help protect your security deposit if you rent, or, ensure a clean start for your successors as homeowners. 

  • Clean out your refrigerator and prep two weeks’ worth of meals. If possible, use everything in your freezer, because frozen food doesn’t travel well and can’t be included in shipments. 
  • Remove nails and screws from your walls and fill in holes with spackling. 
  • Arrange for move-out cleaning services. If you choose to clean yourself, make sure to mop, dust and wipe down surfaces, blinds and baseboards. 
  • Clean and dust your furniture. Debris and small pieces of grime can chip or scratch hard surfaces during the move process. 
  • Have your area rugs cleaned so they arrive wrapped and ready to unroll at your new house. 
  • Dismantle furniture that is not being used at this point. If possible, use the owner’s manual to correctly dismantle your pieces. Make sure to keep all hardware for each piece together in sealed and labeled plastic bags.

Prepare For The Trip

For a long-distance move, double check your itinerary, and be prepared for the road ahead.

 

  • Confirm your air travel, transportation to/from the airport and any hotel plans. 
  • If you are driving to your new destination, have your vehicles serviced. 
  • Plan your route: lodging, attractions, food stops, rest areas and gas fill-ups. 
  • If you’re moving with children, pack activities such as coloring books, crayons, books and small toys. Don’t forget their favorite blanket and travel pillow! 
  • Prepare clothes, toiletries, snacks and other items you may need for traveling. 
  • Make a note of things you will want to have with you during your move: personal documents, electronics, jewelry, medication, etc. 
  • If you are shipping your car to your new destination, confirm details and how to prepare with the moving/shipping company. 
  • Keep an eye on the weather for your upcoming travels.

Wrap Up Miscellaneous Tasks

Before you move, make sure the little things you put off are taken care of. Remember to:  

  • Return library books. 
  • Take back any items that need to be returned to local stores. 
  • Cancel or redirect scheduled deliveries; make sure your address change is correct. 
  • Pick up clothing from the dry cleaner. 
  • Pay any outstanding fees or penalties, like unpaid parking tickets, legal fees, etc. 

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Things To Do The Week Before Your Move

This is it – the final countdown. During the final week, you’ll want to prepare your appliances for your move. You’ll also want to confirm your utilities are turned on and off and confirm any arrangements.

Prepare Your Appliances

If you are taking any appliances or large items with you, there are a few additional steps before moving them.

  • Unplug, empty out, defrost, wipe down and open the doors of your freezer, ice maker and refrigerator. This should be completed at least 24 hours before your movers are set to arrive. 
  • Empty your dishwasher and let it air out, so there is no moisture inside. 
  • Disconnect and disassemble/stabilize your washer and dryer. 
  • Make sure that there is no oil or gas inside any grills, lawn mowers and/or other gas-powered items. 
  • Remove/return any propane canisters. 
  • Disassemble garden hoses and lawn care equipment and allow sufficient time for them to dry out. 
  • Pack up any smaller appliances, like your microwave, air fryer, crock pots and pressure cookers. 
  • Remove light bulbs from lamps and lighting fixtures and pack those securely with lots of padding to avoid breakage. 
  • Disassemble televisions and mounting systems. 
  • Disassemble computers, printers, scanners and networks.

If you don’t feel comfortable completing any of these items yourself, we recommend you enlist a qualified technician to help. 

Contact Utilities & Service Providers

You do not want to pay for services you are not using at your old home. You also want your new home to be well-lit and comfortable upon arrival.  

  • Plan for your new utility services to be turned on at least a day or two before you arrive. If moving in the middle of summer or winter, you will want to have HVAC running on move-in day. 
  • Make sure you have contacted all your utility and home service providers for connect and disconnect of services. These include gas, electric, trash, water, recycling, cable and internet. 
  • Request disconnection of your current utilities the day after your move.

Plan Last-Minute Prep For Move-Our Day

At this point, most of the work is already done. In the days immediately leading up to your move, there are a few last-minute things you will want to confirm.

young couple taking a break from packing their living room, using a box as a table for their breakfast muffins - United Van Lines®

  • Confirm the logistics of your move with your moving company and/or anyone helping you on move-out day. 
  • Confirm arrangements for children and/or pets for move-out day. 
  • Make sure the keys to your new home are somewhere safe but easily accessible. 
  • Finish packing your first night kit. This includes all the necessities you will need for the first night at your new home. 
  • Meal prep for the week leading up to move-out day. 
  • If you would like to tip your movers at move-out and move-in, make sure to go to the ATM. Tipping is optional and at your discretion. 
  • Complete any last-minute packing. 
  • Keep an eye on the weather and adjust accordingly. 
  • Make sure any outdoor furniture is clean, dry and ready for the movers. 
  • The night before you move, prepare a cooler with water and snacks.

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Managing Move-Out Day

The big day has finally arrived. On moving day, be sure to:

How to Understand Moving Costs - United Van Lines mover reviewing moving costs with a customer in her kitchen- United Van Lines

  • Place items that should travel separately from the moving truck in your vehicle or in a designated area of your home. Make sure to let the movers know that those items are not to be packed in the moving van. 
  • Meet and greet your movers. Provide them with any important information about your property and discuss any concerns you may have about the moving process. 
  • Make sure your floors are protected. 
  • Be prepared to direct movers to rooms and on how to handle specific items of note. 
  • Read and sign any necessary paperwork for your move. 
  • Take a final walk through. Make sure there’s nothing left behind, all lights are off and doors are locked.

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Moving In To Your New Home

Once you have arrived at your new home with your movers:

  • Make sure your floors are protected. 
  • Direct the movers where furniture and boxes should be placed. 
  • Read and sign any necessary paperwork. 
  • Set up your shower curtains in bathrooms. 
  • Assemble and make beds. 
  • Before you begin unpacking, do some basic cleaning. 
  • Unpack the cooler and any food items you packed for the first night in your new home. 
  • Unpack personal items that you placed in your first night kit. 
  • Be sure to get any personal items out of your vehicle that traveled with you.

Unpacking & Unwinding

The past 8 weeks have been challenging. It’s time to start settling into your new home and congratulating yourself on a job well done.

  • Unpack a little at a time and take the opportunity to do a second round of decluttering as you go. 
  • Consider using an unpacking service to help reduce the stress that can come with the unpacking process. 
  • Unpack things you know you will need immediately, like dishware, toiletries, clothes, and food. 
  • Pick up any groceries and/or personal items from the store that you will need for your first week. 
  • Deep clean your new house. This includes your carpets, hard floors, windows, baseboards, ceiling fans, stairs, hard surfaces, and furniture. Cleaning allows you to start unpacking in a nice, clean environment. You may choose to use a move-in cleaning company to save time and for convenience. 
  • Assemble furniture, including dressers, cabinets, and shelving. 
  • If you used a professional moving company for your move, consider leaving a review.

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Specialized Moving Checklists

Need more help preparing for your move? America’s #1 Mover® can help. United Van Lines offers a variety of specialized checklists for every part of your move.

First Night Box Checklist

Make sure everything you need for your first night or weeks at your new home is easily accessible. 

Restricted Items Checklist

For safe moving, be sure to review this checklist before your move-in day.

Pre-Packing Checklist

Have a game plan for packing with this checklist.

Moving Supplies Checklist

Boxes, peanuts, plastic wrap & what else? Packing yourself? Get everything you need now before you move.

The Pack Separately Checklist

Should this go with that? Organize your boxes the best way with this checklist. 

The “I’ve Moved In, Now What?” Checklist

Helpful next steps after completing your move. 

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