The key to a successful, stress-free move is to plan effectively. This helpful checklist and timeline will walk you through everything you need to do to prepare for a seamless move experience.
2-3 Months Before Your Move
Create a moving folder or binder
- Use this to keep track of all things associated with your move: moving quotes, moving services, contact info, receipts, scheduling reminders, etc. If possible, try to have a digital version so you can easily place them in a document for quick reference.
- You may run across some helpful online information about your new destination and community that you will want to access frequently during your move experience: school districts, economic health, safety, etc.
Set a moving budget
- Determine how much money you want to allocate for your move before you begin researching professional movers.
- Consider a full-service moving company like United Van Lines that will assist you with the entire moving experience, from start to finish. Professional moving companies offer services beyond loading and unloading the truck, saving you time, effort and stress.
- The price of a long-distance move (state-to-state) depends on several factors, including distance between origin and destination, weight (or volume) of your belongings, move-out and move-in dates (weekends, summer peak season, etc.) and add-on services (e.g., packing and unpacking)
- If you’re going to do all the moving yourself, consider the expenses associated with moving supplies, equipment, transportation and labor that many professional moving companies would have otherwise provided.
8 Weeks Out
Research moving companies and services
Educate yourself from moving scams. There are unreputable “movers” that will tack on undisclosed fees and/or offer unreliable moving quotes that can result in a highly stressful moving experience. These rouge “movers” can go so far as to hold your belongings in an undisclosed location until they receive an excessive ransom payment. Protect yourself from criminal movers by taking the time to do the following:
- Ask friends and family for recommendations
- Check with the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA)– moving.org.
- Research moving companies through online reviews and the Better Business Bureau
- Document everything, most importantly — the moving quote
- Review the moving company’s informational packet: “Your rights and Responsibilities When You Move”
- Determine which moving services you need. Full service moving companies, like United, offer a wide array of services that customers can choose from to meet their unique schedule, budget and needs. These value add-on services may include packing, unpacking, storage, debris pickup, car shipping, cleaning, tv mounting, personal computer setup and more.
- If your company is paying for your move, refer to their moving policy to determine the services the mover will be authorized to perform.
- If yours is an interstate move, ensure that the companies you are looking at have household goods motor carrier authority from the FMCSA which federally authorizes them to transport your belongings across state lines.
- 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.
- Be prepared to answer basic questions about your move, including your move dates, origin/destination zip codes, home size, how many floors your home has, which additional moving services you need and if you have any items which may take special handling to pack and move.
Schedule a virtual or in-person assessment of your home and belongings
When you call to schedule your moving quote, make sure to ask your estimator any questions you have about costs, services, delivery timing and the moving process. Every mover is required to visually inspect your belongings before giving you an estimate. This can happen in-person or some moving companies offer virtual technology to remotely conduct this survey. If you are scheduling a Virtual Survey with United, your move consultant will walk you through the entire Virtual Survey process, including what you need to do prepare your home for the survey:
- Show all of the rooms in your home, including storage areas, garage, shed, attic and yard.
- Let us know exactly which items will need to be loaded onto the moving truck and which items will not.
- Disclose any valuables that are greater than $100 per pound (e.g. antiques, fine china, designer apparel, etc.).
- Indicate any items that are delicate or easily breakable.
- Show the outside area of your home so we can examine accessibility from your home to the moving truck.
- Do you want to do any of the packing, or will you purchase our expert packing services? Your agent will be fully prepared to discuss packing services with you.
- If you are moving with United, make sure to read: The Step-By-Step Guide on Moving With United.
- Compare your estimates, then book your move!
7 Weeks Out
Prepare the details for your new destination
- If you are changing jobs, 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 and let them know your upcoming change of address.
- 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).
- Find out if your move requires changes in your vehicle or personal property insurance: contact your homeowners’ agent(s) for both homes.
- Consider storage if your new home will not be ready when you move out of your current home.
- 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. Just make sure you have all the correct measurements, so items fit nicely in your new space!
6 Weeks Out
Make travel arrangements for the week of your relocation
- Book your hotel if you’ll need lodging on the road or if your new home will not be ready to move in immediately.
- Book airfare if needed.
- 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. Aim for about two weeks out to do this.
- If you need your vehicle(s) shipped, make arrangements to do so. Many moving companies, like United, can provide this service for you.
5 Weeks Out
Protect and transfer important documents
- 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.
If you are self-packing, start collecting moving boxes and packing supplies
- Get familiar with the different types of moving boxes such as dish packs and wardrobe boxes and determine how many you will need.
- Research moving supplies and helpful packing tips to help ensure your packing process goes smoothly.
- Purchase boxes and moving supplies online or from your local moving and storage outlets.
- 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 the following: 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.
4 Weeks Out
- Gather your basic packing supplies, like boxes, scissors, tape, markers, baggies, padding and hardware/tools.
- Utilize our packing and preparing moving 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 packing hanging clothes in your bedroom.
- 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. For example, seasonal items such as winter or summer clothes, holiday decorations, special dishware/china, decor items (like candles or picture frames), etc.
- Make sure you understand what items are hazardous and/or not allowed on the moving truck.
- 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 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.
3 Weeks Out
Alert important parties of your 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: house cleaning, lawn care, pool maintenance, snow removal, pet care, etc.
- 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 other parties/organizations such as your employer and payroll department, your local voter’s registration office and your financial institutions.
Plan your goodbyes with neighbors and friends
- Schedule some time to visit your favorite places with your favorite people before you depart.
2 Weeks Out
Clean and prep your home
- Clean out your refrigerator and prep two weeks’ worth of meals. If possible, use everything in your freezer.
- Remove nails and screws from walls and fill in holes with spackling.
- Arrange for move-out cleaning services. Or, 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 your trip
- Confirm your air travel, transportation to/from the airport and any hotel plans if you’re not driving to your new destination.
- 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.
Finish up other miscellaneous tasks
- 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.
1 Week Out
Prepare your indoor and outdoor appliances/items if they are being moved
- IMPORTANT NOTE: For your own protection and for that of your appliances, United recommends that you enlist the services of a qualified technician to service, disconnect and prepare your major appliances for a move.
- Unplug, empty out, defrost, wipe down and open the doors of your freezer, ice maker and refrigerator at least 24 hours before your movers are set to arrive.
- Empty 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.
Contact utility companies and home service providers
- Plan for your new utility services to be turned on at least a day or two before you arrive. Especially if you are moving in the middle of summer or winter, you will want to have the cooling or heating up and running for move-in day.
- Make sure you have contacted all your utility and home service providers for connect and disconnect of services, including gas, electric, trash, water, recycling, cable and internet.
- Request disconnection of your current utilities the day after your move.
Plan for move-out day
- 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 that 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 so that you have cash on hand. Tipping is optional and at your discretion.
- Complete any last minute packing.
- Keep an eye on the weather and make adjustments 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.
- Place items you want close to you and 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, such as the Bill of Lading and inventory.
- Take a final walk through. Make sure there’s nothing left behind, all lights are off and doors are locked.
- 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 curtain/s in bathroom/s.
- 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.
Unpack and start to settle into your new home
- 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’ll need for your first week in your new home.
- Deep clean your new house, including your carpets, hard floors, windows, baseboards, ceiling fans, stairs, hard surfaces and furniture, so you can 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.