Your moving checklist
This step-by-step guide takes you from beginning to end of a well-organized, low-stress move.
The two best ways to lower the stress of moving are to employ a strategy and start as early as you can. Try this guide to organizing it all, whether you’re using a full-service mover or renting a truck, and loading and driving it yourself.
Before starting to tick tasks off your checklist, take a day to get prepared. Assemble these three key items to stay organized throughout the madness of moving:
1. Calendar. A calendar is a project manager’s best friend. It allows you to visualize every aspect of your move, says Laura Leist, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers and a certified relocation-transition specialist. Use a blank paper calendar or electronic calendar, or make your own by printing several months' worth of blank calendar pages (print calendar templates from Microsoft Office Online). Leist’s advice:
- Mark your move date on the calendar. Black out all days when you’re unavailable to work on moving. What remains is your time available for the project.
- To wrap her mind around the job, Leist lists every room in the house with notes on what each contains. She schedules each room into the calendar, doing little-used rooms first. She also schedules many other checklist tasks, especially ones with firm deadlines.
2. A big notebook. Use it to track all your arrangements, phone numbers, thoughts, plans, notes and lists. Attach plastic ziplock bags, pockets and folders. Print out this checklist and put it in the notebook.
3. A locking box. (Available at hardware stores or search “locking box” online). Use this for hand-carrying anything irreplaceable, like important documents, medicines, family treasures and jewelry, since movers’ insurance won’t cover high-value items. (Alternative: Send valuable items by Registered Mail, which is given enhanced security and is insured against damage or loss for up to $25,000.)
Four to eight weeks to go
Eliminate stuff. Severely scale back your stuff. For encouragement and tips, read “Cut your square footage in half.” Hold a garage sale or tag sale (learn how in “Empty your closets, fill your pockets.”) Donate leftovers to charity or offer them on Freecycle.
- MSN Lifestyle: 10 thing you never thought you could recycle
Hire movers. Decide whether to use a full-service mover or do some jobs yourself. Read “Moving: Hire a pro or do it yourself?” for guidance on deciding and choosing a mover, truck rental or portable storage company. Ask your mover for departure and arrival dates as early as eight weeks in advance, even if you must change it later. Learn the size of the moving vehicle so you can decide where it can be parked. If it must stay at your home for several days, call the city’s streets department or talk with your apartment’s manager to make arrangements. Hire help for jobs you won’t be doing yourself, like packing, loading the truck or cleaning the house. Hire help now, too, for unloading and unpacking in your new home. Ask when payment is required, as this varies by company. Some want money up front; others require a deposit and the balance paid at delivery; and still others take nothing but your credit card imprint until delivery. Learn whether you can use a check or credit card, how the company’s estimates and cost overruns are calculated and charged, and what guarantees will apply.
Service appliances. Ask the mover which appliances and equipment will need servicing before moving and after the move, and schedule the work on both ends.
Bing: Search & decide
Give notice. If you’re a renter, give the landlord 30 days' notice that you’re leaving in writing. Confirm what’s required to get your deposit refunded.
Assemble packing supplies. Packing a moving van is far easier with standard-sized moving boxes rather than liquor and grocery boxes. Start early searching for freebie supplies, and visit a rental truck company to view the boxes available. Estimate your requirements and make purchases. Designate a “move center” in your home to store it all.
Start packing. Begin with the least-used rooms – garage, attic and basement. Next, attack the living area. Designate one room for all packed boxes. Figure on taking one day per room.
Make records. Photocopy important documents that you’re not carrying with you.
Help kids plan. Children enjoy keeping their own moving notebooks, writing journal entries and pasting in treasures, photos and mementoes. These can help them with the transition.
Contact schools. Give notice and arrange for record transfers. Contact new schools to arrange admissions, learn requirements and transfer medical records and transcripts. Print out and put school calendars and schedules in your notebook. (Find free school profiles with links to schools’ Web sites at Qwest.com.)
Plan the trip. Get maps and directions. If necessary, book hotel reservations, making careful plans for the security of your vehicles and possessions.
Gather medical records. Tell doctors and dentists you’ll be leaving and get copies of your records. Ask for paper copies of each prescription to put in your notebook for a backup. Request referrals to providers in your new town.
Wrap up loose ends. Return library books and things you’ve borrowed, pick up things you’ve loaned, dry cleaning and items out for repair.
Transfer prescriptions. Find a pharmacy near your new home and arrange to have prescriptions transferred. Carry enough medications with you to last two weeks.
Get acquainted. Check with the chamber of commerce in your new town. Most have Web sites and many will mail you a new-resident packet with helpful information. MSN CityGuides can help you locate moving services, utilities, entertainment, parks, schools and other essentials.
Call the DMV. If you’re moving to a new state, contact that state’s department of motor vehicles to learn how soon you must obtain a new driver’s license and register your vehicles. (See DMV-department-of-motor-vehicles.com for links to each state DMV site.) You may need a new driver’s license to register vehicles. Contact the DMV in your old state to find out if you’re expected to surrender your vehicles’ old license plates. Giving back plates allows the state to cancel the license number and protect you from fraudulent use of your plate number. Download or order the state’s driver’s license manual to study if you must take the exam to get licensed. Read it early to know the rules of the road in your new home. Tip: Some states require emissions testing or a yearly inspection of vehicles.
Check tax deductions. Ask your accountant or read IRS Publication 521 (2008), Moving Expenses, which the agency says will be updated for 2009 before tax time. If any aspect of your move is deductible, designate an envelope or file for storing documents and receipts.
Notify creditors, cancel services. As you open mail, contact each creditor or service provider of your change of address, including banks, periodical subscriptions, credit-card companies, brokerages, insurance companies and doctors. Cancel services you won’t need, including lawn or garden help, newspaper delivery, health club, utilities and trash pickup.
Check insurance. Ask your agent:
- About coverage your policy provides for damage or theft of possessions during the move and in storage;
- About your coverage for liability and property damage coverage while driving a rental truck, hauling a trailer or towing a car;
- For a referral to a company representative in your new town;
- What will happen to your rates: Moving may trigger a change as prices are set in part by ZIP code and take into account your commute distance;
- Whether a supplemental policy is appropriate for expensive or precious items;
- For proof of insurance to show in obtaining a new driver’s license or to register vehicles;
- For information on road insurance, which you should get if you’re driving.
Document. To help support claims in case of damage or loss, have expensive or irreplaceable items like jewelry, art and furniture appraised and photograph (close up) or videotape possessions.
Service vehicles. Have a mechanic give each vehicle a safety inspection, service them if necessary and rotate tires or install new ones. If you’re shipping vehicles, hire a shipper.
Arrange for storage. If you’ll need to keep things in storage, now’s the time to make arrangements.
Write down serial numbers. In your notebook, record numbers for electronic equipment.
Make a clean sweep. Drain fuel from lawn equipment and get rid of household poisons, flammable liquids and any broken or leaky containers.