The Ultimate 70-Day Moving Checklist: Stress-Free Relocation from Start to Finish

Andreea Draguleasa
March 22, 2024
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The “big move”. For some, it’s an exciting change; for others, a dreaded chore. But love it or hate it, it happens. Often. Americans switch addresses an average of 11-12 times throughout their lives, so they should be really good at it, right? Wrong.

The seasoned tenant or three-time homeowner is still human. Many of us leave preparations until the last minute. If you’ve ever spent your final hours scrubbing the dreaded gunk between the fridge and the oven in the dark because you transferred your utilities too soon, you’re not alone.

We’ve created the ultimate moving checklist for even the savviest movers. Below, you’ll find a timeline of tasks that’ll set you up for home-sweet success. And it’s not a 30-day moving checklist, but a 70-day one! Yup, from eight weeks out to two weeks after, we’ve put it all in a nice box that’s ready to go.

8 Weeks Before Your Move

At this stage, you’ll set the foundation for your big move. Consider it the planning and documenting phase.

Renting or Owning/Selling?

If you’re renting, re-read your lease terms. Among others, you may be required to:

  • Pay the last month’s rent and deposits.
  • Clean floors.
  • Change and/or replace items.
  • Refresh outdoor spaces.
  • Give notice.
  • Return keys and passes.

If selling your home, go beyond what a real estate agent can help you with, for instance:

  • Notify your HOA.
  • Make repairs and alterations.
  • Review your mortgage terms.

For renters and owners alike

  • Review secondary agreements (e.g., utilities, insurance).
  • Notify home maintenance and service providers, for instance:
    • Lawn care
    • Pest control
    • Residential water delivery
    • House cleaning
    • HVAC maintenance
  • Consult insurance providers — you may need to give notice to some.
  • Arrange transfer of utilities and other services — for some, you might need to switch providers.

Start a filing system for all your important documents

  • Organize your documents into folders, with manilla envelopes and paper clips:
    • Homeownership / Occupancy
    • Financial and utilities
    • Repairs and maintenance (contracts, receipts, records)
    • Documents for new homeowner
    • Correspondence (with real estate agent, HOA / landlord, roommates)
  • Scan your documents. You can use a mobile scanner app if you don’t have a scanner.
  • Get a portable file box — bulky filing cabinets are not practical when moving.

Plan for the weeks ahead

  • Identify pain points (e.g., potential problem appliances, overlapping leases).
  • Communicate with decision-makers: homebuyer, mortgage company, landlord.
  • Create a list of contacts.
  • Develop a realistic budget.

Begin the pre-packing phase

  • Declutter all surfaces (e.g., kitchen islands, countertops, bookshelves, desks).
  • Organize and tag items by category.
  • Choose what to discard, donate and sell:
    • Schedule pickups with local charities.
    • Hold a garage sale.
    • Invite your friends to browse unwanted items.
    • Shred old mail and unwanted loose documents.
  • Create a home inventory.

Obtain moving-related quotes and review contracts

  • Protect yourself from scams and frauds.
  • Check credentials.
  • Negotiate for a lower price.
  • Confirm timelines and accountability.
  • Review contracts to understand liability.
  • Read up on warranties.
  • Review cancellation policies.

6 Weeks Before Your Move

It’s now time to secure the services and supplies needed for a successful move based on your previous research.

Secure moving and storage services

Assess moving supplies

  • Determine the number, sizes and types of boxes you’ll need:
    • Standard moving boxes
    • Wardrobe moving boxes
    • Kitchen boxes
    • Office and file boxes
    • Picture/Mirror boxes
    • TV boxes
  • Create a moving supplies list and don’t forget:
    • Tape
    • Markers
    • Bubble wrap
    • Packing paper
    • Mattress bags/covers
    • Moving labels (e.g., Fragile, Room name)
    • Moving blankets

Getting moving supplies on a budget

  • Consider buying a moving kit.
  • Ask friends, family members and local store owners if they have any free boxes that you can take off their hands. 

4 Weeks Before Your Move

The time has come to transfer important documents and begin the most notorious aspect of moving: packing.

Tie up loose ends

  • Last call to send notices.
  • Reserve vehicle storage, if needed.

Obtain and transfer records

  • Notify your child’s school.
  • Notify routine service providers and ask for recommendations:
    • Doctors
    • Attorneys
    • Car mechanics
    • Banks

Pack non-essential and rarely-used items

  • Pack the basement, garage and closets. Work your way up and out.
  • Unload non-essential cabinets and shelves.
  • Wrap up spare rooms — everything but the computer, work files or frequently used supplies.
  • Label with detailed descriptions: “Master Bedroom Closet: Seasonal clothing, hats, boots.”
  • Flag boxes that need immediate unpacking with a colored reminder tag. Load them last on the truck.

3 Weeks Before Your Move

With 21 days until your big move, you’re still stuck with packing. It’s also time to communicate your schedule with your boss, neighbors and other relevant parties.

Continue packing non-essential items

  • Get an extra-large plastic storage bin for must-have toys and hobbies, and pack everything else.
  • Dismantle and pack items from outdoor areas (e.g., grilling tools, string lights, potted plants, side tables, umbrellas, porch swings).
  • Select the wardrobe essentials at this point and pack the rest.
  • Dismantle empty furniture.

Further planning and communication

  • Consider temporary or long-term storage.
  • Notify a trusted neighbor for extra security.
    • Discuss the people or companies you’ve hired. Ask neighbors to contact you regarding any suspicious activity.
    • Outline your timeline and the key dates. Ask neighbors to contact you if they see workers outside of these dates.
    • Confirm the information with your service providers. Ask moving-related companies to guarantee workers will show up in branded uniforms.
  • Plan your personal schedule, factoring in time for packing, unpacking and cleaning — in both your old and new homes.
  • Request time off from work.
  • Coordinate childcare and follow up with reminders as needed.
  • Schedule travel arrangements for your pets.

2 Weeks Before Your Move

You’re getting close and you can already see the finish line. With the boxes squared away, you’ll have a lot more space to begin cleaning.

Finalize your services

  • Schedule utilities’ transfer or cancellation, including:
    • Electric
    • Water
    • Gas
    • Cable
    • Telephone
  • Confirm contracted moving services — the date of your moving service and the plan for the day.
  • Book short-term storage if needed.

Plan, plan, plan

  • Plan upcoming meals, keep them simple and get rid of food you won’t be able to finish.
  • Consider temporary tableware as you gradually pack your kitchen.
  • Create a transition plan for children.
  • Create a backup plan for unexpected events.

Travel-size toiletries for relocating long-distance

  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Soap
  • Lotions
  • Styling products

Start cleaning

  • Dust and wash baseboards.
  • Scrub around and behind toilets.
  • Scour grout in bathrooms and between other tile surfaces.
  • Wipe or dust fans, light fixtures and blinds.
  • Wipe the insides of empty drawers and other storage areas.
  • Pull weeds in outdoor areas.
  • Clean windows and mirrors in spare bedrooms and bathrooms.

1 Week Before Your Move

Seven days until your big move — that’s the final countdown. If you’re feeling the pressure, simply follow these final tips in the moving checklist on heavy-duty cleaning and more.

Address change

  • Schedule your address change with USPS.
  • Make a list of forthcoming address changes, by business (e.g., your current landlord, credit card companies).

Heavy-duty cleaning

  • Wipe down the refrigerator, microwave and stove top.
  • Wash countertops, sinks and other surfaces.
  • Run auto-clean cycles on your dishwasher, oven and washing machine.
  • Wash all doors, walls and windows — exterior and interior.
  • Clean carpets and floors — rent industrial tools as needed.
  • Scrub toilets inside and out.
  • Scrub bathtubs, showers and sinks — consider reapplying caulk.
  • Focus on fine details you may have missed last week:
    • Showerheads
    • Faucets
    • Mirrors
    • Knobs
    • Buttons
    • Latches
  • Repaint and patch walls and doors.

The Night Before Your Move

One day until your big move. This is it. It’s time to put all that hard work and planning into action, but not before you pause to review. These moving tips and tasks sure will come in handy.

Finalize cleaning tasks

  • Recheck the fine details you covered above.
  • Spot-clean appliances, floors, countertops, etc.
  • Defrost your freezer and remove food items throughout.
  • Take pictures to document the home’s condition.

Prepare last-minute moving details

  • Round up your transitional and essential items in a box or suitcase. Keep it with you, don’t put it in the moving truck.
  • Identify entry and exit points for the best route to the moving van.
  • Plan for foot traffic and lay secured cardboard or moving blankets on your floor.
  • Map side streets for local moving.

Moving Day

Today’s the day. Throw on the moving gear you set aside and get to work.

In your new home

  • Organize boxes in a way that leaves easy-access pathways to storage areas.
  • Assess your new home — make sure there are no mover-related damages. Scrutinize all areas with defects and take pictures.

Return to your old home for final preparations

  • Clean moving-related messes on floors, walls and doors.
  • Secure entries, exits and windows.
  • Return keys and passes in a visible area for your landlord, real estate agent or new homeowner.
  • Leave your contact information for the new residents.

1 Week After Your Move

You’ve made it past the threshold and it’s time to unpack, but don’t forget to spot-clean first.

Begin spot-cleaning and organizing your new home

  • Review the home’s overall cleanliness.
  • Look out for construction dust on surfaces in brand-new dwellings.
  • Use antibacterial cleaning products to reduce your exposure to germs from the previous owner.
  • Wipe down cooking appliances that may have been exposed to harmful cleaners.

Start unpacking

  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Living room

2 Weeks After Your Move

By this week, you likely still have a lot of unpacking ahead of you but don’t be so hard on yourself.

  • Throw a small housewarming party with no-fuss snacks and drinks.
  • Break down boxes directly after you empty them.
  • Start decorating slowly, placing the most meaningful items first.

Conquer Your Move with Confidence!

Moving can be a whirlwind, but with this comprehensive checklist as your guide, you can approach it with confidence. Remember, the key to a smooth move is staying organized and planning ahead. Break down the tasks into manageable steps, delegate where possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family. By following these tips and using this checklist, you’ll be unpacking boxes and settling into your new home in no time. Now go forth and conquer your move!

Here are some bonus tips for a stress-free moving experience:

  • Embrace the power of technology: There are numerous moving apps available to help you with everything from creating packing lists to finding reliable movers.
  • Label everything: Clearly label all your boxes with the room they belong in and a brief description of the contents. This will save you time and frustration when you’re unpacking.
  • Pack a “first-night essentials” box: Include items like toiletries, medications, a change of clothes, and a few snacks to avoid scrambling on your first night in your new home.
  • Reward yourself: Moving is a lot of work, so don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishment once you’re settled in. Treat yourself to a takeout meal or a relaxing evening in your new space.

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