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Moving tips with a downloadable checklist

How to prepare for a move and where to start

You’re ready to move out of your current home and into a new one. Between the application, selling process, and signing papers (let alone finding a new home that meets your needs), there’s a lot to do.

Making sure all your belongings are packed, and you’re ready to move into your new space, can sometimes feel like an impossible task all on its own. However, with a little planning, moving doesn’t have to be a headache. Check out our advice to help you stay on track and smoothly transition to a new home.

How do you start planning for a move?

Two to three months before you move is a great time to get started. We recommend setting a timeline and making a checklist to prepare for your move. It’s a good idea to store this checklist, and your notes about the move, all in one place. This should include information about your new address, like utility companies, real estate papers, and an inventory of household items. Here’s a link to our downloadable moving checklist and timeline.

If you can, do a walkthrough of your new home—when it’s empty—before you move in. This will help you plot out where furniture will go and whether some items will need to be disassembled to fit through doors and around corners. If you have kids or pets that might get underfoot on moving day, it’s also a good idea to hire a babysitter in advance. Don’t forget to request time off if you’re scheduled to work on that day!

How do you hire movers?

When deciding on a moving company, it’s important to compare their qualifications, price, and services offered. Ask around among family and friends for recommendations and read reviews online to get a good idea of a company’s level of service. Call around and ask for quotes, and keep in mind that the time of the month or year you move may affect the cost. Booking movers in advance, sometimes with a deposit, can ensure a timely and efficient move during peak season.

Also, certain moving services cost more than others. Some companies offer packing services, while others will require that you pack your belongings yourself. If you decide to pack your belongings yourself, be sure to ask if the company offers moving supplies like boxes and bubble wrap. If you have a particular item that you’re worried about moving, it’s a good idea to ask if the company has experience transporting it. Delicate and fragile art pieces or large instruments like pianos require more care than other household items.

How much does it cost to move homes?

Moving costs vary depending on where you live, what you need to move, and how much you'll need to move. For example, a couple moving out of a one-bedroom apartment into a neighborhood down the street will likely spend less than a family of five or six that’s moving out of state. Larger items, like bed frames, refrigerators, or musical instruments, can often take more work to secure and are therefore more expensive to move.

There are some steps you can take to reduce your moving costs. You can rent your own moving truck and do the heavy lifting yourself. Consider donating some of your belongings that you no longer want or use, as this can make packing and unpacking more efficient.

If you’re using a moving company, packing as much as you can on your own can save time and money. Researching and comparing prices of moving companies can also lower costs. Plus, some moving companies will offer to match or beat the quote you receive from one of their competitors.

Packing tips

Start by going room by room. In each room, look for items you use the least or are out of season. Packing your winter coats and scarves in summery weather is a good way to get a jumpstart. If you’re packing in advance (and you should, if you can), this will help prevent you from packing an item you’ll need prior to moving day. Make sure you label boxes as you pack them and mark fragile boxes accordingly, so they don’t get squished in transit. T-shirts, towels, and socks make great padding for delicate items.

It’s a good idea to keep a separate bag or container filled with items you’ll need on moving day. This should include:

  • A change of clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Medication
  • Trash bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Box cutter or scissors
  • Phone chargers
  • Important documents
  • Must-have toys for kids
  • Food for pets

Finally, to avoid having to pack your perishable food, try to eat what you can prior to moving. The more you use before moving day, the less you’ll have to trash. If you have unopened food that you know you won’t eat, consider donating it to a local shelter.

Last reviewed and updated September 2023 by Freedom Mortgage.

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