Let's face it, the sooner you start the moving process, the less stressful it will be in the end. Do as many of these things as you can in advance.

2 Months Before You Move

  • If you are being transferred by work, familiarize yourself with your company's moving policy, especially with regard to reimbursements and expenses covered.
  • Remember to keep all receipts for tax deductions. What isn't covered by your company may be covered by the IRS.
  • Get estimates from 3 to 5 moving companies.
    Check out this good advice on selecting a moving company. Disreputable moving companies have been know to quote one price and extort another higher price after the move.
  • Familiarize yourself with dos and dont's from your chosen moving company. Do not entrust them with anything irreplaceable.
  • Make a moving folder or booklet -- include an inventory of your household items with a video or photos and make, model, and serial #s.
  • Pare down! Use up, sell, recycle, give away, or donate anything you don't want to move.
  • Have valuable items appraised by a professional (American Society of Appraisers) so they can be replaced in case of loss or theft, provided your insurance (or your mover's insurance) covers this.
  • Make travel arrangements if you are not traveling by car.
  • Notify each child's school, request records be sent to their new school.
  • Request (usually required in writing by form) your doctors or dentist to transfer medical records to your new doctor.
  • Talk to your insurance agent about any changes to insurance policies and coverage requirements.
  • Most movers won't move plants, so sell or give away houseplants, or make other arrangements.
  • Notify any ongoing services (lawn and pool, etc.) that you need them only until a certain date as a courtesy so they can find a replacement client.

1 Month Before You Move

  • Notify utilities on both ends regarding disconnection and turning on new services by a certain date.
  • Gather or buy boxes and packing supplies. The Container Store (check out their box estimator) or moving companies such as U-Haul sell a wide variety of supplies.
  • Make a packing plan so you don't have to stay up nights near the end getting it all done. It helps to estimate how many and which size boxes you will need.  Remember, if you are moving yourself, it's easier to move many lighter boxes than to struggle with fewer huge, heavy boxes.
  • Make a plan to keep pets safe and out of the way during moving day. This is a stressful time for them as well.
  • Research pharmacies, restaurants, grocery stores, and hotels (including rates) close to your new home online. Keep this information in your moving folder.
  • Make an unpacking plan for the new home -- who does what and diagram where the furniture goes (the movers will not rearrange your furniture for you, so think this through). The super organized can make a numbered or color-coded plan that corresponds to room locations to save having it all dumped into one room.
  • Make an appointment with a service technician to prep large appliances for disconnection prior to moving, if necessary.

1 Week Before You Move

  • Pick a staging room and if you're packing yourself, start filling and labeling those boxes.
  • Re-confirm travel arrangements, utilities, and moving date.
  • Arrange for payment for movers, plus a $20-25 cash tip per mover is usual.
  • Type up directions to your new home for movers, make sure they have all your contact information.
  • Back up your computer in case you lose the data. You may be able to replace a broken computer but you may not be able to retrieve your data.
  • Fill out a change of address form at the post office. This will entitle you to receive coupons and discounts in your new hometown or location.
  • Notify clubs, organizations, magazines, friends, family, banks, and credit cards of your new address. The post office takes care of forwarding your mail; they do not notify the sender that you have moved.
  • Remember to change your address with the IRS, INS, and Social Security Administration (which includes Medicare and Medicaid).
  • Cancel your newspaper.
  • Notify your new and old employers of your new home address.
  • Obtain health certificates for your pets. This could save a lot of money when you have to start over with a new veteranian.
  • Separate any suitcases, toiletries, medical and financial records, jewelry or anything irreplaceable that will travel with you.
  • Have drapes and rugs you are taking with you cleaned, and leave them wrapped for ease and protection in moving these bulky items.
  • Determine a contingency plan if the movers run late. Where will you sleep if you don't have a bed and don't want to sleep on the floor?
  • Safely dispose of taboos items that are flammable (gasoline, oil, weed killers and pesticides, lighter fluid, or bleach). Certain aerosol products like hairspray and shaving cream, cleaning products, and paint may also be prohibited by moving companies.  Check their policy on gas grills.

1 Day Before You Move

  • Unplug any electronic devices 24 hours before moving (except plasma TVs) to let them cool down to room temperature.
  • Make sure your cell phones are fully charged so that the movers can reach you.
  • Make sure you have enough pet food for a day or two in case you can't make it to a store when you arrive at your new home.

The Day of Your Move

  • Pack and label an 'open first' box with pet food, toilet paper, soap, paper towels, shower curtain, a basic tool kit and other immediate necessities.
  • Make sure all your belongings are loaded, either in your car or in the van.
  • Make a final tour of the house to look for forgotten items or damage by movers to the premises.
  • Take the time to check the inventory list before you sign it.
  • Put your copy in your moving folder.
  • Read the Bill of Lading carefully and sign it, if it is correct.
  • Make sure you have the moving company's contact information with you in your moving folder.