Preparation Tips

15 Tips To Plan, Prepare, And Pack For A Move

15-tips-to-plan-prepare-and-pack-for-a-move
Written by David Johnson

[headline h=”1″]Learn how to plan and pack for any type of move, local or long distance, by following these tips![sub_title]Professional advice for preparing, packing, shipping, and moving a household.[/sub_title][/headline]

You have finally bit the bullet! As the SOLD sign is willingly pegged into the ground, and the freshly signed ink on the dotted line dries; the realization that you bought a new home begins to sink in.Among the plethora of questions running through your head, you stop in your tracks and remember that all of them come secondary. First, you need to focus on packing and moving.

Despite common perception, packing for a move does not need to be a laborious task. With the proper planning and preparation in place, packing can actually become an enjoyable part of the moving process. It should be a time of celebration for a new chapter unfolding, and not a source of stress and concern.

The following moving tips are meant to help you stay focused, organized and have a stress-free and seamless move to your new home! [hr]

Tip #1 – Keep A Notebook Dedicated To The Move

[headline h=”4″]Use a notebook for a moving journal to plan out and organize your move[/headline]

moving journal

To simplify the moving process, designate a notebook or binder separate from your regular agenda or filing system that can hold everything from To Do Lists to budget breakdowns and receipts.

Utilize colored post-it notes or page dividers for easy accessibility to must read sections.

If you are using a binder, it would be advantageous to have a leaflet holders or pockets to slip in important documents for quick removal and use.

Make any mental notes or reminders to yourself about where certain things are packed or where they need to be packed for the move.

If you are interested in downloading or printing a pre-made moving checklist to start basing your planning from, I recommend this one.

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Tip #2 – Calculate Your Moving Costs

[headline h=”4″]Add up your total estimated moving costs to make a budget for the move [/headline]

moving costsPrior to starting your moving preparation, it is imperative to calculate what you are willing to spend towards your move to help you abide by it along the way.

Whether you would like to hire professional services (Get FREE Moving Quotes Here) or move on your own, there are a lot of expenses to factor. Everything comes with a price tag and can quickly add up unless planned for properly.

Furthermore, it may be a chance for you to find out if your employer will be offsetting any costs and how much they will allot. Don’t forget to keep your receipts as well as you may be entitled to government grants and income tax reductions.

Moving Costs To Plan For

  • hiring movers or renting a moving truck
  • moving boxes, tape, padding, and supplies
  • carpet shampoo & cleaning of prior residence
  • travel costs – gas, food, lodging, or bus/plane tickets
  • oil change and vehicle maintenance before a long distance move
  • bills due at your old home or bills due at your new home
  • “rainy day money” in case of accident or emergency during your move
  • anything else you can think of that has not been mentioned here!

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Tip #3 – Change Your Address Before You Move

[headline h=”4″]Don’t forget to change your address with everyone important![/headline]

return to sender

Before you begin packing, take a section of your notebook and jot down all the essential utilities, organizations and people whom you may need to contact prior to moving. This would include setting up address changes through your postal service, forwarding mail for at least the first month or two, setting up electricity, telephone lines, cable, etc.

Make sure to update your address with the Department of Motor Vehicles, your insurance companies, with any other company that sends you bills, and with your family and friends.Allow for the non-essential hookups to take place either later in the day of moving day or the following day. This will alleviate any stress of having movers and utility professionals stepping on each other’s toes while getting set up and organized in your new home.

Don’t forget to update your doctors, dentists, etc before you leave….especially if you are moving long distance or out of state. Most professionals will be able to refer you to a new location in your new town or city.

Follow the link for the official USPS change of address form online.

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Tip #4 – Get Free Packing & Moving Supplies

[headline h=”4″]Don’t spend unnecessary money on moving supplies you can get for free.[/headline]

moving suppliesIf you are on a stringent budget, it is ideal to cut back on costs wherever possible. One of the simplest, most cost-effective means of doing so is to stock up on free packing supplies versus paying for them. Visit your local supermarket or stores which may have varied sizes of boxes handy for use without dishing out a penny. Keep in mind as well that smaller boxes make for good use with narrow hallways and for storing valuables.

For a very full, detailed description of how and where to get the best free moving boxes, check out this article here.

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Tip #5 – How To Hire A Moving Company

[headline h=”4″]Hiring movers will save you a ton of stress and labor if you have the money.[/headline]

hiring moversGetting moving quotes or/and hiring a professional moving company could save a lot of time, work and hassle on your move.Depending on the distance that needs to be traveled as well as the amount of heavy furniture or bulky items you have to move, it is a very smart decision to hire the services of a professional company.

Feel free to shop around and don’t be afraid to get multiple free quotes from different movers and van lines to find the lowest rates for your situation. Also, search for reviews on the chosen company prior to selecting them and go over their insurance policies to make sure you have adequate coverage for all your property.

The worst thing you can do is just “pick” the cheapest moving company available for the job without doing your homework first. While most of the professional moving industry abides by federal and state laws, unfortunately there are still a lot of companies out there that love to scam people out of their money. Always make sure the movers you choose are licensed in the states your are traveling, offer a “binding estimate”, and are well-reviewed and trusted.

Where Is The Best Place To Get Free Moving Quotes Online?

In my professional opinion, the best place to get free quotes for local and interstate moves from real, licensed moving companies in the USA is here at CheapMovingTips.com.

american movers

By submitting a few details about your move and needs through our form, you can instantly receive real, accurate moving quotes for free from up to 6 companies qualified to help you out. We have built thousands of working relationships with trusted, licensed,  and insured movers from all 50 states in the USA.

After you receive your free quotes, you can compare the pros and cons of each company and choose the best one for you.

There are a lot of other websites out there offering free moving quotes as well, so just make sure to do your own research and make an educated decision.

Just make sure to remember what I said earlier about “overly cheap” moving prices though, because if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is!

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Tip #6 – Ask Your Friends & Family For Help

[headline h=”4″]There is no shame in asking for some help with your move, so do it![/headline]

friends movingEven if you do employ the services of a professional moving company, having friends available for the day of or the days leading up to the move is key.

Plan in advance how you can best utilize their help – whether it be from packing up a room, lifting heavy belongings and furniture, to unpacking and arranging furniture post unloading.

Typically, planning the move on a weekend day allows for friends to be off work and you can insure more manpower. The best bet is to plan ahead of time so you can “lock them in” on a set moving date. Make sure to get a commitment from them so it won’t be easy to back out and turn off their phone come moving day.

Don’t forget to provide an incentive for the help. The simple promise of free beer and pizza or whatever else hits home with your friends should be all you need to get some help. Just know that no one likes to move, especially friends who aren’t even moving, so make sure to thank them and show appreciation for the support!

Other Resources For Moving And Labor Help

If you cannot find anyone you know that can help you on moving day, then you may have to resort to a less-than-favorable option: buying day labor help. There are various sites around the net, the most prominent being HireAHelper.com, where you can find reliable, local labor help for hire for your moving day. Find anything from locals with trucks that can help to strong men or teams that can help with all your packing, lifting, and loading.

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Tip #7 – Make Sure To Plan & Allow For Overlap Time

[headline h=”4″]Take care of as many things as possible during your time between homes.[/headline]

overlap timeIf you have the luxury of waiting a day or two after gaining possession of your new home, it’s advisable to use that time to have utilities installed. Some other things you can do is start to fix up anything you need to on the new home, clean and paint if needed, go pick up any deliveries, and tie up all your loose ends.

If you need to move in on the same day of possession, consult with the previous homeowner to ensure that both parties have designated time-slots to move their items to avoid confusion and intersection. If you cannot move in the same day of possession, but must move out of your prior location, then you may need to seek out the use of portable moving storage units which can house your items temporarily. This way you can keep all your furniture and other stuff safe and secure while you wait to move them to your new home when you are ready and able.

Also make sure to plan ahead for any temporary living you will need such as a motel/hotel rental until your new home is ready for move-in.

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Tip #8 – Prime Your New Home Before Moving In

[headline h=”4″]Don’t move in furniture and boxes until after you fix up your new place.[/headline]

prime homeSettling in to a new home takes some time and adjustment…especially if its in a new town or state. Moving in to a home that requires painting, cleaning, and fixing up is an even more daunting task.

If you have the available time, inspect your new home when it is empty and assess the upgrades and improvements that are needed to be done. Be sure to allow a day or two to complete them before the move.

If you do things this way, it will make it much easier to access and fix the problem areas before your new home is cluttered from top to bottom with boxes and furniture. It alleviates unwanted stress by already having the rooms move-in ready and up to your standards before unpacking and setting up your things.

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Tip #9 – Plan New Rooms Before Packing Old Ones

[headline h=”4″]Make a plan for your new room setups and pack up stuff accordingly.[/headline]

room layoutIf you have bought your new home, then you should have undoubtedly inspected it in advance and have the dimensions handy.

Before packing up your old home, plot out what will fit where and how in the new location to give you a better sense of placement. This can help you come up with a plan for which items should be packed first, last, or discarded.Having a clear idea of what will go where will help you have a smoother transition while unpacking.

There is nothing worse than carrying heavy furniture upstairs in a new home only to find out that there is no place for it and having to relocate it multiple times. That is a great way to build up a lot of frustration and stress, not to mention the extra risk of injury.

Make it easy on yourself and plan ahead!!!

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Tip #10 – Label Moving Boxes For Easy Unpacking

[headline h=”4″]Save time and stay organized by thoroughly labeling your boxes.[/headline]

label moving boxesAs the title states, labels are your (best) friend. Attempt to label all the boxes and large items per room to help you stay organized as well as for your friends and movers who will be loading and unloading into your home.

Having to open each box after you move because you have no idea where you packed the dishes, bathroom supplies, or whatever you need is awful.

There is always a lot more junk and stuff to move than you anticipate, so make sure you know exactly where everything is at all times during your relocation. Having to switch out boxes and other things and replacing them in the proper room is aggravating and a waste of your time and energy.

Instead, labeling “bathroom” and “spare bedroom” will allow you to immediately place that box or piece of furniture while unloading which will allow you to prioritize which rooms to unpack first. If you really want to save yourself some time during the unpacking phase, itemize all your boxes’ contents on the outside as well so you know exactly where your spare car key or whatever else you need is located.

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Tip #11 – Eat Up Your Food Before Moving

[headline h=”4″]Try to eat and drink your fridge and freezer dry before you move out.[/headline]

perishable foodYou have packed most of your items, but what should you do with the food in the fridge?  Transporting food is a very difficult task and can get messy…especially moving across the country or coast to coast.  My best suggestion for you is a week prior to moving, start emptying it out without replenishing it.

Consume all your meats, fruit and veggies as well as discard any almost empty jars, condiments and dressings that you do not need to take with you. Canned and boxed foods are much easier to pack and are generally non-perishable so if you happen to forget to unload the kitchen box on the first day, you won’t end up with spoiled goods. If you have lots of meat left, host a farewell BBQ for your helpers prior to the move!

Consume All Perishable Food Items!

For more information on perishable foods and how long they can last in a cooler or in transit before spoiling, check out this great post here: How Long Will It Last? Keeping Food In A Cooler.

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Tip #12 – Pack Your Essentials Last

[headline h=”4″]Don’t undo your hard work searching for something you packed too soon.[/headline]

pack essentialsWhen packing up boxes, place items such as books and non-essentials at the bottom of the boxes, with the more important items on top. If you know you won’t use your slow cooker for the first few days, place it at the bottom of the box with plate and utensils on top. This way, if you need to access something essential more quickly, you won’t have to rummage through all your items to retrieve it.

This may seem like a small tip, but trust me when you have 50 boxes packed full of stuff, you will be happy that you listened to this one!

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Tip #13 – Make Friends With New Neighbors

[headline h=”4″]Introduce yourself to the neighbors ahead of moving day.[/headline]

neighborsNot everyone wants to make friends with their neighbors right off the bat, but breaking the ice and setting expectations can ensure a happy start to a relationship.

By introducing yourself prior to moving in and letting them know when the moving truck will be by and if there will be any intrusion on the street or their property, it will help to flourish a trusting relationship and alleviate any last minute problems on moving day.

Who knows…if you’re lucky they may even offer to help you move in!

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Tip #14 – Pack A Moving Kit

[headline h=”4″]Make a travel kit full of all your necessities for the move.[/headline]

moving kitIt is essential to prepare a small moving day kit with some key components to ensure you are not left with having to unpack ten boxes to find your toothbrush.

Things To Pack In A Moving Kit

Basic toiletries, medications, a change of clothes, eyeglasses or contacts, ID and wallet are first on the list. If you have a pet or children, ensure to bring the appropriate necessities for them as well.  Make sure you have your phone charger with you.  A first aid kit with bandages and antiseptics is also a good idea just in case.  Then choose to pack a small set of cutlery and a dish for meals, and you may want to leave out a kettle and tea or coffee for the day. These items will go with you in the car or a separate box left unopened that you will bring in with you for uncomplicated retrieval.

Tip #15 – Babysitter / Pet-sitter

[headline h=”4″]Make arrangements for your children and pets on moving day.[/headline]

babysitter petsitterIf you have a human child or a furry child, it is advisable to plan on having a babysitter or pet-sitter prepared in advance for the day of the move.

Moving can be complicated and require you to juggle many tasks at the same time. Having a baby, young child or pet consuming a lot of your time and potentially getting in the way of movers is not the ideal situation. Plan out in advance to have the pet or child away for a few hours until you can settle in all the items and free up more time to watch them without worry.

For more great tips on helping children move long distance, read this article: Moving Long Distance with Kids 101

For more helpful information about moving with pets, check out this informative article: How To Keep Pets Happy On A Move Across Country.

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Closing Thoughts

If you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to a very successful, smooth move.  I hope you find these moving tips useful.  Make sure to check out the rest of articles on the site for more information on saving money on your move!

Good luck & happy moving!

tips to plan for a move

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About the author

David Johnson

I am a (former) professional mover and industry expert. I blog about the tips and tricks for moving your household and possessions safely and cheaply from A to B. I stay up to date on the moving industry odds and ends. Follow me and bookmark this site to make sure you don't spend more than you have to on your next move!

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4 Comments

  • This is some really valuable advice for anyone planning a move in the near future. I agree that stress can be a huge factor while moving, so anything you can do to mitigate that is essential. I really liked your tip about hiring movers, because far too often people choose to do all the work themselves when there are professionals who are far better suited to the task. Thanks so much for writing!

  • I’ve moved cross country more times than I can count and developed a system that works for me. I inventory each box. I start packing things I wont need for several months, holiday items, winter clothes, extras. I mark every box on 3 sides, top, front and side. I use codes like K=kitchen; BE Bedroom; Living room; BA bathrooms. C=clothes. I write the box code (K-3 and description of what is in the box so I won’t have to open or unpack it till needed. I keep a excell sheet on my computer of the box inventory. I also take pictures to help jog my memory of things like glassware or serving ware. I use uniforn size boxes like egg cartons, laundry detergent or banana boxes. They aren’t heavy and stack easily. Plus the egg boxes have handles. Make friends with the dairy personel and ask them to save boxes for you. Leave you cell # so they can call or text when they have a supply for you.

    • Hi Marlene!

      Wow, thank you for stopping by and sharing your amazing cross country moving methods! All of the advice and tips you mentioned sound great and I’m sure they keep you nice and organized throughout the entire process. I’ve honestly never heard of or seen the egg boxes used for moving before but it sounds like its working out for you pretty well! May all your future moves be as smooth as the butter from your local dairy 😉