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

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(Updated 9/04/19)  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.

tips to plan, prepare, pack for 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!

Tip #1 – Keep A Notebook Dedicated To The Move

Use a notebook for a moving journal to plan out and organize your move

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.

Tip #2 – Calculate Your Moving Costs

Add up your total estimated moving costs to make a budget for the move

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 or container
  • 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
  • storage units or temporary housing accommodations
  • anything else you can think of that has not been mentioned here!

(VIDEO) Moving Tip: Prepare For The Unexpected

Tip #3 – Change Your Address Before You Move

Don’t forget to change your address with everyone important!

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 things like:

  • change your address with the post office (USPS official form)
  • forwarding mail for at least the first month or two
  • setting up electricity, water, gas, garbage, internet, cable, etc.
  • update online shopping accounts (amazon, ebay, etc)
  • updating the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • notifying your insurance companies and bank accounts
  • any other company that sends you bills
  • 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, schools & daycare, etc before you leave.  Most professionals will be able to refer you to a new location in your new town or city.

Also, whatever you do, don’t forget to close your gym membership in person.  I got stuck with a Planet Fitness membership for MONTHS because they wouldn’t let me cancel it over the phone and I had moved 8 hours away.

Tip #4 – Get Free Packing & Moving Supplies

Don’t spend unnecessary money on moving supplies you can get for free.

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.

Tip #5 – How To Hire A Moving Company

Hiring movers will save you a ton of stress and labor if you have the money.

hiring moversHiring a professional moving company will save you 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 can be a very smart decision to hire movers.

Make sure to shop around!

Don’t be afraid to get multiple free quotes from different movers and van lines.  This way you can compare your options and find the best fit for your needs and budget.

Click here to compare free quotes from movers in your area now.

Also, search for reviews online for each company you are comparing.  Make sure to go over their insurance policies to make sure you will have adequate coverage for all your property.

While most of the professional moving industry abides by federal and state laws, unfortunately there are still fraudulent companies out there that prey on uninformed consumers.

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?

compare usa moversThe best place to get free quotes for local and long distance moves is here at CheapMovingTips.com.

By submitting a few details about your move through our short form here, you can instantly receive real, accurate moving quotes for FREE.

Compare free, no-obligation estimates from up to 6 moving companies in your area, qualified to service your move.

We have built a large, nationwide network with trusted, licensed,  and insured movers.  You can compare local & long movers in all 50 states of the USA here in one place.

After you receive your free, no-obligation quotes, you can compare them at your leisure. Choose the best fit for your situation and your budget.

This can save you hundreds of dollars on your move!

To learn more about cheap state-to-state moving options, check out this post here.

Tip #6 – Ask Your Friends & Family For Help

There is no shame in asking for some help with your move, so do it!

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
  • patching up nail/screw holes, painting, cleaning
  • watching the kids or pets
  • donating unwanted possessions
  • disassembly/assembly of large furniture
  • unpacking and arranging furniture post unloading
  • anything else

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.  This would especially include people who aren’t even moving.  Make sure to thank them and show your appreciation for their support!

(VIDEO) Moving Tip: Get Help With The Heavy Lifting

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: hiring day labor help.

You can use the short labor-checking widget below to see what’s available for your move.

Find anything from locals with trucks that can help to strong men or teams that are insured and can help with all your packing, lifting, and loading.

Check For Local Moving Labor Help Below

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

Take care of as many things as possible during your time between homes.

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 are:

  • start to fix up anything you need to on the new home
  • clean and paint if needed
  • schedule pest control / extermination services
  • go pick up any deliveries
  • 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 find a storage unit or moving service 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.

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.

Tip #8 – Prime Your New Home Before Moving In

Don’t move in furniture and boxes until after you fix up your new place.

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.

Tip #9 – Plan New Rooms Before Packing Old Ones

Make a plan for your new room setups and pack up stuff accordingly.

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.   It creates chaos and frustration when having to relocate something multiple times.  Also, it causes extra risk of damage or injury.

Make it easy on yourself and plan ahead!!!

(VIDEO) Moving Tip: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Tip #10 – Label Moving Boxes For Easy Unpacking

Save time and stay organized by thoroughly labeling your boxes.

label moving boxesContent labels are your (best) friend when it comes time to unpack in your new home.

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.

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.

Tip #11 – Eat Up Your Food Before Moving

Try to eat and drink your fridge and freezer dry before you move out.

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 long distances.

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!

Tip #12 – Pack Your Essentials Last

Don’t undo your hard work searching for something you packed too soon.

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 plates 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!

Tip #13 – Make Friends With New Neighbors

Introduce yourself to the neighbors ahead of moving day.

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.

Try introducing yourself prior to moving in, and let them know about your move-in date and truck parking ahead of time.  This will help to start a trusting relationship and alleviate any last minute parking problems on moving day.

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

Tip #14 – Pack A Moving Kit

Make a travel kit full of all your necessities for the move.

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
  • change of clothes
  • eyeglasses or contacts
  • ID and wallet
  • moving contracts
  • bills & other important paperwork
  • phones / tablets & chargers
  • anything else you need

Other items to consider adding

  • If you have pets or children, ensure to bring the appropriate necessities for them as well.
  • A first aid kit with bandages and antiseptics is also a good idea just in case.
  • Any tools you need for immediate furniture assembly or repairs.
  • 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

Make arrangements for your children and pets on moving day.

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.

Closing Thoughts

If you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to a very successful, smooth move into your new home.

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!

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55 thoughts on “15 Tips To Plan, Prepare, And Pack For A Move”

  1. Hi David,
    This is indeed very useful, this made me think of areas I never thought of doing. Thank you so much for sharing such a great article for free.

    1. Hi Tara,

      Thanks for the great feedback on these moving tips and the website. I’m glad I could inspire you with new ideas for planning for your next move. Yeah I don’t make much money here but at least I get the benefit of helping people and receiving great comments like yours. Take care!

  2. Suhana Morgan

    Hello David,
    Thanks for your wonderful contribution to give me a better plan for moving day. These low cost moving options really help me plan my budget ahead of time!

  3. Thomas Clarence

    You made a great point when you explained that it is important to plan for the costs associated with hiring movers when preparing for a move. My sister and her husband are looking for a new apartment to purchase together, and they have too much stuff to be able to transport in their car. I think they would save themselves from having to make multiple trips if they hired a professional company to help them.

    1. Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for reading my article to help plan and prepare for moving out. Planning for moving costs is one of the biggest hurdles most people face when preparing to move. I recommend your sister and her husband check out our free tool to find the best deal on movers in their area. It only takes a minute to fill out the short form and get instant prices from the best movers in your area available to help them out.

  4. I agree with the point about having overlap time between the old and new houses so the furniture and other possessions can be safe. My wife and I are wanting to move at the beginning of the summer and want to hire some movers to make the transition as smooth as possible. Thanks for the helpful tips and I’ll have to research different moving companies that can accommodate our needs.

    1. Thanks for reading Taylor! Yes, it is always a good idea (whenever possible) to leave some overlap time before moving your stuff into your new home. This will give you plenty of time to take care of things that need to be done such as cleaning, painting, touch-ups, etc without having to worry about your belongings getting in the way.

      As for you and your wife, I recommend getting using our free tool to compare costs from movers in your city to find the best deal possible on your move. I hope your move goes well!

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