Planning Your Move

A lot can go wrong during a move, but effective planning can prevent much of that from happening. The process is far less stressful when your prepared.


Write down every activity that needs to be completed. This might seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t all have to be done right away. Start with the most important stuff, such as buying/selling your house, choosing a moving date, and hiring a moving company. Packing will take the longest, so getting some boxes and supplies quickly is a good idea.

Use a calendar to plan out all aspects of the move. Here are some key activities to schedule:

  • notify landlord in writing of move-out
  • obtain loan pre-approval
  • sign real estate contract to sell current house
  • sign real estate contract to purchase new house
  • sign rental contract on new apartment and pay applicable fees
  • get moving estimates
  • choose moving company
  • final loan approval
  • house appraisal
  • house closing dates, locations, and times
  • obtain new auto and homeowner’s insurance coverage
  • make travel arrangements
  • packing days
  • moving day
  • final walk-through of new house
  • move-in and unpacking
  • submit change of address form to local post office or complete online
  • notifications
  • cancel utilities at old location and add utilities at new location
  • cancel home deliveries and services
  • get a new driver’s license if moving out of state
  • obtain security deposit refund after you have moved out of apartment

The plan doesn’t have to be perfect; it will evolve throughout the moving process. What matters is getting started! Sit down in a comfortable chair, get a pen and paper, and begin writing down everything that comes to mind.


1. The sooner you begin preparing for your move, the better. You might be surprised how long it will take to get everything done.

2. Start packing right away: chances are you have way more stuff than you think.

3. If you’re driving to your new place, get your car checked for maintenance to ensure everything is working as it should. This is especially the case if driving long-distance.

4. Budget eating out a lot in the last few days before moving.

5. The summer is when most people move, so renting a moving truck during this time can be iffy. Calling several months ahead of time to reserve a truck helps, but there’s no guarantee that a truck will be there for you. This customer complaint about Budget Rent-A-Car pretty much sums up how most truck rental companies operate. If you aren’t required to put down a deposit, be sure to have a plan B in the event that your truck isn’t available when it should be.

6. Whether you’re moving a short or long distance, take the time to pack things right.

7. Establishing a budget for moving can be guesswork. Think of every possible expense. To avoid financial disaster, expect to pay twice as much as you estimate.

8. Everyone’s move is a little different; some are much more expensive than others. A general rule of thumb is to budget at least one month’s rent. Some recommend having up to six month’s rent saved up, especially if moving to a high cost of living area. You can never have too much money saved up for a move. Better safe than sorry.

9. Verify that every bill has been paid before moving.

10. Note the utilities that have to be turned on at your new residence, and the ones that need to be turned off at your old one. If nothing else, be sure to request a change of address for bills.

11. Back up all the files and data on your computer in the event that damage occurs during transportation. I use Carbonite, but you can also use an external hard drive, or both.

12. Do the best job you can cleaning out your apartment before leaving. While a landlord can still charge a fee even if you clean it perfectly, he or she at won’t have grounds for keeping your original deposit.

13. If you don’t like to clean, then hire professionals. Consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner if moving out of an apartment. Going the extra mile will ensure that won’t get billed for several hundred dollars at your new address.

14. Moving can be exhausting physically and mentally, so being in good shape will keep your energy levels up.

15. If you want to bring plants, contact the the U.S. Department of Agriculture to see if they’re accepted in your new state. Some plants carry pests or bugs that are destructive to crops.

16. If moving into a house, it helps to have a few days to paint, put in new carpet, and clean the house before the movers show up. This allows you to get all that work done without having to move any furniture.

17. For those with children, research the schools in the area before buying a house. Living on the wrong street could mean missing out on a really good school.

18. If buying a home, ask the homeowners if you can start moving some of your stuff into the garage or shed to get a head start.

19. If you have a lot of stuff to donate, take something with every time you leave your place.

20. Pay extra to get more suitcases on the plane if traveling by air; it’s cheaper than shipping. Another way to save money is to give your friends or family a few suitcases to bring with when they visit.

21. Buy ready-made food: deli slices, salad kits, etc. if you want to avoid eating out the last few days before moving.

22. Finish packing and cleaning early to avoid having to stay up night after night for the entire week before moving day.

23. Moving on weekdays is highly encouraged if possible. Traffic will be lower, and the banks, government offices, and utility companies will be open.

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