Make moving a little less stressful by labeling everything and creating a moving binder.

Tips for Moving into a New House

First things first: You need a moving binder (or notebook, or folder, or organizer, or something) to stay organized – somewhere to store all your notes, your estimates, your receipts, your everything.

Next up, it’s time to get picky. Yes, we’re talking about finding a moving company. Do your research. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Check Angie’s List, a local moving association, or the BBB. Never, ever accept a quote over the phone; request an onsite visit and written estimate. If you’re moving to another state, the estimate should display a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number. (Some states also require USDOT numbers, even for interstate moves.)

Now, it’s time to make some hard decisions. Yes, we’re talking the take-with vs. purge-it list. This doesn’t have to be agonizing. Just follow the rules of purging, and call it a day. Well done, you.

As you begin packing (usually, about a month before your move), start with the most infrequently used items: If it’s summer, pack your winter clothes. If you haven’t made waffles in six months, make some and then pack the waffle maker.

As you pack, separate out your valuables. If possible, you’ll want to move your own valuables (what count as valuables? jewelry, heirlooms, important files, house closing papers, etc.), in your own vehicle. Additionally, if certain valuables are too large for your car, or simply must move with the moving company (for whatever reason), they may require additional insurance. Make a detailed list of all valuables – typically, anything irreplaceable or valued at over $100/lb. (We’re not just talking gold; your iPad counts, too.)

Label, label, label! It may seem like a PITA now, but you will thank yourself starting on Day 1 in your new house. Here’s a simple but effective system: Label each box with a consecutive number (Box #1, Box #2, Box #3, etc.) and destination (Living Room, Kitchen, Master Bedroom, etc.). As you pack, make a list of each box #’s contents. After you move in, you’ll never wonder which of the 30 “Kitchen” boxes contains the waffle maker.

Right before you move, take your car to the mechanic. You don’t want to break down on the highway, or run out of a/c as you drive south.

Check and re-check the moving-to-a-new-house checklist. Then, check it again. You’ll be thankful you did.

Moving into a New House Checklist (with What to Buy)

6-8 Weeks Before

  • Research reputable movers (preferably one recommended by a friend)
  • Set aside your moving expenses
  • Purchase the following:
  • Contact your doctor’s office, and have your family’s medical records forwarded to your new doctor’s office
  • Ditto your dental records
  • Likewise, organize your children’s school records, and have them sent to the new school (if applicable)
  • Check your home inspection, and arrange for any required repairs, improvements, or messy tasks (e.g. removing popcorn ceilings, painting, refinishing hardwood floors) to your new home
  • If you’re moving in fall or winter, have the chimney swept


4 Weeks Before

  • Hire a mover
  • Purge, then purge some more
  • Start packing
  • Set aside valuables that will move with you, personally

When You Have a Move-in Date:

  • Switch your utilities (electricity, water, natural gas, TV, Internet, etc.)
  • Alert major accounts (banks, credit cards, insurance, human resources, etc.) to your change of address
  • Set up your forwarding address at the post office
  • Request your moving day(s) off from work
  • Book a deep cleaning (for your new home, for a few days before you move in); check Groupon, Handy, or Angie’s List for deals
  • Start “eating down” the fridge and freezer; you don’t want to move with frozen food or perishables
  • Take measurements, to ensure larger furniture will fit through doors/around stairwell corners and to design your rooms

1-2 Weeks Before

  • Pack your Moving Day suitcase (pajamas, underwear, change of clothes, toothbrushes, etc.)
  • Clean out your safety deposit box
  • Confirm with the moving company
  • Finish packing everything but last-minute items
  • Refill prescriptions (stock up)
  • Defrost the freezer (if it’s moving with you)

A Few Days Before

  • Double-check the details with your mover
  • Arrange payment (credit card, check, cashier’s check, money order?) for the mover

Moving Day

  • Verify that the moving truck is from your moving company (scams happen)
  • If applicable: Verify that the moving truck’s USDOT number matches the USDOT number on your estimate
  • Verify & sign the bill of lading/inventory list
  • Tip your movers (typically 10-15% of the total job)

Immediately After You Move In:

  • Test the smoke & carbon monoxide detectors
  • Place at least one fire extinguisher on each floor
  • Reprogram garage door openers
  • Change the locks (and then, hide a key or give one to a friendly neighbor)
  • Locate the main circuit breaker
  • Locate the main water shut-off valve, plus all exterior water supply shut-offs
  • Locate gas shut-off valves (localized, near the stove or dryer; and also the main valve), if your home is plumbed for natural gas

To prevent against the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning, ensure your new home is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.

Within a Few Weeks:

  • Ask your neighbors for service recommendations (plumbers, electricians, babysitters, cleaning agencies, etc.)
  • Make friends
  • Enjoy!