Mother and son pushing boxes across floor.

Moving Checklist: Your Go-To Guide For Moving Out

Carey Chesney13-Minute Read
UPDATED: May 22, 2023

The process of buying a new house can be an exhilarating, fun and scary time. Searching homes online, seeing them in person, and imagining you and your family living in a new space is loads of fun. Negotiations, inspections, loan approvals, and a litany of other somewhat tedious tasks necessary to make sure you close the deal on your new home are not so exciting. 

The closing can provide a nice sigh of relief, but only a brief one. Afterall, now you have to move all of your stuff from one place to another! A well-thought-out moving checklist will go a long way toward calming your fears about the big move. To that end, consider this moving checklist your go-to guide for moving out.

2 Months Before You Move Out Checklist

Usually you will have at least 2 months’ notice before you need to move, so let’s start by going over some essential moving tips to complete during that time frame. Of course, if your timeline is condensed for whatever reason, you might have to tweak this checklist.

Determine Your Budget

Setting a budget for the move is always the first thing to address. Once you get into the thick of it, spending on various moving costs can add up quickly and get out of hand if you haven’t thought about how much you want to spend.

Among various expenses, your moving budget should include:

  • Cost to rent a moving truck or hire movers
  • Gas to and from your new home
  • Moving supplies, including boxes, tape and protective materials
  • Cost to insure items or replace lost or damaged items
  • Tips, food or other incentives for those helping with the move
  • Storage unit
  • Travel for you, your family and your pets, if moving out of state

Compare Moving Companies

Researching and comparing moving companies is important because the price and service level vary greatly. Packing, loading, unloading and driving your rented moving truck will cost considerably less than hiring movers to do everything, for example. It will, however, be much more time consuming.

If you decide to use a moving company, you’ll need to do some research to ensure you’re selecting the best company within your budget. To find and narrow down your options, make sure you do the following:

  • Gather referrals from friends, family and neighbors
  • Review each company’s website and social media to learn more about them
  • Read online reviews from trusted, third-party review sites
  • Request moving estimates and available dates
  • Make sure the movers are licensed and insured

Make Work And School Arrangements

Whether you do it yourself or hire a moving company, it’s important to set aside some protected time to focus on the move. Once you have a move-in date, check your vacation time and consider taking a few days off work to knock off items on your to-do list.

If you have school-aged children, you may need to include a few extra steps of planning. Once you know where your child will be attending school, contact the office or go on the school’s website to learn what documents you’ll need for enrollment. These may include:

  • Your child’s medical records
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of guardianship or custody
  • Proof of residency
  • School transcripts
  • Copies of any testing
  • Specialized learning plans

Create A Digital File For Moving Day

So many details! This will ring in your head throughout the moving process. Create an easily accessible electronic file (like a Google folder) and give access to anyone who needs it. Make sure it includes:

  • To-do list
  • Moving day itinerary
  • Movers’ contact information
  • Packing list
  • Floor plans
  • Receipts
  • Contracts
  • Estimates
  • This article!

Need to lower your mortgage payment?

Refinancing with Rocket Mortgage® could help you manage your monthly budget.

NMLS #3030

Rocket Mortgage Logo

1 Month Before You Move Out Checklist

You have plenty of time left, but it’s getting closer to moving day! A month might seem like a long time, but don’t be lulled into procrastinating. Here are some things that should be addressed when you only have four weeks left.

Start Decluttering

The art of decluttering isn't only useful when you are switching homes, but the importance is definitely amplified during a move. Why? Because taking less to your new home can help you save time and money and allow you a fresher start. Begin by thinking about your new home and how you want to decorate it, then decide which items will fit into that aesthetic and which ones won’t. In many ways, less is more.

When it comes to getting rid of sentimental items, consider handling these differently. Before tossing, donating or selling these items, see if any loved ones would like them. Once you separate the items you’d like to get rid of and give away the sentimental pieces, make some money off your stuff by hosting a garage sale, posting items for sale online, or taking them to a consignment shop.

For items you can’t sell or give to loved ones, find a local church, charity, shelter or thrift store to donate them. Some places will even pick them up from your home if you call and schedule a donation pick up ahead of time. Not only will your donation do some good, but it can also provide tax benefits for you.

Update Records And Utility Services

Updating records, canceling or transferring any membership services, setting up new utilities and changing your address with important parties is a critical step to address before moving day gets any closer. Here are just a few of the many to think about:

  • Utility providers
  • Banks
  • Insurance agencies
  • Medical offices and veterinarian
  • Credit cards
  • Subscription services for magazines, television, etc.

Gather Boxes And Moving Supplies

You’ll likely be categorizing your stuff and preparing to pack at this point, but you can’t start putting things in boxes until you order the right packing supplies. Here are some items that should be on your shopping list:

  • Moving boxes
  • Packing tape
  • Bubble wrap or newspaper
  • Stretch wrap
  • Moving blankets

Once you know what you need, see what you can get for free. If you know anyone who recently moved, they may have several supplies to lend or give away. You can also visit your local library, thrift shop, used bookstore or liquor store. These places are often looking to get rid of their used boxes.

Start Packing And Labeling

Packing everything up always takes longer than you think, so start early. Label items by room (kitchen, bedroom, etc.) so when you get to your new abode you aren’t wondering what is in each of the many boxes that all look the same.

3 Weeks Before You Move Out Checklist

You've gotten a lot of key tasks out of the way by this point, but you’re not at the finish line yet. Here are a few things to work on when you are roughly 3 weeks out from moving day. 

Moving Insurance

Packing your whole life into a truck and moving it means the potential for … well … disaster. Shop around for moving insurance so your things are covered if moving them doesn’t go as planned. 

Repair Any Damages

If you have a list of minor home repairs (or if new ones are exposed during packing) consider taking care of those before moving. The new owners of your current home will thank you. In fact, they may end up paying more for your house if you get everything in tip top shape.

2 Weeks Before You Move Out Checklist

Now is the time to think about the agenda for the day of the move. Here are a few key things that sometimes get overlooked.

Pack An Essentials Bag

In all the hubbub of packing everything you own to use at your new home for years to come, it’s hard to remember to pack what you need for just the first few days. Unpacking all your things can sometimes be a slow process, so make sure you have an essentials bag with clothing, personal items, toilet paper, bottled water, cash, etc. to get you through the first week.

Confirm Moving Day Itinerary

Contact the moving company (and/or the friends and family you've recruited) and confirm the moving day itinerary and any travel plans (for example, moving with pets) so there are as few surprises as possible when the day comes. Explain your packing and labeling system, if you have one, and assign each person their task for the day. Give each person your contact information, including your address and cell phone number.

Share New Address With Friends And Family

Let everyone know where you are going for a litany of obvious reasons, including housewarming gifts!

1 Week Before You Move Out Checklist

One week to go! Time to wrap things up at the old house and get it ready for the new owners.

Get Rid Of Perishables And Leftover Food

Try to make as many meals as you can with the food left in your fridge and pantry. If there are items you want to take to the new home, pack them up or put them aside – you’ll need to put refrigerated food in a cooler on moving day. Donate the remaining items to a local food bank or shelter to avoid food waste.

Pick Up New Keys

If you have already closed on your new home, make sure you have the keys and consider arranging to have a locksmith come soon after closing to change the locks. You never know if the owners made copies for themselves or never collected copies from loved ones or neighbors.

Deep Clean

Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, it’s important to do a thorough cleaning of your home before moving out. Isn't that what you’d expect from the sellers of your new home. Enact The Golden Rule here.

Moving Day Checklist

The day has arrived! Your checklist has left you feeling prepared and excited. Time to get after it.

Protect Floors And Walls

Focus on protecting floors and walls from damage while moving out. You don’t want the new owners coming after you for repairs. Also, it’s just the right thing to do.

Have Cash On Hand For Movers

Tipping movers is important because they work hard and their pay from their company usually takes into account that customers tip (much like restaurant waitstaff). Also – they are handling all of your stuff, so stay on their good side.

Do A Final Sweep

Once everything is out of the home and you’re ready to close the door to your former home for the last time, take the time to walk through each room and do one final sweep. Check to make sure there’s nothing left behind, including messes or damage. This is also a good time for a sentimental goodbye.

Moving Checklist FAQs

You should be set up for success with our moving checklist, but let’s address a few frequently asked questions just in case:

How do I start preparing to move out?

Always begin with your budget. Everything else will flow from there.

What packing supplies do I need?

Boxes, tape and protective materials at a minimum. Special items may require more heavy-duty equipment like a hand truck.

What should you not forget when moving houses?

Your essentials bag. Many people skip this step thinking that they will unpack the moment they get to the new house. It usually takes a little longer than that, so make sure you have what you need for the first few days or so.

The Bottom Line

This moving checklist should make you feel all warm and fuzzy (instead of anxious) about your move. The more you know, the less surprises you will have on moving day. Don't stop here though, as it’s always a good idea to learn more about moving into your new house.

Carey Chesney

Carey Chesney is a Realtor® and freelance writer that brings a wealth of experience as a former Marketing Executive in the fields of Health Care, Finance and Wellness. Carey received his Bachelor's in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Masters in Integrated Marketing & Communications at Eastern Michigan University. You can connect with Carey at