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How to Prepare for a Move: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re wondering how to prepare for a move, you’ve come to the right place! The laundry list of things you need to accomplish when moving can be overwhelming. There’s no need to worry, because we’re here to help. With the right planning and preparation, you can check all the items off your to-do list and still have to time to kick back and relax. To prove it, we put together the ultimate guide for how to prepare for a move. With this guide, you’ll be well prepared for moving day and able to settle into your new home without a glitch. Without further ado, let’s get started!

When Preparing for Your Move, Get Organized

If you want to know how to prepare for a move like a pro, you should know that getting organized is key. With all of the scheduling, coordinating, and filing you’ll have to do over the next few weeks, it can be easy to get turned around. Stay organized with these tips.

Buy a binder and create a moving folder

First thing’s first, you’ll want to buy a binder/notebook or create a “moving” file on your computer. This way, you’ll have somewhere to keep your moving checklist, organize your timeline, and store all of your moving paperwork. Establish a folder for moving documents, contracts, and receipts (you’ll want to keep track of all of these), gather important personal documents (e.g. passport, social security card) and any financial documents relating to your new home (think mortgage/loan agreement/lease).

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Download an ultimate moving checklist

Whether you’re moving out for the first time, moving into an apartment, or moving for the 20th time, you’ll definitely need a checklist. Then, you can start building your timeline. Generally, it’s helpful to plan your move in weekly increments: 8 weeks, 4 weeks, 2 weeks and so on. This way you break your move into smaller projects that you can easily tackle.

Take inventory

Take inventory of your belongings and estimate how much your move will cost. This is an important step, so be sure that you account for everything you own. You can use this inventory list when you hire a moving company and when shopping for insurance.

Know your moving budget

Before we go any further, decide on a moving budget. Be sure to include all of your moving costs and how much money you’ll need post-move for furniture, repairs, etc. Remember to keep proof of all moving expenses and store them safely in your handy moving folder.

Schedule ‘you’ time

Knowing how to prepare for a move also means preparing for upheaval. Even after you’ve found your best time to move and planned your commute, life still happens. Prepare for things to get a little messy and set aside time each week just for you. Grab that face mask, take a bath, exercise, do whatever you have to, and take care of yourself.

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Make Important Moving Decisions When Preparing for Your Move

There are a lot of decisions to make when preparing for a move, so make your life easier and know the answers to these questions before they arise. This way, you’ll be both informed and prepared for your move when the big day arrives. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself when prepping for your move:

To be as organized as possible, be sure to answer these questions in plenty of time before you move.

Prepare for Your Move by Packing Like a Pro

A huge part of knowing how to prepare for a move is knowing how to pack. What do you do with all those necklaces? How do you keep those electric cables organized? Here are our best tips and hacks to prepare you for packing like a pro.

Purchase the right packing supplies

Moving is expensive enough without wasting money on supplies you don’t need. For example, you’re going to want the right kind of boxes to fit your personal items. Have a lot of books but very few hanging clothes? Buying the appropriate shape and size of boxes can make all the difference when packing up your home.

Know how to pack tricky items

Some items are harder to pack than others. Know how to wrap and pack your fragile belongings so they make it to your new home in one piece. Try packing your jewelry in plastic wrap, take photos of your electronics before unplugging them, and learn to pack your food like a grocer. And remember, always accurately label your boxes. You don’t want your books landing on your glassware.

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Prepare to move by paring down

Unless you’re a true minimalist, chances are you don’t need everything you own. Prepare to move by going through your belongings and getting rid of what you don’t need. Hold a garage sale or a yard sale and donate anything that’s left at the end of the day.

Pack in the right order

As long as you aren’t moving in a hurry, you can start to pack up your home in stages. If you want to know how to prepare for a DIY move, much of your planning is in the packing. Start boxing up any off-season clothes and items that you rarely use as early as you can, especially if you aren’t going to use them before you move. The last items on your packing list should be your important documents, moving day dog kit, and your “open first” box which contains the essentials for the first days in your new home.

Prepare to move with the professionals

Choosing a moving company can be daunting, but knowing what to expect can significantly help.  Make sure you ask the right questions to moving companies and get multiple estimates before making your selection. Want more help? Here’s our step-by-step video to choosing a moving company.

Interview moving companies

When it comes time to interview potential moving companies, asking the right questions is crucial. Be sure to get to know the company’s history and their licensing information. To ensure you get the information you need, watch this video explaining the 15 most important questions to ask a moving company you might hire.

Understand the rules of professional moving

Before your moving company arrives, you should know what can and cannot go in the moving truck. Flammable items, for example, are not allowed in the vehicle and you should keep important documents with you when you move, not in the back of the truck. Once you select your moving company, figure out how much to tip your moving company and withdraw the correct amount of cash the day before your move.

Iron Out Any Pre-Move Details When Prepping for Your Move

When figuring out how to prepare for a move, it’s important to remember the details. With everything on your to-do list, make sure these tasks don’t get left behind.

Update your mailing address and subscriptions

We know it’s a pain, but to avoid surprises forward your mail at least 2 weeks before you move. Can’t live without your People Magazine or the tips from Better Homes and Gardens? Update your address early for any magazine and newspaper subscriptions you have. While you’re at it, be sure to update your driver's license. Also, make sure to update  your voter registration information now so it’s taken care of in plenty of time for the next election.

Transfer utilities before you move

When figuring out how to prepare for a move, consider what you’ll want up and running as soon as you move in. Electricity, gas, and water will be top of the list followed closely by TV and internet service. Transfer all of your utilities before you move to make the transition as seamless as possible. Debating over keeping your cable service and cutting the chord? Now is a great time to do some research and consolidate services.

Clear your schedule and ask your friends for help

Requesting time off work is crucial when deciding how to best prepare for a move. Equally important is giving your friends and family plenty of notice if you need their help moving. Give them as much time as possible to set time aside for your move day.

Request a moving permit (if applicable) and ship your car

Check your new neighborhood’s permit requirements and get your moving permit in plenty of time. Two weeks should be enough time to order your permit and have it delivered. If you’re shipping your car, however, you’ll want to get the ball rolling much sooner. Start to research shipping companies and put together a budget at least a month before your move date.

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Things You Shouldn’t Forget to do Before You Move

Before you dash out of your old home and hand over the keys, there are a few things you should take care of to avoid any surprises.

Tie up any loose ends

If you’re leaving the neighborhood, remember to pick all your clothes up from the dry cleaner and return any library books you have stashed away. If you’re a member of a local gym or yoga studio, be sure to cancel your membership before you move or make sure it will transfer to a location near your new home. Now is also a great time to gather any refills you have at the pharmacy in case you’re too swamped to transfer them to your new area.

Prepare your new home security system

You’re going to want to protect your new home as you prepare to move. If you have a home security system, be it a smart system or a traditional home security system, contact your provider as you prepare for your move. Let them know you’re moving and follow their instructions for setting up home security in your new place. Usually, you can pack up your DIY security system when you move, but you’ll need to set up a new system if your current one is professionally installed.

Say goodbye to your current neighborhood

Changing neighborhoods can be exciting, but it can be hard to leave your favorite spots. Treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, get that coffee you crave, or throw yourself a moving-out party before you go. Saying goodbye to your neighborhood can add closure to a long-distance move and will help you unwind before the big move.

Get your security deposit back

Renters, you know what we’re talking about. If all goes smoothly, you should see your deposit pop up in your bank account within 14-60 days after you move. Given this broad time frame, it’s a good idea to mention it when you give your landlord 30-day notice. If there are any disagreements over returning your security deposit, this could take even longer so prepare well in advance.

Prepare for Your Move by Prepping Your Old Home

The contracts are signed, your boxes are packed, but wait! There are a few more things to take care of before you leave your old home for good.

Notify your landlord

When deciding how to prepare for a move, don’t forget to provide notice to your landlord. They’ll usually contact you to find out whether you’re renewing your lease or not. But if they don’t, be sure to let them know 30-60 days prior to your move.

Clean, prep, and defrost

Want to know how to prepare for a move and leave a good impression? Clean your home and fill any holes in your walls before you leave. Don’t want to take a trip to the hardware store? Try using toothpaste, Ivory soap, or another household hack to cover those pesky holes. If you’re taking your freezer and appliances with you, be sure to defrost and drain them. You definitely don’t want a wet moving truck.

Double check everything

After you’ve taken everything out of your home, check nooks and crannies for anything you may have overlooked, including the garage and attic. If you’re renting, be sure to take photos of your old home’s move-out condition and do a final walkthrough with your landlord. This will help you get your deposit back without a hassle.

Cancel trash and recycling pickup

If you pay to have your trash removed, be sure to cancel the service before you move. You don’t want to end up paying to remove the buyer’s trash.

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Prepare Your New Home When You Move

Make your new place feel like home from day one by checking these items off your list before you move.

Clean, paint, and insure your new home

It’s much easier to clean and paint before your home is full, so make sure it’s in tip-top shape before move-in day. Take the extra step to protect your personal belongings with renters insurance or homeowners insurance and take out a home warranty for your appliances.

Set up trash removal and recycling for your new home

Moving can be messy, so make sure you’ve contacted local trash and recycling removal companies for your new home (if needed). Someone has to cart away all those boxes!

Shop for your items for your new home

A new home means new furniture! Be sure that you have everything you need to live comfortably after you move. Now is the perfect time to upgrade your furniture, replace items that don’t fit your new space, and invest in a new mattress. Love your new home but can’t stand the floors? Choosing new hardwood, for example, is much easier to install before you move in. If you can, shop around and have it installed before move-in day.

Along with these larger purchases, you should also pick up any essentials for your new home (dish soap, paper towel etc.). You don’t want your first shower to be curtainless.

Get to Know Your New Neighborhood Once You Move

You never know what might happen in the first few days of your move, so make sure you’re prepared. Familiarize yourself with your new area and any essential businesses you might need.

Find essential businesses near you

Moving is hectic and if something goes wrong, you want to be ready. To be safe, locate the nearest urgent care facility and pharmacy in your new area. If you’re moving long distance, find new doctors and dentists before you need them so you know who to call when the time comes. You might also want to seek out a contractor, find a dog walker, and ask around for a reliable mechanic when you’re preparing to move.

Now that you know how to prepare for a move, you can confidently start putting your plan into action. Keep this guide and your checklist handy to make sure you stay on track, and you’ll be on the move and settled into your new home in no time!


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