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Your Complete Moving Checklist & Timeline

From thoughts of moving to the day of the relocation, this timeline can help you keep on track, stay organized, and remain as stress-free as possible.

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Let’s face it: moving day is always chaotic. Whether it’s your first move out of the dorms, your first apartment, or your very first home as a couple or new family, moving day represents life changes, and we bet it gives you that first day of school butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling. Keeping a good grasp on your moving timeline can help you streamline the events (read: the madness that might ensue). It’ll also help keep you emotionally grounded (and honestly more sane), so the only feelings you feel are the bittersweet notes of leaving your old home and the excitement of creating a new one. 

From the day you decide you’ll move through your actual moving day, we’ve got the timeline and checklist you need to make sure everything runs smoothly. We’ll help you get from point A to point B and give you some tips on how to make point B feel like home, fast. Get ready; your ultimate moving day checklist is here.

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Before You Begin

Even if your move is positive (i.e., you bought a new home or you’re moving in with your partner), it will likely be stressful. Moving is ranked one of the most stressful events in a person’s life, right up there with having and raising a child. They don’t make it easy! The silver lining is that with hardship comes reward.

Understanding that no matter how much you plan, your move will be stressful can help you more easily manage stressful situations as they come, keeping your stress levels low and helping you navigate your move successfully. Remember these tips to keep a level head and channel your inner zen.

  • Time frames often change at the last minute, especially when moving into new construction. Prepare for it; if it doesn’t happen, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
  • The moving process has many parts, not just packing and unloading. Create a realistic expectation for when boxes will be packed up and emptied.
  • Take time for yourself. When you feel overwhelmed, place yourself in an adult “time-out.” Take 10 minutes to breathe, meditate, or go for a walk before making any further decisions. You’ll come back feeling more clearheaded.
  • If your friends and family members have offered to help you with your move, take them up on it! Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to them (like filling out a change of address form or helping you pack or unpack if you don’t plan to use a moving company). Repay them in pizza and adult beverages, and they’ll be the ones thanking you in the end.

Once you’ve got your head in the game, it’s time to hammer out your Moving Day Manifesto. 

Two Months Before You Move

If you have more than two months before your move date, you’ve got plenty of time to cull through your belongings, clear them out, donate to charity, and even have a garage sale. If you’re a bit pushed for time, skip this part and begin at the section with the time frame that best matches your moving time frame. 

What’s Happening

Maybe you’ve just signed a contract on a new home, recently sold yours, or are relocating to a completely different apartment in a new city or state. You now have a deadline around which you can frame your schedule. 

What to Do

With this amount of time on the horizon, you can get a lot done. The two-month stage is full of research and purging, but be careful: it’s easy to feel like you have more time than you actually do. Start with this simple list of actions you can do one to two months in advance.

  • Take inventory of everything you have at home. Sort, purge, donate. A good rule of thumb? If you haven’t used it, worn it, or thought about it in over a year, consider getting rid of it. 
  • Consider the logistics of your move. Will you use a moving company and professional movers? Will you need to ship a vehicle? What about travel arrangements for yourself and your family members? You can research, reserve, and book these items far in advance, but pro tip: Pay the additional bucks to ensure you can get a refund if you need to cancel or reschedule, and don’t skimp on insurance. 
  • Try a moving app. Numerous apps can help you build a moving timeline, keep moving information (like utility companies, phone numbers, and service provider information) in one place, and help keep you on track so you don’t miss any deadlines or important actions. There’s an app for that, and you can find the highest-rated ones here
  • Take care of the kids. Some school districts take a longer time to produce school records than others. The same goes for pediatricians. Contact both and arrange for records to be transferred to the new school district and new doctor. If you don’t have a new doctor or school district yet, get the documents in your hands so you can take them with you. 
  • Don’t forget Fido. Find a new vet for your pet and have their records transferred, too. Most vets have a few weeks waiting period for new patients, so it’s best to get ahead of it.

Who Can Help?

The short answer: Anyone willing to lend a helping hand. This isn’t the time to burden yourself with every small task (although we know it will feel tempting!). Consider what you can delegate during this time. Form a list of your favorite reliable friends and family members you know you can count on for quick childcare or for helping you with research or phone calls. 

If you have kids, try giving them their moving tasks. Older kids can sort and purge their rooms, pack, and help with other areas of the home. Younger kids will need assistance, but allowing them to pack boxes (of stuffed animals or clothing, in particular) helps them feel like they are an important part of the process.

Six Weeks Prior to Your Move

Time is ticking, and you’re already making decisions and putting a plan in place. Now, it’s time to start carrying out some actions. 

What’s Happening

You may receive updates from builders and/or lenders concerning your new home or the results of a background check for a new apartment. Remember that snafus that could delay the moving process or even speed it up are always possible. 

What to Do

Consider the six-week mark the final countdown. If you’ve just learned you’ll move in six weeks, you may not have time to completely purge every room in your home. Save that for when you unpack at your new place. Instead, focus on these key strategies. 

  • Use up your deep-freeze items and anything else in your refrigerator. Try not to purchase more items than you need for the next few weeks, as most of the time, you won’t be able to take them, and they go to waste. 
  • If you aren’t using a moving company and movers, order moving supplies or collect boxes from local stores. You’ll also need packing tape, bubble wrap, permanent markers, and a dolly. 
  • Measure your new place (if you’re able) and determine whether your current furniture will fit or if you should donate it or sell it before you move. Pro tip: Be sure to measure the doorways in your new home to ensure your largest pieces will fit. Make a floor plan of your new home before moving in to map out where the furniture will go.
  • It’s also a good idea to start considering design options for your new home. If you’re reading this smirking, it’s probably because this step happened immediately upon seeing your soon-to-be home. In that case, you are in good shape now! 

If you haven’t started planning your new designs yet, that’s okay too. Spoak can help. Our interior design tool allows you to create and design your space from start to finish, regardless of whether or not you have any design experience. It’s easy to use and lets you keep your ideas and inspiration in one easy-to-access place.

Living room mood board green sofa modern decor
A living room mood board designed in Spoak

Who Can Help?

If you have an excess amount of food when clearing out the fridge and freezer, it’s the perfect excuse to host a quick gathering with friends and family. Your loved ones are the biggest help in terms of consuming food before it spoils, so make use of them and make some extra memories in your favorite space before you move into your new one. 

If you have perishable food that you can’t consume but still need to take with you (for short-distance relocations), you can pack it in a cooler to prevent it from spoiling. 

One Month Before You Move

Buckle up! You’re headed toward the finish line. One month before your move, you’ll begin to close the chapter on your current space and look to your new space for the next chapter. Enter panic and excitement mode.

What’s Happening

Although the movers won’t be here for another three and a half weeks, you can get a jump start on packing sentimental and fragile items. More importantly, this is the perfect time to set aside items you’ll need during the move and place them in a special “essentials” container to easily access them later. This will prevent you from fumbling through dozens of boxes looking for your must-haves (and yes, we’ve been there before).

What to Do

It’s time to start packing and hitting up the postal service for that change of address form. It’s getting real, and you’re right on track. Here’s what you should aim to accomplish a month before moving day. 

  • Pack items you rarely use first. If you have antiques or valuables you plan to move yourself (i.e., keep safe from the bumpiness of the moving truck), pack and label those boxes clearly. 
  • Place valuables like jewelry, life insurance policies, important documents, and the moving company contract in a safe container or box. If you can’t carry these items with you personally (for instance, if you need to fly to your new location), it may be a good idea to consider shipping them with tracking and signature receipts. 
  • Change your address. Now is a good time to fill out a change of address with the post office. You can add the date you are leaving your old address and begin receiving mail at your new address. 
  • Speaking of address changes, your credit card companies, banking institutions, doctor’s offices, and subscriptions will need your new forwarding address. Set aside time to make the calls to ensure you don’t miss any important correspondence.
  • If you are traveling with your pet, make sure you have all their essentials — food, toys, and water — for their care. 
  • Establishing yourself with a new doctor in your new city may take months. In the meantime, collect your medical records from your current physician ahead of time so you’re all set once you find a new doctor.

Who Can Help

If you have a significant other, have them help make phone calls to the offices that need your updated information or simply fill out the information online (like your address change). If you prefer to handle that business and acts of service is your love language, perhaps your partner can make you dinner or take care of house chores instead. There's no wrong answer here!

Half a Month Before You Move

Here, things get a little dicey. The true urge to panic may loom, especially when you realize you need additional packing supplies or forgot to cancel a membership here or there. Take a deep breath, and trust this final countdown checklist. 

What’s Happening

You’re likely sitting in a house full of boxes and beginning to feel a little out of sorts in your own home. Feelings like these are completely normal and part of the moving process. Put your nervous energy to good use. 

empty boxes in a room
The state of your home half a month prior to moving

What to Do

Now’s the time to get serious about the deadline. Even though it might change by a day or two, you should be pretty close to having an actual move date on the books. Here’s how to guide yourself closer to the goal. 

  • Say your goodbyes. If you’re leaving town, make a list of who you’d like to see before you leave and arrange to have coffee, drinks, lunch, or dinner before you go. If you aren’t able to squeeze everyone in, don’t fret! You can always FaceTime or plan a trip to see your pals later.
  • Book time off from work. You’ll be glad you have the extra time to focus on your move. 
  • Pack up! If you aren’t using a moving company, begin packing yourself. Start with your closets, keeping out only the essentials (aka your immediate emergency bag) you need for the next two weeks in suitcases. You’ll also want to pack toiletries in your suitcases.
  • Take care of your car. If you are moving a long distance and will be driving your car, get the oil changed and consider having a tune-up. If you are shipping your car, contact the shipping company and determine a pick-up date so you can (hopefully) avoid using a rental car. 

Who Can Help

Do you have friends who love to hang out over pizza and beer? (That’s a trick question — of course you do!) They sound like the perfect group to help you pack your house. You provide the pizza and beer; they provide many hands to make light work. It’s a win-win and a great way to bond with friends you may be leaving behind. 

One Week Before You Move

It’s time. You’ve got practically everything finalized. Maybe you’ve even scheduled the walk-through at your new home or apartment. You’re down to the wire, but you don't need to panic if you’ve kept your moving schedule. (Even if you didn't, you'll be okay too.)

What’s Happening

The moving company or movers should be reaching out to pack your belongings and take them to your new space. You’ve packed yourself and your family for a few days of travel with clothes and essentials you can easily access in suitcases. You're looking around and feeling proud at how overly prepared you are. (It's called manifesting...)

What to Do

There are a few items to attend to the week before you move.

  • Double-check your moving checklist to make sure you haven’t missed anything. 
  • Make sure your renters or homeowners insurance for your new dwelling begins coverage on your move-in date. 
  • Transfer your prescriptions to your new pharmacy, or fill them if possible. 
  • Clean out the freezer and fridge. 
  • Do a very last-minute purge on any items you realize you don’t want anymore (usually those pesky small things that didn’t make it into your boxes). You can list these on Facebook “Buy Nothing” groups, tell your friends, or post on community boards to get things out of your hair.
  • Make a loose game plan for which rooms you plan to tackle upon moving in. Is it your bedroom so you can get a good night's rest from the start? Maybe it's your kitchen cabinets because nothing makes you more frazzled than not knowing where your cutlery goes. You decide!

You’ll likely have a few personal items to add to this final checklist, and that’s completely normal. Try not to overwhelm yourself with items you can handle after your move, like updating your driver’s license and voter registration card.

Who Can Help?

It may feel like you’re shouldering the majority of the burden at this point, but remember, your friends and family want to help. If you need childcare or a pet sitter for a few hours, ask someone! If you can’t handle moving boxes or furniture around, ask someone! Moral of the story: It’s okay to ask for help when needed.

A Stress-Free Moving Day

When moving day arrives, try not to stress about items you realize you forgot. Most of the time, it’s okay to take care of these things once you relocate. It’s a big day with even bigger emotions, so give yourself and those around you grace. Once you're actually in the space, that's when the fun (aka designing) begins.


The Psychology of Moving | The New York Times 

Save Time and Money With These 7 Must-Have Moving Apps | CNET 

How to Pack a Cooler So You Don’t End Up With Soggy, Spoiled Food | Wirecutter 

The Ultimate Moving Checklist and To-Do Timeline | Real Simple 

Now that you’ve completed your move, it’s time to let Spoak help you make it home. Join today to start designing.

Date Posted
October 2, 2023



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