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Does Making a Moving Timeline Really Help?

When preparing to move, everyone wants to avoid that last-minute panic of packing and cleaning that always seems to sneak up on them. The best way to avoid any surprises is to create a timeline for your move and stick to it. When you add all your tasks to a moving checklist, you, your family, and your friends will know what to expect.

Two to Three Months before Moving: Prepare and Organize

If you know you will be relocating within a year, do your best to make the timeline as early as possible. Sometimes sudden moves are unavoidable, but if you can do your best to plan things out, the process will go much more smoothly.

A few months before the move, you should invest the time to make a list of everything that will be changing as a result of the move. If you know your new address, fill out change-of-address forms and have them ready to go. You should be able to change your address online through the United States Postal Service.

One thing to note: Make a list of regular subscriptions, such as magazines and meal kits. These usually will not be forwarded or will be forwarded for a limited time. Changing your address before you move helps ensure that necessary services do not get interrupted for too long. This is also an excellent time to start organizing the home to make packing easier. Start thinking about things you use regularly and items that can be packed.

Six to Eight Months before Moving: Declutter Your Space

The worst part of moving is packing items you don’t want to keep in the first place. Two months before moving—and before packing a single box—think about decluttering your home. Starting early allows you enough time to hold a garage sale and properly sort your belongings. Some services and other processes take weeks to transition, so this time period is a practical chance to start the formal transition of moving.

Four to Six Weeks before Moving: Finalize Your Timeline

Although you might have a rough estimate of when you plan to move, at this point, you need to set a defined schedule. People who are only moving across town might choose one day to move their furniture, appliances, and most of their boxes, then follow up with the rest. An interstate move requires more care, since those who are moving might have to do it all at once.

Three to Four Weeks before Moving: Pack as Much as Possible

In addition to decluttering, spending some time pre-packing for your move is a great way to save time later. Most people require three to four weeks to make packing work without too much stress. Plan to buy about 20 medium-sized boxes for each room, small boxes for books and other heavy items, and large wardrobe boxes for clothing. In addition, don’t forget to grab plenty of the following items:

  • packing tape
  • tape guns
  • cushioning materials for fragile items
  • black markers to label boxes

If you think you’ve picked up enough boxes for your move, grab a few extra. It’s smart to buy more than necessary because people often use more boxes than they expect.

This step is also a great way to pare down your home and ready it for staging, especially if you haven’t had the chance to sell your old home yet. Take down personal photos and pack up toys, books, movies, and other items you probably won’t use as you prepare for your move.

Two to Three Weeks before Moving: Arrange Services for Your New Home

Buying or selling a new home is challenging enough, but waiting for your new home to have power or internet services connected is no fun, either. Research your options for these utilities and services and sign up ahead of time. If possible, schedule your appointment as close to your move-in date as possible—even on the same day, if you can.

One to Two Weeks before Moving: Heavy Packing

It’s crunch time because the last couple of weeks before moving involve lots of packing. Devise a system that allows your friends and family members to help. Label boxes with the correct destination room and, ideally, the contents of each box. Items that are needed daily should be saved for last and organized so they’re not packed on accident.

The Last Week: Do Last Minute Packing and Cleaning

In the remaining days prior to moving day, focus a lot of energy on making up for any delays in previous steps of this process. Sellers should be ready to switch back and forth between packing and cleaning, since some cleaning and repair services may take days to arrange and complete.

The Night before Your Move: Check Your To-Do List

If the rest of the moving process has run smoothly, you should have time to consult your to-do list on the night before the move. This is not a good time to miss any important tasks, so the list should be double-checked for completeness. It’s also a good idea to run through everything needed before transferring control of your home to another party.

Moving Day: Try to Stay Organized

To be successful, moving calls for a high degree of organization. People should carry their checklist and mark items as they are put on the truck. The belongings needed most should be packed at the very end so they can be unpacked first at the new home. Last-minute cleaning and inspection are often easier to do once all possessions have been removed and the home is ready for transfer.

Final Tip: Consider Self Storage

Many of these tips assume you will be moving from your old home to your final destination. If, however, there will be any kind of lag in your move—like moving into a temporary small apartment while you house-hunt—think about renting a self storage unit close by to house items you don’t need immediately, such as appliances or additional furniture. When you finally find that perfect new home, you can complete the move without having to pack and unpack multiple times. Need a self storage unit? Visit a StorageMart facility near you, or reserve your unit online today.

Updated February 13, 2020