Most people agree that moving is a difficult task, and even mental health professionals say it ranks high on the list of life stressors. The good news is that by carefully planning and organizing your move early and with attention to detail, everything can go very smoothly. The most helpful tool is a moving checklist that serves as a comprehensive guide with everything to be done before a big move.

The best kind of moving checklist includes tasks that should be done months in advance all the way up to the day of the big move. It’s only natural that living at a residence involves making many connections in the community, such as for utilities, services, and participation with clubs and other groups. And the accumulation of things can further complicate the matter of picking up from one home and moving the whole operation of living to a different location.

A great way to start the process of moving is to set up a “moving file” and keep all related paperwork inside, such as estimates from moving companies. Compare rates and customer ratings before choosing the company that you will entrust with your possessions during the move.  Another important first step for renters is to give the landlord the required 60-day or 30-day written notice. Don’t forget to ask for your security deposit refund.

If you can minimize the amount of possessions you’re moving, it will help give you a less cluttered start in your new home and could reduce the total cost of your move. It’s a great idea to go through all of your possessions in advance and choose items that will be discarded, given away, donated to charities, or sold in a yard sale.

As you prepare for your move, keep in mind that moving companies typically cannot move firearms, plants, or flammable items; make other moving arrangements, as needed.

There are preparations you’ll want to make at your new location, such as with utility companies, Internet service providers, banks, schools, daycares, pharmacies, and storage facilities.  There is also the important step of sending out change of address notices, such as for magazines, newspapers, credit cards, banks, the post office, relatives, friends, and insurance companies.

The following checklists will help ensure that your move goes smoothly:

Gather needed packing material:

  • Boxes
  • Packing tape
  • Markers
  • Bubble wrap
  • Tissue paper
  • Newspaper
  • Plastic bags
  • Packing blankets
  • Dolly

As early as possible, start the packing process. Begin with items you rarely use.

Label your moving boxes, making note of the contents and whether or not the boxes contain fragile items. In addition, indicate in large letter which room the box belongs in and whether the contents need to be opened first.

Here are some packing tips:

  • Heavy items should be placed in small boxes.
  • Protect fragile items by wrapping them in bubble wrap, newspaper, or towels.
  • Do not overstuff boxes; leave some space at the top of each box.
  • Leave artwork, valuable china, and lamps for professional movers to pack.
  • Do not tape doors and drawers of your furniture because tape causes damage.
  • Do not pack important documents, prescription medicine, or jewelry.

Cancel all services which you will need to disconnect or discontinue, such as cable television, telephone, electricity, gas, water, trash removal, and newspaper delivery. Also, return library books and movie rentals; and pick up all dry cleaning and medications.

As the moving day approaches, confirm the pick-up and delivery dates and times with the moving company.

In the final days before your move:

  • Provide the moving company with directions, emergency phone numbers, and a travel itinerary.
  • Drain gasoline from all power equipment.
  • Dispose of items the movers can’t transport, such as gasoline, paint, and cleaning supplies.
  • Completely finish packing everything in your home.
  • Clean refrigerators and freezers and defrost, as needed.
  • Pack items that will be needed on the first night in your new home, such as a change of clothing, sheets, towels, toiletries, toilet paper, a flashlight, and an alarm clock.

If you have children, you may want to arrange for help with childcare on moving day.

This moving checklist of things to do before a big move should help to set the stage for a successful and hopefully stress-free moving day.