Moving House Checklist - How to Prepare for a Move & Stay on Track
Moving house (or apartment) involves a lot of moving parts. Whether you’re hiring a full-service moving company to do it all or going for it fully DIY, planning ahead and staying organized will be your best strategy for keeping all those parts moving smoothly!
At Capital Movers & Storage and Walker’s Van & Storage, we want you to have the best move ever. We’ve pulled together some of the steps to help you stay on track.
Moves can happen with a few weeks’ or a few months’ notice. Of course it’s always best if you can give yourself lots of lead time, especially if you will be moving during the “peak” season, when movers (and truck rentals) tend to book up fast. But even if you only have a few weeks to prepare, a plan and a moving checklist will make this huge task feel much more manageable.
How you will actually complete the move is just one part of moving. Other parts of moving include sending notifications to service providers such as utility companies, schools, your doctor, friends/family; researching your new community or neighbourhood - this can be especially important if you are moving to a new town, province, or country and need to determine what service providers and supports you will need there; selling your home (if you’ve not already); preparing your home for departure and arrival (this can include staging, downsizing, repairs, cleaning, booking elevators, determining access for moving trucks); deciding what you will do with children and pets on move days (moving out and moving in and maybe even in-between); and paperwork such as leases, school registrations, travel documents if moving internationally. Some of these points can be more complex than others and we’ll cover them in greater detail in future articles.
Like we said, a LOT of moving parts. There are a few ways to approach this but for the purposes of this guide, let’s break it down by time. Let’s say you have two months until your move date.
Eight Weeks to Moving Day
Note - depending on your destination, certain tasks - like finding a new doctor, may take much longer than the lead time before your move. In this step we’ll include some tasks that should be started as soon as you know you’re moving.
Where will you be moving? If you’re moving out of town, out of province, out of country, now is the time to research your new community and begin the process of selecting new schools, identifying utility and service providers, parking arrangements, etc. If you’re moving out of the country you may not be able to move until your travel documents, including work visas, are in order - this may require a longer lead time. Our moving consultants have experience with cross-border moves and can provide you with information about the documents required to move house to a new country.
Walk through your house (don’t forget storage areas, garages, sheds, etc.) and make an inventory of everything you plan on moving. Will everything fit into your new home? Of the things you will move to your new home, decide what needs packing (more on that later), what you will take with you, what needs extra care.
IF you’re going to hire a mover (whether you’re packing yourself or having them do that too), now is the time to contact at least three companies and ask them to provide you with an estimate for your move. This step can help you decide what services are within your budget.
Pick a mover after carefully reviewing the information they’ve provided and checking into their references, reviews, and company details.
Book your date with the mover - you’ll revisit this closer to your move date but it’s especially important to reserve your move in advance if you’re moving in the summer or at month end (busy times). They will likely ask you for a credit card to hold the move - make sure you clarify cancellation policies with them.
If moving yourself, reserve a rental truck and supplies so you know you’ve got what you need come move day.
If you are travelling by air to your destination, now is the time to make these arrangements. Pets? Movers can’t take your pets so you will need to arrange travel for them as well.
Six Weeks to Moving Day
Clean out closets and storage areas. Keep in mind the inventory you created of items you PLAN to move. For all of the other items, decide whether you will sell, donate, or send to trash/recycling.
Hold a yard sale/post items online for sale or pick up. Deliver donations to local agencies (or arrange for pick up).
Transfer academic records to new school (if applicable)
Transfer medical records to new doctor (if applicable)
Start your Packing Checklist
Four Weeks to Moving Day
Check in with your moving company to confirm service date (or make any needed changes) and provide destination information such as elevator times, truck access, parking restrictions. If you are hiring the movers to pack for you, confirm the day(s) they will be on site to pack up your belongings (usually 1-2 days before move day).
If you are doing the packing yourself, finalize your Packing Checklist and purchase/obtain a good supply of moving boxes of various sizes, packing tape, markers, labels, and paper. Begin packing up out of season items and anything you won’t need before moving day or soon after move in. Be sure to label your boxes with a description of what you’ve packed into them and what room/area you wish them to be placed in your new home.
Notify contacts (friends, family, bank, insurance, government, etc.) of your change of address and effective date. Completed a change of address form with the post office. Update online accounts, including subscriptions as needed.
Gather your important documents (such as birth certificates, passports, medical and dental records, your moving paperwork and checklists) and organize in a safe place. These should be kept with you during the move and not packed in boxes. This also applies to all medications, valuable jewelry, and any items of great sentimental or monetary value. Gathering these papers now gives you time to locate anything that might be missing.
Three Weeks to Moving Day
Contact your current utilities providers (cable, internet, hydro, home phone, water/sewage, alarm, hot water/furnace, gas, etc.) and arrange for disconnection a few days after your moving date (or transfer to your new address if the same company).
Contact utilities providers at your new residence and arrange for setup.
Determine how you will clean your house after you move out. If you will be using a cleaning service contact them to schedule and make arrangements for access. You may need to coordinate with your realtor/new owners. If you are renting this may not be a concern, however if renting, do ensure you leave your unit in good condition to avoid any additional fees.
Continue your packing room by room, expanding your scope to items that may be in more common use but that you can do without for a couple of weeks. Update your packing checklist as you complete rooms. Replenish packing supplies if needed. Rehome/dispose of any additional items you decide you will not be moving.
Inform you moving company if you have made any substantial changes to the inventory upon which your estimate was based. They can provide you with a revised estimate if there are big changes. This is most important if you planned to downsize and factored that into your initial estimate but have not/will not (which will increase the cost of your move - more time and/or weight). However if you’ve downsized much more than you planned to, a revised estimate will also give you a more accurate idea of cost for your move day (maybe you will now be looking at a six hour move vs an eight hour move). This can also affect how the moving company will plan to resource your move and things will run more efficiently if their information matches up with the actual size of your move.
Confirm elevator booking at your origin and destination (if applicable). Let your mover know if any changes to time.
Make arrangements for children and pets for move day - will you need a babysitter? A boarding facility? These should be booked now. Or contact family/friends if they are providing support in these areas.
Two Weeks to Moving Day
How will your plants be getting to your destination? Generally movers do not transport plants and if they do, it’s at the owner’s risk (meaning if something happens to the plants during transport there is no liability for the movers). Check in with your mover if you have questions about the best way to proceed.
Movers cannot transport dangerous items (fuels, solvents, gasses, etc.). Your mover will have provided you with a comprehensive list of items they are not permitted to transport. Now is the time to get rid of these. You may want to contact your community’s Hazardous Waste disposal center for any items you can’t rehome.
Continue packing. Last minute packing, though sometimes unavoidable, can be a big stressor in the final days before a move. Remember to label cartons with the contents and their location at destination. Your move will go faster if movers know where to put things without having to check in with you each time and on a local move this will save you money!
Are you taking any of your appliances? Now’s the time to contact an electrician and/or plumber to arrange to have these items safely disconnected and prepared for move day. Your moving company will provide you with information about what needs to be done. You may also want to arrange for service providers at destination to reconnect these items immediately following your move-in.
Depending on your destination you may not want to take all of your food with you. Consider what you might want to do with items you’re not bringing. Some may go to the trash or compost. If you have a quantity of dry goods, unopened, you do not want, consider your local food bank. Many movers will look after taking these items on move day and delivering them to the food bank. Ask about that service. Start using up fresh and/or frozen food or give it to friends/family.
One Week to Moving Day
Ensure that items that are not being moved have been clearly labeled and/or placed in one location.
Prescription medications - make sure that you have enough medication to last through your move and that you’ve made arrangements for refills at your destination (if you don’t have a doctor at your new location you may want to discuss this with your current doctor).
Ensure your banking is in order for your new location - whether that’s opening new accounts/changing banks or just confirming everything is in order.
Drain oil and gas from any power equipment you will be moving. Disconnect and drain water from any appliances (small or large) you will be moving. Remove batteries from any items that will be packed - movers are not permitted to pack batteries. You will want to take these with you.
While movers typically disassemble beds and other large items, they do not remove items fixed to walls (shelves, mirrors, curtain rods, etc.) - now is the time to take these down in preparation for relocations. Make sure screws and other small pieces are well packaged together and clearly labeled. If placing in a box be sure to note these on the outside of the box so you don’t have to hunt for them at destination.
Check in with your moving company to confirm timings for move day, update contact information, report any changes on your end, ask any questions about final preparation.
Pack a bag of first-night items.
The Day Before Moving Day
Empty your refrigerator.
Make sure all of the items you are moving yourself are in one location - either in your vehicle or in a spot, clearly marked and easily identified to the movers so they don’t take them by mistake (e.g. bathtub, corner of a room).
If you’ve been doing your own packing, finish up the final items (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom) - leaving a few boxes open for any final items to be added on move day.
Pick up all scatter rugs and any other items that might get underfoot the next day.
If you’ve not spoken with your mover in the past 48 hours, now is the time to contact them to confirm times for the next day, highlight any concerns (e.g. please bring more boxes, I might not finish packing!), and ask any last questions.
Get a good night’s sleep.
If it’s wintertime, ensure all outdoor walks and steps to the house are cleared of ice and snow.
Strip beds and pack up bedding.
Arrange for children to be looked after - babysitter, daycare, friend/family member.
Secure pets or take them to a predetermined boarding facility or friend/family member.
Walk through the house with the crew when they arrive. Make sure all members of the moving crew are aware of items that they are not to move. Consider using post it notes.
Supervise the move. Meet all members of the crew and find out what each person’s role is. There will be one person in charge of the move. That is the person you speak to if you have questions or concerns.
Ensure that everything gets on the truck. Check your closets and behind doors. Check the garage and outbuildings. Double check that your “Do Not Take” items have not been placed on the truck. Make sure you have all of your important papers, valuables, first night/travel items with you.
Verify that the movers have your new address and contact phone numbers. Get the driver’s phone number in case you need to be in touch with him. If you are moving long distance, stay in touch with your moving company to get the most up to date information on your delivery date.
Check all your paperwork, especially the Bill of Lading (which will have your moving protection –“valuation” choice marked off).
If moving locally or having same day delivery, arrange for a half hour break between moves so you can close up your house and be at the new one.
We hope this checklist for moving house has helped you consider the various steps you can take to stay on top of your next local or long distance move. Each move is different and you’ll find that some things we’ve mentioned may not apply to your situation but using this moving checklist as guide for organizing your move and helping you be best prepared for the big day - whether hiring full service movers or doing it yourself - will go a long way to making your relocation a successful one! Whether you’re moving in Kingston or Trenton or Deep River, we’re here to help you at each step.