Get Moving!

Maybe you have heard the statistic that moving is one of life’s top three stressors. Don’t be scared!  Using these tips will make your transition less stressful for your family. Remember, your move is a new adventure for your family!


Before You Leave Your Old Home:

1. Make sure each child has their own bag packed with any toys, blankets, or books that they will need to go to bed at night. These will help them feel comfortable during the transition.

2. Purchase an expandable file folder and start gathering documents such as birth certificates, passports, and currency.  These items should not be shipped with your household goods.

3. Call your doctors to obtain written copies of the family’s medical records. Offices sometimes charge for these documents, so have a form of payment ready. Also, see if your doctor can refer you to a new doctor in your new location. If applicable, ask for copies of prescriptions in case you cannot see a doctor quickly in your new location. If you have remaining refills at a local pharmacy, call to see if they can transfer them to a new pharmacy where you are moving.

4. Arrange for the home to be cleaned after all your furniture has been moved out. Stay one night in a hotel and return to the home to clean, or hire a cleaning service to do the job for you while you are traveling to your new location. Keep in mind that many real estate contracts state that the home must be left in “broom clean condition”. Failure to do so could result in a fee, or difficulty at closing.

5. Call your utility companies to arrange for final readings. Give them your new address to have any remaining bills forwarded.


You should also contact your homeowner’s insurance company to inquire about the same. If you are moving long distance and are moving your vehicle, check with your auto transport company and make sure their delivery timings are right.

7. Send out change of address cards to friends and family.

8. Fill out a change of address and mail forwarding forms with the Post Office. These forms can be filled out online as well.

9. Pack irreplaceable or valuable items such as cameras, jewelry, wedding photos/videos, or family treasures to travel with your family. Also, keep in mind that most van lines are not climate controlled. Consider this when deciding to ship items like candles in with your other possessions.

10. If you are packing yourself, color-code your boxes. (Blue for the kitchen, red for the bedroom, etc).  Involve your children; let each child pick their own color for their rooms.

11. Pack a kit of the following items for use while you are in transit, and for your first night in your new home:

Toilet Paper

A Shower Curtain

Snacks and Bottled Water

Clean Clothes

Cleaning Products

Flashlight and/or Night Lights

First Aid Kit Medicine Needed by Your Family

Air Mattresses and sleeping bags (If you decide to spend your first night in your new home.)***See sleepover suggestion in “When You Arrive at Your New Home” section.


When You Arrive At your New Home:

1. Start by sorting your boxes and bringing them to their appropriate room. (Red to the kitchen, etc).

2. Evaluate if you will need to purchase any organizational supplies such as shelves, pot racks, closet systems, etc. Purchase these before you start to unpack. Not doing so will make unpacking more complicated.

3. If you need assistance in getting unpacked contact a professional organizer. They will help you determine the best organizational systems for your new home, have them installed, and unpack your possessions using the systems. Get settled in your new home the right way!

4. Use labels and/or sticky notes to help everyone locate items in the kitchen cabinets or pantry. This will alleviate questions and frustration when trying to find items in their new locations.

5. Allow kids to help unpack their room. If possible, allow them to decide where their bed will go, where they want their play area to be located, etc. This allows them to make the new room their own.

6. Have a sleepover your first night in your new home. Set up air mattresses, play cards, or if you have the capability, watch a movie on a laptop or portable DVD player. Bring flashlights and snacks for the family. Spending your first night all together in one room helps kids with the new creaks and noises associated with a new home.

7. Unpack every box.  Even if you are not using everything in your new home, you should unpack everything to look for any missing or damaged items. Insurance often limits the amount of time you have to file a claim for missing or damaged items.

8. Call welcome or newcomer services in your area. They will often provide you with a basket or package of coupons and offers for your new area. You will probably be eating out for a little while, so you might as well save some money!

9. If you do eat out a few times be sure to ask for menus, coupons, and business cards. Create a three ring binder with the menus of the places you like, and make sure to circle the items your family enjoyed. This will come in handy on those busy nights when you just aren’t sure what to eat.

10. After you have been in your new home for about a month, re-evaluate your organizational systems. What is working for your family and what is not? Are you still missing items? Are the items you use in your daily routine hard to find or use? If you did not hire a professional organizer when you first moved in, now is a great time to do so.


  1. Army Wife says

    Use your sticky notes before you’ve even begun to unpack. Label everything, where you want things to go. That way you, your family or while the movers or friends are unpacking no one needs to stop you to ask “where do you want the plates???? Deciding where things are going to be kept is much easier when the house or apartment is empty and not hectic. I’ve moved a lot! Also if using professional movers on the packing up day, keep a few empty laundry baskets handy. There will always be many items they will not be allowed to take. Usually they are toxic cleaning supplies. It’s easiest to just chuck them in the laundry basket. One final note, before the packers get there, get out your sticky notes and put notes on items saying DO NOT PACK, including the trash can. Believe me, in the military it has happened!!!!

  2. molly says

    Create a spreadsheet and label boxes with a single number. The spreadsheet will be one index of what the contents of each box are. If you are putting some stuff in storage and some in the new home, do letters for one and numbers for the other to help separate the two “landing places” for boxes.

  3. Laura says

    If moving within your city, the most important items are towels, linens, and pillows! After you’ve been through the hassle of the move, you’ll be wiped out. Knowing where clean towels and linens are is key! I pack them in a big suitcase for easy transport. I also pack a suitcase with clean clothes, toiletries, hair dryer, etc.
    Some movers don’t want to transport plants so do your research. You may have to transport them yourself.
    If you’re packing yourself, don’t pack boxes too heavy. For example, don’t take a big box and pack it full of books. If the movers deliver the box to the wrong room, you’re stuck with a box you can’t move yourself!
    I always pack picture hangers myself. I either put them all into a ziploc or use masking tape to tape them to the wire on the back. The only problem with the latter is that they can poke through the paper on the back so be careful.
    That’s all I can think of for now!

  4. Linda says

    Having just done another move, PACK SOME CURTAINS! HAHA we went from a home with not many windows, to one with A TON and while I love the extra light, I felt a little exposed at night.

  5. Heather says

    If you are having profesional movers move you be sure to check every thing such as empty the trash cans get any laundry out of the washe and dryer and DUMP OUT DIAPER PAILS!! We had a moving company pack a diaper pail that was full… on the delivery day they pulled the box out of the truck and it was leaking a “mystery” liquid! Lesson learned there!

  6. Devyne says

    My parents are thinking about moving just down the street from our home now, but there’s so much that will be going on that day. Pets/packing/boxes/ and my family is so disorganized. I think I’m the only organized person in the house. Maybe these tips will help, though. Let’s hope so!

  7. angelia says

    Having moved 8 times now in under 20 years of marriage, i have learned a few tips and tricks. some are applicable to self moves and some for paid movers.
    1) pack all plastic kitchen items in a HUGE box. its lightweight, etc. i had one moving company wrap each item (their policy) . i vowed NEVER to make that mistake.
    2) use linens to wrap fragile items. sheets and towels can do double duty to wrap pictures, glass items, etc.. for placing in a box. if its super breakable – DOUBLE box it !
    3) LABEL< LABEL< LABEL. get HUGE sharpie and mark every box. our movers did not do that, just labeled rooms. i dug thru boxes for weeks. (being i had an infant, i was only able to unbox a little at a time)
    4) now is a good as a time as any to de-clutter. start a month prior to your move. all the outgrown clothing, items that are broken or missing parts.. ditch it now. some places charge by the pound for moving.
    5) ditto about packing overnight bags. we traveled over 1k miles with one move with an infant and an elem school age child. we needed everything with us (diapers, formula, bottled water, etc)
    6) don't rush the travel. take this time for a leisurely trip with the family. we took 2 days to drive that 1k miles. it was nice to stop when we wanted to visit family for mini breaks. i should have insisted on stopping more to see stuff i probably would never see again !!
    7) pack snacks & arrange a off-site sitter for your kids if you are moving locally. esp kids under 10. they will be in the way and could possibly walk off during all the hubub.
    8) lastly, leave a list for the new owners/tenants with school, restaurant and utility info and your house tips 🙂

    have fun in your new HOME..

  8. HeatherM says

    You know you’ve moved too many times in your life when you already do every single thing on this list, and have some things to add:
    1) A week before you move, pack a suitcase like you are going on vacation for two weeks. Pack clothes, toiletries, snacks, a fresh set of linens, and of course the shower curtain. You will not have any time /interest in doing laundry the week before you move or the week after you move in, so this will cover you until you get settled. Pack an extra pillowcase in each suitcase to serve as a laundry bag to make sure dirty laundry stays organized from clean.
    2) Don’t use plastic sticky labels on boxes- they can fall off in extreme temperatures or humid moving trucks. Instead use different colors of sharpies.
    3) If you are enlisting the help of friends and family, thank them with GOOD food. When moving around the Chicago area we typically do Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza, soda, and good beer. We also try to set up a folding table somewhere in the new house when we are painting and getting it ready, so we have a place to eat said pizza before all of the furniture is set up.
    4) Even when we do have movers, there are some things that we always move in our own car. These include the suitcases above w/ clothes and necessities, laptops, our internet modem and router (often one of the very FIRST things we set up), important papers and documents, dog food and dog bowls and the dog bed (which we will set out right away so he has a familiar place to sleep), and anything extremely breakable that I don’t want squished under a chair or other piece of furniture in the moving truck (i.e. delicate vases).
    5) In the new house, label each room. The movers won’t know “Kevin’s room” from “Sally’s room” from “master bedroom”- just label all the rooms with sticky notes to make it easier. Ideally label the rooms in the same color sharpies as you do the boxes. One time we had movers that did not speak English, so they couldn’t read our writing on the boxes. The color coded sharpies came in VERY handy.
    6) When moving across town, we typically send our dog to stay with one of our parents for a few days. Be sure to send plenty of dog food along. Dogs can’t understand why everything is changing, so all of the packing just upsets them more. Also, I don’t want to have to worry about the dog running away when the doors are propped open for the movers. Small kids on the other hand can understand the concept of moving, so (provided they have a backpack with toys and books and games), it is sometimes an easier transition for them if they get to help with the move as much as possible, see the old house empty, see the new house empty, see the movers moving their stuff, etc.
    7) Don’t forget to pack up your attic, and make sure all of the stuff in your attic is included when the mover estimates the size of the truck they will need.
    8) I use a filofax to organize old house bills, all moving documents including the name and phone number of the moving company, and new house bills for the move. Once things get settled, I can resume my normal filing system with new files for the new house bills.
    9) Don’t forget to register to vote at your new address. In Illinois we do this at the DMV, when we change the address on our drivers’ licenses.
    10) Make sure the landlord or new owner of your old house has your forwarding address, so they can send you any mail that may slip through the cracks.
    11) We changed our locks right after we bought our new house. You don’t have to do that, but given the number of realtors that had access to the key and came in the house, it definitely made us feel safer.
    12) When we bought our first house, we took the key and put it on a pretty ribbon, wrote the date in sharpie on the ribbon, and turned it into a memory-filled ornament for our Christmas tree.
    13) Never skimp on the size of the truck. It is ALWAYS better to get too big of a truck than too small of a truck.
    14) Think about where the moving truck will need to park. You may need to request temporary “no parking” signs from your village hall and hang them up a day or two before the move to make sure your moving truck has a place to park.
    15) Make sure your dog has up to date tags before you move, and after your move, make sure you get a new tag with your new address. Dogs occasionally run away or get lost in a new neighborhood.

  9. Juanita says

    Pack a “last day” box for things that you will need (think alarm clock, your special pillows, etc) up until you walk out the door. Pack a “first day” box too…….who wants to wake up the first morning in your place and have to search every box labeled “kitchen” for a cereal bowl and the coffee pot??

  10. Charlene says

    Didn’t see it mentioned in my quick read. One item we needed ( it was packed rather deeply in the camper). Good thing was a neighbor stopped by to say hi/welcome a few hours after arriving. He asked if we needed anything. Immediately I said matches/lighter to light our hot water heater.

  11. Bonnie J. Dewkett, CPO® says

    Moving over seas is a unique set of challenges. The small kit that I suggest putting together isn’t as easy to transport. You should consider seeing what services are available in your new location….(kind of like our Pea Pod) and have them set you up with essentials for the first few nights.

  12. Pat says

    I would also like to add a couple of side-notes to setting aside items prior to the movers arrival (if you have professional movers).
    1. To help ensure they don’t pack items you wish to take yourself, set aside a small room (bathroom) and tape it off with a sign such as “Do Not Pack” and close the door. This works great!

    2. Also, I’ve learned from experience of moving many times, that you should remove all cords from your electronics (DVD, Amp, etc) and label each one prior to removal–i.e. you can use a sm piece of paper, then laminate it with clear packing tape and tape it around the end of each cord so you know where it plugs into. (Many electronic sections in stores now carry labels for cords.) Once you’ve accomplished this, put all the cables in ONE box and make sure you label the box. I can’t remember how many times I’ve wasted days looking through boxes for all the cables strewn throughout the boxes.

    3. I also take down all pictures and pack the hangers the same format as the electronic cords.

    4. PLEASE NOTE: Most professional movers will NOT pack any hazardous/flammable materials, nor will they pack lawn equipment that has gas/oil remaining in it. Safe bet: Plan to give away those hazardous/flammable materials to your friends/neighbors and buy new ones at your new location. If you want to take them yourself, ensure they are in the bed of your truck or moving van, NOT in a box inside your vehicle–odors can be carcinogenic.

    5. If you have special items: such as air hockey/pool table, marble or glass tables, etc, please ensure the movers either crate or use special containers to protect them, and PLEASE ENSURE the movers are notified prior to move (during their initial inspection/site visit) of these special items.

    6. Biggest suggestion I can give: If you can do a “Door to Door” move (where the truck that loads your items, drives straight to your new address without unloading) instead of having to “warehouse” your household goods, this greatly reduced the amount of times your items are moved, thus reducing the chance of items getting broken.

    GOOD LUCK!!!

  13. Megan Sanderson says

    Write down every VIN number you can find then keep it along with your travel documents in a folder that you carry with you at all times. This goes for you moving yourself and something getting stolen, to a moving company losing it. Always, always, akways know what you have and a wat to prove it!

  14. Louise says

    When I take apart furniture I put the hardware (and special tools if any) in a ziplock then use packing tape or cling wrap to attach it to the underside of the furniture it goes with. I also make a mOving tool kit that I keep with me. When I arrive at the new house I know where my knife,scissors, pen, post its, etc are.

  15. Jennifer B says

    I suggest packing valuables and important papers in your car during the move. My mother had movers steal jewelry out of her bag that was in her walk-in closet labeled “do not pack/do not move”.

    In the military at least, alcohol was one of those things that the movers wouldn’t move as a “hazardous material”. Plan to drink down your supply or throw yourself a going away party to use up all of the alcohol.

    Many homes have lights in most rooms that you can turn on with a switch, but some do not. If you know where you are moving to, check for this before you pack your goods so you can include a lamp for the first night or two.

    For moving overseas:
    Know the weather where you will be headed. You may need completely different clothes than the ones in your current climate.

    Shipping goods overseas by container takes longer – from the US to Europe is a month or more. Think hard about what you’ll need to get through that period of time. Check local expat message boards for things that they “miss” or have shipped from home to find what you may want to stock up on before you go. As a tall woman moving to Japan for me it was nylons, tampons, salsa mix and reeses peanut butter cups :). You should also check whether it makes any sense to take your electronics with you. DVD’s are programmed to work in players of different regions, so to get anything new in your new country you’ll have to have a DVD player to work in the correct zone. Many countries have different voltage – and while many things will work properly, some things will not. It doesn’t make sense to take the things that won’t work properly. As an example – Japan’s voltage (in the east anyway) is 110, compared to our 120. Things that didn’t need to keep time usually worked OK, though maybe not as hot, quickly. Anything with an internal clock didn’t keep time well. Most electronics never went back to working as well in the US after being used in Japan for a couple of years.

  16. Isabel says

    Use painter’s tape to label furniture items, and when you get to your new house, use it to label the rooms so the movers know which room is “boys room” or “den” or whatever.

  17. Leslie says

    If you are organized in your current home and want to replicate the layout, use your phone to snap pictures of your cabinet and closet layout. It makes it so easy to put items away in the new home and provide some consistency when family members look for items!

  18. Rhonda says

    Good hints. Pack small items, silverware in 1gal plastic bags. Professional movers will wrap everything in big sheets of paper. You have to be careful not to throw anything away. Also, you won’t feel the need to wash everything that’s been touched by others. In the Open First Box–pot holders, trash bags. Schedule cut off of utilities for the day AFTER. Utilities cut off in the morning!

  19. jennifer says

    Having grown up in the AirForce and married to a Navy Man I noted one glaring omission.
    DO NOT PACK YOUR TOOL BOX You will need a household tool box to put together your beds and other furniture and hang pictures. IKEA makes a compact full size tool kit for less than $10 that is perfect if your current tool box is unweldly or to big to carry.

  20. Connie says

    I’ve moved a lot in 35 years, most of the time doing the packing myself. As I go through things in the packing process, I purge – 3 designations – keep/donate/trash. I try to get the beds set up and made within the first few hours of a move in. I also unpack the kitchen first. If I have people helping, I have them do the bathroom/s. With all the stress of moving, for me, it goes much easier when you don’t have to make a bed before you can go to bed and you can function in the kitchen and bathrooms from the get go.

  21. Barb says

    If your bed(s) is coming with you same day as your move, put it together and make the bed first thing! That way, whenever you finally konk out from all the moving and unpacking, you can just crash. It’s so nice to have a cozy bed to fall into in a new place.

  22. Elise says

    Thoughts and suggestions about moving out of state into furnished temporary housing for an unknown length of time before moving into long term housing? We are working on selling/donating most of our furniture in order to start fresh..

  23. Bonnie J. Dewkett, CPO® says

    Pack only what you need. Pretend you are going on an extended vacation and pack like it. A lot of people take way too much to temporary housing and end up having to move lots of stuff over and over again. Ask what will be provided ahead of time so you know what you really need to take. If you are debating an item, leave it behind! Great question! Thanks for asking!

  24. Traci says

    I saw this tip on another site and thought it was so great and your site was so great I wanted to add it to the list!! A woman used press n seal paper to cover her drawers that were filled with things. so you could take them out and in and they didn’t get too messed up during a short move. She said even for jewelry and I would think it would work great for kitchen things that are small also! Thanks for a great list!

  25. Cari says

    Wow!!!! What a great list of tips!!! I’m wondering if the list can be updated/condensed? I’d love to be able to print this list out so i can cross off as I go.
    Thank you all for such great tips!!! You’re the best!
    ~ Signed, One Stressed Mover =)

  26. says

    Before buying a new house you always consider the area of the house if it is very accessible to markets, stores, highways and hospitals. That is what I learned being a Real Estate agent. It is best if you hire real estate agent because they will be the one to process all the necessary actions.

  27. says

    Thanks for any other informative blog. The place else may I get that type of information written in such an ideal way?
    I’ve a venture that I’m simply now operating on, and I have been on the look out for such information.

  28. says

    Hello! I am going to move to a new apartment and I should start the packing process. I am so confused…I don’t know how to begin. Thank you a lot for the helpful article!

  29. says

    Thank you so much for the interesting advices! I am going to move to Paris next month and I am so excited that I am sure I will forget something. I definitely need advices and checklists. Thank you!


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