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Whether you’re relocating across town or across the country, careful planning and organization are necessary to ensure a seamless transition. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide to moving in 2023, packed with top tips and important to-dos. Our guide covers every step of the moving process, from creating a budget and hiring trustworthy movers to packing last-minute items and setting up your new home.
What to Consider Before Moving
A successful relocation starts with research. Before committing to a move, carefully consider all the ways it will impact your daily life and long-term goals.
Cost of Living
Use a cost-of-living calculator, such as the one available from Sperling’s Best Places, to determine how the costs in your destination city compare to those in your current one. A higher cost of living may not be enough reason to forgo moving, but it will require you to adjust your budget.
Browse listings on Zillow, Apartments.com, and other real estate sites to get acquainted with the housing market in your new city. Compare the rental rates to your current budget or consult a realtor to determine whether you can afford to purchase a new home. Remember to factor in all the various costs associated with moving to a new house, from building or homeowners association (HOA) fees to property taxes.
Use job boards such as Indeed and Monster to find jobs in your new city. If you work remotely, you may be able to move without it impacting your job; however, you should double-check residency requirements with your employer before committing.
Proximity to Family and Friends
Starting over in a new city is much easier with a local support system. Consider how moving will affect your social and emotional well-being. Proximity to friends and family members may be a good reason to choose one city over another.
If you have kids or think you might in the near future, spend time researching schools in the area. GreatSchools makes it easy to find and compare pre-K, elementary, middle, and high schools. You can even filter the results by school type, available programs, college readiness rating, and equity rating.
How to Prepare for a Move
After conducting your initial research, the next step is preparing for your move. The more organized and thorough your planning is, the less stressful moving day—and the weeks preceding and following it—will be.
Create a Moving Timeline
Set a target date for your move and work backward from there to figure out when you need to pack, hire movers, inform your employer, and so on. If you are moving for a job, you may already have a firm deadline. Otherwise, decide when the best time to move will be—which could mean anything from “least disruptive” to “least expensive,” depending on your priorities.
Set a Moving Budget
Examine your finances and research moving costs, then use that information to create your budget. Which step comes first depends on your situation:
- Moving on a deadline: Determine how much you can afford to spend on your move and plan your budget accordingly.
- Moving on a budget: Determine how much moving will cost and save up enough to cover the full amount.
Request quotes from multiple local or interstate moving companies, and research how much it would cost to rent a moving truck or portable storage container. Be sure to factor in the cost of moving insurance, specialty services, packing supplies, hidden fees, and emergencies.
Hire a Moving Company
If you decide hiring movers is worth it, your next step should be to compare quotes and book your move. To ensure availability and secure a better price, reserve your moving date as far in advance as possible.
Declutter Your Home
Whether you go the DIY route or hire movers, decluttering your home will save you time and money. This is especially true if you are moving cross-country. The amount of stuff you have will determine what size moving truck or container you need to rent, and long-distance movers charge by shipment size and weight. However, even local moves will be easier and less expensive with less stuff.
Get Supplies and Start Packing
Unless you are paying for professional packing services, the final step in preparing for your move is to purchase supplies and start packing. Here are the most important packing materials you need:
- Bubble wrap
- Cardboard boxes
- Packing paper
- Packing tape
- Stretch wrap
Make sure you have moving boxes in a variety of sizes. Invest in specialty boxes, such as wardrobe boxes for packing clothes, for better protection and easier unpacking.
What to Do on Moving Day
While you should complete as many tasks as possible prior to moving day, you will still have a few things left when the big day comes.
Pack Last-Minute Items
On the morning of your move, box up any items that couldn’t be packed in advance or that you need to keep with you. Examples include the following:
- Basic tools
- Change of clothes
- Cleaning supplies
- Important documents
- Kids’ comfort items
- Pet food and supplies
- Phone chargers
Do a Final Sweep
Walk through your home one last time before you move out with your moving to-do list in hand. Take out the trash, wipe down the counters, touch up the paint, patch any holes in the walls, and erase scuff marks. Check the closets, attic, basement, and other out-of-the-way places. Make sure everything is clean and nothing has been left behind.
Photograph Your Home or Apartment
After your final sweep, take pictures of your house or apartment to document the condition in which you left it. You can use these photos to settle any disputes that arise with the buyer, landlord, or movers.
Greet Your Movers
If you hire professional movers, make sure you are present on moving day to greet them. Confirm your contact information, provide any final instructions, and be available to answer questions. If you plan to tip your movers, have cash on hand. Offering refreshments is also a nice gesture.
Load the Truck
If you did not hire movers, you’ll need to pick up and load your moving truck. Load the largest and heaviest items first, such as appliances and large pieces of furniture, placing them toward the front of the truck. Stack boxes so that lighter and more fragile items are on top, and use ratchet straps or tie-downs to prevent shifting.
How to Adjust After the Move
Settling into your new home will take longer than one day, particularly if you are moving to a new state. However, staying organized and pacing yourself will make the process as hassle-free as possible.
Unpack the Essentials
You probably won’t have time to unpack everything in one day, so focus on essential items first. Start by unpacking the things you need in order to comfortably sleep, eat, and shower in your new home. Take a quick trip to the store for toilet paper, paper towels, and any other basic or perishable items you didn’t bring with you.
Set Up Your New Home
Over the next few weeks, work on setting up your new home. Paint the walls, arrange furniture, and unpack the rest of your belongings. Contact the appropriate service providers to set up home internet, cable, trash pickup, and other utilities if you haven’t already.
Explore Your New Location
Set aside time to explore your new community. Go for a walk through the neighborhood, find the nearest grocery store and coffee shop, and try out a few local restaurants. If you have kids, visit the nearest park or playground, and take them to visit their new school.
Find New Providers
Make a list of all the services, memberships, and amenities you used at your old home. Then, find new providers. At the top of your to-do list should be finding a new primary care doctor, veterinarian, and pediatrician, as needed.
Update Contact Information
Visit your local post office to set up mail forwarding or file a change of address on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) website. Then, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to update your driver’s license and vehicle registration. Update your address directly with your bank, insurance company, credit card company, and other important contacts. Make sure friends and family have your new address, and change your address on any subscriptions.
Establish Your New Routine
Spend some time planning your daily routine. Map out your commute and decide how your kids will get to school. Figure out the best day to go grocery shopping and when you will go to the gym. Being intentional about establishing a new routine will help you settle in more quickly.
By following our comprehensive checklist and top moving tips, you can tackle each step of the moving process with ease. Remember to start early and stay organized. The key to a successful move lies in detailed planning and thorough preparation.
Be sure to consider the cost of living, the job and housing markets, and your proximity to friends and family before committing to a big move to a new place. Once you’ve confirmed your destination, create a realistic moving timeline and budget, hire a moving company, and declutter and pack up your home. After moving day has come and gone, take time to set up your new home, explore your neighborhood, find new care providers, and establish a routine.
Guide to Moving FAQ
How do I decide what to take when moving?
Carefully assess your new space, and be honest with yourself about deciding what to take when moving. Consider whether each item truly serves a purpose or brings you happiness. Weigh the sentimental value of an item against the cost and effort required to move it.
What are the benefits of moving to a new home?
The benefits of moving to a new home vary depending on your situation but can include the following:Better quality of lifeFresh startIncreased real estate valueNew opportunitiesPersonal growthUpgraded amenities
What should I do three weeks before moving?
Three weeks before moving, you should finish decluttering and pack items that you use infrequently. This is also a good time to change your address, finalize your travel plans, and confirm your moving reservations.
What should I do before I start packing?
Before you start packing, you should do the following:Set a realistic moving timeline.Declutter and organize your belongings.Make a detailed inventory.Gather packing supplies.