Your Ultimate Moving Across the Country Checklist
Moving long distance can be a hassle. But with the proper planning and our handy relocation checklist, you can make the most of this tedious task.
Moving is about the destination, not the journey. It can be stressful enough to move across town, but packing up your home and moving across the country requires careful planning. That's where our handy moving house checklist comes in. We have week-by-week tips that will help you stay on track for your next major move. Simply cross off tasks on our printable moving checklist as you complete them. With the right preparation and our helpful moving tips, relocating doesn't have to be a nightmare.
14 Weeks Before Moving:
- Moving across the country isn't cheap. Determine your budget and then choose how you're going to transport your items to the new location: professional movers, truck rental, pick-up-and-go pods, or an alternative moving solution. Keep in mind that the cost of moving across the country depends on many different factors, so don't rule out any one option without looking into its pricing model.
- Once you've decided on a moving method, estimate the long-distance moving costs. Include as many expenses as you can think of, including little things like the cost of packing tape or a box of donuts for the movers.
- If you opt for professional movers, start researching and collecting estimates. If you're moving during peak season—spring and summer—get your choice booked as soon as possible.
- Make any final appointments for your family and pets. This will give you time to find a good doctor once you've made the move.
- If you're selling your home, look for a real estate agent to help you develop a timeline for listing.
12 Weeks Before Moving:
- Determine how you and your family will be traveling. Plane? Train? Automobile? Book tickets, if needed, and make arrangements for shipping cars, motorcycles, or boats.
- Finalize your mover. Get confirmation in writing about the date and time of the move, as well as insurance policies and budget estimates.
- If you have kids and are moving in the middle of the school year, find a new school and make the necessary arrangements for enrollment.
10 Weeks Before Moving:
- Tell older kids about the move. This time frame gives them the opportunity to say good-bye to their friends, prepare a moving packing list for their belongings, and get excited about their new hometown.
- If possible, get the blueprints for your new home. This will give you time to start planning out what furniture goes where, and if you're downsizing, what might not fit. There's no point in moving furniture across the country if you're going to get rid of it upon arrival.
8 Weeks Before Moving:
- Make a list of items that will need to move with you rather than the movers or via mail. This includes important documents, jewelry, computer backups, and items the movers might not be willing to transplant, such as firearms or alcohol.
- Purchase packing supplies, including boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and zip ties.
6 Weeks Before Moving:
- Start packing items you won't need in the next six weeks. This could include out-of-season clothing, holiday decorations, book and movie collections, or formal dishware you use once a year.
- Check with your insurance provider to see if your coverage transfers, and if there is extra protection you'll need at your new home. For example, if you're moving from the Midwest to a hurricane-prone state, you might want to add flood insurance to your policy.
- If you rent and your lease will not be up before the move, start looking for a sublessee.
4 Weeks Before Moving:
- Check in with your physicians, children's schools, car service shops, and other places you frequent for appointments. Make sure you have either hard copies of important records or the ability to access this information online.
- Host a garage sale or drop off unwanted items at a local donation center. This step will help you avoid packing (and paying to move) items you no longer use.
- Tell younger kids about the move. Be prepared for resistance, and come to the discussion with information about the new house, school district, local teams and clubs, and other changes that might require an explanation.
3 Weeks Before Moving:
- Make a plan for your plants. Most movers won't take them, so either prepare to move them yourself or give them to a friend or nursing home.
- Alert the post office of your change in address. Cancel any local subscriptions.
- Start packing knickknacks, dishes, and other nonessentials.
- Transfer or cancel any gym memberships, library cards, award programs, or clubs.
- If you're shipping furniture across the country, empty the contents and wrap the pieces securely in bubble wrap.
2 Weeks Before Moving:
- Alert your bank of the move. Be prepared to switch over accounts if it's a local branch. Empty any safe deposit boxes.
- If you're driving, take your car in for an oil change and general checkup.
- Confirm time and location details with your mover.
- Notify the utilities company of a turn-off date at your old place and a turn-on date at your new place. Same with cable and internet companies.
- To save space, disassemble any furniture that you built, and take photos of each step so you remember how to put it back together. Store all screws and hardware in labeled plastic bags.
- Drain any oil or water from snow blowers, lawn mowers, fountains, hoses, and other large outdoor equipment. Give away propane tanks.
1 Week Before Moving:
- Fill necessary prescriptions.
- Back up your computer and pack your backup hard drive separately from your actual computer, so if one gets lost in the move, you have the other.
- Finish packing except for the bare necessities. Allow each family member one suitcase or duffel bag for travel.
- Plan out meals for the week that require minimal tools and prep time. Use what you can from your pantry for the remainder of the week.
- Make a list or take pictures of all of your boxes so you have a record of what items are being moved. Make sure all boxes are labeled and marked "Fragile," as needed.
A Few Days Before Moving:
- Deep clean your house or apartment one last time, including all surfaces and inside large appliances. Or bring in a professional cleaner for the task.
- Clean out the fridge and cupboards. Take any unopened items to a local food pantry.
- Check into flights and print boarding passes, or fill your car up with gas.
- Pack up your car if it's securely in a garage where items can't get stolen, or put items that the movers are NOT taking in a designated area.
- Check the weather to make sure a major storm isn't going to interfere with your move.
- Ensure you have enough cash to tip the movers as well as to spend in an emergency.
The Day of Moving:
- Use your moving day checklist of inventory to ensure all items are put on the moving truck or in your vehicle.
- Ensure your pet is properly fed, hydrated, and stowed away for travel.
- Arrive at the airport two hours before your flight.
- Do a final sweep of the house to check for forgotten items before you depart.