How to Pack for a Move [Moving Checklist]

Moving is a big deal. Whether you’re preparing to move down the block, moving to another city, or moving out of state, you may be feeling overwhelmed. When do you start packing? What do you need to budget for to move? How do you organize the move?

We’ve got a checklist to help you organize your move and keep you on the track to get out the door, with some cost-saving moving day tips.

Step 1: You need a timeline.

Step 2: You need a budget.

Step 3: You need to be an organized packer.

Step 4: You need to pack over time.

Step 5: You need to get rid of stuff.

Step 6: You need to safeguard memories.

Step 7: You need to get familiar with your new community.

Preparing to Move

STEP 1: You need a timeline.

You’re moving! Great! Likely, you know where you’re going and what day you expect to be there. Mark a calendar with the date and work backwards from the move-out date to set weekly or monthly goals (depending on how much time you have) to get everything ready for that big day.

If move-out day is Tuesday, January 1st, use the 1st of the month (if counting by months) or every Tuesday (if counting by days) and mark each day with a star.

STEP 2: You need a budget.

Budgeting for a move is tough, and the costs will vary widely based on where you live, how much stuff you’re moving, how far you’re going, and how fast you need to get there. Research locally for the following budget items:

Costs to Consider

  • Renting a Moving Truck / Moving Van
  • Gas for the Truck or Van Rental
  • Towing Vehicles / Boats / Other Large Items
  • Hiring a moving company that transports items
  • Hiring a moving company that helps you pack
  • Cash tip for professional movers (2-3 people)

Cost-saving moving tips – Ask a group of friends to help and make an event of your big move. Factor in the cost of pizza, snacks, and beverages. If you’re asking them to use their personal vehicles, factor in some gas money too. They’ll be grateful, you’ll have a lot more fun, and you’ll be able to save some money on the move.

Packing Supplies
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Plastic Storage Bins
  • Vacuum-Seal Bags
  • Packing Tape
  • Sharpies
  • Packing peanuts / bubble wrap

Cost-saving moving tips – Flatten and save cardboard delivery boxes to tape back together for the big move. Use tee-shirts and towels instead of bubble wrap and packing peanuts. Use sturdy canvas grocery bags. Use garbage bags for garment bags.

  • New home smaller than old home? Move out date earlier than move in date?
  • Renting a Storage Space convenient to your old and new location
  • Heavy Duty Lock

Cost-saving moving tips – Many storage spaces rent out a box truck to storage space renters inexpensively. Ask about weekly or pro-rated monthly rates. Consider asking friends to hold on to larger items to save on storage rental.

Cleaning Supplies
  • Getting back your rental deposit? Leave the space better than you found it.
  • Moving into your new place? Clean thoroughly before you’re unpacked.
  • Bathroom / Kitchen Cleanser
  • Vacuum / Broom
  • Garbage Bags
  • Dust Rags
Personal Cost
  • Days Off Work, paid or unpaid
  • Lodging and Accommodation for days in between moves

STEP 3: You need to be an organized packer.

Label your boxes and bags using colored sharpies or colored dot stickers. Label them by room, mark fragile, and assign a number from 1 to 5 for each box, based on how quickly the box needs to be unpacked.

Your boxes might be labeled:


Your boxes might be labeled:

  • [1][2][3][4][5] with a corresponding list [1 – summer clothes] [2 – bathroom products] [3shoes] [4 – living room stuff] [5 – kitchen utensils] etc.

Or you might just color code everything RED as Living Room, BLUE as Bathroom, etc.

It doesn’t matter what organizational system you choose to move – pick one and stick with it!

STEP 4: You need to pack over time.

Start early, move methodically from room to room, until only the bare essentials remain. It’s never easy to box up our lives. Don’t wait too long and stress over moving day eve.

STEP 5: You need to get rid of stuff.

We all accumulate things, things we don’t need, things we didn’t want, things we bought on sale and have never used or worn. Donate, trash, or give away as much as you can.

Cost-saving moving tips – The more stuff you have to move, the more expensive a move becomes for time, space, and supplies. Consider if a photograph of the item might serve just as well for memory’s sake as the item itself. Host a moving party and gift your friends a few things they have their eyes on.

STEP 6: You need to safeguard memories.

Say goodbye to your old home. Take pictures of every room before you pack, and then again of the empty rooms. Have each member of your family write love letters to the home you’re leaving full of memories, treasured spaces, funny accidents, etc. Add these pictures and stories to a home scrapbook and give your family a memory worth holding on to. (There are online photo printers like that will bind these projects into a high quality, printed book for safekeeping.

Also, write thank you notes to local stores and shopkeepers who have made an impression. This really helps kids get ready to move from one place to another. We often think that teachers are the adults most important in children’s lives, but they make friends all over. They may choose to write to their librarian, the friendly greeter at the big box store, or the funny cashier at the supermarket. Help them say goodbye and reinforce that that they’ll make new friends in their new community and they’ll get to keep some of their old friends too.

STEP 7: You need to get familiar with your new community.

Begin touring your neighborhood before you’ve left your old one if possible. Introduce your kids to their new local library, visit their new school, stop in at the grocery store, and check out the local parks. Start learning the place you’ll be living so you feel at home when you get there.

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