Adequate Data: Moving Checklist

General Rules

Moving requires far more work than you’ll expect, so treat each smaller part of it as its own logistical accomplishment.

We always underestimate how many possessions we own and how much time/energy it will take.

Setting a moving date

You technically have 2 move-out dates: the day you rent the truck (if needed) and the day all your stuff is out.

If at all possible, plan your final move-out day at least a week or two after your first available moving-in day.

Mark everything in a calendar, publicly accessible if other people are affected.


Measure for new furniture and large appliances, then sell any you don’t want to move.

Sell or give away unwanted items.

1 month before moving day

Make a budget for your moving expenses:
  • Include all logistics like paying people and vehicle rentals.
  • Include extra costs of eating out while you’ve packed away your cooking utensils.
  • Add 30% to the budget for unforeseen events.

Arrange utility transfers:
  • Electric, gas, water, trash, recycling, sewer, propane
  • TV, internet, landline phone service
  • Security system

File a change of address form with the postal service.

Withdraw enough cash to last the move.

Notify everyone about your changed address:
  • Employers
  • Family members
  • Banks:
    • Auto loans
    • Checking/savings accounts
    • Credit bureaus
    • Credit cards
    • IRA
    • Home equity/mortgage
    • Retirement plan services
  • Cell phone service
  • Government agencies:
    • Courts (especially traffic tickets)
    • Citizenship and immigration services
    • Department of Veteran Affairs
    • DMV
    • IRS (Form 8822)
    • Passport
    • Post Office (if you have a PO box)
    • Social Security Administration
    • Voter registration
  • Healthcare providers and professional services:
    • Accountant/tax preparer
    • Attorneys
    • Babysitter/childcare provider
    • Brokers
    • Chiropractor
    • Dentist
    • Doctors
    • Pharmacy
    • Physical therapist
    • Veterinarian
  • Hobbies and recreation:
    • Church
    • Health clubs and gyms
    • Magazine/newspaper subscriptions
    • Media streaming services
    • Online shopping
    • Social networks
  • Home services:
    • Dry cleaners
    • Housekeeper
    • Lawn care
    • Pet sitter
    • Snow removal service
    • Swimming pool maintenance and memberships
    • Delivery services for water, groceries or magazines
  • Insurance providers:
    • Auto
    • Health/Dental/Vision
    • Life
    • Homeowners/Renter’s
    • Other Vehicles
  • Schools:
    • Alumni associations
    • Colleges
    • Children’s schools
    • PTA
  • Professional organizations

Order new business cards and return address labels.

Clean out your garden shed and storage areas.

Replace your luggage tags.

If you need, hire movers and recruit help for the move:
  • At the very least, offer free food for their time and effort.
  • Plan a “packing party” if you want to include friends in the experience at the expense of lost productivity.

Get packing supplies:
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Markers, preferably thick and dark ones
  • Cushioning material like newspapers, bubble wrap and packing peanuts
  • Packing tape
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Plastic bags
  • Large garbage bags
  • Rope
  • Blankets

Arrange to return items:
  • Cable/satellite receiver boxes
  • Cable/DSL modems
  • Carpet shampooer
  • Borrowed clothing & items
  • DVD/game rentals
  • Library books (neighborhood and school)
  • Tools (rented and borrowed)
  • Trash cans and recycle bins
  • Other unwanted purchases

Arrange to pickup items:
  • Clothing at dry cleaners, tailors, and friends
  • Items at repair shops
  • Tools and other items lent to neighbors or friends

2 weeks before moving day

Start eating perishable food from the freezer and refrigerator.

Start disassembling furniture:
  • Take photos of complex wiring arrangements.
  • Before pulling out cords, label them.
  • Keep pieces separate with a muffin tin or plastic bags.

Pack intentionally:
  • Each box should only have items for one room.
  • Don’t allow extra space in boxes that allows things to rattle around, but don’t make it too heavy that it’ll be difficult to carry.
  • Use smaller boxes for heavier items.
  • As much as possible, keep boxes off the floor to save your back.
  • Stack the heaviest boxes on the bottom.
  • Use the original boxes for electronics if you still have them available.
  • Put small, related parts (e.g., off a TV rack) in a labeled paper bag or tape them together.
  • To save on padding, use towels, pillows, t-shirts, dish rags, and newspapers.
  • Use at least 2” of packing material around fragile items.
  • Separate “cherished” items from “common”
  • Set extremely fragile items in a box, then set them in a larger box filled with cushioning.
  • Use a bathroom scale to keep each box no heavier than 30-50 lbs.
  • To avoid ripped boxes, pack the heaviest items (e.g., books) in luggage containers.
  • For heavier boxes, reinforce them with cross-wise tape along the box seams.
  • Label the two broadest sides opposite each other.

Label the boxes with a numbered system:
  • Abbreviate room names on a clipboard or tablet.
  • Check off the boxes as you go.
  • Take a general inventory with a Room List.
  • Mark “Fragile” both on your summary and the box.

Donate, throw away or hold a garage sale for your “Get Rid Of” pile.

Create “Open Me First” boxes:
  • Important family records and documents
  • Kitchen:
    • Aluminum foil
    • Break-proof or disposable flatware, cups, and plates
    • Coffee maker/teapot
    • Dish soap/dishwasher detergent
    • Frying pan and spatula
    • Pet food/bowls
    • Bottle/can opener
  • Main Bathroom:
    • Bath mat
    • Bath towels
    • First-aid kit
    • Headache pills
    • Band-aids
    • Hydrogen peroxide/rubbing alcohol
    • Triple antibiotic ointment
    • Hair dryer/comb
    • Shower curtain and rings
    • Soap
    • Toothbrushes/toothpaste
    • Toilet paper
  • Tool Room/Drawer:
    • Batteries
    • Duct tape
    • Flashlight
    • Flathead screwdriver
    • Phillips screwdriver
    • Hammer
    • Level
    • Picture hangers/nails/screws
    • Tape measure
  • Clean clothes for several days

Finish packing “non-living” rooms:
  • Basement
  • Garage and everything outside
  • Attic
  • Utility rooms
  • Most of the closets

Plan extra boxes and time for the kitchen.

A week before moving day

For easy reference, write down your new address

Confirm the start time and rental truck with the movers and volunteers

Make arrangements for child and pet sitting

Thoroughly clean the entire house.

Account for any hidden valuables (e.g., fake rocks, behind appliances).

Collect any items that need servicing (e.g., dry cleaning, shoe repairs, computers).

Make a pile of items you’re leaving behind (e.g., spare house keys, garage door openers).

The day before moving day

Charge everyone’s cell phone.

Make sure everyone has everyone else’s phone number.

Print out copies of directions for everyone driving to the new home.

Have everyone pack 1-2 suitcases of necessities:
  • Eyeglasses
  • Prescriptions
  • Favorite kids’ toys
  • Something to read
  • Three days’ worth of clothes
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste (if not in Open First boxes)

Prepare the appliances for moving:
  • Disconnect all power.
  • Empty and clean the fridge interior.
  • Drain the washing machine and dry its interior.
  • Read and record meter values for gas, water, and electricity.

Moving day

Start early.

Take all the trash out.

If you have dogs, take them out first.

If other people are helping, stay visible and available near the front door.

If you have cats, take them out last.

Do final checks before leaving your old home:
  • Ensure the air conditioning, heater, and fans are off.
  • Verify the water is off.
  • Turn off all light switches.
  • Double-check you’ve left nothing behind.
  • Lock all doors and windows.
  • Leave or turn in all keys and garage door openers.

Unload everything into the house or storage unit:
  • If you have cats, put them in first.
  • Direct movers and volunteers to place boxes in their labeled rooms.
  • If you have dogs, put them in last.
  • Unless everyone has the energy for it, don’t bother unpacking yet.

Treat the volunteers, family, and yourself to dining out to celebrate.

Unpacking and settling in

Before you unpack, keep at least one trash bag (for trash) and one box (for packing paper and peanuts) in each room.

Make a plan for unpacking:
  1. “Open Me First” boxes
  2. Bathroom and kitchen
  3. Everything else

Discipline yourself to unpack a certain number of boxes each day.

Buy new necessities before you need them:
  • Toilet paper
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Plungers
  • Minor repair parts

Look at a map of the area and familiarize yourself with routes and locations:
  • Your workplace
  • Essential shopping locations
  • Local entertainment plazas

As you settle in, your disposition will change:
  • Your new environment, peers, and lifestyle routine will permanently change your identity.
  • Pay close attention to whom you associate with and how you think as you adapt.
  • If you’ve moved to a different country, consider changing your commonly referred name to make it easier for the locals to pronounce it.