A Simplified Moving Checklist & Insurance Needs for the Big Day

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Moving is considered one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do. Whether you’re moving down the street or over to another state, there is a list of things you need to do before, during and after. Planning is essential to make the move as smooth a process as possible, so having a to-do checklist is a good idea. Otherwise, you may forget to take care of important things, like making sure you have electricity in your new home, insurance coverage in your new location and all the other things you need to do to go about your life without any hiccups.

Below, you’ll find some useful checklists, which you can modify to better fit your circumstances and depending on how much you want to roll up your sleeves or hire movers and professional cleaners to do most of the work.

Key Takeaways

  • Moving requires many steps, including preliminary ones that begin weeks, if not months, ahead of time.
  • Insurance policies will need to be updated and, in certain situations, replaced with policies from new carriers.
  • If moving out-of-state, you will want to begin preparing for the move two to three months in advance.

Fun Facts: Moving Trivia

  • The average American moves approximately 11.7 times in their lifetime.[1]
  • The most popular months for moving are June, July, and August, with around 80% of all moves occurring between April and September.[2]
  • Some people experience their first major move when they go to college or start a new job.
  • Friday is the most popular day of the week to move, while Sunday and Tuesday are the least popular.[3]
  • The average cost of a local move can range from $212 to $3,180, while long-distance moves can cost between $1,123 and $14,107 depending on distance and the size of the move.[4]
  • Many Americans opt for DIY moves using U-Haul.
  • Moving is considered one of the most stressful life events, often ranked alongside divorce and the death of a loved one.[5]
  • Pets can become highly stressed during a move. It's recommended to keep them in a quiet, familiar space until the moving process is complete.[6]
  • States like California, Florida, Texas and Arizona have become popular destinations for movers due to their warm climates and favorable living conditions.

Before Moving Checklist (in order)

Even before you start packing, it’s a good idea to organize yourself so you can plan better and have a less costly move. Here are some steps you need to take.

1. Throw Away What You Don’t Need

Hoarders, brace yourselves because it’s time to discard what you don’t need. Throwing away or donating clothes and items you don’t need before moving is an essential step in the moving process for several important reasons:

Cost Efficiency

Reducing the number of items you move can significantly lower moving costs. Moving companies typically charge based on the weight and size of the load, so fewer items means a smaller bill. Even if you're moving yourself, you'll save on packing supplies, truck rental, and fuel. Plus, do you really need all that stuff?

Space Optimization

Moving is a way to make a fresh start. Bringing only what you truly need and use prevents clutter so your environment is less chaotic. Moving will force you to evaluate your belongings and make decisions about what is truly important to you. This process can be liberating.

Benefiting Others

Donating or recycling items instead of throwing them away reduces waste and may even earn you a tax deduction. What you no longer need may still have value to others. This can be a way to contribute positively to the community and the environment.

Easier Home Staging and Selling

If you are selling your current home, decluttering can make it more attractive to potential buyers. A less cluttered home always appears more spacious and allows homebuyers to imagine their own belongings in the space..

2. Contact Moving Companies

When contacting moving companies, here are important things to keep in mind:

Recommendations and Reviews

Check online reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau. Look for companies with consistently high ratings and positive feedback. Better yet, ask people you know for recommendations.

Get Multiple Quotes

Compare costs based on written estimates from at least three different moving companies. Make sure to ask about any hidden costs, fuel costs and more. In-home or virtual estimates are usually more accurate than estimates given over the phone.

Check Credentials

Make sure the moving companies you’re comparing are all properly licensed and insured.

For interstate moves, check the company’s USDOT number on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.

Look for memberships in professional organizations such as the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) or the International Association of Movers (IAM), to ensure legitimacy and professionalism.

Understand Services Offered

Determine if you need a full-service move which includes packing and unpacking or if you only need partial services like loading, transport and unloading. Clarify what is included in the quoted price. Inform the movers of fragile and expensive items such as pianos, artwork, or antiques that require special handling. If you have these types of items, you may want to only consider movers who are experienced in moving valuables.

Check for Additional Fees

Ask about any additional fees for packing materials, moving items up and down stairs, long-distance charges and fuel surcharges. Take note of the level of liability coverage the moving company provides and whether additional insurance is recommended or available. Remember that your home or renters insurance will cover damages, but you will have to pay a deductible and your insurance rate will increase.

Read the Contract Carefully

Read the terms and conditions of the moving contract thoroughly, and pay attention to the cancellation policy and dispute resolution process. Check the inventory list provided by the movers is accurate and comprehensive. This list will be crucial for tracking your belongings and for any claims of lost or damaged items.

Timing and Availability

Confirm the moving date and time. It’s wise to book as early as possible, especially during peak moving seasons, to insure a time slot that works for you.

Customer Service

Communication: Evaluate the company’s communication skills. A reliable moving company should be responsive, courteous, and willing to answer all your questions.

Point of Contact: Ensure you have a specific point of contact at the moving company for any concerns or updates regarding your move.

Experience and Expertise

Track Record: Consider the moving company’s experience in the industry. Companies with a long track record of successful moves are likely to be more reliable.

Specialized Moves: If you have specific needs, such as international moving or corporate relocations, ensure the company has expertise in those areas.

Look for Red Flags

Large Upfront Deposits: Be cautious of companies that demand large deposits before the move. Reputable movers typically require payment upon delivery.

Name Changes: Be wary of companies that frequently change their business names to avoid negative reviews or legal issues.

3. Set a Budget for the Move

Assess Your Financial Situation

Review Finances: Start by reviewing your current financial situation. Understand your income, savings, and any other resources available for the move.

Set a Limit: Determine the maximum amount you are willing or able to spend on the move.

Research Moving Costs

Get Estimates: Obtain quotes from multiple moving companies to understand the range of costs involved. Ensure these quotes are detailed and cover all potential charges.

DIY Costs: If you plan to move yourself, estimate the costs for truck rental, gas, packing materials, and any equipment you might need.

Consider All Potential Expenses

Packing Supplies: Budget for boxes, tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, and markers.

Moving Services: Include costs for professional movers, if applicable. Don’t forget to account for additional services like packing, unpacking, or special handling for fragile items.

Travel Expenses: Factor in costs for transportation, fuel, meals, and accommodations if you're moving long-distance.

Temporary Storage: If you need to store your belongings temporarily, include the cost of a storage unit.

Plan for Unforeseen Costs

Contingency Fund: Set aside a contingency fund (around 10-15% of your total budget) to cover unexpected expenses such as last-minute repairs, additional packing supplies, or delays.

Track Your Expenses

Create a Spreadsheet: Use a spreadsheet or a budgeting app to list all your anticipated moving expenses. This will help you track your spending and ensure you stay within your budget.

Receipts and Invoices: Keep all receipts and invoices related to the move. This will help you monitor expenses and make adjustments if necessary.

Prioritize Spending

Essential vs. Non-Essential: Identify essential expenses (like hiring movers or renting a truck) versus non-essential expenses (like buying new furniture). Prioritize spending on essential items first.

DIY Options: Consider ways to save money by doing some tasks yourself, such as packing or disassembling furniture.

Budget for After the Move

Settling In Costs: Include costs for setting up your new home, such as utility deposits, cleaning supplies, and any minor repairs.

New Purchases: Budget for new items you might need in your new home, like curtains, rugs, or additional furniture.

4. Review Insurance Policies

Health Insurance

Don’t assume that it’s as simple as changing doctors. Health insurance companies offer coverage within coverage zones, so it’s important to find out if your current insurer will still cover your needs in your new location. If not, moving is considered a qualifying event, and you won’t have to wait until fall to buy a new health insurance policy.

If your coverage is still valid, you’ll still need to update your information with your health insurance company and coverage group.

If you have work-sponsored health insurance, ask questions because if you’re moving out of state, they may not have a carrier ready to take you on!

Car Insurance

Some car insurance carriers only cover certain states or have different minimum requirements for some states, so ask questions ahead of time. It may be a good time to compare rates and get a better premium while you’re starting fresh either way. Consider your new commute time too, if it’s longer, you may want to increase your liability coverage because the more you drive, the more exposure you have to having an accident.

Homeowners Insurance/Renters Insurance

Whether you’re renting or buying a new home, it’s important to have the right property and liability coverage in your new home. You may be able to write a new policy with the same insurer, but if you’re starting a mortgage on a new place, the last thing you want to do is let your real estate agent or lender choose a home insurance policy for you. They are not in the business of finding you the best value; You are! If you're a renter and renters insurance is not required, buy it anyway. It’s so cheap, but so well worth it.

Life Insurance

Maybe you’re moving because you got married and need to change beneficiaries. At the very least, your life insurance company should be alerted about the address change.

Commercial Insurance

Make sure to contact your commercial insurance agent, if you are a business owner, so they can update your account information. If the location of your business property has changed, make sure to compare rates to see if you can get a better deal than the one you have. Like home and renters insurance products, some carriers do not provide commercial insurance coverage in certain areas, so don’t assume that you’d just be transferring your current policy. Call well ahead of time!


You can find Medicare providers in any state but it’s best that you contact Medicare right away about your moving plans so they change your address in the system. Now may be a good time to review your Medicare Supplement plans because moving is considered a special enrollment period, when you can switch Medicare and Medicare Supplement Plans. However, you may have a harder time switching from original Medicare into Medicare Advantage outside of the open enrollment period.

5. Make Reservations

Take all the research you’ve done on the moving companies and compare prices and reviews to choose the best one that fits your budget. Just make sure there are no hidden fees. If possible get the number of the driver so you can contact them if they are late.

6. Contact the Utilities Companies

Not only do you want to give a discontinuation date for your current address, you’ll want to transfer the services you want to keep, if they are offered in your new location. Make sure to ask a customer service agent in advance about internet service, utilities, phone and all other services that you want to keep. You also may not be able to keep a landline phone number, depending on where you’re moving to. Get all this sorted out in advance, in case you need to set up an account with a new service provider.

7. Schedule Time Off for the Move and Move-in

As soon as you have the agenda, take time off from work, but only after you figure out how much time you need to unpack enough to be able to get back to work without going crazy looking for all the things you need. Remember that you’re unpacking room by room so unpacking your bedroom may be key if you work on-site.

8. Buy Packing Materials

Unless you’re paying extra to have the moving company do the packing for you, you’ll need plenty of boxes and tape. Ensure that you have enough boxes, which may require you to avoid procrastination when it comes time to pack. Consider what types of moving equipment you’ll need if you’re doing the moving. Base this one whether or not you have a fridge and stove to move, maybe an enormous sectional.

9. Change of Address Notifications

  1. Delivery services

  2. Credit card companies

  3. Car loans

  4. Insurance agents

  5. Subscriptions

  6. Family and friends

10. Store Items You Won’t Take

Find a storage company near your new location, and store all the things you’re not willing to part with but which don’t have a place in your new home. Do your research so you find a place that’s especially convenient if you plan to go back and forth frequently to pick up and return items. Having the storage facility close to your new home also means that your movers can make two stops and help you unload. Make sure to separate the items you’re storing so that they are loaded onto the moving truck last, for easier drop-off at the storage facility.

11. Confirm Reservations

Moving companies make mistakes. Don’t assume your movers will show up, because clerical errors happen and people change moving dates all the time, which can lead to more errors. Call a week in advance to confirm your reservation and call the day before – just to be sure. There’s nothing worse than being prepared for the big day only to find out that no move will happen, especially if you have new tenants moving in right away!

12. Make Arrangements for Children and Pets

Find a reliable friend or family member to watch your children and pets during the move. Not only is moving stressful on adults, it can be traumatizing for pets and even young children. You’ll be distracted, and the chances of someone getting hurt are high. Ideally, children and pets will be in a safe, calm place until after you’ve fully moved into your new home.

13. Inspect the Home for Necessary Repairs

If you’re a renter, make sure to inspect your home for repairs well before moving out, otherwise, you’ll be billed for damages and repairs once you’ve moved out. If management knows you’re moving out and they are serious fixes, it may be cheaper to pay a handyman to do the work than have the building management deduct it from your security deposit. Always leave a home in good condition.

If you’re a homeowner, you’ll want your home to be in tip-top shape once it comes time for an inspection. Otherwise, the prospective homeowners may turn away from buying or try to haggle down the property for much more than it would cost to just fix the darn problem!

14. Do Laundry

Packing dirty clothes is not a great thing. You’re starting fresh, remember, and that means fresh-smelling clothes. You may accumulate a small bag of clothes that need to be laundered over the course of moving, but you don’t want to bring a full hamper with you.

15. Pack Essentials

Start filling up your essentials-bag starting a few days before the move. Take note of the things you use every day and put it all in that bag, so it is all in one place after you move in. There’s nothing worse than opening boxes to find this and that, which you can’t get through the day without.

16. Pack Everything

Once you’ve gathered a carry tote with your essentials, start packing. Be as organized as possible, and mark boxes according to which room they belong in, so you’ll have boxes taken to the right place.

17. Clean the Old Home

Most apartment communities will fine you for leaving an apartment with a dirty fridge, and the fine comes out of your security deposit. A mean private owner will do the same, especially if the place is seriously dirty. Bet it costs less to hire someone to deep clean than what a community manager will charge for a dirty apartment! Even if there is a new homeowner buying a place you own, be respectful and clean everything, including each crevice in the fridge and stove. Being nice is undervalued.

Day-of-Move Checklist

1. Conduct a Thorough Walkthrough

Ensure all doors and windows are locked. You don’t want someone getting in and doing damage to the home.

2. Take Meter Readings

Unless you want to pay for utilities you didn’t use, snap a photo of your meter(s) so you’re not billed in excess. Make sure you’ve set your utilities accounts to end the day you move out as well.

3. Take Care of Children and Pets

Drop off the kids and pets where they need to be, away from the chaos.

4. Pick Up Equipment or Wait for Movers

Depending on who’s doing the moving, you may need to pick up the equipment you’ve rented before the movers arrive so make sure you’re ahead of schedule, not behind.

5. Keep All Receipts and Paperwork

Don’t scrap the paperwork the movers give you. After you’ve unboxed and unwrapped everything, you may find your items have been damaged. Ideally, your movers are insured, but if not, you may be covered by renters or homeowners insurance on your old home, but only after paying the deductible.

6. Stay Calm, Allow for Mishaps To Occur

There will be bumps along the way, but remain calm and ride it out until it’s over.

7. Supervise the Movers

Don’t simply give the movers the new address and dash. One person should remain and supervise the move. This will keep the crew on their toes and not stalling to charge extra. Chances are that they will also be more careful with your belongings and won’t leave anything behind.

Moving In Checklist

  1. Clean the Home

  2. Set Up Cable/Internet Appointment

  3. Change the Locks

  4. Make Spare Keys

  5. Make Sure Smoke and CO2 Detectors Work

  6. Make Sure HVAC Works

  7. Return the Old Keys

  8. Begin Unpacking, Room by Room

  9. Get New Car Registration

  10. Take Note of Necessary Repairs

9-Step Checklist for Moving Out of State

Moving out of state can be even more challenging than moving to another town because you’re dealing with new utilities companies and you must make sure that your movers will take you and your belongings to your destination.

You will need more pre-planning and to pay more attention to insurance policies, which may no longer be active in your new state. Here’s a checklist for moving out of state..

1. Research and Planning (2-3 Months Before the Move)

Research the new state's regulations for driver's licenses, vehicle registration, car insurance requirements and voter registration. Also assess the cost of living in the new state, including housing, taxes and utilities. Learn as much as you can about nearby neighborhoods, schools and local amenities.

Update legal documents, like a will and power of attorney, to reflect your new residence.

Familiarize yourself with your new state's requirements for things like pet regulations and firearm laws.

2. Choosing Movers and Services (8-10 Weeks Before the Move)

Choose a moving company experienced in interstate moves and verify their USDOT number. Compare several until you find the best value and with the best reviews. You must fully understand the insurance coverage provided by the moving company. You will be covered by your current home insurance policy unless, whether it’s active for your old home or new, but you would have to pay a deductible and see higher home insurance premiums come renewal if you file a claim. After booking the service, ask about the expected delivery window for your items, to plan your arrival accordingly. If you're not driving to the new state, arrange for vehicle shipping. Ask the moving company if they offer the service or if they recommend one.

3. Organizing and Packing (6-8 Weeks Before the Move)

Develop a detailed inventory of all your items to track them after the move and for insurance purposes. Donatie, sell, or discard what you don't need.

4. Address Change and Notifications (4-6 Weeks Before the Move)

Update your address with the post office, credit cards, banks, insurance companies and any other important contacts. Notify state and local agencies about your new address, and find out how to transfer medical records and school records.

5. Utility Transfers and Setup (3-4 Weeks Before the Move)

Schedule the disconnection of utilities at your current home and the connection at your new home, based on when you plan to arrive. Cancel local memberships and subscriptions that won't transfer to your new state.

7. Travel and Logistics (1-2 Weeks Before the Move)

Map out your travel route and plan accommodations if you’re driving to the new state. Pack essentials for the journey, including snacks, important documents, lots of socks and underwear and a first aid kit.

8. Moving Day

Maintain clear communication with the moving company about timing and any specific instructions for the delivery of your items. Conduct a final walkthrough of your current home to ensure nothing is left behind and all utilities are properly disconnected.

9. Settling into Your New State

Visit the DMV to update your driver’s license and register your vehicle in your new state. Here, you can also update your voter registration for ballots to be sent to your new address. Take time to explore your new area to find local grocery stores, restaurants, healthcare providers, and other service providers.

Tips for Decluttering Before Moving:

  • Start Early: Give yourself plenty of time to go through your belongings so you can make thoughtful decisions without feeling rushed.
  • Sort by Category: Organize items into categories (keep, donate, recycle, and trash) to make the process more efficient.
  • Be Honest: Ask yourself if you’ve used the item in the past year and if it has a place in your new home. If not, it’s time to let it go.
  • Donate or Sell: Items in good condition can be donated to charity or sold online or at a garage sale, which can also help offset moving costs.
  • Use the One-Year Rule: If you haven’t used something in the past year, you’re unlikely to use it in the future.
  • By throwing away or donating what you don’t need before moving, you make the moving process more efficient, less stressful, and more cost-effective, while also setting the stage for a fresh start in your new home.

FAQs for Moving Checklists

How do I decide what to pack first when moving?

Packing a bag of essentials over the course of a few days will help you determine what items you use every day. You’ll need this bag so you don’t have to search for your essentials after the move. 

What should I pack in my bag of essentials?

An emergency bag will consist of toiletries, medications, pet food, important documents, a couple of changes of clothes, basic kitchen items you’ll need right away and chargers for electronic devices.

What should I pack last?

Your bag of essentials will be the first and last to be fully packed. As for what to load last on a truck, you’ll want to pack rugs at the very end so they can be laid out immediately before heavy furniture comes inside.

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