30 moving tips for an easier, stress-free transition.


By Laura A. Fisher

Moving often comes with an overwhelming sense of chaos. Coordinating with the movers, buying moving supplies, packing everything up — it can all feel just a bit much.

Throughout the moving process, you’ll have to make multiple decisions. But with proper planning, you can help take the stress out of it. 

Here are some moving tips for a stress-free transition.

How to prepare for your move.

So you've decided to move. Whether you've just sold your house or you're moving from an apartment to your first home, you'll want to design a moving strategy that's organized and starts right now. 

Don't wait to begin packing and purging your home, since your greatest asset will be the time you need to make the transition. And if you’re moving out of state, you'll likely be facing additional responsibilities you don’t always encounter during a local move (such as registering for a new school).

Here’s how to prepare for your upcoming move:

1. Make a checklist and fill up your calendar.

To get organized, plan ahead with a moving checklist and use a notebook with pockets to hold important papers and notes that you'll want to keep. You'll have fewer worries if you break down the calendar with specified tasks each day. 

For example, if you've been in your home for several years, you may have rooms or closets that you want to purge. Label days of the week with specific tasks to help you tackle what feels like an enormous chore. When you break down tasks into an itemized and detailed agenda, you'll see that you get more done and you can relish in one accomplishment after another.

2. Get your packing (and unpacking) supplies early.

It’s always wise to get your packing supplies as soon as possible. Even if you're months away from your move, keep an eye out for discounts, deals and sales on packing supplies at your favorite retailers. It’s a smart way to save money. 

Deciding how many moving boxes you're going to need depends on how much you plan to take with you. But as a general rule, it's better to have too many boxes than not enough. Save money by collecting boxes from grocery stores or dollar stores. Most stores break their boxes down and store them on rolling carts before trashing them. Keep in mind that you'll need to reassemble the boxes before packing, so also buy plenty of strong packing tape. 

Other moving supplies and packing materials that will make pack and unpacking a lot easier:

  • Packing paper
  • Dollies and carts 
  • Bubble wrap and packing foam
  • Labels and markers
  • Scissors, letter openers or pocket knives (for unpacking boxes)
  • Tools to reassemble furniture (like screwdrivers and nails)

Related: Where to get free (or possibly cheap) moving boxes near you.

3. Take photos of items with complicated setups. 

If you’re not handy with putting together appliances, mounting a TV or setting up a home office, you may want to take a few photos before you start taking things apart. Snap a photo of how wires are connected to your electronics, or how your office chair or desk is supposed to look when it’s been properly put together. 

4. Research several moving companies thoroughly.

When it comes to moving, nothing beats hiring a professional moving company to do all the work. In fact, it's probably one of those times in your life when you won't mind spending a few thousand dollars for a service.

Plan to get quotes from at least three reputable moving companies before deciding who to hire. In addition, read their customer reviews. Find out what kind of experience other customers had before selecting a company. 

Finally, when contemplating who to hire for your move, ask the right questions:

  • Does the moving estimate include packing and unpacking?
  • Do you need unpacking or packing services? 
  • Do the movers cover any damaged items during the move?
  • Is the moving company licensed, insured and bonded?
  • Is there a deposit to secure your moving date and how much is it?
  • Is the moving estimate based on weight, hours of labor, or a set fee? 
  • Once you've booked the moving company, can your quote change? Could your final price be more and if so, how much? 
  • What factors would cause your initial quote to change after the truck is loaded and arrives at your final destination?
Get free estimates from top-rated movers.

5. Lean on a little help, even if you plan to DIY.

If your best quality is the ability to prioritize tasks and organize, you're already one step in the right direction for executing your move without hiring a moving company. However, you’ll likely need additional help — manpower, packers, someone to drive a moving truck, etc. — to ensure the moving process goes smoothly. 

Consider the following questions when organizing your move:

6. Make a plan for items you’ll need to put in storage. 

Before your move, consider renting a storage unit to store your things. If you’re shopping for a new home and will be living in a smaller space temporarily, a storage unit can save you the hassle of having to sell or donate items that you might not want to part with. 

And if you can’t find a storage unit that’s within your budget, ask your friends and family if they have extra space in their home to store a few things for a small fee or for free.

7. Set reminders to set up utilities and change your address. 

While making "must do" lists, be sure to prioritize tasks accordingly, such as moving utilities and changing your mailing address. If you’re moving out of state and renting an apartment, you'll need to have your utilities activated at the time you sign your lease. Check with your new place's requirements for utility activation. In addition, you'll want to notify your current utility companies of your moving date so that electricity and water are turned off or transferred according to your moving timeline.

Next, submit change-of-address forms at least two weeks before your moving date and notify creditors of your new billing address. You may still receive mail at the old address for several days after your move, so you may want to arrange for your mail to be held at the local post office pending your address change.

8. Schedule appliance and furniture assembly well in advance.

If you know that you’ll need someone to help you hang art, mount your flat-screen TV or put together some new furniture, make appointments with professionals as far out in advance as you can. Otherwise, you may be stuck without a few things as you wait for pros to have room in their schedules to help you out.

Oftentimes, your moving company can help you re-assemble the furniture and appliances that they’re already transferring from your old home to your new home. But if you bought some new items that haven’t arrived yet, you’ll need to hire someone to do it — or DIY. 

9. Arrange for babysitting (and pet sitting) services.

If you have children that are too young to help out with the move, consider asking a trusted babysitter, family member or friend to watch them for the day. Also, find out if someone can watch your pet

During the move, it’s important to stay focused on the tasks at hand to avoid miscommunication with your mover, damage to your belongings and even injuries. But that can be pretty hard to do if you have a few toddlers or a puppy running all over the place.

10. Have a couple night’s worth of food planned out. 

If possible, pack the pantry in your new home with some food a couple of days before your moving day. Or, if you have the budget, make a meal plan using your favorite food delivery app and scheduling a few dinners or lunches as you spend a day or two getting your kitchen together. 

Moving and packing tips that make your life easier.

moving packing tipsAs you get closer to moving day, it’s time to start planning how to pack and organize all of your belongings. Use these packing tips to make it less stressful.

11. Create a folder for important documents. 

Don’t forget your important documents on move-in day. Before you start packing and throwing items (such as old paperwork) away, identify your important documents and put them in a multi-pocket folder organizer with labels. Some of these documents you may need on your move-in day, and others are good to have close by so you don’t lose during the move..

In this folder, be sure to include: 

  • Contact info for your movers, landlord, truck rental company, etc. Basically, anyone you may need to call on moving day if things go wrong. 
  • Identification records, such as driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, Social Security card, etc. 
  • Insurance and registration documents for your home, vehicle, pet, etc. 
  • Health documents, such as insurance, vaccination records and other medical records.
  • Legal and financial documents, including tax documents, bank statements, important receipts, guarantees, warranties, marriage certificates, etc.
  • School documents, including transcripts, degrees, certificates, etc.

12. Donate, sell and throw away.

Set aside a few days to empty closets, junk drawers, your basement, garage and attic. Donate or sell unwanted items, and throw away and recycle things beyond repair. 

The general rule for purging before a move is this: if you haven't used it in a year, you probably don’t need it. Just get rid of it.

13. Keep these crafty, last-minute packing hacks handy.

Sometimes, the items around your house can help you organize and protect your belongings during a move. When packing, considering using: 

  • Grocery bags for additional packing materials.
  • Toilet paper tubes to keep wires and cords organized.
  • Egg cartons to store your jewelry. 
  • Clothes and towels to provide additional protection and cushion for fragile items. 
  • Plastic wrap to seal lotions and other liquids to prevent spills inside the boxes.
  • Sandwich bags to hold loose and small items (think: screws, nails, thumbtacks, paperclips, etc.)

14. Use a color-coding labeling system.

Label boxes using a bold black marker in large print for easy identification, and add additional labels for boxes for your clothes by designating where they should be placed. For example, a box labeled "clothes" should also read "master bedroom" to help movers know which room the box needs to be placed in. You may even want to color code the labels by room.

And, of course, don’t forget to mark boxes with dishes and glass as "fragile.” 

15. Pack an overnight bag.

Pack an overnight bag at least three days in advance so that you won't have to dig through boxes to find your essentials. At the very least, your overnight bag should include a change of clothes, toiletries and important medicine. 

16. Create a few “moving day baskets.”

For example, pack a "moving day basket" with disposable plates, cups and cutlery to use until you can unpack your dishes. Assemble a "cleaning basket” with an easy-to-carry handle, and drop in a few cleaning supplies that you'll need on your first day at the new place. And pack a picnic basket or cooler with drinks and cold refreshments for the first day. Fill your snack bag with chips, crackers or other favorite snacks that you can eat in between meals (and keep the kids satisfied). 

17. Skip emptying a few drawers to save time.

Save time on packing by sealing drawers with plastic wrap versus emptying them. Make sure the plastic wrap is covered around the drawer several times to avoid spills.

18. Swap wardrobe boxes for garbage bags.

When moving clothes, leave your wardrobe on hangers and place them in 30-gallon garbage bags versus wardrobe boxes. A large box of garbage bags will cost less than wardrobe boxes.

19. Pack items in appropriate-sized boxes.

Don't overpack boxes with heavy items. Instead, distribute items such as books in medium to small-sized boxes for easier carrying. 

20. Ensure you have easy access to your tools.

Pack your tools, box cutters, and scissors in a small caddy that you can carry with you versus placing them on the moving truck. You'll likely need access to your tools on your first day in the new place.

21. Create box handles when there are none.

It’s pretty easy. Just cut out triangles in the sides of boxes so you can have an easier time lifting and carrying your moving boxes. 

22. Have an order for loading your moving truck. 

Pack the moving truck according to what you will need first. For example, kitchen items should probably be packed last on the truck so that those boxes are the first items to be carried inside and placed in your new home.

23. Tag in your friends to make packing and unpacking fun. 

Yes, packing and unpacking dozens of boxes can be boring and stressful. Make it a little less painful by throwing some fun into the mix. Invite a few friends over, order their favorite pizzas, light some candles, play some music and make this process an excuse to socialize with your loved ones. 

Choose friends who are focused and organized and can help pack/unpack quickly. But maybe also invite the friend who can make you laugh every 10 minutes before you explode with too much stress. 

You're all moved in – now what?

couple planning for home improvements

So it's day two of the move, and you're staring at a mountain of boxes that still need to be unpacked. Take a breath and use the same organizing rules you used for packing when unpacking. 

For example, designate a day for each room so that you don't feel overwhelmed. And delegate tasks to friends or family members who are willing to help you get settled. You can even hire movers who can also help with unpacking and unloading your items. As you set up each room of your new place, you'll experience a feeling of accomplishment. 

But before you get started, consider these important tips:

24. Take care of the important things first.

If you've moved to a new state, you'll need to register your vehicle and get a new driver's license within thirty days. Each state is different, so check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where you are moving to find out how soon you need to take care of these things. And, if you haven't already, get the utilities transferred or turned on. 

25. Get some rest and treat yourself.

One of the first things your movers should do upon arriving at your new home is set up your bed. At the end of the day, you're going to be tired and need a good night's rest. Make sure the bed is ready for you at the end of day one. 

Also, plan to check out the local restaurants in between unpacking chores. Rest and relax over a delicious meal in your new town or city, and use the time to think about all the exciting things that await you now that you've moved in.

26. Take an inventory of what you need for the new place.

You likely already created a plan for buying new furniture and appliances before you moved. But as you’re unpacking, take note of anything you might have missed and write it down. 

For example, did the lightbulbs go out in a few rooms? Write it down. Did you notice the blinds on your windows are a little bent? Write it down. 

27. Discard unwanted items as you’re unpacking. 

You may find yourself wanting to get rid of more items as you are unpacking. Depending on the size of your new place, that extra set of dishes you packed has nowhere to fit in your already stocked cabinets. Time to make a pile for Goodwill, or sell these items online.

28. Hire professionals to clean and organize your home.

If the amount of things you need to clean and organize is just too much to take on by yourself, hire a professional to do it for you. House cleaners and home organizers can deep clean your home and create a system to better organize your closets, children’s playrooms, kitchens, garages and much more. 

Ideally, you should arrange for these pros to come to your home before you move. But, honestly, it’s better late than never.

29. Resist the urge to shop until you drop.

If you’re over the moon excited about decorating your new place and the extra money you saved is burning a hole in your pocket, don't dash off to the stores just yet. Take a day or two to get familiar with your surroundings if you haven't already. 

Use your maps on your phone to scan the area for local businesses, shops and services that you'll need. Also, make a list of the things you want to buy for your new home and do a little research before you head out the door. 

30. Get excited about the possibilities.

You did it! You made a major life decision and you handled it like the champion that you are. Although it's not uncommon for people to experience being homesick for their old place, try to keep a healthy perspective by considering how the move will impact you in positive ways. 

Will you have more amenities in your new city? Are you starting a fun, new job? Were you able to purge your old lifestyle and start fresh? 

Maintain that excitement, and think of ways you can make your home feel like your home. This may include upgrading appliances or flooring, putting in new cabinets or counters, or designing the backyard of your dreams. Create a wishlist for your home, and use that list as motivation whenever you’re feeling stressed out while getting your new home in order.

Pros on Thumbtack can make your move easier.

movers loading moving truchOn Thumbtack, you can hire movers and other top-rated pros who can make your move less stressful. Whether you're looking for a moving company or packing services, you'll find a plethora of professional services that make the moving process a bit easier. 

Need help unpacking at the new place? Consider hiring professionals who offer unpacking services and can set up everything while you enjoy taking in all that your new city offers. What about house cleaning services or move-out cleaning services? Furniture assemblers or TV wall mounting installation services? Whatever you need for your move, Thumbtack has you covered. 


How do I ask for free boxes?

Visit your local grocery store or dollar store and ask the manager if you can collect boxes for your move. You can also see if your neighbors, co-workers, friends or family members have free boxes they can give away. Lastly, check online marketplaces — they sometimes have free moving boxes available for pickup.

What can I use instead of boxes to move?

You can use plastic storage containers, suitcases and garbage bags for many of your items. But plastic storage containers often cost more than cardboard boxes that you can get for free. Garbage bags may be too flimsy for heavier items, and your suitcases may not be big enough.. 

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