The Ultimate Long-Distance Moving Timeline

You’ve signed the papers. You’ve marked your move-in date. The clock is ticking, and you know it’s time to get started on your big move. But how? Where? When? By kicking off your efforts at least two months before the move, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare everything you need. The countdown starts now!

Week 8: Create a “Move File”

There’s a lot of paperwork involved in planning a big move — like vendor quotes, reservations, receipts, and other important information. A file that holds all these pieces of information will become your North Star as you start the journey to your new home. You may want to keep both paper and electronic copies on hand. Some of the quotes you’ll need might include:

  • Packing and loading companies
  • Vehicle shipping companies
  • Carpenters, painters, locksmiths, plumbers, or roofers whom you’ll need for maintenance or repairs to make your new home move-in ready

Now’s the time to gather your personal and family records that you’ll want to keep with you during the move, including:

  • Medical, dental, and veterinary records
  • School records
  • Printed bills that will need to be addressed after the move
  • Legal and financial documents
  • Birth certificates and passports
  • Addresses and phone numbers of family and friends
  • Insurance documents

Gather what you can right away, and for those items that you can’t find, request copies so you have everything in hand by moving day.

This is also a good time to start researching your new home town. Reach out to the local Chamber of Commerce for a new resident packet, which will include valuable information to get you settled in your new community.

Week 7: Shopping for Moving Options

There are so many ways to get your stuff from point A to point B, and this is the time to start researching options and getting quotes. The first question to ask yourself is: What do I really need?

If you don’t mind a strict moving schedule and you’d rather have professional help from start to finish, hiring a traditional full-service mover that will pack, load, drive, unload and unpack your belongings might be the way to go. Another option is renting a truck and doing the driving yourself. Or maybe you like to take things at your own pace and have some flexibility but you don’t want to do any driving. If so, a portable container that you can load and unload at your own pace may be the right choice for you. This last option is also great if you’ll need temporary storage as part of your move. After all, sometimes it makes the most sense to stay with friends or family or rent for a few months when you first get to your new city. If you put your belongings in short-term storage, you can take your time shopping for your permanent home and have your stuff delivered straight to your new front door when you’re ready.

Week 6: Schedule Your Moving Solution

Once you’ve completed your research and made your decision, it’s time to schedule, and perhaps make a deposit for, your moving solution. If you decide to use a moving container, you’ll want to figure out how many days you’d like to have to load up your stuff, then plan to schedule your container to arrive before you’re ready to start. That could be a whole month before the big move, or maybe even a few days. You’ll want to choose a service that gives you maximum flexibility.

You’ll need to figure out where to place the container. If there’s no room in your driveway, street placement is the way to go. However, that might mean a permit. A quick call to your city government office will give you the answer you need; it might take some time to get the permit, so it’s better to request it now so you have it by the time your container arrives.

Be sure to stock up on packing supplies like boxes, packaging tape, and packing paper. If your moving company doesn’t provide these materials, rent or purchase moving blankets to protect your furniture. It might seem early, but you don’t want to wait until the last minute to find the boxes you need.

Week 5: Get Organized, Start Packing, and prepare for YOUR Moving SALE

It’s time to start figuring out what you’re going to pack, sell, or donate. Identify an area in your house to pile up the donation items and encourage everyone in the family to add to it. For the moving sale, create a sale pile in each room — this will help keep your sale more organized and easier to price. Packing up an entire house can be daunting, but you can make the process more efficient and easier by reading up on the art of packing. Start with a room you don’t use very often and see if you can pack it up completely. The feeling of accomplishment will get you motivated to tackle the next room!

And don’t forget to take some breaks. This is hard work. 

Week 4: Start Taking Care of All the “Little” Things

Look through your financial accounts and see if you need to update or change anything. If you’re banking at a local credit union, start shopping for your new bank or credit union in your new town and set up an account. Read up on primary-care medical providers in your new town that take your insurance. There’s often a waiting list for new patient appointments, so the sooner you choose a doctor and get on their schedule, the better.

While the packing continues, call your insurance company to get a list of what is and isn’t covered during the move so you can decide if you want to sign up for additional moving insurance. It’s also a good time to schedule connection appointments for power, water, sewage, cable, internet, telephone, and waste disposal for your new home, and schedule the disconnection of all these services for your current home for the day after you move out. (Phew, that’s a lot of phone calls!) Don’t forget to stop at the post office to fill out a change of address card.

Week 3: Moving Sale

If you’re selling lots of furniture, consider holding your moving sale in the house. It’ll be easier to showcase your stuff, and you don’t have to lug everything out into the yard. But be careful: Moving sales draw big crowds, and they’ll be milling through your house looking for deals. Save everyone time and frustration by sectioning off the areas you don’t want shoppers entering and clearly labeling what is and isn’t for sale.

On the final day of your sale, start making big deals to get rid of as much stuff as possible. Put whatever doesn’t sell into the donation pile and drop that stuff off right away so it’s out of your way and you can focus on your other tasks.

Do you have the newspaper delivered or have magazine subscriptions? Make sure to call their customer service lines, as these won’t be updated with your change of address card..

Week 2: The Odds and Ends

Get excited! You’re one week closer to moving day. If you’re driving your car long distance, now’s the time to get it in for a service to make sure it’s ready to make the trip. Do you have things in your house that people have lent you? Time to return those items and say goodbye in person.

For prescriptions, if you use a major pharmacy chain, it’ll be pretty easy to transfer your account to the store near your new home. If you need to switch pharmacies altogether, make sure you have enough meds on hand to keep you covered during the move and beyond. Then transfer your prescriptions to a pharmacy in your new hometown so you can easily order refills when you get there.

Now is also when you want to grab groceries ahead of next week. If you’re looking for quick and healthy meals while navigating the chaos of moving, we’ve got you covered.

Week 1: Final Packing

By now, most of your boxes are already packed. Now’s the time to finish up and start packing the essentials that you’ll need on hand during the move. Pack your clothes and personal items, and make sure you have a purse or a backpack that can hold your checkbook, credit cards, your moving file folder, and your phone and/or tablet chargers.

The Day Before

Some appliances need preparation prior to being moved. Be sure you empty, defrost, and clean your refrigerator and freezer and drain the oil and gas out of your power equipment like mowers and garden tools.

For those things you’ll be using until the last minute, pack them in a box labeled “load last.” Make sure it’s placed last in the moving truck or container so that you can get to it fast when you get to your new home.

Moving Day

You’ll want to oversee the movers, provide guidance, and ask questions if you’re not sure about how they’re packing the truck or container. Don’t seal up the moving truck or container until you’ve done a walk-through of each room, opening built-in cabinets, and closet doors. Look on high shelves, behind doors, and in every appliance that’s staying in the home to make sure you didn’t leave anything behind before closing up.

Feeling stressed? Take a moment on the big day to breathe and relax your muscles with yoga poses!

Before you lock up and head out, leave a note (and maybe even a welcome basket!) for the folks moving in to your home. Give them your contact information and new address; they’ll be more likely to forward any mail the post office overlooks.

Eight weeks. A lot of coordination, and a whole lot of work. You did it!