There’s no getting around it. Moving is a physical and mental challenge. It’s disrupting. Home is supposed to be our sanctuary from all the craziness out there, so when that’s in a state of flux we feel vulnerable and unsettled.

And in the midst of preparing, packing and loading, it’s inevitable that something is forgotten and left behind.

But instead of losing sleep by worrying about it all, you can take control.

To forget is human. To use a moving checklist is divine.

Use a moving checklist to avoid forgetting things.

Relax, take a deep breath and start making a list. “If that sounds like a simple solution, that’s because it really is,” says Jeffrey Phillip, a New York-based organizer and designer. “But sometimes, life gets in the way and we get too busy to do the thing that will make everything easier.”

So roll up your sleeves and get your priorities in order.

It doesn’t have to be as structured as an Excel spreadsheet, which is a favorite go-to for uber organizers like Phillip. It could be a Notes entry on your smartphone or tablet, or as simple as an old-fashioned notebook.

Include everything that comes to mind, and check each item off once fulfilled. Phillip even suggests putting a date on the completion of the task.

“That may sound a little nerdy, but you’d be surprised how it can help to refer back to a specific date if you need to do some follow-up,” he says.

A moving list also provides clarity amid chaos, especially in those final days of crunch time when deadlines are looming. Faced with a flurry of last-minute details, it’s easy for some things to fall through the cracks. What to include on the list? You can start with our very thorough moving checklist.

Another point to remember is that some of the things people forget when they’re moving aren’t just items they leave behind. They can be forgotten tasks or options left unexplored.

14 frequently forgotten items when moving and how to leave nothing behind

1. Keepsakes and seasonal items

Chances are you store seasonal items and other keepsakes in places that are easily forgotten most of the year, like garage attics, stairwell nooks, and out-of-the-way cupboards. NBC’s popular TV show “This is Us” featured a Thanksgiving episode where leading character Randall had to return to his former home to retrieve a box of sentimental holiday items and favorite music CDs left behind in the attic. So yes, this is a thing. 

2. Important documents

Fortunately, you may have most of your banking, financial, and tax documents securely stored in electronic form, so this is less of a worry. But make sure you gather all hard-copy documents like birth certificates, passports, and social security cards and put them in a special binder that you carry with you during your move.

3. Valuables

Do you keep jewelry, coins, or other valuables in a safety deposit box or a hidden place at home? Be sure to collect these ahead of time. Instead of packing these up with all your other belongings, put them with the important documents and other essentials you’ll be taking with you.   

4. Prescriptions and healthcare arrangements

Built-in medicine cabinets can be an easy place to forget to check. Do an inventory of all local doctors, dentists, and vision centers for each family member, including prescriptions. If possible, get extra refills and make sure to pick them up, as well as medical records that can only be retrieved in person. And don’t forget your furry family members, either.

5. Making a Plan B when moving goes awry.

Remember to build in some flexibility. While move-out and move-in dates often shift due to delays with closings, renovations, and other hiccups, it can be hard to change schedules with traditional moving companies. If your move has a lot of uncertainty, you may want to check out portable moving and storage containers, an option that makes it easier to change dates, temporarily store belongings, and load and unload on your own timetable. Other steps for your Plan B include setting aside extra money to cover the unexpected and reaching out to friends and family in advance, in case you need a place to stay for a bit.

6. Outdoor plants and decorations

If you treasure that favorite cactus you’ve nurtured since infancy, plan early on how to get it unearthed and transported to its new home. Ditto for yard art, water fountains, and other moveable greenery, like hanging orchids in the trees. Moving items like these requires advance planning.

7. Hidden cash

Really? Yep. This happens. If you’ve tucked away a stash of cash in case of emergency, be sure to retrieve it so you don’t end up making a generous donation to future residents.

8. Cords, chargers, cables, oh my!

Hoteliers will tell you these connectors are the most left-behind item by guests. Check all outlets before departure. Another pro tip: When you’re packing up the electronics, take a picture of the cable configuration. That will save time and tons of frustration when you’re ready to set up in the new place. 

9. Spare keys

That key hidden under the rock on the side of the house may have saved you the expense of hiring of locksmith. You don’t need it anymore, but the new owners might appreciate it.

10. Mirrors behind doors

Yes, you love that antique mirror hanging on the back door of the guest room. But it’s been there so long, it’s easy to forget. Take inventory around the house of artifacts that have been secured and easily blend in.

11. Items at the drycleaner

If you’re moving long-distance, think of how inconvenient it would be to leave your dry cleaning or your favorite boots behind at the shoe repair.

12. Changing your address

You don’t want your next Amazon or Uber Eats delivery delivered to your old place. Change your address on all your online business accounts and forward your mail. Alert family and friends as well, or Aunt Sarah’s holiday cheesecake could be happily devoured by the new residents of your previous home.

13. Club memberships

Cancel those that can’t be transferred to another facility close to your new home. Most will refund fees if your move is in the middle of a billing cycle.

14. Asking for help

We get it. A lot of us find it hard to admit we need help. But whether it’s friends, family, or professional loaders or organizers, a little assistance can make all the difference when taking on the myriad of tasks associated with moving.

Cut yourself some slack

In a perfect world, Phillip says a decluttered house is always the best starting point. But he acknowledges that most people aren’t in that place when the time comes to relocate.

“Not every move is carefully planned way in advance. A job transfer, an unexpected offer you can’t refuse on your home or a family situation comes up,” he says. “Sometimes, you need professional help. If that’s not possible, the list is your best friend.”

It’s also important to remember that most moving mistakes are easily avoidable. With a moving checklist, time management, and some thoughtful planning, forgotten tasks and left-behind items can be significantly reduced.

Phillip has some comforting words for those feeling a pre-move stress attack coming on.

“The more you do on the front end means less to do on the back end,” he says. “And whatever stress you’re feeling, remember this: You will get through this and you will be just fine.”

And just in case you missed it, here’s our week-by-week moving checklist to help you stay focused and in control. 

Michelle Bearden is a freelance writer based in Tampa whose obsession with flea markets and garage sales is only made possible by her love of color-coordinated storage containers.