Moving Checklist: Ultimate Guide to an Organized Move
One thing I have a lot of experience with is moving. There are a couple key things I have learned over the years and over many moves (both across town and across country moves). First, the more organized you are about how you move and packing, the smoother everything will go. Second, no matter how complete and detailed you make your moving checklist, things will still get a little bit hectic, and that’s okay! It’s that way for everyone.
I’ve compiled some of the best moving tips for you plus I’m sharing my complete system for an organized move. This system has been tried and tested and has worked extremely well for us.
If you want to see a tour of my moving binder plus hear my top tips, click the image below to watch the video (and you can get the printable pack to create your own moving binder right here.)
So here are the best moving tips from the I Heart Planners team:
1 – Create a Moving Binder
My first and most important piece of advice is to create a moving binder and do this well ahead of time. This binder was a lifeline for us in our last move!
Here’s how I put mine together using my Ultimate Moving Printable Pack.
First, I filled out the moving legend with all the areas in our new home. This printable is fillable, so you can type whatever you want into those spots. If you don’t have that many spaces, just leave some blank.
Next, I filled out the moving label sheets to correspond to the spaces on the moving legend.
These labels are also fillable, so you can customize them to suit your spaces. Here’s the really cool part: you DO NOT have to type into every label. Just type once in the top label on the sheet, and it automatically fills out the whole thing for you.
Within just a couple minutes, I have a complete printable moving binder customized to me and my spaces. Then I print a few of each of the label sheets onto Avery 8163 label sheets. They are intended to be shipping labels but they work perfectly for this.
One quick word of caution about using the labels! They work great on moving boxes because you won’t need to remove them. However, if you stick them on furniture, they will be pretty hard to remove. We used goo gone and were able to get them off fairly easily without damaging anything. However, if I had super nice furniture, I definitely wouldn’t put a label on it!
Next I punch the side of the labels and put them into my binder. That’s my favorite part about this system – all of my moving documents and my box labels are all in one convenient binder.
I use a discbound system for my moving binder. This means that the punch does not eat very far into the side of the page, so it doesn’t leave holes in my labels like most traditional 3 ring binder punches would. It’s also a lot easier to take pages in and out because there are no rings to mess with. If you’re not familiar with the disc binding system, you can watch this video where I demonstrate how it works.
2 – Create a Packing Kit
I create a little packing kit with the moving binder, a Sharpie, a pen, and a roll of packing tape in a bag. It has everything we need to pack (except the boxes). That way I can easily carry it around to wherever I’m packing.
3 – Start Packing for Your Move as Soon As Possible
Start packing as soon as you can. Trust me, things will only continue to get more and more hectic closer to the move date. The more you can do ahead of time, the calmer and more organized it will be. You might be surprised how much stuff you don’t even need for several weeks. I pack up bulky kitchen items, out of season clothes, decoration, and more well ahead of time. We don’t even miss it, and it’s that much less I need to worry about in those last couple crazy weeks before the big day.
4 – Don’t Be (Too) Lazy when Creating Your Moving Box Index
Next, don’t be (too) lazy when creating your box index. It can be tempting to skip this part of writing down the contents of each box on your index. It seems like a hassle, and you feel like you’ll remember what box has what. Trust me, you’ll thank me later if you are diligent about filling out the index.
Here’s how the index works. Grab your binder and write the next number on your label in Sharpie. Pack the box, seal it up, and then place the label on it. Then write the number and contents on the index. In the end you’ll have one set of numbers regardless of the room. This makes it quick and easy, and you only have one single index instead of trying to create one for each space.
5 – The 85% Rule for Packing for Your Move
Not matter how closely you adhere to tip #4, the last 24 hours before the move will get crazy! Things will start to get a little out of control, and it’s okay if it’s not perfect. This is where it’s okay to be a little less militant about your box index – you just have to get stuff boxed up and ready to go. Having 85% of your boxes nicely indexed is WAY better than none, so don’t be afraid to let it go!
6 – The Open Me First Boxes
I recommend packing 2-3 “open me first” boxes, and pre-planning what will go in there. I have a printable in my kit that helps you do this. Put the things you’ll need to unpack before your first night in the new home. This includes things like your bedding, shower curtain, a few dishes, and a little bit of food.
7 – Use extra baskets and bins to pack for your move
Make use of extra baskets and bins! If you're like me, you have decorative baskets and bins that held toys or blankets that are now packed away in other tubs. Now you're forced to either transport empty baskets and bins, or you can easily use these to help move items that are otherwise a pain! Like books or shoes!! Books are really heavy. You can't fill an entire tub or box with books and expect anyone to volunteer to transport that box. Instead, use a bin or basket to transport the books. Usually these aren't too big, so you won't be able to fit as many books, but it will be a much more reasonable weight. Also usually these bins have handles, which makes it much more convenient to carry heavy, bulky items.
8 – Use Plastic Laundry Baskets for Packing
There are some special benefits to using laundry baskets vs. cloth or woven baskets. Since the basket is plastic, you can use it to transport things that potentially might be a little messy like house plants! The open top provides freedom to carry tall plants without bending the tips or buds. This is also incredibly easy to transport and empty and refill as needed on moving day! Plus, chances are very good that you already have a plastic laundry basket or that this would be something you would be purchasing anyway!
9 – Purchase Tubs
This isn't *necessary* but boy does it make things easier! Plastic tubs (big or small) stack so much easier than moving boxes. Here are just a few reasons why!
They are sturdier.
They don't need tape.
They are easy to label.
They are reusable.
They are easier to carry.
You can leave contents that need to be stored there long term.
10 – Stack and group large wall items
Stack and group together all picture frames, mirrors, wall decor that are too large to be packed in another container! Having this done ahead of time, avoids the rush and scramble on moving day to empty all the walls, pull out nails, etc. Having everything grouped together can be helpful when it comes to loading up the moving truck too. Chances are these things will need to be placed in a particular space for fragile items.
11 – Use brightly colored labels
When you assign each space in your new living location a color, you can see with a quick glance where each box goes. This is helpful for movers who don't necessarily care about every single content in each box. They can just pay attention to the color of the label and then put the box in the appropriate room. Listing the contents of the box will come in handy for you later when you're unpacking, but movers on moving day don't need to waste their time trying to read through contents to figure out where a box goes. This is super easy to with our printable moving binder kit.
12 – Label Tops and Sides
I have to admit that I don’t always do this, but it is helpful to label both the top and the side of your boxes and tubs! Then stack the boxes with the labels facing out. This makes it easy on moving day to grab containers going to the same room. It also makes it easier on the person carrying the box to be able to look straight down instead of having to twist to look at the side of the box.
13 – Bonus Moving Tips for Parents (from Hannah)
This tip won't be helpful for everyone, but I think any parent of young kids will appreciate it! If you purchase a couple new toys in the month or two leading up to your move, just tuck these toys away. They don't have to be anything too special, just something that your kids haven't seen before. It could even be an addition to a toy collection they already have. After you've moved, bring out the new toys. This should buy you some time to get a few of the first few crucial things done in your new home while they're entertained and happy in the other room! For example, I purchased a few new Little People vehicles and characters for my daughters to play with. Their interest in their old Little People toys was revived once they saw their new toys, and I was able to sneak away and get some things done while they happily played! Win-Win!
I hope these tips help your move go a little more smoothly.
If you want a super organized move, be sure to get our ultimate moving binder kit here. If you want to see the moving binder in action, you can watch our video here.
Bailey H. Says
This is all such great information and you have created some amazingly helpful printables for organization! I wish I had this stuff 3 moves ago ? One of my favorite moving hacks is to pack heavy items, such as books as you mentioned, into your luggage! Your suitcases have to be moved anyway, and wheeling those tough to pack/lift items in a suitcase is such a breeze! This little tip made all the difference packing and transporting the Study during our last move. Hope this may be a small addition to all the fabulous moving help you’ve put together- Happy Homes to all!
I could have used this back in January, we finally bought our first house which was basically an hr away from our rental, the last move we made was 17 yrs ago & I just had a toddler & an infant to deal with (on top of 2 cats & 2 dogs) & I did all the packing & 99.9% of the moving from that house to the last one (which was a 1/2 hr drive away). But this one was so erratic, everyone trying to pack, load & unload their way instead of following my instructions, that I’m still looking for my office desk drawer stuff 3 mos later :o)
This would definitely been worth having & using.
I’m going to share your page with my sister who is planning yet another move before long :o)
Deven Carley Says
I really enjoyed from reading the article above, You have explained everything in detail about moving checklist. Surely I will use this tips to moving strategy for my moving work. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I appreciate it very much!
Jenna Hunter Says
I like what you said about labeling the boxes and then stacking them with the labels facing out towards them. My cousin is planning on moving very soon and she is really disorganized. It would also be really helpful if she had some professionals help her carry all of her heavy stuff.
Sadie Ake Says
Thanks for this awesome moving stress-free tips!
Priyanka Patel Says
Hey Laura, I would like to take some time and thank you for sharing a comprehensive guide with the audience. I am come across several guides and packing tips but I must say this is the best till now. You have well explained how things can be organized and done with ease. Keep sharing!!
Marina Lavender Says
Thank you very much for this job! Genius! I first saw you on Youtube and was caught!
Marina Lavender Says
Great job! It’s very nice of you to share this method.
Marina Lavender Says
I find it extremely useful and need it right here right now!
Kim Terry Says
Thank you so much for sharing this for free!
People always say you should collect cardboard boxes from stores, but personally I prefer to use boxes designed for moving. And they can usually be acquired for free. We got our boxes at no extra charge by stopping by the office of the moving company we were using — new boxes cost money, but used boxes were free to customers. You can also pick up free moving boxes from people who have just moved.
I love that look you look pretty
Melinda Banes Says
Great post! Thank you very much for sharing this checklist.
Brenda McDonough Says
On #8 with books pack them in a suit case on wheels you won’t need to carry them why pack empty bags when you can make it easier justify you like wrap it to keep dust off
Henry Morgan Says
Wonderful moving checklist for house utensils. I have added some points to you. What is the best way to move clothes on Hangers?
First of all 1)Sort Out Hangers
2)Wardrobe Boxes for Your Hanging Clothes
3)Protect Hanging Clothes With Garment Bags
I think these tips also help me more.
Adam Xavier Says
Moving is not easy work and While moving, your dog may be running in the middle and if you are involved in carrying baggage, it can be a loss. I am happy with your blog because you share the information is very helpful. Thanks for sharing great info.
Kevin Bailey Says
Great tips. You share the right information about moving. Most the people are understanding moving is very stressful but I am reading your blog and I understand moving is stress-free work.
I have a question. What are the “Welcome to” pages in this kit?
Tasha Whitsitt Says
The room name goes there…Welcome to Susie’s room, etc.
Moving can be a challenging and stressful experience, but with proper organization and preparation, it can become a much smoother process. Throughout my years of moving, both locally and long-distance, I have learned some valuable lessons that can help make the transition easier.alfa movers