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Your Official Week-by-Week Schedule to Moving Day

Are you dreading moving day? Most of the stress from moving comes from lack of preparation. Box up that stress and be prepared with this handy moving day schedule.

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Six weeks out: The countdown begins!

As soon as you know where and when you’re moving, it’s time to solidify your plan, says Mike Glanz, co-founder and CEO of HireAHelper. The first play of the moving game includes purging, tossing, donating, or selling your stuff online. “Begin by sorting your closets, drawers, cabinets, or any areas that may need attention,” suggests Glanz. “Analyze what items are necessary and what items you can part with pre-move.” Moving is an ideal time to get organized, after all. Why move all the stuff you don’t want anymore to your new house?

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Week 5: Book a moving company

Now is the time to book a reputable moving company if you’re not DIYing your move. Do your due diligence on moving companies before booking. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the company. Next, obtain the USDOT license and Motor Carrier numbers from the website and check them out at the U.S. Department of Transportation to get a company snapshot of safety, inspections reports, crash information, and more. Read the recent reviews and compare policies for damage or replacement as Full-Value replacement coverage and Standard Repair Coverage are very different. “If the moving company only offers Standard Repair Coverage Insurance, then you’ll only see an $18 check when your $500 TV is damaged,” says Glanz. Other important factors to consider when choosing a mover are to ask if your home will be the first or last move of the day. If you’re the last move, be prepared for a crew of tired workers. “It’s going to take them longer and they’re going to be more accident-prone,” cautions Glanz.

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Week 4: Plan a hybrid move

If you’re not hiring full service movers, now is the time to work on Plan B. Sure, your friends and family will pitch in and help you move, but let’s be honest, they would rather spend their weekend relaxing. That’s why you’ll hear sighs of relief when you announce you’re doing a hybrid move. “With a Hybrid Move, you rent your own moving truck, and hire hourly moving laborers (fully insured and accredited) to assist with the loading and unloading,” says Glanz. “It’s part “full-service” and part “DIY,” which is why this approach is a hybrid. If you decide to rent a moving truck, make sure you do this before you drive off the lot.

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Week 4: Box it up

Finding boxes to pack up your household goods doesn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) involve dumpster diving behind retail stores. There are several places that you can put on your checklist: your office, liquor stores (they have sturdy boxes), and home improvement stores like Home Depot. (Typically these strive to have freight carts off the retail floor by 9 a.m. so go early to get the best boxes.) Employees break the boxes down as they work, so if you inquire early in the morning, you usually get a trunk load full of flat boxes. Use social media to ask for free boxes. Nextdoor, a network specifically for your neighborhood is a good place to start, as well as your local city or neighborhood pages on Facebook. Michelle Hale, organizer and co-founder of Henry & Higby, a professional organizing company, suggests to start boxing up items that you don’t often use as well as seasonal items you won’t’ need in the immediate future. As you obtain more boxes, pack up other items in order of necessity. “The last items that you should pack are the things like clothing and kitchen items that you use daily,” says Hale.

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Week 4: Cancel and start services

Time to start some tedious, albeit necessary details of your move. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do online, like submitting a change of address form to the post office. Contact utility and related companies, including lawn service, trash removal, etc. to alert them of your move. Schedule new service for the essentials like electric and water but you may have to wait on cable or internet if the company can’t turn it on remotely or if new installation is needed. A final walk through of your new house can result an unforeseen incident which could cause a delay in closing. “Remember to keep phone and utilities connected at your current home throughout moving day,” says Jared Beckkstead, marketing coordinator for Bailey’s Moving and Storage. And always be sure to request the utilities be turned on at your new place at least the day before your move.

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Week 3: Make travel arrangements

There are three things that can’t be boxed: People, pets and houseplants. (Well, you can actually pack plants in boxes to move yourself, but most moving companies will not transport live plants across state lines due to local bans, pest control, etc.) If you’re driving long distance, check the route for toll charges so you’re not caught off guard. Call the parking authority in your new neighborhood to see if permits are needed to park your rental moving truck or park your car. Peruse the local events for your new hood. If there is a festival or a 5K nearby, you’ll want to prepare for closed streets or congested traffic. Schedule an appointment with your vet to ensure your pet is caught up on immunizations and in good shape to travel. Make reservations for a pet-friendly hotel. If your pet can’t fly with you, consider using a trusted pet transport service as an alternative. Find out the 12 things you should never put on a moving truck.

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Week 2: Ready to roll

It’s a smart idea to ensure your vehicle is in good shape for moving day. “Have your car checked and serviced for the trip,” recommends Beckstead. “Make sure that your automobile is prepared with the necessary antifreeze/coolants for the type of whether conditions you’ll be traveling in.” Speaking of wheels, Beckstead says to drain gas and oil from power equipment like lawn mowers and snow blowers to prevent leaks when moving. If you’re using a moving company, touch base with the consultant to review and confirm all the arrangements for your move. Moving out or into a building with an elevator? “Contact the building management to schedule use of the elevators,” suggests Beckstead.

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One week to go!

It’s crunch time now. There’s a lot of loose ends that need attention, but you can still have a stress-free move. Begin by creating a list of last-minute tasks that need be done and when you think of another, add it to your list so you don’t forget. For example, returning borrowed casserole dishes or tools to your neighbors. Out-of-sight-out-of-mind is a common occurrence when preparing to move. “Don’t forget to withdraw the contents of your safe deposit box, pick up any dry cleaning, return library books, etc.,” says Beckstead.

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Three days til M-day!

Now is the time to think about those treasured heirlooms or unique pieces of furniture that require special care to transport. Even if you’re using a full-service moving company, you’ll want to connect with the consultant to avoid a moving day horror story. “Large and uniquely shaped furniture should be disassembled prior to moving,” says Ross Sapir, President of Roadway Moving. “Make sure to keep all hardware together in Ziploc bags to ensure easy assembly.” Confirm travel reservations and arrival time of the moving company. If you’re renting a truck, confirm the reservation and any equipment you added like furniture pads and dollies.

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Moving day!

The weeks of prep have finally come to fruition! Dress in old but comfy clothes and fuel up with a breakfast high in protein to keep your energy levels up till lunch. Meet your mover and have a convo about any special instructions. The mover will have some paperwork that you shouldn’t blow off. “Read your bill of lading and inventory carefully before you sign them,” says Beckstead. If you’re renting a truck, be mindful it is longer, wider, and bigger than anything you’ve probably driven before. Take time to get acclimated to the dashboard and check the clearance requirements so you don’t take off the awning at the drive-thru when you stop for lunch. Before you leave the house, do a final walk through and check for items you may have left in a closet or cabinet. Record all utility meter readings and snap a photo of each one. If you’re unlocking the door to a rental, take a photo of these five things right away. After the last box is unloaded, order take-out, pop a cold one and relax in your new living room—you made it!

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First night creature comforts

Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, you’ll want to pack certain essentials for your first day and night at the new home. For the personal items,Nancy Haworth, professional organizer at On Task Organizing, LLC suggests: A few clothing changes, sleepwear, personal toiletries, toilet paper, soap, towels, and a shower curtain. Don’t forget daily medications and a first-aid kit. For kids, these items may just save the day. Pets will need their food, bowls, sleeping mats, litter and litter box, and a few toys. Be prepared if you have a few days before your furniture arrives or if it delayed for same day arrival. “If waiting on a moving truck to arrive with furniture, pack an air mattress or sleeping bags, and enough pillows, blankets and sheets for your family,” suggest Haworth. “If waiting on furniture, you may want to pack folding chairs and a folding table, if you have space in your vehicle.” To avoid mutiny and meltdowns with the kids, don’t forget the chargers, laptops, tablets, and other devices your family can’t live without. For household necessities, Haworth suggests trash bags, paper plates, paper towels, paper cups, and plastic utensils. Don’t assume your new home will be white-glove ready. Use an empty bucket and stash cleaning supplies in it. Add a portable toolkit with a flashlight and extra batteries and your household box is good to go. Finally, consider packing snacks, beverages, and a few kitchen essentials like a pot, colander, and large spoon for an easy pasta meal. Last but not least, pack valuable items you don’t want to lose, important financial papers, the moving contract and the keys to your new home. Stash all these items last in your truck or trunk so you can unpack them first and have them ready to use.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.