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When selling your home or buying a new home, you need to budget for moving costs. Make sure you get three to five written estimates from moving companies, as well as complete information packages. Consider the middle estimate–selecting a low-ball price is not necessarily the best decision. Since professional movers can be expensive, attempt to negotiate a lower price if you are moving at the slow time of the month or consolidating the shipment with other peoples’ goods.

Find out how long the mover has been in business, obtain references, and check for complaints that have been registered with the Better Business Bureau. Check the amount of insurance coverage you have for loss or damage, and consider obtaining additional insurance. You may wish to rent a truck and move the goods yourself, if that option is feasible.

You need to plan ahead as far as possible–ideally at least 10 weeks–so that you are not making your selection process under time pressure. Otherwise, you could end up paying a premium if few movers are available at the last minute.

Here is a checklist of suggested steps to take before the move:

Eight weeks before:

  • Decide which items are to be moved.
  • Select a mover to make arrangements for moving day.
  • Start to use up items that are not easy to move, such as frozen foods.
  • Contact the visitors’ or tourism bureaus in your new community for information.

Six weeks before:

    Record an inventory, and evaluate your possessions.

  • Compile a list of everyone you need to notify about your move, such as friends, creditors, professionals, insurance, clubs or organizations, financial institutions, subscriptions and motor vehicle and other licences or registrations.
  • Make arrangements, if required, to put items into storage.
  • Contact schools, dentists, doctors, lawyers and accountants and obtain copies of personal records. Ask for referrals where possible.

Four weeks before:

    Notify the post office of your new address.

  • Fill out change-of-address cards.
  • Arrange special transportation for your plants and pets.
  • Arrange to disconnect utilities at your old home.
  • Arrange to connect utilities at your new home.
  • Confirm loading and delivery dates with the mover.
  • Arrange a new phone connection with your telephone company.
  • Purchase packing boxes from your local mover if you are packing some of the items yourself.
  • Make your personal and family travel plans.
  • Arrange to close accounts in your local bank and open accounts in your new location.
  • List all your questions as they come up. Ask them as soon as possible.

Two weeks before:

  • Collect clothing and items to clean and repair.
  • Send out rugs and draperies for cleaning and have them delivered to your new address.
  • Collect items you loaned to others, and return things you borrowed.
  • Have a garage sale or give away unwanted items to eliminate articles you don’t want to move.
  • Draw up a floor plan of your new home, and indicate the location of all furniture. Give a copy to the moving company.
  • Arrange for babysitting, if necessary, for moving day.
  • Arrange any necessary insurance for transit or storage, as well as insurance for your new home.

One week before:

  • Set aside items that can be packed in the car, in cartons labeled “Do not move”.
  • Take down the curtains, rods, shelves, etc., if mover is not doing so.

One day before moving:

  • Clean the stove.
  • Empty the freezer and refrigerator.
  • Finish packing personal items.
  • Set aside personal and other items you will be moving yourself.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.

Moving day:

  • Be at the old home or have someone else there to answer questions.
  • Make a final check of appliances to be sure they are working, and heating elements are off.
  • Record all utility meter readings.
  • Review and sign and save copies of bills of lading. Be sure the delivery address and the place you can be reached are accurate.
  • Tell the driver exactly how to get to new address, and provide him with a map if necessary.
  • Strip the beds, but leave fitted bottom sheets on the mattresses.
  • Have your vacuum ready to clean hard-to-move items.
  • Before leaving the house, check each room and closet for forgotten items. Make sure the windows are closed, doors are locked, lights are out and water shut off. If there is going to be a time period before the new owner comes in, consider shutting off the electricity.
  • Call and inform your insurance agent that you are leaving.
  • Notify the landlord, realtor and/or lawyer that the home is vacant.

Delivery day:

  • Arrange to make sure that you or a relative or friend is at the new home.
  • Review the floor plans with moving company foreman.
  • Examine all goods as they are unloaded, and check off the inventory numbers as a protection against loss.
  • Arrange to have appliances installed, if applicable.
  • Arrange to have the movers re-assemble any furnishings that were dismantled.
  • Re-check all items to make sure there is no damage before signing the final moving documents.


To help your research and save you time and hassle, check out our free checklists and forms on our "Worksheet" section, as well as the stats, surveys, and reports, useful links, etc, on our "Helpful Info" section, both shown on the index on your left.

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