14 Clever Tips for First-Time Movers (Checklist)

Experts say that there are three times in a person’s life when they will experience peak-stress.  Not surprisingly, one of the things at the top of this list is moving.  Moving is one of the most stressful things you will go through.

However, it does get slightly easier the more you do it.  But, what if you are a first-timer?

Here is an easy to follow checklist for moving for the first time so you too can be an expert!

I, myself, have moved nearly a dozen times in my adult life.  But, each time still has it’s stressful moments no matter how many times I’ve made the journey.

But, all the moving experience I have gained has made me an expert!  You will find that will a few helpful tips and an organized process can make all the difference in the world. 

moving into an apartment

1) Set Reasonable Goals

Once you have the details of your new dream home in place, you can properly begin to plan for a smooth transition.  One important tip that I have from my experiences is that you need to set reasonable goals for yourself.  But, what exactly does this mean?

While it is important to be ambitious, it is equally important to be reasonable.

So, when planning your move, be very aware of what you can accomplish in the time given.  This will help to shape each move decision you make.  From choosing a moving company that is within your budget to have a set date in mind – you want to set yourself up for success.


2) Set A Moving Budget

The first thing you will need to do is set a reasonable and workable budget for your entire move.  However, this means much more than just how much you can spend on a moving truck.  There are several financial factors that you will need to be aware of when planning on how much money you can spend. 

Here are the most important things to keep in mind:

3) How Will You Move?

There are several different ways to move.  You can do it all yourself by renting a moving truck or you can get it all professionally done.  One thing to consider is how many people are in your family.  The reason why this is so important is that moving trucks are really only meant for at most, two adults to travel in.

So, if you have children, you will have to find alternative ways to move.

What I did was I rented a moving truck and had my children ride with my spouse in our family car to the new home.  While this isn’t the most eco-friendly option, sometimes you have to do what you have to do!

Plus, if you are moving a great distance and own a vehicle, you will have to tow your car with the moving truck anyhow!

If making a long drive in a truck doesn’t sound like something you can do, there is always the option of using a professional moving service.  However, this is the most costly option out there.

The average cost to rent a moving truck is roughly $250-500 depending on the distance.
Using a moving service can cost upwards of $3k.

Whichever route you choose to take, make sure that it is within your budget.  You don’t want to overextend yourself financially when it comes to moving!

4) Additional Moving Costs People Often Forget

When talking moving budget, many people get caught up in the actual details of the move.

But, there are plenty of little odds and ends that will surely raise the cost of your move.

It is important to remember that even all the little parts of your moving process can add up to one big bill.

One thing to keep in mind is the supplies you will need to move.  Professional moving companies can provide things like boxes, tape, and padding…but at a high cost!  My opinion?

Take care of the odds and ends on your own.  This way you have much more control over how much you will spend in the long run.

One area that you can save money on is boxes.

Did you know that most stores break down their boxes for recycling at the end of each day?  While larger box stores and chains might not be so keen to help, I’m sure local businesses would love to lend a hand.  Ask around to see if you can take any leftover boxes from local stores.

Not only will you save a couple of hundred dollars on boxes, but you will also be doing some green for the environment as well!

Another thing to factor in is storage space in case you need to store some of your things. Or maybe you cannot move in and out the same day.

5) Where To Pinch Pennies

If you are worried about how much your move will cost you in the end, try to find creative ways to stretch your money during the process.

One thing that I found helpful was buying in bulk.

Whether it was packing tape or bubble wrap, I always bought in bulk.  I also tried to stay environmentally conscious during my moves.

Substituting old newspaper for plastic bubble wrap was a great way to save money while lowering my environmental impact.  Any unused supplies can easily be stored for your next move or even donated.

You may find that you save much more money than expected by just implemented a few easy substitutions.


6) Downsize and Get Organized

Once you have your plan down when it comes to finances and details, it’s time to start doing to heavy lifting.  Believe it or not, downsizing was always one of my favorite parts of the moving process.  I am one of those people who hates clutter.  So, any opportunity I can have to get rid of unneeded stuff is a good one as far as I’m concerned.

However, the way you choose to downsize is totally up to you.  You may even find that you don’t have a ton of clutter to get rid of!  Also, I find it extremely helpful to downsize before I even pack my first box.  This way you may even find that don’t need as many boxes that you thought you did!

Still confused on how the downsizing process works for first-time movers?

Don’t worry, I have got you covered!

Here is a great downsizing checklist to get your move started out on the right foot:

7) Start Slowly

If you are worried about the process of downsizing because you tend to get attached to your things, have no fear!

Taking it slow when it comes to downsizing is a great way to dip your toe into the water.

It is important to remember that downsizing means living without things that you don’t need in your life.  It is not a way to get rid of your precious memories and possessions.  It is simply removing things from your life that no longer serve a purpose.

The best place to start is in storage areas.  Closets, basements, and even rental units are where you will find the majority of items to downsize.

Look at your stuff with fresh eyes and ask yourself – can I live without this?  Do this starting with storage areas and work your way up to other areas of your home.  The more you go through your stuff, the better you will get at spotting the unneeded things in your life.

You will also find that you get more comfortable each time you decide to “toss” something.

8) Batch Your Tasks

It is important to remember that downsizing and packing will be two of the most time-consuming parts of the moving process.  This is why I like to try to combine as many hard-hitting jobs as I can.

One of the best ways to do this is to combine downsizing with packing itself.

After you downsize all of your storage areas, you can start moving on to the main rooms in the house.  I like to start with areas that I know I won’t need right away.  This means saving big jobs like the kitchen for last.  A great place to start is with clothing.  Set up a few boxes in your room and clearly mark them.  Marking your boxes as specifically as possible will save a ton of time when it comes to unpacking.

I like to label my boxes with clothing, out-of-season clothing, and donate.  It is also a good idea to keep a trash bag handy for garments that are beyond saving.

Another tip is to also set up a suitcase.

This suitcase is where you will put clothing that you need or are most likely to wear before the move.  This way you don’t have to disturb boxes that have been filled and sealed.

Once you have finished sorting and downsizing clothes, you can start moving on to packing up whole rooms like bedrooms and bathrooms.  Working in sections helps to keep you focused while ensuring that you didn’t miss any steps.  Another tip is to always have an unmarked box.  This way you can toss in items that you know you will need on hand at any time.

9) Make List, LOTS Of Lists

One of the most rookie mistakes you can make when moving is to not predict what you will need before the move.  This is also why I advise people to not start completely packing up their home until a few weeks prior to the move.

While it is totally okay to pack up items that are in storage or things you don’t use daily, you don’t want to pack everything too early.

The last thing you would want to is to frantically be searching for your toothbrush buried in the bottom of a box!

Starting by making a list of things you will know you will need on hand prior to your move. 

Things like toiletries, sufficient clothing, cleaning supplies, and important documents should always be kept on hand.  After you make a list of the things that are important to have for you, start sorting them.

Clothing that you will need should be placed in your suitcase.

I like to pack a duffle bag with all my toiletries in it.  This includes soap, hair products, toothbrushes, skincare items and anything else I use daily.  Next, you will want to have a safe place for all of your documents and precious items.

I like to store these in a safety deposit box so I don’t have to second-guess where I place them.

Lastly, you will need to put aside dishes and silverware.  If you’re like me, you have an eclectic collection of plates.  However, you will only need a couple of them to last you until your move.

The good news about this is that you will have less to clean the closer you get to your moving date.


10) Moving Week Is Here!

One thing to keep in mind is that your moving day will be here sooner than you think.  While you’re caught up in the details of your move, the date will quickly creep up on you. 

This is why I find that the planning of your moving week will be a very important one.

I tend to over-plan.

I like each day of moving week to have an important event happening.

The best way to plan out your week is to schedule it by day.  Here is a great guideline to help your week run smoothly so that you can move into your new home like a pro:

Day One

Day one is the best day to plan out the rest of your week.  This is also the time for you to see what areas of your move might need a little bit of work.  Start by making a list of important things that still need to be done.  Then, see where in your week’s schedule you can fit in any extra steps.

A great tip I have is to put it all in writing.

We all tend to work better when we have visuals guiding us.  Making a small calendar of tasks and checklists and hang it in your home.  This can help to keep you, and your family, on track for the big move day!

Don’t be shy when it comes to details,  The more clear you are with your instructions, the less likely you are to miss an important step.

Day Two

Day two is when I like to get the bulk of my moving day plans in place.

By now you should already know how you want to move. 

If you have chosen to do the move on your own, make sure that all of your boxes are checked.  First thing you should do is check to make sure that your truck is reserved.  This will require you to put down a large deposit.

While you don’t always need to reserve a moving truck this early on, I find that a week prior to the move is the best way to ensure that you will get a truck.  Next, you want to reach out to friends and family.  Helping a friend move is one of the best ways to show someone you care.

This is because it is such a stressful situation.  Make sure you have plenty of volunteers on hand and ready to go for your move at the end of the week.

Day Three

Day three is the perfect time to get rid of all the stuff that you have found no need for.  I like to do this in two steps.  First, put together a small yard sale.

This is the time to try to make a little money off of gently used items that you think can turn a small profit.  This is also a great time to try to sell furniture that you are not planning on taking with you.

Be sure to advertise your moving sale across social media as well as user-based platforms like the Neighborhood app.  This helps to increase the amount of foot traffic to your event.

Lastly, you will want to schedule a pick up with your local donation store.  This way you won’t have to deal with all the leftover merchandise. 

Donation centers will happily pick up donated goods and will even give you a receipt for your taxes.

Day Four

Day four is the day to make sure that your new home is ready for you!  If you’re like me, a home is not a home without the internet.  If you have ever dealt with your internet company you know that they are not always easy to get a hold of.

Spend this day setting important appointments for your new home.

This is also a good time to touch base with your new landlord (if you have one) to make sure everything is ready for you on their end.  By now, all of the hard work should be done to prepare for your move.

So, this is a great day to go over your actual moving plan to prepare for the big day.

Day Five

Day five is the best day to rest.

Moving takes a huge toll on your body.  Studies show that you can burn up to 1500 calories moving for a day.  This is why rest is so important.  Reset your body and mind to prepare for the next two days ahead.  This is also a great time to spend time with loved ones you may be moving away from.

Drink lots of water and take in all of your interactions so that you can truly appreciate your time spent at this home.

11) Moving Day Is Here!

If you have followed all of my tips and prepared the right way, this day should be a breeze.

Moving is such strenuous work that you don’t want to have to deal with little details this day.

So, get you and your workers bees moving! 

Just make sure to thank them properly with some pizza at the end of the day!

12) Know Your Plan Beforehand

Before you can even start planning for your move, you have to figure out the big important details.  The means, among other things, you will have to know where you are moving to.  Where you are moving will directly determine how your move will go. 

This is also why it is a good idea to make sure to get all the details of your new home before even packing one box.

There are a lot of details to keep in mind before planning your move.  Here are the top things to remember so that you can avoid any dreaded surprises along the way:

13) Home Size

Perhaps one of the most important things to keep in mind is the size of the new home you will be moving to.  Moving to a smaller house means that you will need to make a plan for downsizing.

This can include special steps like de-cluttering.  Also, knowing the size of the home you are moving to can affect your moving plan as a whole.

More specifically, when it comes to how you plan on moving your possessions.  Will you need a larger moving truck or will a small van do?  Will you need help from a professional moving company?  All of these questions are directly linked to the size of your new home.

This is why it is so important to have all of the details well ahead of your move!

14) Home Distance

Another key factor that will directly determine how you will move is how far the new home is away from your current home.  One very important thing to note is that the further away you will have to move, the more you can expect to pay.

This will also help to determine the type of vehicle you will need to make the move.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that the further you move, the less likely you will be to have a support system.  Leaving family and friends behind means that you won’t really have that support to help you settle into your new home.

While there is nothing wrong with stepping out on your own, you will have to be prepared to find help in your new “hometown”!


Final Thoughts

It may seem a little silly to put all of this planning into just one day of your life.  However, I have found that the more prepared I am, the easier the whole process is.

I have become such a pro at it that I rarely get stressed out when moving anymore.  Whether this is the first of several moves or the only one you hope to do, planning and preparation are key.

One thing you want to do is make sure that everyone in your party is on the same page.  Make sure that you and your family understand the plan and process perfectly.

When your team works together like a well-oiled machine, the overall process of moving can actually be an enjoyable one.  So, forget about the stress and focus on what you are moving towards.

The rest will surely fall into place.  Take care.



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