Tips for an Organized Move

moving dog

There are a few particular times in our lives when being organized is especially critical. Preparing for a move is definitely one of those times! Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, moving is one of the most stressful activities of all. Planning well for each stage of the move can significantly decrease the stress level and increase your odds of success on move day. Having just completed two local moves in the past year, I’d like to share the tips that proved most helpful for us. 


You’ll need to make and check off a lot of lists during this process. Here are my suggestions for the lists you’ll need and how to make and share them. 

Since you’ll need several individual lists that will likely need to be shared among several people, my recommendation is to create these lists in a cloud-based digital format so that the lists can be accessed by any person with any device. My favorite digital tools that would work well for this are AnyList and Trello. Yes, you can use paper, but it’s easy to lose and difficult to share. 

Here are a few lists you may need:

  • Items to return/sell
  • Changes of address to send
  • Utilities/services to cancel, change, or begin
  • Home repairs to do before the move
  • People to contact regarding the move
  • Items to purchase. This will be needed throughout the process. I use AnyList and have a separate list for grocery, Lowe’s/Home Depot, Walmart/Target, etc. 
  • To do on move day
    • Packing list room by room
    • Cleaning list room by room 

Tasks to Do ASAP

  • Schedule the movers.
  • Schedule cleaners for the old and new houses. You can do it yourself, but if you can afford to delegate this one, you’ll be so thankful you did. You’ll be exhausted on move day. 
  • Depending on the season, schedule lawn care at the old and new houses. 
  • Get started on the home repairs list. Delegate if possible! 
  • Declutter ruthlessly! It’s NEVER too early to start decluttering! Figure out where donations are going and take them quickly. Don’t take a lot of time to find the perfect place to donate each item. You’re way too busy! 
  • Get started selling items. Take pictures and list on Facebook Marketplace. Both me and my clients have had good results with this option. 
  • Purchase packing supplies: boxes, packing tape, paper or bubble wrap. To save money, you can also use excess linens and then donate later. 

Packing Tips

  • It’s NEVER too early to start packing. 
  • Include box contents on the label as specifically as possible.
  • Include the box’s destination. If the new house is large enough that particular rooms aren’t obvious, use a color system. Pick a color for each room. Put this color on the box and on the room sign in the new house. You can use paper with colored markers or different color duct tape. 
  • You can’t overlabel!
  • Label the top and the sides (in case boxes are stacked).
  • When setting boxes down, make sure the label is showing!
  • Pack things you aren’t using first. Continue in this order until the end. 
  • Make sure everything needed to set up the bed(s), including all tools, linens, etc. are clearly labeled. This will be the first thing you’ll want to set up. 
  • If you’re using movers, figure out what you want to pack yourself (especially fragile items, valuable items, sentimental items you don’t want to risk getting damaged, etc.). Clearly mark them, set aside, and be sure to tell the movers about them. 
  • For electronics, pack all of the necessary equipment including connectors, cords, games, etc. in one labeled box for each system.

Approaching Move Day

  • Confirm movers, cleaners, essential utilities/services. You can’t over communicate! 
  • Start using any groceries you can. Plan meals around what you have, and don’t buy many new groceries. 
  • Pack a suitcase(s) with 2 days of clothes and essential toiletries. Put them in a place where they won’t get lost amid boxes.
  • As you get down to essential items, clearly label those last few boxes “OPEN ME FIRST”.
  • Get cash to tip the movers.
  • Figure out a lunch and dinner plan for move day. This can be as simple as ”We will order pizza” or “I will pick up sandwiches”. You can even pre-order and pay to really make it easy. Keep in mind that you may want to feed the movers. 
  • Designate who will stay at the old house and the new house. 
  • Buy snacks and essential groceries for the new kitchen, and keep a few snacks in the old kitchen. Move day is crazy, and if you’ve got some snacks in both places, you’ll be happier.   
  • Keep basic cleaning supplies, paper towels, hand soap, toilet paper, trash bags, and toilet paper at the old house. You’ll need them until the very end. 
  • Keep a cooler(s) and ice (depending on move distance) available for moving refrigerator and freezer items. 
  • Paper/plastic plates and utensils are handy the last few days. 
  • At the new house:
    • Figure out furniture arrangement. Use signs on the walls/floor to identify the arrangement.
    • Label the rooms. Put the label right beside or over the door. Use the color system if needed. 
    • Put toilet paper, soap, towels, and/or paper towels in all of the bathrooms and the kitchen. Make sure you have at least one trash can. 

Move Day

  • Get as much rest as possible the night before!
  • Make sure one person stays at each house. 
  • Communicate who is going to get lunch and who will tip the movers.
  • Get your suitcase(s) and “OPEN ME FIRST” boxes identified and set aside ASAP. 
  • As soon as coolers of refrigerator and freezer items are moved, unpack quickly so that no food will be wasted. 
  • Set up the beds first. 
  • Make sure you have everything needed for getting ready for bed (these items should be in your packed suitcase). 
  • Work on your kitchen next, starting with daily use dishes and utensils. 
  • Eat. Rest. You’ll be in the new place for a long time. There’s no award for getting set up most quickly. 

I hope you found these tips useful. Please share with anyone who could use them. I’d love to hear from anyone who uses my suggestions and how the moving tips helped. If you aren’t moving for a while, keep in mind that you can access all of my articles on my website (