A Go-To Moving Checklist From Someone Who’s Moved 7 Times In 4 Years

Since leaving college in 2013, I’ve moved a grand total of seven times. Every move has been crazy, required a good amount of planning, and caused some headaches — but I’ve picked up some tricks along the way.

Why’d I move so much?

  • May, 2013: I moved from UC Berkeley to Los Angeles, back into my parents house — pretty standard for any recent grad, at least for a bit.
  • June 2013:  I moved into a subleased apartment in the city
  • August 2013: Moved into my first startup’s company house
  • May 2014: Finally had enough and moved into my first adult apartment
  • April 2016: My boyfriend at the time convinced me we needed a better apartment
  • December 2016: My, erm, now former boyfriend, decided he was keeping the place and I was moving out.
  • June 2017: I bought my first house!!!

That last one was a doozy, and I’m relieved to say that I won’t be moving again any time soon!

So, now that I’ve moved more times than anyone should really attempt, here are some tricks that kept my sanity, wallet, and back in check:

Planning

Of course, I’m going to recommend you start by making a spreadsheet (or two)! Mine always fall into two camps: to-do and services.

My to-do sheet is comprehensive. A move means updating a lot of the little things in your life:

  • Update your DMV account online (Californians can do this here), which can automatically update your voter’s registration for you!
  • Alert USPS to set a forwarding address
  • Update every bank or brokerage account with the new address, as well as Amazon or any frequent online shopping sites
  • Schedule appliance deliveries (assuming the new place doesn’t have a fridge waiting for you)
  • Update or purchase your insurance (renters? homeowners? auto?)
  • Hire movers (or confirm a truck rental) and schedule utility installation/start dates
  • If possible or necessary, clean the place thoroughly before you move in. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
  • Have new locks ready so you can rekey doors yourself (unless you live in a rental)
  • If you’re crazy like me, have cabinet liners ready
  • And while you’re at it, sign up for Amazon Move for discounts on anything you buy from Amazon. Don’t do this until you start the moving process, though, as it comes with an expiration date.

For services, I keep a sheet of local options and what they can deliver — and for how much. Give yourself at least a month’s head start for this. You’ll want to shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal for the best quality service. If you put it off any later, there’s no guarantee they’ll even be available the day you need them.

Boxes

Go to your local liquor store and ask them for any and all boxes they can spare. Seriously. Liquor and beer boxes are a mover’s dream, because they come with custom dividers and glass protectors. How else would they ship all of that glass, unmarred?

Every time I move, I hit up BevMo and grab more boxes than can reasonably be used, and bring the packing cardboard with me.

Added bonus: you get a reputation for moving in with nothing but boxes of liquor.

Packing

I pack in stages. About three days before the move, I’ll pack anything I know I’m not going to need until the move is done, but I don’t just go room by room. Instead, I tend to pair items that could protect each other from the inevitable shifts and bumps that come from hauling ass across town.

In laymen terms, I pack any glassware in those handy glassware separators, and anything slightly less fragile gets wrapped up in sweaters, tee shirts, or anything soft and protective enough to give a bit of extra assurance that my favorite mugs won’t break. Again.

And anything I know I’ll need first, I clearly label, or put it in my car. For me, that’s usually all things cat (toys, food, etc.) — so the worst is over for her quickly — and that cabinet liners along with some scissors. Anything super precious, delicate, or expensive comes along with me as well (jewelry, laptop, my great grandma’s tea cup…). I get all of these out of the way before any movers or friends join in on the action.

The Move

If you have able-bodied buddies (my new band’s name), and are comfortable renting a truck, you’re already ahead of the game. Just go to your local Hertz, Penske, UHaul, or even Home Depot if they have trucks available, and be sure to thank your friends profusely for helping. Beer helps.

If, however, driving a sedan is enough of a challenge (no judgment) and you feel awkward asking friends for manual labor favors, do what I do. About a month ahead of the move, start contacting moving companies. Give them an exact list of what you need to have moved, and ask for quotes via email — not phone. It will always cost more than they say it will, unless you have it in writing.

I’ve heard good things about UPack for long distance, but have had great luck with local businesses when I’m just moving across town.

Unpacking

Assuming the place is already clean, I like to get settled immediately. The first things I unpack (besides the cat and her goodies) are cabinet liners and scissors. I get to work laying everything down, before breaking the rest of the boxes open.

From there, it’s fair game. I suggest prioritizing the kitchen, since you’ll get hungry and thirsty while unpacking. And usually I’ll cave by this point and order a pizza, too…

*****

Easy enough. It all takes one very busy weekend, but then you’re moved in! And while I usually don’t believe in silly self-rewards and the whole “Treat Yo-self” mantra, it’s worth it to get a massage afterwards…you’ll probably need it.

This post was originally published on a fledgling blog meant to help the author eliminate anxiety from her life, and to help organize her thoughts.

Image via Unsplash

  • most useful article on here in awhile. wish i’d seen it before my move except i moved at the same time as you and under similar circumstances. and i did it 3 times in 8 months including one across state lines! the first 2 cross-town moves i could do in parts over days and weeks, borrowing the ex’s truck for an hour for the bed and dresser. but the last one across state lines I did UPack and I cannot recommend it enough!

    • Thanks! I really appreciate it! Moving can be a real pain, but I’m glad to hear you’re done – at least for a little while.

  • Anna Yugova

    Just curious, why do you use liners for cabinets?

    • Hello! I use the cabinet liners for kitchen and bathroom cabinets, where I want to protect the items a bit. I know it’s probably crazy, but the layer of separation (with an open weave) seems to keep my dishes nice and clean, and lets face wash dry out without getting gross. It also protects the condition of my shelves and items – great seeing as I’m no longer renting them 😉