A local move is a common type of move, that’s usually less than 50 miles. A move within the same building, to the next street, to another neighborhood within your town, city, and state. In most cases, it takes at least two movers and one vehicle to execute a local move.
Local moving can be stressful too, there are so many things you should consider in advance. We recommend starting preparing early for your upcoming local move, at least a month before the moving day. The earlier your start, the less hassle and hurry you will experience during the whole process – from preparing to moving into your new house.
Let us help you get ready for your move with the most simple, informative, and handy local moving checklist.
4-6 weeks before the move: Organizing details.
1. Search local moving companies and get estimates.
There are hundreds and thousands of different moving companies on the market. The reality is that the number of complaints is growing, as there are many moving companies providing low-quality services to their customers. To protect yourself from dishonest movers, you can start by asking your friends, colleagues, and relatives for recommendations. Maybe some of them relocated recently and can share their experience and contacts of the movers.
If you couldn’t get any recommendations, the other great option is looking for local movers online, checking their records on BBB, as well as their licenses, ratings, and customer reviews. Choose the movers you liked most, call them, ask all your questions, and schedule 3-5 estimates. Remember that on-site estimates are generally free.
2. Create your moving budget.
If you have heavy items, stairs, or elevators, keep in mind that some local moving companies may add charges for these. There’s no exact price how much your local move would cost, because the following factors determine the final cost:
- the total volume of the stuff you’re moving
- the distance of the move (local vs. long-distance)
- part of the jobs you consider doing yourself
- packing materials
- additional fees that some moving companies charge (long carry fee is good example)
- additional insurance coverage (if you want to buy)
Once you receive estimates from different movers, compare them carefully, and make a decision. Choose and confirm your movers. Read all the papers thoroughly before you sign any of them.
Another important thing is considering extra insurance coverage you may need for a move. Ask your moving company what kind of insurance they offer to see what it covers.
3. Downsize, sort, and declutter.
Organize a garage sale or sell extra stuff online. There are many online marketplaces, where you can sell your used appliances, furniture, and clothes. Those are great ideas to get rid of your unwanted things or recycle unused items and make a little extra money. Try the following popular ones:
Rockstar Pro Tip: You can also donate your extra items to charity organizations. If you don’t know any, do a quick Internet search to find local organizations accepting donations. Also, check out your local public library or school to donate your books.
Rockstar Pro Tip: If you donate a lot of items, worth $250 or more, you can ask the organization for a receipt. Then you will be able to claim the donation as a charitable contribution in your taxes.
Now, you’re ready for packing!
4. Order moving supplies in advance.
Estimate how much moving supplies you’ll need. Especially if you’re considering a DIY and packing yourself, go ahead and buy:
- bubble wrap
- shrink wrap
- duct tape
- packing foam
You can ask boxes from your neighborhood grocery stores and pharmacies, they probably give you them for free. Walmart and Target sell special moving boxes. Other moving supplies from the list above are available at Home Depot, UPS Store, or Target.
If you are using movers, packing materials may cost you extra, as some full-service moving companies charge for boxes, wrapping materials, blankets, tapes etc. However, some of the movers bring all the necessary materials for your move and don’t charge for them. Check your contract if the packing supplies are included, or ask your moving company if they will provide, so you don’t have to worry about them.
5. Organize moving help.
Again, if you’re considering DIY, ask your friends or relatives for help, and try to schedule packing, cleaning and organizing for the weekend. Let them know how much you’d appreciate that. Tell them in advance your packing and moving dates, so they can adjust their schedule and find the time to help you. Give them as much notice as possible.
On moving day, organize their food, drinks, transportation, and maybe some gifts or even tips for a favor this big to show your appreciation. Also, you can set a date and take your helpers out for food or drinks after you move in. That would be a nice gesture from you to appreciate their efforts.
If you are hiring professional movers, they can make your move go much smoother.
6. Packing process.
It’s time to start packing, but packing itself can be a stressful process that requires organization. If you are using your own truck, you can hire moving labor for packing only. First, make a list of items that should be packed professionally. They can be antiques, fragile items, appliances, piano, and furniture.
Professionals know how to pack them properly, so your valuable goods won’t be damaged during the loading, transporting, and unloading. Go room by room and make a list of all items that will be packed.
7. Explore your new neighborhood.
If you are moving to a new area, research grocery stores, gyms, restaurants, coffee shops, banks, doctors, and schools in the neighborhood. Prepare all the necessary paperwork you’ll need to transfer or set up new accounts and memberships.
Download your free local moving checklist [PDF]
2-3 weeks before the move: Getting ready.
1. Notify utility services end and start dates.
Schedule the transfer dates of gas, electricity, water, telephone, garbage, and other services. Also update your address for TV, internet, newspapers, cleaning help. Or you can use MyUtilities to transfer or set up utilities at your new home. It is a platform that allows people to compare hundreds of different utility options and plans. The source makes it possible to connect all your utilities on a single website, instead of spending time on searching hundreds of websites and comparing all the confusing plans.
2. Notify relevant government offices.
Make sure you notify the Social Security Administration, the IRS, USPS, and the Department of Veteran Affairs, and other relevant government offices that your address is changing. If you have a car, don’t forget to update your insurance and car registration.
3. Fitness, yoga, swimming, and other activities.
Don’t forget canceling or transferring your membership at yoga, swimming, zumba, gym, or other leisure activities. Probably the fitness club you go to has their affiliate in your new neighborhood, so you can just transfer the membership.
4. Find storage options near your new home.
Some moving companies offer storage solutions to their customers. If your mover doesn’t have storage facilities, consider finding storage in your new neighborhood. You may need it to store your items, furniture, or seasonal clothes.
1 week before the move: Tie up all loose ends.
1. Label all boxes.
Try to finish packing before the last week prior to the move. Once you have all your boxes full, tape them shut and label them. Make sure boxes are closed properly and the tape is secure. Label boxes with its content and destination room names and try to be as specific as possible. You can make an inventory for your own records.
2. Don’t pack list.
It’s important to prepare the Don’t Pack list. The list of things that you should keep off the truck, which may include the following items:
- Your important documents, passports, etc.
- Credit cards
- Firearms or ammunition (in case you have)
- Clean up the house
- Clear out and tidy up the rooms. You may need help from professional cleaners. Consider finding and hiring them in advance. After you finish packing and cleaning, take photos of your empty rooms to prove they are in move-out condition.
3. Take care of your pets.
If you have a cat or a dog, a turtle, a hamster, or any other pets, make arrangements for them. Book a pet sitter, or ask any of your friends for a favor.
In case if you aren’t leaving your pet with a friend or a sitter, keep your pet in a quiet room. Because the activities and sounds of a move will frighten your pets. It’s important to keep them in a secure area to reduce the stress level in order to prevent an accidental escape.
After you complete the move, try reassembling a familiar environment for your pet. Set up the bed and food bowl to make him or her feel at home.
4. Backup your laptop or computer.
Back up all your files and consider saving them to cloud storage service or a hard drive. Unplug your computer, disconnect all accessories, such as a mouse, speakers, flashcards, etc. and pack. Unless your mover is packing it for you.
5. Meet your landlords.
Make sure you got everything done and ready for the upcoming move. Prepare for your final walkthrough with your old house landlord.
Then meet the new landlord and receive the keys from your new house earlier before the moving day.
1 day before the move: Take care of the most important things.
1. Prepare your appliances.
Defrost and clean the fridge, then dry it. Also, clean your coffee machine, stove, and microwave.
2. How will you get to your new home?
If you are not driving, make sure you have transportation for you and your family members.
3. Pack the essentials kit.
Don’t forget about your essentials kit. You’ll need the following things for the first few days after you move:
- Phone and charger
- Laptop and charger
- Paper towel, toilet paper, toiletries, shower kit, toothpaste, and toothbrush
- A change of clothes
- Your kids’ toys, special blankets, or other things that your children always need with them
- Snacks and water
- The medicine that you’ll probably need
- Also, items from the Don’t Pack list: your important documents, passports, credit cards, jewelry
- Prepare some cash. You’ll tip your movers later, so prepare the cash upfront. Or maybe you’ll want to order some pizza or food, buy drinks on moving day.
First, drop off kids and pets. Then get ready to meet the movers outside and explain where they should park.
Rockstar Pro Tip: Find a parking space as closest as possible to the entrance. Some moving companies charge a long carry fee if they have to walk a certain distance from the entrance to the truck.
Show them the boxes and items that should be packed, loaded, and moved, and the things that they shouldn’t load and you’ll take them with you. Notify about the fragile items in boxes. Answer all the questions your movers may have during the move. Give them cold drinks if it’s hot, or hot drinks if it’s cold outside.
Finally, clean the house, mop the floor after movers empty all the rooms of your old house. Make a walk-through and turn off the lights.
At your new house.
1. Unloading your possessions.
Once you arrive at your new place, lay down the carpet and floor protector. When the movers arrive, meet them at your new place and show them where they should put the boxes and furniture. Show them around. When they finish unloading all your belongings, count the boxes and check for missing items. Go through your inventory list and make sure you have everything delivered. Sign the list, and get your copy for your records.
2. Make full payment to your movers.
The last but not the least step of your move is to make payment to the movers according to your contract, using the payment method you agreed to.
3. Tip your movers.
Moving heavy appliances, furniture and boxes is hard work. Your movers really help you save a great deal of time and stress. So don’t forget to tip your movers. Tips are like a confirmation that they performed their job well. But how much should you tip? Consider giving $4-5 per hour per each mover. If it’s a small move and movers work 4 hours or less, that will be $20 per person, if they work 8 hours, that’s $40 per mover per day. However, in some cases, if you feel the services were exceedingly high, you can give your movers as much as $100, if you like.
You can either tip each mover separately or calculate the total amount and give it to the foreman. Later the foreman will share it among the movers.
4. Cleaning and unpacking.
Start from doing an initial cleaning. Mop the floor and vacuum, before you set down the appliances and furniture. Then you can start unpacking. In case if you find out that some of your items are damaged, take photos of them, contact your movers. Try to do it as soon as possible, otherwise, your mover won’t be able to compensate for the damages.
Check your appliances too, plug them. If you find out that any of them were damaged during transportation, check the insurance details, and submit a claim. Keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time to submit your claim.
5. Double-check your new billing address.
Check once again to make sure that you have updated your billing address at your bank, credit cards, health and car insurance, online stores, etc. You can go to the local post office and file a change of address form if you are afraid that you could forget to update something.