Moving is overwhelming. You have so much to do and often very little time. When preparing for a move, take time to make lists, get rid of junk and learn the best ways to pack before getting started.

What to Do Before Moving Out

While moving day may be the apex of your stress level, there is a lot to do before then. To make the move as painless as possible, make sure you plan appropriately.

Your first step in preparing to move should be to make a detailed plan that will help you think through each step of the project and keep you focused on your end goal. As part of your moving plan, you should:

  • Make a budget: Decide how much you’re able to spend without adding stress to your move. Be realistic about what you need and what the average cost is.
  • Set a timeline: Work backwards from the date of your move and be sure to include time for decluttering, packing and cleaning. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. Packing is no joke.
  • Write a list of packing materials: Decide everything you need to pack and consult your budget to find out if you are able to buy to materials or if you need time to find free boxes.

Questions to Ask Before Preparing to Move

Next, use your plan, budget and timeline to make some important decisions about your move:

  • Does hiring movers fit in your budget? While hiring movers can be expensive, it can considerably reduce the work on moving day and save you time. Give movers extra consideration if you’re transporting a lot of furniture, need to rent a truck anyway or if you are short on time.
  • Who can you ask to help you move? If movers don’t fit in your budget, find friends who are willing to come over and pack a few boxes or besties who are willing to carry couches up and down stairs.
  • Is moving insurance worth the cost? If you’re moving anything valuable, consider getting insurance, especially if you’re hiring movers or relying on unexperienced friends.
  • Do you need to rent a truck? Calculate how much square footage you’ll need based on the number of things you are moving and the size of your furniture.

Once you’ve written a detailed plan for your move and made some basic decisions, you’re ready to start prepping for the physical move.

Two People Decluttering Picture Frames Before Moving

How to Declutter Before a Move

Moving things you don’t need – or don’t want – makes no sense and will cost you time and money if you’re hiring a moving company. One of the best things to do before moving out is decluttering.

Tips for Decluttering Before a Move

Use these tips to learn how to declutter for a move:

  • Start early: Use as much time as you have to declutter. Mark out a few hours every day from now until your move to get rid of stuff.
  • Make use of all your extras: While decluttering, you’ll find all the tiny shampoo bottles and paper towel rolls you’ve stashed away over the years. Use these leading up to your move and save yourself a few dollars in the process.

“About 3-4 weeks before your move, stop purchasing perishable foods and start cooking what you have on hand. Cook that frozen pot roast that’s been sitting in the freezer or eat that box of Macaroni & Cheese you’ve been saving for a bad day, now’s the time.”

Ingrid McLain | Customer Success Lead, uShip

  • Go room-by-room: Simplify your decluttering-before-a-move project by using the room-by-room approach. This is a good way to prevent the project from becoming overwhelming.
  • Get rid of unnecessary items: Takeout menus, old CDs, expired canned goods and so much more. Check out this full list of items to get rid of before a move.
  • Measure your furniture: Especially if you’re moving to a smaller home or will need to navigate multiple sets of stairs, measure large couches and arm chairs to make sure they will fit before you move them. Get rid of any furniture that won’t fit into your new space.

“Nothing is worse than moving your beloved sectional across the city just to find that it won’t fit in your new space. Make sure you have both the rooms and doorways measured in order to be sure that everything will fit.”

Miranda Benson |

  • Make throwing away items easy: Don’t let the junk pile up or make it to the new house. Come up with a plan for efficient waste removal, like renting a dumpster. Before moving out, you can also sell items at a yard sale to make a quick buck or donate items to Goodwill.
  • Leave sentimental items until the end: When you’re decluttering for a move, speed is a priority. Don’t waste time trying to sort through sentimental clutter, such as pictures and family heirlooms, until you’ve gotten into the groove and feel confident in your decluttering abilities.

“Once you decide what to pack, make a list of all the items you’ll be shipping or sending with your moving company, along with the number of boxes you have. Pack your personal luggage with all the items you’ll need immediately upon arrival, plus anything too precious to travel with your moving company. Think: clothes, toiletries, prescription medication, electronic devices, cameras, and jewelry.”

Paige Smith | SpareFoot 

How to Pack When Preparing for a Move

Now that you’ve gotten rid of everything you don’t need, you’re ready for the hard part. Packing is more than just dropping things in boxes. To protect your belongings and make unpacking as seamless as possible, be strategic about the task.

Woman Packing Red and Orange Books for a Move

Packing Tips for Moving

Use these tips to get started:

  • Pack rooms one at a time: Finish one room before you move on to the next. This will ensure that items are grouped together by room and boxes are organized.
  • Label boxes with details: Don’t just put the name of the room on the outside of the box. On the label, provide a short list of the items in the box and state its level of importance. If the box needs to be the first off the truck, the label should say that.
  • Start with least-used rooms and items: Begin by packing storage spaces, guest rooms and other areas that aren’t used daily. This will help you get holiday décor and out-of-season clothing out of the way first.
  • Pack your tools last: Don’t pack away anything you’ll need to take apart furniture or fix last-minute home issues. Make sure tools are last on the truck and first off because you’ll need them at the new house, too.
  • Use smaller boxes for heavier items: A heavy small box is easier to carry than a heavy big box. Using smaller boxes for heavy items like dishes and books will also prevent you from overloading them and risking a box breakdown.
  • Make a “first night” kit: Pack a box of everything you’ll need the first night. Make sure you include pillows, sheets, toiletries, phone chargers and anything else you’ll as soon as you arrive.

“Pack up as much as you possibly can so you are left only with the necessities until your moving date. This may make for an unpleasant last few weeks in the property you are about to vacate, however this will prove to be an absolute game changer in the long run.

If you have a spare room or garage you can use for storage then even better. By doing so, when moving day finally arrives it will simply be a case of emptying your newly allocated storage area and last bits and pieces into the vans and sending them on their way to your new home.”

Michael Brennan | Bellhops

When should I start packing for a move?

You should start packing for a move at least a month in advance . This will help eliminate stress the day of your move. While this may not be possible in all situations, try to give yourself as much time as possible to pack. You have more stuff than you think you do.

More Ways to Be Prepared for a Move

Preparing for a move with a detailed plan and some expert tips should simplify the job. If you need more help with other parts of the job, check out these articles:

How to Prapare for a Move