I’ve moved a lot in the last decade+

I did a quick audit of the number of times I’ve changed homes. I didn’t include moves to/from university in the four years I was in school, even though they were technically moves and we moved furniture. I did include the moves between homes while at school. I also didn’t include the moves to/from the summer I spent in Italy or to/from my internships in New York City – no furniture was moved even though getting all my clothes into a suitcase and onto Amtrak was an adventure.

Even so, I counted a total of 11 moves since turning 18. I’ve moved cities multiple times and lived in all types of homes from large apartment buildings to Brooklyn walk-ups to basements.

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According to FiveThirtyEight, the average person moves about 11 times within a whole lifetime. And the average 30-year-old has moved about six times. Considering this most recent move likely isn’t my last, I’m pretty far ahead of the curve on both counts.

That said, my proclivity for list-making paired with frequent moves has produced a pretty standard and comprehensive checklist for such an event. I add a few things every time that are usually specific to the move (moving states requires additional items, for example), but broken down most of these items are applicable to your average move.

In any case, it’s a good starting point for anyone else who might not be so adept at planning. Or at the very least, I’m preserving it somewhere for myself.

Scroll to the bottom for the tl;dr list you can copy + paste for yourself.


So you’ve found a new home (to rent or buy)! Yay! What now? The following is my standard move checklist, which begins after you have secured a new place to live and assuming you have access to it.

Tell Mom & Dad. I’m lucky enough to have a incredibly supportive parental unit, who have helped me physically move more times than I care to remember and who are always so generous with their expertise – whether it’s help arranging and decorating (thanks Mom!) or building me beautiful new pieces to fit in my new space (thanks Dad!)

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A set of lights made by my dad.

Take photos of and measure rooms in your new home. This will help you get an idea of what you can bring with you, what you might need and to start getting decorating ideas, if that’s your thing.

Audit furniture, clothes, etc. in old home. This is your chance to purge! Make piles for donations, selling and trash. There are a number of ways to sell old stuff, including Craigslist, Amazon Trade-In, and decluttr – all of which we’ve used this time around (I’m sure Joe is excited that I finally got rid of all my DVDs, thanks to decluttr).

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Donations and trade-ins to mail in.

Get Boxes! I’ve used City Moving Boxes in the past (if you’re in the NYC area, if not there are likely similar services near you). Or you can scour the recycling area of your building for empty boxes (like we did this time) or visit your local liquor store and ask for some. We also invested in a few large plastic bins since we have some storage space to utilize.

Choose new paint colors, if you are able to paint or choose new colors for your place. Do this ASAP, especially if you want to be able to test some samples on the wall.

Schedule any other work you need done before moving day. If you have the luxury of time and can get work done before all your furniture arrives, take advantage of it. Or if you need repairs done in your rental, make note of anything that’s broken before moving in so you can have a record of it.

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Paint samples for the walls.

Schedule movers as soon as you can, if you’re using them. And schedule your move day with your building (old and new) if it’s required, and check if you need any street permits. We’re running into an issue scheduling movers two weeks out because we waited too long. Yikes! It’s looking like this will be a JoeMegistan DIY move…

Call your utilities to set up stop and start service dates. Some people don’t put stop dates on their accounts and this can cause issues for people moving in after you, so be respectful. Figure out which utilities you are responsible for and set up accounts with them ahead of time. Many places now let you set your start and stop dates online. Make note of your dates and new account numbers, if you’re switching providers.

Schedule a day for the cable or wireless company to come in and wire up the place if it isn’t already. Figure out what packages are available to you. If everything is set up you might just need to switch the account over.

Return your cable box and router, if you’re renting them. (Though you really should invest in your own, check the recommendations page for suggestions.) Check with your provider on what you absolutely need to send back and how. For example, Comcast has an agreement that lets you drop off your box at UPS and they ship it for you.

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Our new mailbox. Yet-to-be labeled.

Set your mail forwarding address. You can do this real quick right through USPS and you can set it to start for a future date if you just want to check this one off quickly. Here’s where you get all those nice coupons from Lowe’s and CB2 you can opt into if you need new things for your home. You’ll also have the option of automatically switching your voter registration. Do it! Voting is important, and this way they’ll send you pre-filled forms. All you need to do is check the info, sign it and mail it in.

Check out your new route to work. If you use public transit investigate your options. If you have automatic renewal on your current route you’ll want to end that. If you have pre-tax commuter benefits look into opting out or into new services. Check out the parking situation in your neighborhood if you have a car, and purchase new passes for your new route or parking setup.

Change your address on all your important accounts. Make sure to check your bank accounts, retirement and savings accounts, and any records you have with your employer. If you are moving states, schedule a time to get a new ID (make sure not to let your driver’s license lapse between moves).

Fill in all the major holes in the walls at your old place. Make sure to spackle and sand down. Don’t worry about small nail holes, but anything you used a screw for or any other major holes should be addressed.

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Spackling in progress.

Clean up your old space. You don’t necessarily have to do a deep clean, especially if you’re renting (that’s the landlord’s job) but I always sweep the floors, clean the bathrooms, do a light dusting and wipe down the stove, microwave and refrigerator. We got lucky at our new place – the seller took good care of the unit and he spent a few days cleaning it up for us. I haven’t always had that experience with renting, so it was a nice surprise.

Wipe down the new place, especially if the landlord has been negligent. Sweep and mop the floors, wipe down the insides of the cupboards, dust, clean off trim, wipe down bathrooms and take some elbow grease to the kitchen appliances. The easiest time to clean a space is when it’s empty!

Move! If you’re moving on your own, bribe some friends with pizza and beer. If you have movers, also bribe them with treats (during my last move we went and bought them coffee and doughnuts), they are taking care of some of your most prized possessions. Either move all in one day or plan to move stuff over a few days. I’ve always done the all-in-one day move, but this time we are moving slowly, a little bit at a time, partly because of mover issues and scheduling with people doing our floors and paint. I’ll report back on which is better.

Return all the keys you have to your landlord. Key replacement charges can be expensive, especially in large buildings, so keep track of them.

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Saying bye to this set soon (Keeping the Super Buyrite card, though).

Make copies of your new keys. Label them clearly. I always keep an extra set at work, a set at home for guests, and give an extra set to a friend nearby. I have locked myself out of my place too many times, and hey, emergencies happen.

Alert your friends and family! This is where the fun starts (if the move wasn’t fun enough already). Send an email to your loved ones with your new address for their records. Maybe you’ll get some nice notes – everyone loves getting a little snail mail, right?

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Hopefully doing this in a few weeks.

Have a party and pop some champagne – if that’s your style. Let your friends come and enjoy your new space. It doesn’t have to be completely put together. In fact, you have the best excuse for the space not being finished, yet – you just moved! Getting your home together to fit your vision for it is a journey anyway, so celebrate the start of that with people you love.


tl;dr Simple Moving Checklist

  • Tell family and loved ones
  • Measure rooms in new place and take photos
  • Audit furniture, clothes, shoes, media, etc. and make piles for trash, sell and donation
  • List stuff to sell on Craigslist, OfferUp, Amazon Trade-In, decluttr
  • Start collecting boxes, cardboard and rubbermaids
  • Choose new paint colors and get samples
  • Check new place for anything that needs fixed and schedule any work that needs done before moving in
  • Schedule movers or round up friends who can help
  • Call utilities to set up start and stop dates on your accounts
  • Schedule cable or wireless company to set up service or switch accounts
  • Return old cable box and router
  • Set mail forwarding with USPS
  • Figure out new commute and make necessary adjustments on public transit passes, parking arrangements and commuter benefits
  • Change address on all important accounts (employer, banks, retirement, etc.) and get new ID if moving states
  • Fill in holes with spackle at old place and paint if necessary
  • Clean up old space: sweep, wipe down appliances, clean bathrooms
  • Clean up new space: sweep, mop, wipe down cupboards and appliances, dust, clean trim, clean bathrooms
  • Move! Feed your movers/friends
  • Return all keys to landlord or new occupants
  • Make several copies of new keys and label (get locks changed if necessary)
  • Send an email to friends and family with your new address
  • Schedule housewarming and celebrate!

Moving is a pain for everyone, but make sure to take some time to enjoy the ride, because it’s also usually a pretty exciting time as well.

Anything I’ve missing on this list? Let me know!

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