I’ve found that most people don’t know how long it takes to organize a move and carry it out. Can you guess when you should start?

Answer: 6 months in advance. That’s half a year!

Today, I’m giving you my step-by-step process for orchestrating a move. After having assisted clients with move management over the years, I’ve narrowed in on several tips that make the process easier and far more enjoyable.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a shortened version that you can copy and paste or print for yourself. Here we go…

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Planning & Gathering Quotes (6 Months in Advance)

1. Create a checklist of to-dos, such as all the utilities/servicemen you need to call, migrating or cancelling internet service, a list of places to notify of address change, etc. Put these to-dos on a calendar (shared family calendar is a great tool!) and give yourself an ample, stress-free amount of time to complete them.

2. For your next step, I highly, highly suggest talking to a home stager about how to prepare your home for the market. A home stager can tell you which repairs make sense for profitably selling the home and which aren’t worth the investment. They’ll then work with you to make a plan for which furniture to keep for the final staging.

Inside Tip: Home staging will also help you detach yourself from your “home” and consider it a commodity. 

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3. Now that you know what work will be needed, you should connect with vendors and get quotes. I suggest getting price quotes and timeline quotes from at least two vendors in each category, such as movers, painters, and any other repair work that is needed for your existing home.  

Budget & Timeline (6 Months in Advance)

Having the above conversations with professionals early will help you establish a structured timeline and budget for your move. 

4. In a spreadsheet, map out each of the services you need, their estimated costs, and the time required for each to happen. Once you can see all the information at a glance, you’ll be able to create a timeline or calendar for yourself and call the right professionals to book their services. Give yourself a small financial buffer for unforeseen circumstances, but otherwise, stick to your budget!

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5. Utilize electronic systems to keep yourself organized, such as Google Documents or Evernote. These platforms have apps so that you always have the information you need at your fingertips and share with family members. Shared calendars are one of the best ways to keep everyone on the same page. 

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Purging, Sorting & Packing (4-6 Months in Advance)

When it comes to packing, trust me, you’ll want to start early! Waiting until the last minute leads to increased stress and a disappointing lack of options when it comes to getting quotes for vendors, having options for selling/donating, etc. Now is the time to start sorting, purging, selling, donating, and packing.

6. First, purge what you don’t use or love. There’s no sense paying someone to move items that you won’t use in your new home. You could stage an area of your home, such as the garage, for items that will be sold or donated. 

Pro Tip: Meeting with a home stager early will also help determine which furniture will stay for the staging, even if it’s not moving to the new house.

packing supplies caddy room to room for pre-move packing tape scissors color coding

7. Packing is next, but before we dive in, I suggest creating a packing kit with supplies that you can move from room to room. These could include scissors, different colors of tape, Sharpies, a cloth for dusting, newspaper for padding valuables, hammer for removing nails from the wall, etc. As you pack, you won’t have to run around hunting for these items!

8. Okay, you’re ready to fill up those boxes. Start by packing your non-essential items first. These could include off-season decor, clothing or sports equipment, stuff in the basement or attic, and anything that has been hiding in closets. Then move on to essential items.

Pro Tip: Take pictures as you go. From electronics assembly (TV, internet, etc.) to how you set up the decor in a room, if you want to recreate it in your next home, snap a photo. You could also create a “parts” box for items that you need to disassemble.

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9. As you pack the boxes, inventory them. I know it sounds time-intensive, but it will save you hours and headaches later. I suggest keeping a Google or Excel spreadsheet with the contents of each box and number your boxes. You could also color code with painter’s tape boxes that will go into the same room. 

This will save you so much time when you go to unpack or hunt for that ONE thing you need.

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Start House Hunting (4 Weeks Before Listing Your Home)

10. A realtor can guide you on precisely when to start house hunting and listing your home based on the market conditions where you live. I typically suggest having all repairs finished 4 weeks in advance of that listing date. This is also when you’ll want to stage the home and get professional photos taken.

11. Then you list it!

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Moving Day (When Home is Under Contract)

12. After the home is under contract, you can sell and donate the remaining items, such as any unwanted furniture that was used to stage the home. 

13. Continue packing up those everyday items that you saved for last, and send the bulk of it off with the movers. Just be sure to leave electronics and personal items to the very end and take those with you.

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Enjoying Your New Home 

14. Keep a box or bin of sheets, towels, cleaning products, bathroom hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper, and other essentials that you will need immediately in your new home. This will give you the ability to function while you wait for the movers to deliver your boxes and unpack.

15. Lastly, I want to gently remind you to be realistic about the time it takes to unpack and organize a new home. It is no small feat, so give yourself the time and space to enjoy the process, make it your own, and keep it stress-free. After all, a move should be exciting!

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Need Help Managing Your Family’s Move?

A move is a big life event, and one that can be joyful and smooth with the right approach. I love helping families create a strategic move by: 

  • establishing a timeline
  • breaking down the project into smaller, more manageable chunks
  • providing information on resources to sell/donate/recycle items
  • space planning existing furnishings in the new home
  • creating an inventory of moving boxes and items
  • Unpacking and organizing post-move

If you need support with any or all of these items, I would be honored to help. Please contact me here or call me at 847-208-3563 with any questions.


The Simplified Moving Checklist

1. Write a list of personal to-dos (6 months out)

2. Meet with a home stager to discuss profit-savvy repairs and staging

3. Get multiple quotes for any professional work required

4. Create a timeline and budget for the move

5. Use apps to share necessary info with all appropriate family members

6. Purge, donate or sell items that you don’t love and that won’t be used in the home staging

7. Create a time-saving packing kit that moves from room to room

8. Start packing non-essential items, then essential items (take pictures as needed)

9. Make an inventory of items within boxes and color code for easy unpacking

10. Have all repairs finished (4 weeks out)

11. List the home!

12. Remove the remaining unwanted items (when home is under contract)

13. Finish packing up the space and let the movers take over EXCEPT with your electronics and personal items. Take those yourself for peace of mind.

14. Have a bin of essentials with you so you can use the new home while you wait for the movers

15. Give yourself peace of mind and time as you unpack

Do you want to get organized, but you struggle with procrastination and motivation?

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