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The Essential Guide to Packing and Moving While You Sell Your Old House


Whether you’re a college student moving into a new apartment or a family downsizing to a smaller home, moving requires a foolproof game plan. The trick to making the process easy and efficient is to plan ahead and stay organized at every step of the way. If you stick to a schedule, create a detailed moving checklist and book any professional services you need far enough in advance, you’ll make moving out of your house — and settling into your new place — a much less stressful process. Read on for our detailed guide on packing, moving and everything in between.

In This Article:
  1. How to Organize for a Move
  2. The Most Important Things to Consider When Moving
  3. What to Do After Your Move Into Your New Home

1. How to Organize for a Move

Moving out of your current home starts weeks — if not months — before your actual move-out date. If you’re selling your house, your goal is to get your property on the market and make a sale as quickly as possible. In the weeks leading up to your last day in your current space, you’ll want to declutter your entire home and get your rooms as clean and well-staged as possible. Here are some tips.



1. Create a Timeline

Before you stage your home or start packing away your kitchen appliances, create a detailed moving schedule. You should start the moving process about two or three months in advance to ensure that it’s as painless as possible, and use a weekly checklist to keep track of your progress. You might need professional help for some of the items on your to-do list, so be sure to vet and contact any third-party providers you’ll need ahead of time, especially if you’re moving during peak move months (June - September).

2. Declutter and Deep Clean Your Home

Moving is a great opportunity to give your home the ol’ Marie Kondo treatment. And while decluttering is indeed a fantastic way to weed out any items that aren’t enhancing your life, it’ll also save you time, money and stress during your move.  To start, ask yourself:

  • What items do I rarely — or never — use? 
  • What furniture, technology, appliances and other household items do I want to upgrade?

As you go through your space, create a list of items you plan on tossing, donating or selling, and make any Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist postings far in advance to give yourself ample time to find a buyer and make the exchange. If you’re short on space and want to move some of your essentials out of view, consider moving it to a storage facility.

After you declutter, you’ll want to deep clean your entire space and spot treat any carpet stains, wall markings and other signs of wear and tear.

Tip: Download our complete deep cleaning checklist to make sure you don’t miss a spot!


3. Stage Your Home

After you’ve decluttered and deep cleaned, your next step is to stage both the interior and exterior of your home. Studies report that staged houses sell 88 percent faster and for 20 percent more profit — and you don’t always have to hire an expensive staging company to elevate your space. Here are some tips to stage your home:

  • Focus on staging the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and dining room — in other words, the areas that will greatly influence the buyer’s decision-making process.
  • Create curb appeal by landscaping your lawn, adding flowers, refreshing the trim and repainting the outer walls.
  • Float furniture to create focal points and improve flow. (You can do this in your backyard, too.)
  • Upgrade your lighting to make it warm and inviting.
  • Add plants, smart-home devices and other visual flourishes to accent your home.

Need help? Check out our other guides:

  1. The Essential Guide to Selling on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace
  2. 8 Home Cleaning Hacks
  3. Professional Tips on Staging Your Home
  4. 9 Small Yard Landscaping Ideas
  5. 6 Easy Ways to Make Cleaning Fun for Your Kids



2. The Most Important Things to Consider When Moving

It’s not all about your boxes — without taking care of oft-overlooked tasks at the right time, you may show up at the front door of your new home without any gas, electricity, mail and more.

Hire the Right Moving Company

If it's in your budget, consider using a moving service. Keep in mind that prices tend to skyrocket during the summer months when there’s greater demand. Many moving companies require a few weeks' notice, so book early to avoid any extra fees and stress. Remember: it’s more than just the price — the service itself can make the process a cinch or a hassle, so talk to friends, family and colleagues who’ve used movers before. As you vet different companies, ask lots of questions to uncover hidden charges or fine print.

Pack Wisely

As you’re packing your belongings in preparation to move, keep any essentials in a separate box or backpack for easy access. This includes medication, toiletries, a towel, utensils, your keys and any important documents you want to keep close.

Keep Items in a Storage Unit

Moving can take days or even weeks to complete, as you gradually unpack your boxes and find the best areas for your household items. If you have belongings you want to keep but know you won’t need right away, consider storing them in a separate storage unit to give you one less thing to worry over during the moving process.

Clean Your New Space

If your new house wasn’t professionally cleaned, be sure to head over before your move-in day to wipe down surfaces and countertops and sweep the floor. If it’s in your budget, hire a cleaning crew to ensure every nook is spotless before you set up your space.

Shop for New Furniture, Supplies and Decor

Settling into a new house takes time, and not every household item is essential right away. Before you move in, create a list of things you need to buy and rank them as urgent and non-urgent. You’ll want to coordinate your schedule so that you cross off any urgent items (such as a mattress, trash bags and trash cans, disinfectant spray, etc.) from your list prior to moving in so that you’re not left empty-handed on day one. Non-urgent items may include furniture and decor that you can slowly add to your new home.

Update Your Mailing Address and Subscriptions

Keep your identity secure by updating your mailing address with your employer, banks, credit card companies and government entities like the IRS and USPS. If you’re subscribed to any magazines or newspapers, be sure to update your mailing address as well.

Transfer Your Utilities

There’s no point in moving into a new house if you can’t use the internet, flush the toilet or turn on the lights. To transfer your utilities and have everything set up before you move in, call your local internet, water, gas and electric providers a month in advance to schedule an activation (or, in the case of your wi-fi, installation) day. To play it safe, set a date that’s one or two days before you move in.



3. What to Do After Your Move Into Your New Home

After you’ve moved into your new home, you’ll need a few weeks to get adjusted and take care of any additional loose ends. Here’s a quick list of things you’ll want to do post-move:

  • Inspect all delivered boxes for mistreatment, damages and missing items.
  • Create an unpacking plan.
  • Know where the fuse box and water valve are.
  • Change the locks.
  • Check the smoke detectors and HVAC.
  • Install your smart-home devices and security system.
  • Connect your appliances.
  • Update your car registration.
  • Get to know your neighbors.

Recommended Reading

Moving can be complex, but we’ve got you covered. Check out our guides and tips to address all of your moving questions and needs:

  1. Moving for Work? Look for These Accommodations in a Job Relocation Package
  2. 10 Helpful Tips to Help Make Moving With Kids a Breeze
  3. 10 Tips for Moving Out of Your Dorm Room to Off-Campus Housing
  4. What to Do Before Moving to Another Country
  5. Tips for Empty Nesters Looking To Downsize
  6. When Is It A Good Idea To Downsize Your Home
  7. How to Move to Another City With Pets
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