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15 Ways to Prepare for a Move

Moving Box

Want to make your move as efficient and painless as possible? Here are the top 15 moving tips we’ve learned from our professional movers through over 80 years of moving.


Make a list before you start moving so you don’t overlook or forget anything that needs to be done before, during, and after the move. You can use mobile apps to manage your lists, or use the free moving checklist from iMOVE as a starting point.


Book a moving company at least two months in advance to ensure you get a truck and movers to help you get the job done.


If you have a choice, move during the winter. Moving companies are less busy in the colder months and you may be able to get a better price on moving service as a result.


Change your address online and save yourself time, the USPS lets you change your address (good for up to 12 months) on their website. Changing your address online takes only a few minutes and makes sure all of your important mail gets to your new address. Alternatively, you can change your address at a physical post office, which should be done at least two to three weeks before your move.


Probably one of the most time-tested tips for a move, but also one that is often forgotten: color coordinate rooms using labels, colored markers, or specialized moving packing tape. Mark each box with the appropriate color so you can stay organized at any stage of your move. You can also color-coordinate the new rooms of your house so movers know exactly where to leave each box or item.


Get more than one estimate from moving companies to ensure you’re getting the best deal from a mover you can rely on. Moving companies are rarely priced the same, so shopping around may get you the best possible rate with a quality mover. Let a company like iMOVE get quotes and find a dependable mover for you (start a quote here).


Sell or donate anything you might not want or need. If there are things you can cut before moving, your move will be much easier. However, knowing what to sell and what to donate can be difficult, so make sure you take the time to sort out the more valuable items to sell. Yard sales or online classifieds postings are a good option for cashing in your unwanted items.


Research TV and Internet providers in your new area to see if you can save money or get better quality service. Websites like and can help you find out which providers offer service at your new home and compare them to other services.


Pack boxes to the brim to make them less likely to collapse. Of course you’ll have to be careful not to pack boxes too heavy (no more than 50 lbs each), but if you can pack them to the brim it will ensure that they don’t collapse when they’re stacked on the moving truck. You can also double-up on boxes for heavier items, so nothing gets lost or damaged in the event one of the boxes rips.


When issued a Bill of Lading, pay close attention to the small print and make sure all of the terms and fees meet any vocally discussed agreements. A Bill of Lading is a legal document moving companies give you to understand the services they’re offering you. Depending on the type of moving contract you go with, the Bill of Lading may have additional fees or agreements that you weren’t privy to when you were first given a quote. Review the Bill of Lading and be sure to get a copy of it made in the event something goes awry during the move.


Don’t forget to update memberships and subscriptions like bank accounts, gym memberships, and any mail subscriptions you may have; as well as notify your doctor, dentist, and the IRS of your move. It’s worthwhile to notify all of the necessary parties at least one month before your moving date, to ensure billings and mailings get updated.


Never pack flammable, combustible, or poisonous items. Items that are flammable or combustible don’t travel well, and poisonous items pose a potential risk to movers and you. Moving companies will refuse to move your items if they know you’re traveling with any such items, and often discovery of any of these items voids your moving contract. Dispose of these items two or three weeks before your move to make sure they’re out of the way.

Here's a list of items that fall into the prohibited category via federal law or common company policies.

  • Nail polish remover
  • Paints and paint thinners
  • Lighter fluid
  • Gasoline
  • Fireworks
  • Oxygen bottles
  • Propane cylinders
  • Automotive repair and maintenance chemicals
  • Radio-pharmaceuticals
  • Matches
  • Firearms
  • Food in glass jars or perishable foods
  • Prescription drugs needed for immediate use
  • Cash
  • Collections (i.e., coins)
  • Family photos
  • Important personal papers (i.e., deeds, wills)
  • Negotiable papers (i.e., bonds, stocks, certificates)
  • Jewelry
  • Moving documents

Mark specific boxes with “open first” so you know which boxes have the essentials you’ll need to unpack immediately after the move is complete. Rather than digging though box after box to find the right dishes, your outfits, or other necessary items, label items “open first” to save yourself time (and a headache).


In addition to labeling specific boxes with which to open first, consider listing items on the outside of each box so you know exactly where items are if you need them urgently or in case of an emergency. Writing object names on the side of each box may take an extra minute during packing, but it’s going to save you a lot of time during unpacking.


You can cut a handle out of your boxes with a box knife to make carrying individual boxes easier. Simply create a flat line parallel to the top of the box, then cut a small, downward-facing triangle from that line to create a handle. You can fold the small triangle cutout upward so the ridge where your hand will hold the box is smooth and not cardboard-sharp.

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