Organize Your Move

If relocation is in your future, taking the time to organize your move can save you a lot of stress.  Moving is always a major undertaking, but it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one.  If carefully planned out, you can have a smooth move.   

My husband and I moved 16 times in 24 years.  We've moved across town, interstate, from coast to coast, and internationally.  As you can see, I've had more than my share of practice moving. 

In my experience, two factors play a key role in the success and smoothness of a move.  Those factors are knowledge and planning.    


The first step to organize your move is to gather information. As part of your quest for knowledge, you should strive to make an informed decision about how best to conduct your move. There are three main options available for moving. These include:

  • Portable Storage Containers
  • Truck Rental
  • Full Service Moving Company

Each of these options offers advantages and disadvantages. The more you can learn about the options available, the easier it will be to make the best decision for your move.

Recommended Reading

You can read more about each of the three main moving options by clicking on the image below.

Gather Information

Once you decide on a method for your move, you will need to choose a company to work with and sign a contract.

If you decide to hire a full service moving company, you will need to obtain written in-home estimates from all the companies you are considering. Do not accept a final estimate over the phone or internet. 

In order to provide you with an accurate estimate, your mover will need to see your stuff.  This includes everything that will go with you to your new location. Show the person preparing the estimate every area of your home to include the garage, shop, attic, basement, outdoor sheds, and so forth.  Also be sure the person providing the estimate makes a note of any over-sized, oddly shaped, or extremely delicate items which may add significantly to the weight of your shipment or require special packaging. 

Once you have chosen a moving company, you should receive information regarding your rights and responsibilities and the company’s arbitration policy.  This is true, to some extent, whether you are using a portable storage container, renting a moving truck or hiring a full-service moving company.

Where applicable, you should also receive instructions as to what you need to do prior to moving day to prepare for the move. 

Read over this information carefully as you organize your move.  It is critical to the success of your moving experience.  

Recommended Reading

For more great resources on how to organize your move check out these pages:

Moving Day

Your knowledge gathering duties do not end with the arrival of your move date. 

Ask questions about anything you don’t understand or are concerned about.  Some movers are excellent at keeping you informed as to the progress of your move, but others are much less so. 

Make sure you know what your movers are doing and why.  They are about to take everything you own and drive off with it.  You have a right to know.


What better way to organize your move than to make a plan? 

Start by making a list of things you need to do to prepare for the move as well as after you get settled in your new location. 

As part of your move planning process you should purge your belongings.  This means sorting through everything you own and deciding what goes with you and what gets left behind.

Recommended Reading

For information on what and how to purge as well as what to do with the things you’re getting rid of, click on the images below

If you are using a moving company, there will be some items which they will not transport (and which I generally do not recommend you move yourself).  It’s best to separate these items from your shipment before the movers arrive rather than be faced with a kitchen counter covered in black listed items on move day and no idea what to do with them.   

Generally speaking, anything flammable, combustible, explosive, bad-smelling, prone to spoiling or likely to leak is forbidden. 

Items the Movers Won't Move

  • Oil and gas (to include empty red gas cans like you use to fill your lawnmower)
  • Butane
  • Propane cans or tanks (even if they are empty)
  • Bleach and other disinfectant cleansers
  • Paint
  • Aerosols
  • Automotive fluids such as antifreeze
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Ammunition
  • Open containers of alcohol
  • Open food containers
  • Perishable foods
  • Open liquids (this includes shampoo, lotions, cooking oils, etc.)
  • Money (I've even had kids’ piggy banks rejected)

Items to Give Away

As you organize your move, make a plan for how best to use up the items listed above so that you have as little as possible to get rid of before you go.

In addition to those items which moving companies forbid, plan on leaving the following items behind simply because they do not move well:

  • House plants --- I always give mine away as gifts to friends and neighbors
  • Candles --- In warm temperatures candles melt and reform leaving them looking worse for the wear and potentially damaging other items packed with them.  In addition, the smell from scented candles will permeate everything stored in the same box. 
  • Delicate children’s artwork --- Take some photos of the child with the project and dispose of it or give it to an interested relative, teacher or friend remaining in the area. 

Everything You See Here and More - Available in an eBook

If you found this information useful, you're sure to love Moving Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Move. It contains all the moving information available here on the website plus tons of additional information on topics like preparing your family for a move, budgeting for a move, and moving with pets. Also included are 10 printable checklists to help you organize every aspect of your move. Get your copy today!

Items to Hand Carry

To organize your move, you will also need to set aside certain items to transport with you which are of high intrinsic or sentimental value. 

Below is an extensive list of items to hand carry with you on a move. It is not all inclusive. Many of the items on the list may not apply to you and your family. On the other hand, some items of significance to you may be missing from the list. Use it as a guide to get you thinking.

Items to bring with you include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Computer files backed up either on an external source or via the cloud
  • Photos (or external hard drive/CD's/SD cards containing digital photos)
  • Cash/coin collections
  • Jewelry
  • Rare or highly valuable collectibles
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificate/license
  • Passports
  • Adoption, custody or foster care records
  • Immigration & naturalization records
  • Military records
  • Divorce records & settlements
  • Any court documents
  • Copy of will/living will
  • Death certificates/burial records
  • Social Security & Selective Service records
  • Voter registration information
  • Medical files (including dental and immunization records)
  • Insurance information (auto, homeowner's/renter's, medical, dental, life, business)
  • Bank account numbers and contact information
  • ATM debit cards (& pin numbers)
  • Cash
  • Checkbook
  • Credit reports
  • Credit card information (and contact info)
  • Income tax returns
  • Investment information (account numbers and contact info)
  • Pension/retirement plan (information and contact info)
  • Savings bonds
  • Safety deposit box (information & key)
  • Serial numbers for valuable items
  • Safe combination
  • Loan or lease information
  • Mortgage information (including record of property tax)
  • Record of employment benefits (including contact and account info)
  • Record of government assistance (Medicare/Medicaid, food stamps, etc.)
  • Business licenses, insurance, records
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Deeds to property
  • Warranties 
  • Auto registration, title, bill of sale
  • License plate and VIN for all vehicles you own
  • Children's school records
  • Test results for college entrance exams
  • Diplomas, transcripts 
  • Membership cards and information
  • family history records
  • keys (to all vehicles, home, safe, business)
  • key to post office box
  • list of emergency contacts 
  • Copy of your household inventory
  • Any and all information associated with your move - rental/service contract, terms & conditions, insurance, etc.

A Solution for Scrapbooks

Some people will advise you to carry your scrapbooks with you when you move, but I find this too cumbersome and impractical given the number and size of our scrapbooks.  Instead, I have scanned each page into my computer in case the book is damaged or lost.  This allows me to share my scrapbook pages with others electronically as well.

Lastly, I highly recommend preparing a household inventory to help you organize your move.   You can move with greater confidence knowing that you have an accurate record of your belongings which can be referenced in the case of loss or damage.

As you prepare your inventory, take the time to measure your furniture and jot down the dimensions.  This is a great task to assign to older kids.  Keep your list of furniture dimensions with you as you travel to your new home.  You can use this information to decide which items will go where.  In addition, knowing the size of each piece will help you determine how best to arrange the furniture within each room and whether or not a particular piece will be too large for a particular space.

Recommended Reading

For more information on creating a household inventory click on the image below.

Resources to Help You Organize Your Move

It's worth the time it takes to research all your options as you prepare to organize your move. Here are some resources to help you with your decision making process. Both of these sites allow you to compare prices for moving services in your area.

As you can see, information is really at the center of a successful move.  It gives you the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and it’s central to the planning process.  Make the most of the information available to you as you organize your move.

Recommended Reading

Once you arrive at your new destination there is still lots to do. For tips on getting settled into your new home click on the image below.

If you'd like help getting organized for your next move, click the link below to contact me.

Click here to return to Step-by-Step Declutter.

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