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Moving house checklist

Whether you’re moving across the street or across the country, moving into a new home is an exciting time. It’s a time of anticipation and change and is often touted to be one of the more stressful times of your life. Help keep those stress levels down by getting organised early and not leave things until the last minute. This is where a comprehensive moving house checklist is invaluable.

Preparing to move

One of the first things you’ll need to do is an inventory of your belongings. This means it’s a great time to declutter because you really don’t want to be moving anything that you no longer need or use. Get rid of excess clothing you haven’t worn in say the last 12-18 months; those boxes that still haven’t been unpacked since your last move; any broken or unused furniture or appliances; and that collection of ‘it might be useful one day’ bits and pieces. You might like to donate these goods to a charity, or you may be able to make yourself a little bit of extra cash by having a garage sale. You could even start to wind down your pantry and refrigerator to avoid unnecessary waste or additional moving costs.


It helps to do your inventory room by room, and don’t forget to include the garage and the garden shed. List each piece of furniture and note any existing damage or marks and estimate how many boxes you’ll need for clothing, books and so on. Be generous with your estimates as your treasures often take up more space than you realise. While you’re doing your inventory, be on the lookout for any damage to the house that you may need a handyman to repair before you leave.


It may even be helpful to take photographs of the items in your inventory to minimise later disputes over damage in transit. There are online apps that you can use to help with this process and with creating a personalised moving house checklist too.


Your inventory will form the basis for getting a quote from a removalist (moving company). This then is your next big decision. Move yourself or use a professional removalist? This decision will be based on how much stuff you need to move, and how far you’re moving. The more belongings you have and the more valuable they are, often means that it’s worth getting experienced people to handle your move.


Before you start packing, it helps to decide how much of the packing you’ll do yourself or whether you’ll get the removalist company packers to do it all. Remembering that the more they need to do, the higher the cost will potentially be.  Consider packing personal items like clothing, books, linen, and even your computer, yourself and think about whether there are any items that you may wish to transport yourself … such as important documents, jewellery, or the family’s treasured heirlooms.


When packing items yourself, ensure they’re organised, and safely and securely packaged. Don’t make boxes too heavy to carry easily and risk damage to your goods or to the person doing the carrying. This will help to limit damage and make for easier unpacking in your new home.

Packing tips:

  • Gather together your packing materials such as butcher’s paper (it’s cleaner than newspaper), bubblewrap, masking tape, labels, a utility knife and pair of scissors, and marking pens.
  • Label and record boxes as you pack them.
  • Clearly mark fragile items so everyone takes special care of them.
  • Use smaller boxes for heavier items and larger boxes for lighter items.
  • Heavy boxes go on the bottom, lighter boxes on top.


Before you choose a moving company, it pays to do your research. Talk to others who have moved recently about their experience or perhaps visit the Australian Furniture Removers Association website to find accredited removalists. Apart from getting a competitive price, you may also want to check out their reviews online. Look for reliability, good timekeeping for pick up and drop off, and the level of care taken when handling household goods.


One of the key risks of moving is damage to your possessions, so check your existing home and contents insurance policy to see whether it covers goods in transit or whether you need to arrange a separate policy. While you’re at it, notify your insurance company of your new address and any changes you need to make to your policy for your new home.


Your insurance company is just one of many people who will need to be advised of your change of address. Start making a list of who you need to notify as you collect the mail each day or pay the bills. Some of the key ones to bear in mind are:

  • Energy supplier e.g. electricity or gas
  • Internet and telecommunications provider
  • Your bank
  • Your superannuation company
  • Car, health, and personal insurances
  • Your driver’s licence
  • Car, trailer, caravan, or boat registrations
  • Centrelink
  • MyGov
  • Medicare
  • ATO
  • Electoral roll
  • Regular internet shopping sites
  • Online payment services such as PayPal
  • Family and friends


It might also be useful to arrange a mail redirection with Australia Post to have your mail automatically sent on to your next address.


Depending on how far you’re moving, you may also need to seek out new service providers such as medical services, education facilities, childcare services, and personal services. And remember to cancel or rearrange any home or personal services such as the gardener or cleaner, but not before you’ve done everything at the old home to prepare it for the new residents.


There are some things too, that the removalist company will not be able to move for you so you’ll need to consider how you will transport those goods. Do you need to arrange transport for cars, trailers, boats, or pets? Do you have flammable items such as gas bottles, aerosols, stored fuel, paint, fire extinguishers or other dangerous goods that your removalist may not wish to transport for you? They may also be reluctant to carry food or plants if there is a long journey ahead or a period where you may need a storage facility between the old place and the new.


As you get closer to your moving day start to think about the actual moving in and unpacking. Have you got a floor plan of the new home to help you plan where your furniture will go?  Has the home been cleaned so you can move straight in? Or do you need to arrange carpet cleaning while the home is empty? Do you need a locksmith to change the locks? And remember to have utilities connected before you move in to ensure you have electricity, gas, internet connection on the day as this will help the day go much more smoothly.


Tasks for the day before …

  • Defrost your refrigerator and clean it.
  • Prepare appliances such as the washing machine, printers, scanners etc for moving.
  • Backup important computer files and put important documents in a safe place.
  • Collect together all keys to ensure they’re ready for delivery to the real estate agent or your conveyancer.

On the day!

Moving day is often chaotic so the more preparation you have in place beforehand, the smoother it’s likely to go.


It’s a good idea to pack a ‘first night’ box with things to help you get through the initial evening and following morning. This might include your favourite pyjamas and pillow, towels, toiletries, toilet paper, medications, phone charger, bed linen, eating and drinking utensils and, of course, the kettle for a soothing cuppa and toaster for a light bite. In which case it would also be handy to have an esky with essentials such as tea/coffee, milk, bread, butter and so on. And remember to check that the hot water is turned on so you’re not coping with cold showers on your first night.


Many people also pack an ‘unpacking’ box when moving to a new home. This might contain things like Allen keys, screw drivers, tools for putting furniture together or performing running repairs, scissors, a measuring tape, marking pens, masking/sticky tape, and cleaning gear like a mop and bucket, a vacuum cleaner, dusting cloths etc. Having all these items in one place and easily accessible will save you time and angst when settling into your new home.

On moving day you don’t want the added worry of having to watch out for your little ones or your pets while the removalists get to work, so having a plan for the kids and the pets on moving day will also help. Moving is a big change for them too so keep to their normal routine as much as possible but keep them out of harm’s way by organising for them to spend the day with a family member or friends, with a babysitter, or in the case of pets, in a cattery or kennel. You may like to get your children to pack their own small bag with some of their favourite things that they can easily access on the first night in the new house.  Similarly, pets will appreciate familiar bedding and probably some extra petting to help them settle in. It’s also worth doing a thorough check of the new garden or outside area before allowing children or pets to play and explore.


Prepare a plan for unpacking too.  You’ll probably want to get beds reassembled and made-up as a priority.  The kitchen tends to be the next priority for many people to help get back into the routine of family meals. Everyone wants familiarity around them again as soon as possible, but by staying organised and not descending into the chaos of partially unpacked boxes or randomly packed cupboards will help a smoother less hassled transition.

Your moving house budget

Not only is moving house a time-consuming activity it can also be costly financially. While there are ways you can save on some of the costs it’s a good idea to write them all down initially to get an indication of just how much it might cost you.


Here’s a list of some of the common costs, and some ways that you may be able to minimise them.

  • Removalists – depending on how much stuff you need move and how far you need to move it, there are options other than paying removalists to pack everything and transport it for you. You may choose to pack most personal items yourself just leaving the furniture and your boxes to be handled by the professionals. There are also options available whereby you can take delivery of a large ‘box’ which you pack yourself and which is simply transported from one location to another and you subsequently unpack yourself too before the ‘box’ is collected by. Then there’s the option to rely on help from family and friends who have capacity to either help with packing or transporting your belongings.
  • Storage – sometimes it’s just impossible to move out and in again on the same day so there may be times when you need to arrange for storage of your goods as well. Keeping the amount of stuff to be stored to a minimum
  • Utilities disconnection and reconnection – moving house is a great time to take stock and do your research for the various utilities that you need to connect at your new home. While it may be tempting to simply stick with your current provider, because it saves the hassle of making another change, there are potential savings with many utility providers offering incentives for new customers, or even your existing provider sharpening their pencil to not lose you to a competitor.
  • Cleaning – again there’s the option of DIY or paying for a professional to do the job. The trade-off being your time and energy and the cost. When assessing the cost, remember to add into your DIY costs any additional cleaning implements/products that you may need to acquire if they’re not necessarily used in your day to day cleaning. When moving out of a rental property it may pay to have a professional ‘bond clean’ done to ensure that release of your bond is not delayed.
  • Packaging material – the aim of packaging materials is of course to keep your precious belongings safe, however there are some potential cost savings here for you as well.  You could consider using your own linen to wrap fragile objects, or as space fillers between unusually shaped objects. Not only are you keeping your treasures safe from damage you’re reducing the overall space required to pack your linen too.


There are lots of ways you can help have a smooth transition when you’re moving home. Having a robust plan, with plenty of contingencies built in, and a comprehensive checklist will go along way towards making your move as successful as possible.


Written by the Davidson Institute powered by Westpac.

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This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness of the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.