Whether you’re a growing family in need of a bigger house, empty nesters downsizing or someone who’s just looking for a change of scenery, moving to a new home is a big deal. It can also be costly, stressful and time-consuming. But don’t sweat, this checklist will make planning your move a whole lot easier.

There’s no doubt that saying goodbye to the place you’ve called home for many years can be an emotional experience. Finding a new place to live can also be challenging – not to mention expensive. And it’s not just the cost to buy or rent a new home. Buyers need to factor in things like real estate commissions, building inspections and legal fees. Renters need to consider costs such as up-front bond payment.

Then, as moving day gets closer, there’s inevitably going to be a lot of hard work and running around to do. But with some careful advance planning, you can take some of the stress out of the process.

The following checklist is designed to do just that. By breaking your main tasks down into manageable steps – and ticking off each task as you complete it – you’ll be amazed at how much smoother moving house can be.

At least one month out

  • Create a moving budget. Factor in all the costs that you can think of – from removalists’ and cleaners’ fees to any new furniture or appliances you’ll need.
  • Shop around for a removalist. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations then ring around or look online to compare quotes. But don’t go by price alone – make sure the company is properly accredited and insured.
  • If you have children who will be changing schools, start the transfer process now.
  • Measure the floor space in your new home
    (if you haven’t already) to make sure all your belongings will fit in the new space. It’s also worth thinking about how you’ll get bulky items like bed frames and wardrobes through narrow doorways or up staircases.

One month out

  • Sort out your unwanted belongings. If you’re aiming to downsize, consider inviting friends and family over to take some items off your hands. You could also hold a garage sale or advertise unwanted belongings free of charge on a buy/swap/sell Facebook page. For anything still left to unload, take it to an op shop (as long as it’s all in good condition).
  • Book your removalists. The sooner you lock in the moving date, the better – especially if you’re city-based and/or you’re planning to move on a weekend.
  • Get to know your new area. Find out where things like shops, cafes, petrol stations and government services are located. It will help make the first weeks in your new home easier.
  • Hunt for boxes. Most removalists will supply them – otherwise, try your local supermarket. Also, buy packing tape and marker pens so you can start labelling.
  • Call friends and family and ask if they can help with packing, cleaning or moving. Or else, they might be able to look after your kids or pets on moving day.

Two weeks out

  • Sort out your insurance. If you’re a homeowner, you’ll need to consider home building and contents insurance. If you’re renting, then you’ll just need to consider contents insurance. It is worth checking if your existing policy covers the move itself – some policies may only protect you against loss or damage if you’re using professional removalists.
  • Start packing. Begin with all the stuff you can manage without in the short term, like ornaments, books, extra bedding and out-of-season clothing. Make sure boxes aren’t packed too heavily and that breakables have plenty of padding. Newspaper, bubble wrap and even towels and clothing can make good packing material. And of course, don’t forget to clean and pack up any outdoor items as well, like your gardening tools or barbecue.
  • Get quotes for professional cleaners if you want to outsource that task. You might also be able to get affordable help with packing, cleaning and sorting by checking out Airtasker.com.
  • Use up the food in the fridge and pantry. The more you get rid of now, the less there will be to pack.
  • Go to the post office and redirect your mail.
  • Arrange utilities, phone and internet for your new home. In some instances, you may be able to simply get your current services switched off and transferred to your new home on the day you move. And if your providers allow you to make all the arrangements online, it can save you a lot of time.

The last week

  • Call your removalists to confirm their arrival time, and finish off the last of your packing.
  • Clean each room as soon as it’s cleared – this will save you time on moving day. Now is also a good time to start cleaning windows and mowing the lawn (if you have one).
  • Allocate tasks to family members, friends or people you’ve enlisted to help on the day.
  • Keep aside anything you might need on moving day. This might include water bowls and leads for pets or a kettle to make tea or coffee for your helpers. You’ll also need easy access to things like pyjamas, toiletries and towels for your first night in your new home.
  • Pack portable valuables like jewellery and small electronics, as well as important documents like your passport, Will and insurance policies to take with you on moving day.

On the day

  • Drop off kids and pets to a friend or family member if you can.
  • Help the removalists as needed.
  • Do a final clean (if you’re not having it done professionally).
  • Make a final check of the house before you leave – including outdoor areas.
  • Take your valuables and anything else you’re transporting yourself.
  • Switch off the power and hot water, and lock up the doors and windows.
  • Say goodbye to your old home – and start the next phase of your life.

Preparing for the expense

Moving house can be a costly exercise, so it’s a good idea to speak to your financial adviser before you start planning. They can help you put together a realistic budget so you don’t break the bank – which will give you one less thing to worry about.