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Moving Tips

This section will guide you through helpful steps you can take at each phase during the moving process to ensure a smooth transition. Useful links for moving are also provided at the bottom of the page.

6-8 weeks before move:

  • Sort through the items you are thinking of taking to your new residence. Get rid of items that you don’t really need by donating them to charity or having a garage sale.
  • Start collecting boxes and packing supplies (such as Styrofoam and bubble wrap) that you will need for packing your items. You can purchase boxes designed especially for certain household goods to prevent them being damaged during the move.
  • Start making necessary travel arrangements (such as hotel reservations, flights, car or moving truck rental, etc.). Try to keep your plans flexible in case of last-minute changes or delays.
  • Keep all receipts for moving-related expenses in a separate folder, since many moving expenses are tax deductible. You can obtain an IRS Change of Address form (Form 8822) by calling (800) 829-1040 or by visiting, where you can download and print Form 8822 and most other tax forms (for example, Form 3903 can help you deduct moving expenses). Plan on bringing all vital documents such as wills, stock certificates, vaccination records, and other original documents.
  • Insurance, medical and dental records should be placed in a safe and accessible place, along with other valuable items such as jewelry, photographs, and collections.

4-5 weeks before move:

  • If you live in an apartment or condominium, contact your property or building manager to schedule your move-out date and time. Some complexes may have date and/or time restriction for moving.
  • Get a U.S. Postal Service Change of Address Form and send it in or complete the form online.
  • Close any existing local charge accounts.
  • Notify insurance companies of your move and transfer any insurance you may have on your home and possessions.
  • Contact utilities services for disconnection or transfer (and any possible refunds). Make sure to have them disconnected after you’ve moved if you still want to have them on moving day.
  • If necessary, arrange for someone to baby-sit your children on moving day to keep them occupied and safe while you load.
  • Remember to return borrowed items while sorting and packing.
  • Remember to pick up items that may be being cleaned, repaired, or in storage.

2-3 weeks before move:

  • Call to have utilities connected at your new residence before you move in.
  • Finish sorting items and pack ones you don’t use often.
  • Contact your bank to transfer your bank accounts.
  • Clear out your safety deposit box (people often forget this when they move).
  • Make sure to pack any valuables you may have hidden around the house.
  • If local state laws prohibit moving house plants, give yours to a friend or local charity.
  • Plan meals that will use up the food in your refrigerator and freezer.
  • If you’re traveling by car, have yours serviced.
  • Transfer any prescriptions to a drugstore in your new town.
  • Dispose of flammable items such as cleaning fluids, matches, acids, aerosol cans, fireworks, paint, and poisons (such as weed or pest killer).
  • Drain the oil and gasoline from your lawn mower and power tools (according to the owner’s manuals) to ensure safe transportation.

1 week before move:

  • Tie up any loose ends (make sure you haven’t missed one of the previous steps in this guide).
  • Label your boxes and items appropriately (i.e. “Fragile”, “Load First”, etc.) to ensure safe loading.
  • Pack suitcases and confirm travel arrangements.
  • At least one day before moving, empty, defrost and clean your refrigerator and freezer. Prepare your stove and appliances to be moved, if necessary (baking soda can be used to eliminate odors).
  • Prepare a “first night survival kit”, containing items such as snacks, beverages, and entertainment to keep your kids occupied during the move. Pack overnight items if you are stopping overnight while your items are in transit.

Moving day:

  • Strip your beds, making sure the bedding goes into a “Load Last” box for easy access.
  • Make sure you are available when the movers arrive. Authorize an adult to take your place if you cannot be present at any time during the loading process.
  • Try to spend as much time with the movers as possible and communicate well with them, making sure to explain any special instructions.
  • Review details and paperwork with the van operator upon arrival. Accompany the driver as he/she inspects and tags items. These identification numbers, along with a description of the items and their condition, will be listed on his/her inventory.
  • Remain on the premises to ensure that all of your items are loaded. Do not sign any releases before completing a final inspection to make sure nothing is forgotten.
  • If you need to clean your new residence before the furniture is unloaded, pack your vacuum or supplies last for easy access.

After move:

  • Make sure utilities have been connected, and follow up on any delays.
  • Make sure the phone has been connected (ideally, the phone company will connect service the day before move-in day).
  • Confine pets to an out-of-the-way area to keep them from running away or getting agitated or in your way during move-in.
  • To prevent possible damage to electronic equipment, major appliances such as televisions, stereos, and computers should not be used for 24 hours after delivery, so they have time to adjust to room temperature.

Tips for Kids:

  • Talk with your children about the new house and neighborhood, the schools, recreation, local points of interest and other benefits of your new residence.
  • Let your children help decorate their new bedrooms and/or play areas, including color scheme and furniture arrangement.
  • Set an example for your kids to follow during the transition by meeting new people and getting involved in the community immediately.
  • Encourage kids to make new friends in the neighborhood, but keep in touch with old friends.
  • Let your kids tell the neighborhood that the family is moving.
  • Let them help arrange care for plants and/or pets during the moving process.
  • Help them collect contact information for their friends and neighbors.
  • Help them sort and donate old toys, clothes, and books.
  • Consider hosting a “goodbye party” with their old friends.

Tips for Pets:

  • Moving companies will not move living things, so pets are your responsibility. There are many ways to help different animals adjust to a new environment.
  • Unless you are traveling a very long distance, it is best for pets to accompany you in your car (this provides both animal and owner with a sense of security).
  • If your pet (particularly your cat) isn’t used to car travel, take it on short rides around the block before the move, gradually increasing the distance, to help condition your pet to the motion of your car.
  • You may want to consult your veterinarian about medication or sedatives to alleviate possible motion sickness or agitation.
  • Make sure your pet has proper identification such as a collar with ID and rabies tags. Store health-related documents in a specific place.
  • If you are planning to stop overnight at a hotel, call ahead to make sure pets are permitted. Keep leashes on hand to move your pet.
  • Avoid giving your pets food or water for several hours before the drive.
  • Be attentive to your pets’ well-being, making stops if needed.
  • Plan on making stops for feeding and resting. Feed your pets once daily or with a few small meals during stops.
  • Never leave your pets alone in the car (this is illegal).

Links for Moving
We have provided the following links to help you make your moving process a smooth transition!

U-Haul Moving and Storage
Get rates and reserve trucks, trailers, and other moving equipment online. U-Haul also provides boxes, packing materials and moving supplies.

U.S. Postal Service Change of Address Form
Change your address online to get your mail delivered to your new address without the hassle of waiting in line at the post office.

Bellingham & Whatcom County Links for Newcomers
The following links can take you anywhere you want to go in Whatcom County! Links to city and chamber of commerce sites, utilities and municipalities, school districts and colleges, and doctors, dry cleaners and other amenities.