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Moving? Use This Checklist

moving van on back country highway

In today’s economy, moving isn’t always a choice. From layoffs, to career changes, to new opportunities, moving — across town or across the country — is a fact of modern American life.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, just 11 percent of the U.S. population, or roughly 35.5 million people, changed residences in 2017. This is the lowest moving rate since the government began tracking population migrations in 1948. In earlier days, Americans’ annual moving rate was typically over 20 percent.

(Another thing has changed: Take note that under the new tax law, you can no longer claim moving costs as itemized deductions as of 2019.)

The process of moving itself has changed very little over the years and it still can be a real headache. Before hitting the road, take the time to plan out your move with this checklist.

  1. Make a List: A move is a good time to clear out things that you don’t use and save some space. Use SAM’s Home Inventory Worksheet to create a record of your belongings — appliances, electronics, clothing, etc. — and trim the excess as you pack. As a bonus, this home inventory will better prepare you in case you have to file an insurance claim for any reason in the future, including theft, fire or a natural disaster at your new home.
  2. Take Photos: Before breaking out the boxes and the packing tape, take a few moments to record the state of your possessions, particularly your valuables. You’ll need this proof to dispute any damage or loss caused by your movers. Once in your new home, keep these photos along with your home inventory and update as needed.
  3. Consider Your Options: Hire a moving company? Rent a truck? Rope in some friends with a truck? The logistics depend on how much you have to transport and how far you need to take it. Tossing everything in your car is rarely the ideal solution, and it can end up costing more (and taking longer) than hiring the pros.
  4. Keep Your Valuables Close: Whatever option you choose, always handle your valuables such as personal paperwork, family heirlooms, medication and jewelry yourself. If it’s irreplaceable, don’t take the chance that it will be lost or damaged in transit.
  5. Talk to Your Insurance Company: Whether you have homeowners or renters insurance, your agent will need to know when you change your residence in order to adjust your policy accordingly. Overlooking this step can result in future claims being denied, so be sure to keep them in the loop.
  6. Transfer Your Accounts: A mailing address is the obvious one — and the U.S. Postal Service can process a change of address online — but don’t forget to update recurring bills, banking information, vehicle registrations and other accounts when you move. Services such as cable, internet and phone will need to move with you too.

[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by the National Endowment for Financial Education.]