If you are moving your entire household across the country for the first time, you may feel overwhelmed by the many tasks you must complete. Not only do you need to pack and ship all your belongings, but you also need to take care of business before you go. That means contacting your current service providers and arranging for discontinuation of services. Making a timeline of the tasks you need to accomplish can lessen the stress and help your move go smoothly.

Two Months Before the Move

  • Create a folder or notebook for moving-related activities. If you are using a notebook, choose one with pockets to hold receipts and important documents. Keeping all of your moving information in one place saves time and keeps your efforts organized.

  • Find a moving company. Look for a company with a good reputation who provides the services you need. Now is the time to decide if you will rent a moving van, hire traditional movers or hire a relocation company. If you have questions about the services of your local moving companies, like Wheaton World Wide Moving, now is the time to call and ask.

  • Decide what items you will take with you. If you intend to downsize before the move, make sure everyone understands what things will not be going with you. This typically includes large items, such as unused furniture and equipment, but if you expect your children to weed out their things, now is the time to let them know.

7 Weeks Before the Move

  • Have a yard sale. Now that you have decided what will take with you and what needs to go, it is time to begin putting that plan in action. Holding a yard sale to sell off unneeded items is a great way to get rid of things and make a few dollars, too. Encourage children to save the earnings to spend during the trip or for when they arrive at your new home.

  • Collect Moving Supplies. This includes boxes, packing tape, packing material (like bubble wrap), and markers. To save money, check with local department stores for clean boxes. Many will save them for you instead of breaking them down for recycling if you ask. Old newspapers are also valuable for wrapping breakables or creating cushioning around delicate items.

5 to 6 Weeks Before the Move

  • Hire a moving company. If you intend to use the services of a relocation company, a relocation specialist will visit your home to assess your possessions and give you an estimate of the cost of packing and moving your belongings. Give him access to all areas of your home so he can make an accurate assessment. The moving company will then give you an estimate for your moving costs. Ask whether the estimate is binding or non-binding. A binding estimate means the company will charge the amount of the estimate (unless you require additional services), while a non-binding estimate means you will be charged by the actual weight of your cargo and the price is subject to change.

  • Get School Records. Notify your children's current school of the upcoming move and start the process of transferring records. Many schools require records to be sent from the school and frown upon hand-carried records. To be on the safe side, get copies of your children's school records and ask for them to be transferred to the new school, too. Make sure to ask for all records pertaining to your child. School records are often kept in several files. This is especially true if your child receives special education or gifted services. Special education records should contain any and all testing done on your child and records from any outside source your school used in assessing your child. If you don't have the new school info yet, alert the existing to school that records will be requested soon.

  • Get Medical and Dental Records. Don't rely on a transfer of your medical and dental records. Contact your primary care physician, medical specialists and your dentist and arrange to pick up copies of your family's records.

One Month Before the Move

  • Notify your landlord of your move. Most areas require a 30-day notice, even if you are renting month to month. Likewise, make arrangements to end leases and other housing agreements.

  • Arrange utility shutoffs. This includes Internet services, cable or satellite, and any other subscription service you have.

  • Update addresses and insurance policies. Notify insurance companies, including your auto insurance, of the upcoming move and give them the new address.

The Final Countdown

Your last month at your existing home will be filled with a flurry of activity as you finish packing and say goodbye to old friends. Use this time wisely.

  • Finish packing.

  • Create a travel kit. This should include essential items you will need right away, such as food, clothing, medications and toiletries for each person in your household. Take this kit with you in your personal vehicle.

When moving day arrives, you and your family will be ready and waiting if you have followed your timeline and done everything at the right time. Double-check your moving notebook to ensure all the tasks are completed and enjoy your trip.