5 Things to Do Before Moving out of Your House

Tips to Ensure a Smooth Moving Day

Family moving house sitting with a baby

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No matter how organized you think you are, when you're moving out of your house, it's almost always a stressful time. Mix in the fact that most people who sell a home are also buying another home, and you've got double the stress, especially if both transactions are closing concurrently.

Your real estate agent can be a big help to you if you ask for advice. They have probably handled many closings just like yours and can refer companies and individuals who can help to make your move go more smoothly. An experienced agent will most likely be able to spot potentially troublesome situations and prevent problems from happening in the first place, too.

Here are five things that you can do to make moving day a little less stressful.

Key Takeaways

  • You can arrange to have your mail forwarded to your new home through the USPS website and by updating magazine subscriptions directly.
  • Give companies for any utilities you use a date to disconnect services and a way to send you your final bill.
  • Contact your agent to cancel any homeowner's insurance on your old house the day you move out.
  • Organize your boxes before movers arrive, and make sure you arrange for cleaning for both your old and new spaces.

Forward Mail

Arrange to have your mail forwarded. Visit the USPS website and change your address online or visit a post office to fill out the necessary paperwork. Make sure you notify magazine companies or other subscriptions that you are moving because the post office only forwards these for 60 days. Sellers sometimes leave their mail carrier a goodbye gift, which also serves as a reminder that they will no longer live at their address.

Consider leaving your forwarding address for the new buyers, just in case any boxes or gifts are delivered to the house after you have moved out. Leave the mailbox key for the buyer, as well as the number of the mailbox and its location, if you live in a complex. Some centrally located mailboxes store keys at the post office.

Disconnect Utilities

Let the utility companies (gas, electric, water, sewer, trash, garbage, and cable) know of your move. Give each one the date to discontinue service and the address for forwarding your final bill. Generally, that date will be the day the sale of your home closes. Remember to cancel your daily newspaper, if you subscribe to your news in print, and disconnect the security alarm service. Setting all of this up ahead of time will prevent any issues for the new homeowners—and keep you from getting billed for their energy usage.

Cancel Homeowners Insurance

You probably have already taken out a new homeowners insurance policy to begin coverage on your new home, but that doesn't mean your insurance agent automatically discontinues coverage on your existing home. You might also have more than one insurance agent or have changed insurance agents but left your homeowners policy in place.


Your lender will not cancel your homeowner's insurance; you need to do it yourself. You can let your agent know in advance, but be sure to confirm on closing day. If your close gets delayed, you don't want to be caught without insurance.

Organize Moving Boxes

Moving your packed boxes around is easier before the movers arrive or you start loading the truck yourself. Remember that the first box on the truck means it will be the last box off the truck. Arrange the order of your boxes by rooms, if you can. Label the bedrooms by color or number, and make labels for each of the bedroom doors in your new home. This step helps the movers (whether professional ones or your friends) identify the correct rooms for each of your boxes.

You might also consider numbering your boxes after counting each of them. Your first box would be "1 of 99 master suite," for example. The second box for that room would be "2 of 99 master suite." That gives you an easy way to determine whether any box was misplaced.


Pack a separate overnight box for the household, containing personal items, clothing, dishes, pet medications, or anything you might need immediately upon moving into a new home and don't want to spend time digging through boxes.

Clean the House

A thorough house-cleaning is an easy task to overlook while you're so busy packing boxes and carting them around. And just wait until you move the refrigerator or washer and dryer from spots that have not seen the light of day since you moved in years ago (assuming you're taking these appliances with you). Keep a few cleaning supplies handy for this purpose: rags, cleaning spray, a vacuum, and a mop.

It's not unusual for a seller to wonder how clean the house has to be after closing. Unless specific terms have been discussed in advance, "broom clean" is the usual standard—a thorough dusting, vacuuming, and wiping down of floors, surfaces, shelves, and walls throughout the premises. In other words, clean the house like you have a security deposit at risk—even if the transaction was a short sale.

If you're wondering how much to clean, just follow this rule: Be considerate. Other people are moving in and they probably have similar expectations to what you had when you originally bought the home.

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  1. USPS. "Change of Address—The Basics."

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