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The Ultimate Packing Checklist for Easy, Successful Moves

Are you getting ready for your big move to a new San Diego home? Moving is exciting, but there's so much to do. How can you keep track? 

Keeping a moving and packing checklist on hand can make it easier to go through the process without panicking. It allows you to make sure that you're not leaving anything important behind so you can focus on other things. 

That's why we've created the ultimate packing checklist for you. From the weeks before your move all the way through arriving at your new place, these tips will keep you on track and ready to make your new house a home. 

Read on for our special moving and packing checklist.

Pre-Moving and Packing

Before you start your move or even start packing, there's a lot of work to do behind the scenes. This might seem trivial, but if you start a few weeks (or months, two months is ideal if you have the time) ahead of time, the entire moving process will be easier and a lot less stressful. 

This is going to be the "less fun" work associated with moving. You're going to be going through documents, managing appointments, dealing with bills, and more. 

Here's a quick list of the must-do things before you even think about packing or loading up those moving vans. It's a good idea to set up a binder or file folder to keep all of these things in one place. 

Take Inventory

Before you start packing, you need to make note of the things that you're bringing with you. It's helpful to make a complete inventory, though you'll likely find things that you didn't even know that you had while you're packing and arranging your items.

This is a good time to at least make a general list of objects that you'll need in the new house, regardless of whether you're bringing the ones from this house or you're getting new ones. 

For example, are you bringing large furniture with you? What kinds of things will you need as soon as you get to the house, and will it be more convenient to get them new so you're prepared right away?

We'll talk more about picking and choosing individual items later.

Set a Budget (and Stick to It)

Moving is expensive. Buying a new house isn't the end of it, so you need to make a budget for how much you're willing and able to spend. Keep in mind that this might mean that you have to rearrange what items you're keeping and leaving behind. 

Before you start calculating, consider the cost of living in your new home if you're moving to San Diego from out of the area. 

Are you going to be paying more day-to-day? Do you have a job lined up that can help you afford everything that you need? Consider how much of your savings you're able to use for moving expenses. 

This is also a good time to get an estimate from local moving companies. Keep in mind that an estimate is just that: an estimate. The costs may change based on the final results of your packing venture, but the movers can give you a baseline idea of what you're going to be spending. 

Gather Important Documents

Gather all of your family's important documents in one place well ahead of your move. You don't want to misplace anything and these documents are hard to replace. 

You're going to need (among other things depending on your situation):

  • Birth certificates
  • Insurance information
  • Passports
  • Social security cards
  • Your deed
  • School transcripts and diplomas

Manage Appointments

If you're moving from out of the area, take a look at your calendar and see if you have any appointments planned. If possible, take care of medical appointments now as it's sometimes difficult to find new doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals when you move to a new place.

If you have appointments scheduled for after your move (after all, some people schedule appointments up to a year ahead of time), make sure that you cancel them so you're not inconveniencing the other person. 

Getting Boxes and Moving Supplies

After the pre-moving work, you have to start gathering boxes and supplies for your move. You may end up needing more or less as you start packing, but that's okay. This is a good start.

Look on the local buy and sell pages on social media or sites like Craigslist to see if anyone is offering free moving boxes. Often, people give them away to get them out of their homes. You can also buy moving boxes from home improvement stores (like Home Depot) or ask local businesses if they're willing to give you their old cardboard boxes.

Don't forget to ask friends and family members as well!

You should also invest in storage containers if you're downsizing. Mobile storage containers are great for big moves and they're a good way to keep your large items safe while you're deciding how to arrange your home. 

You're also going to need things like duct tape, bubble wrap, and other supplies that can protect your fragile items. Tip: using your linens to protect fragile items in boxes is free and effective. 

Room by Room: Decluttering, Keeping, and More

It's time to start packing, but it starts with decluttering. You're not bringing every single item with you. You have to make some choices. 

Go room by room to start boxing your items and decluttering the room. Remember that inventory that you took earlier? Bring it with you during this process. 


The kitchen is where you're going to leave the greatest number of things behind. Before your move, you should have started to use up all of the food in your refrigerator and pantry. This helps you prevent waste. 

If you plan on bringing some things with you, make sure that they're nonperishable. In reality, unless they're very important or they're snacks for the road, it's best to get rid of everything.

Check the dates on each of your items. If they're not out of date, pack them in a box to donate to your local food bank so other people can take advantage of them and they don't go to waste.

Next, look at all of your pots, pans, and utensils. Are there any that are no longer in good condition? This is a good time to get rid of them and buy new ones after your big move. 

Don't forget your curtains, any light fixtures that you brought with you, and anything in the high-up cabinets or on top of the refrigerator. 


Bathrooms are easy. You'll probably want to pack things like makeup and styling devices, but most things should be used up or thrown away before you move. 

Don't forget any mirrors that aren't part of the bathroom and your shower curtains if you plan on bringing them with you (though again, we think that this is a great time to invest in new ones). 


This is the first time you're going to have to really commit to decluttering. Bedrooms are hard. They're full of nostalgic items and if you're like most people, you've accumulated so much stuff over the years that it can be hard to parse through.

We suggest Marie Kondo's Konmari Method. When you find a new item, does it bring you joy? Is it useful? If neither of those things is true, consider getting rid of it.

Take several boxes. These aren't going to be moving boxes, but rather, organizing boxes. Label each box with:

  • Keep
  • Trash
  • Donate
  • Wrong Room

When you look through your items, put them in their respective boxes. When it comes to clothing, do you still have items that no longer fit or no longer suit your style? If they're in good condition, they go into the donation box so someone else can use them. 

Use this process for everything. If someone was in the wrong area (for example, if you find something from the living room in the bedroom), put it in the "wrong room" box so you don't have to get up and move it. 

When it comes to large furniture that can't possibly fit in boxes, this is the time to decide what's staying and what's going. Is it time for a new mattress so you don't have to move the old one? Are you ready to replace your dressers? 

Living and Dining 

Your living and dining areas are where the furniture problem is going to come into play the most. 

You have a dining table, chairs, couches, and other furniture pieces that are going to be expensive to move. Is it worth the cost to keep them?

High-quality items and heirloom furniture may be worth bringing with you. Keep in mind that even if movers are careful, though, you may end up with broken items. 

Place colored sticky notes that designate which items you're moving and which are staying. They shouldn't leave a residue and they're clear markers for yourself and the movers. 

The Packing Process

Now it's time to pack

Pack similar items together, as well as items that belong in the same rooms. This makes it so much easier to unpack later. You can just bring boxes into their respective rooms.

As we mentioned before, wrapping delicate items in linens is a great way to conserve space and protect those items. Keep fragile things together and mark them as such for the movers.

Make sure every box is sealed well with tape. There's no such thing as overdoing it. 

When you're ready to move things into moving trucks or storage containers, you're going to want to arrange things Tetris-style to make the most of your space and protect objects from falling down and breaking. 

What to Bring While Traveling

Don't forget about your trip. If you're moving to San Diego from far away, you're going to need to bring some things with you. Leave them out of the moving boxes.

First, as we mentioned before, don't neglect the importance of snacks for the road. 

You're going to want to keep all of your important documents on you to make sure that they're safe and so you have them as soon as you arrive. It's also a good idea to bring pillows and air mattresses so you have somewhere to sleep before your furniture comes in (if you haven't bought new pieces).

Bring toothbrushes, other important toiletries, and a few changes of clothes. 

When You Arrive

Arriving at your destination is exciting, but there's still work to do.

It's likely that your new home will be clean when you arrive, but bring some cleaning supplies with you to get rid of any residual grime or debris. Start plotting out where your furniture is going to go so you're ready as soon as the movers arrive. 

When you're at your new destination, make sure to change your address on any relevant websites including shopping sights, streaming services, and anything else that requires payment. 

If you're staying with your same bank, go to a local branch and make sure that they have your new information so you don't run into any problems. 

Use This Packing Checklist for Your Next Big Move

Are you ready to move into your new San Diego home? Use this packing checklist to make sure that you don't forget anything and that all of your items get safely from point A to point B. 

From taking inventory of your items all the way through changing your information to suit your new address, this checklist will guide you through the packing and moving process!

Are you trying to buy a new home or sell your old one in San Diego? Team Steele wants to help you out! Contact us at Team Steele San Diego Homes to start finding your dream home today.

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