Checklist for Moving House and Packing Tips

A major transition, a new chapter. Moving house can be overwhelming and stressful. Hence, if you have too many items to move and a van is insufficient for a DIY move, engage a professional moving company (“mover”) to ease your burden. To further help you in the process, here’s a checklist for moving house. I will also be sharing some tips for packing those boxes.

4 Weeks / 1 Month Before

Get Quotations from Moving Companies

Research and shortlist at least three moving companies to contact for quotations. I contacted four companies, and two companies quoted me double the other two companies. Keep a look out for my next post about my experience with these four moving companies.

Try to do it as early as one month before your move. You need to allow time for the site surveyor to arrange a site visit or a zoom call to assess your items. Companies that don’t require site evaluation to quote are dubious. Also, being early gives you a higher chance to secure your desired moving date and time.

The quotation is largely determined by the services required (packing, storage, and/or moving), the number of items to be moved, the number of trips, and the distance between the two places. One mover told me that for a typical HDB 4-room flat, it’s about 60-80 boxes. My friend who just shifted from an HDB 3-room flat has about 50 boxes.

Have the mover write the details of the quote in black and white, including the answers to some of the following questions about the quotation:

  • Does the mover have experience or additional fees for moving pets and special-care items such as pianos, aquariums, and large artworks?
  • Are there any hidden or additional costs such as
    • extra boxes being required,
    • cling-wrapping of big items,
    • disposal of large items,
    • dismantling and reassemble,
    • staircase labour,
    • long push labour (usually for condominiums – push from the main entrance to the unit),
    • extra labour hours due to unforeseen circumstances, and
    • the limit in trips to and from your new home?

Other than meeting your budget and needs, choose a mover that is reliable and reputable. You don’t want to end up with damaged and lost goods because of the cost savings.

HDB in Singapore - Checklist for Moving House
HDB in Singapore

Buy House Insurance Policies

Reach out to your insurance agent or financial advisor and tell them you are moving.

Not all movers have insurance included in their packages. So you might want your agent to recommend insurance for your big-ticket items during the move. You might also want to consider tenant insurance or mortgage insurance.

Give Notice

If you are renting your current place, give sufficient notice to your landlord as per your rental contract.

Take Measurements

Measure the furniture you are moving over and see if they fit the dimensions of your new place, including the passageways, doors, and ceilings. If possible, measure the lift doors and see if your big pieces can fit into the lifts. If not, movers have to take the stairs and add to your moving costs.

Try not to leave this to the last minute. You need time to sell or discard furniture you cannot bring over and shop for new ones to deliver by the time you move.


Moving is a good way to purge the clutter in your home.

Take stock of what you have and declutter — throw, sell or donate them. For people like me, who find it emotionally draining to declutter, give yourself a couple of days or weekends to declutter.

If your mover doesn’t help with disposal, contact bulky item disposal companies for items like sofas or pianos. You should not dispose of them illegally in common areas. Although town councils offer bulky item removal services, it is usually not applicable for house moves.

Cutting down on the number of items will thus reduce moving costs. Try to put as many items into a single box/container to reduce the number of boxes to move and thus cost. Read on for the packing tips to organise well.

3 Weeks Before

Notify Others about your New Address

Update and notify your change in address with relevant parties, such as

  • government bodies: ICA, IRAS,
  • school and work: children’s school, employer,
  • service providers: mobile phone providers, pet’s vet,
  • financial and legal agents: accountants, lawyers, banks, financial institutions and credit card companies, insurance companies,
  • organisations you’re active in, and
  • subscription services like newspapers and magazines.

Activate Utilities and Internet in New House

Activate the utilities (i.e. water, electricity, gas) in your new home prior to renovation or before moving in. Remember to discontinue the ones in your old home too. Other services to arrange for include phone and internet.

Do this in advance, at least two weeks before. For utilities and internet, you need to select an appointment date on the provider’s page, and that is subject to availability.

  • For opening/closing of utilities, the provider needs to read the final meter reading. If the meter is in the house, the owner must be present. If it’s outside, then the owner doesn’t need to be present.
  • For the internet, you bring your router and cables to the new location. The provider will set it up at the new location on appointment day.

Prepare packing materials

Most movers provide packing materials such as cardboard boxes, tapes, and bubble wrap. Some provide unlimited quantities, while others charge for extra boxes requested.

You might want to get protective materials like cling wrap, corrugated paper, and bubble wrap. Also, prepare packing materials such as tapes, scissors, labels, markers and measuring tape.

Start Packing

As you begin to pack, you might want to create an inventory list of boxes and items for you to track the boxes on moving day. I prepared a template for you at the end of this post. 😉

Start packing early to reduce the stress when nearing the moving date. To do this and not encroach on the living area, you might want to clear out your storeroom or bomb shelter first. Then stack the packed boxes inside instead of having the clutter out in the living space.

Start with rarely used items and end with items you used daily. Items you have not used for a while such as travel essentials and seasonal decorations.

Organise and pack your items into boxes by room instead of function. Label the cartons with the description of contents and the room/area it should go into. For example, labelling ‘pots and pans’ and kitchen on the box. This way, the movers would know where to unload the respective boxes at your new house. It will help the unpacking process too.

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You might want to label the boxes at the side. This is for easy reference when the boxes are stacked up. If you have time, you can also write the contents on the top so you can refer to it when the side view is blocked. Label the top of the boxes – with “fragile” or “heavy” so that the movers will take note when carrying the boxes.

To make the move more efficient, assign and display the colour for each area in your new house. Then colour code your boxes (the top) and furniture. Hence the movers know exactly where each box needs to go without reading the description on the box.

Set aside boxes for any last-minute packing.

Tips for Packing the Boxes

House Moving Boxes

Be sure all items inside are well padded. Wrap with packing paper or bubble wrap until they are properly protected – it could be one or several layers. For irregular items, the edges of the items are to be wrapped well to avoid dents, scratches or any damage.

Fit all the items snugly in the carton or container and maximise the usage of the entire carton. This is to avoid sagging during the stacking of boxes in the lorry. Fill any empty gaps in the box with packing paper to minimise movement.

Try to place irregular items in an upright position in the boxes.

Also, pack heavier items at the bottom of the cartons. Small appliances should be well padded. Try to be considerate to movers and not let each carton exceed 20kg.

Seal each carton securely with packing tape.

Fragile Items

Label clearly for boxes that have fragile items. For fragile items box, place a layer of bubble wrap at the base of the carton box. Wrap dishes such as cups and glasses individually with paper and/or bubble wrap.

Lampshades have to be packed in separate cartons.

Remember to fill any empty gaps in the box with packing paper to minimise movement. Stuff packing paper inside of items such as cups and glasses too.

Items to Move yourself

For valuables, it’s better to move them yourself. This avoids potential disputes when the valuables get misplaced or damaged. Insurance coverage of the mover might not be sufficient to cover them unless you get your own insurance.

Movers are likely to restrict these items: flammables, corrosives and irritants. Safely dispose of or move these items yourself.

Other items you might want to consider moving by yourself are potted plants and flowers. They need more care when handling and transporting. Pack them in crate boxes preferably lined with waterproof sheets. These sheets will prevent the vehicle from getting stained with soil and water. Spritz the leaves with water to ensure hydration during the move.

2 Weeks Before

Condominium in Singapore

Make Arrangements for your children and/or pets

You might want to consider putting your children or/and pets at a trusted friend or family member’s house. There will be a lot of activity and movement during the move day.

You don’t want any of them to be blocking the way or end up injured.  

Moving Permit (Condominiums)

For condominiums (“condos”), you need to apply for a moving permit at the management office – whether you are moving in or out. Usually, a security deposit is required in case there’s any property damage incurred during the move. Depending on the condo, you have to apply a few days or a week before the moving date.

Check the regulations of the condos for moving houses, such as the hours allowed for moving. Some don’t allow moving on weekends or out of office hours. Most condos require padding in lifts to prevent damage, and this is usually not included in the movers’ quotation.

Car and Storage

Service your car. You don’t want the car to break down on move day.  

Get a storage unit for things you need but do not want to bring to your new place, such as insufficient space.  

1 Week Before

Contact Mover (if necessary)

If there are additional or fewer items to move, contact your mover for quote adjustment. If there’s an optional portion in your quotation, let your mover know if you want to exercise it.

Clean Your New House

Clean your new house, including the insides of wardrobes or cabinets. In this way, you can straight away unpack and move in with a clean slate. For newly renovated houses, consider engaging a professional cleaning company to thoroughly clean the dust, toxins and fumes from the renovation.

Packing at the End

Set aside luggage, bag, or box to pack in all your daily essentials, such as clothing, uniforms, toiletries, phone chargers, bedsheets, medicine, etc. This will save you trouble searching for them through the boxes.

Apart from the essential clothes, wash the rest of your dirty laundry and pack them.

Start to disassemble your big items if you are not engaging the movers.

Cut down on the purchase of perishables.

1-3 Days Before

Use, give or throw frozen and perishable items. Freezer and refrigerator have to be defrosted and cleaned preferably 2 days prior to the move. That’s to prevent the melted ice water to leak out during the move and wet the rest of your furniture in the lorry.

Drain the garden hose and coil, and pack all the garden tools.

Count the number of boxes and do a final check against your inventory list of boxes and items. You may want to share this list with your movers during the moving day. Enter your email address below to download the free template of the ‘Inventory List for Moving’. 🙂

Hope this checklist for moving house has been helpful. You’re now all ready to move, all the best! If you need any help in your renovation, hop on to my other posts:

Know of other good moving or packing tips? Share them in the comments section below. 🙂

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