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Everything you ought to have with you when you move!

Note:  This guide is available for download in pdf format from our Reference Library page.

Tools and hardware

Note: the idea of this list is for things that will be useful on or around moving day. Actually setting up in your new house will require things like a drill, picture hooks etc. etc. but they can wait until after moving day when you've unpacked your full toolkit)
  • Pen and Paper.  Useful for leaving notes, marking boxes and one hundred and one other things including doodling while waiting for the van/plumber/gas fitter etc. to show up! Include a large black marker to mark boxes and make signs to tell the movers where to put stuff and to put signs in the car/van window to explain to the nice traffic wardens why they don't want to give you a ticket...
  • Screwdrivers (flat and Phillips) + allen keys if you have furniture that requires them for assembly (you don't want to have to dig through your boxes to find your tools if you can possibly avoid it!) If you have a screwdriver that has the little glowing bulb to let you know a socket is live, that could be very useful!
  • Utility knife for opening cartons and cutting string, and scissors for the same purpose
  • Hammer and some panel pins or similar to tack things down/up, but you can use tape in an emergency...
  • Flashlight (with fresh batteries!)
  • String
  • Tape (one or more of: packing tape, electrical tape, gaffer/duct tape, double-sided carpet tape and paper masking tape; since they all have their uses)
  • Light bulbs
  • Drop cloths (to protect carpets etc.), old blankets work well
  • Tarps to cover the open back of a van (in case of rain) or items being transferred from the van to the house (e.g. mattresses if not in cartons) Use tape and/or hammer & nails to hold tarpaulin up.
  • Candles & matches (in case of lack of electricity, and because it looks nicer for your first evening in your new home!)
  • Mobile phone, so people can get hold of you and you can get hold of other people. Don't forget to check that it will work in the area of your new house! A spare battery may be a very good idea if you've packed your charger...  If the phone company will have the standard phone line ready for you, and you don't know whether the last people are leaving a phone handset, it may be worth taking a phone handset with you.
  • Some wedges for door stops to hold open doors
  • Wood to act as a ramp over the doorstep may be useful also
  • A pair of gloves (e.g. gardening or work gloves) to protect the hands while moving heavy objects, avoids splinters and sharp corners etc. and protects the fingernails


  • Coffe pot
  • Mugs
  • Tea, coffee, milk, sugar, sweetener
  • Food and snacks (crackers, cup-a-soup, granola bars, chocolate), especially if the kids are 'helping'
  • Soft drinks, water (at least a gallon of normal water just in case the plumbing isn't working when you first move in)
  • Something to celebrate with! (Champagne and glasses? Beer?)
  • Paper plates, plastic cutlery, paper towels, paper napkins/serviettes, plastic/paper cups (unless you're going to eat the burgers/pizza straight from their boxes, in which case a handful of paper napkins (or a kitchen roll) is still a good idea!)
  • Bottle opener/corkscrew
  • Can opener (A good Swiss Army knife is worth its weight in money during the moving process)
  • Phone number of pizza delivery

Cleaning up the house

  • Garbage bags
  • Broom (indoors and outdoors brooms)
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Vacuum cleaner (preferably a wet/dry vac, if it can clean carpets/upholstery so much the better)
  • Detergent
  • Towels for dishes and after showering
  • Mop (and bucket)
  • Scrub brush and cleanser
  • Kitchen Paper/Paper Towels
  • Sponges
  • Shelf lining paper (if you use it)
  • Disinfectant


  • Radio/Cassette (with fresh batteries) for music/travel/weather news, don't forget to take a favorite cassette/CD/mini-disc to help make the new place more welcoming
  • Change of clothes for emergencies (ripped pants, spilled liquids etc.) or to wear to work the next day (if you're not unpacking right away, and perhaps even then... what happens if the van is delayed and you have to be in work the next morning?)
  • First-aid and wash kit (toothbrush/toothpaste, aspirin, Band-Aids, toilet paper, prescriptions, female sanitary products, diapers/Pampers, allergy medicines (especially your inhaler if you're asthmatic or allergic to dust), disinfectant, soap, deodorant, towels etc.) Don't forget a packet of tissues/Kleenex!
  • Sleeping bag (if bed doesn't arrive/isn't set up on the first day!)
  • Cash/cleared funds to pay movers
  • Weather dependent stuff: If it is cold and icy, sand/salt/kitty litter to put on path/driveway. If it is very hot, desk fan or similar to keep air moving inside the house. If you are moving in the summer and in an area that gets mosquitoes, insect repellent
  • Spare pair of eyeglasses/contact lenses (in case you break/lose your main pair and need to be able to see afterward!)
  • Local map (to direct people to/from the new property)
  • Local yellow pages/business directory so you can find an emergency locksmith/glazier/plumber/roofer if necessary. Directory inquiries may be good enough!
  • Sheets or something (black plastic bags can work quite well in an emergency) to hang in windows until curtains are put up, plus appropriate hardware to keep them up there (string and nails, tape or whatever)
  • A clock is surprisingly useful and stops you worrying about damaging your watch (or losing it because you took it off while moving boxes through a narrow doorway and now can't find it!)
  • Anything of a symbolic/ritual nature to initiate the new house (perhaps a special piece of music, or a lucky horseshoe, or a cutting from a tree that you want to plant in the new garden to symbolize continuity/growth, or some incense, or a wind-chime, or a religious symbol, or a family photo. I took my guitar and sang "Our House" by Graham Nash, of Crosby, Stills & Nash, you know, the one that goes "Our house is a very very very fine house, with two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy 'cause of you")

Vital Papers etc.

  • In the process of moving in you can bury things quite easily, so make sure that you can find things like your credit cards, any vital work papers (e.g. briefcase), drivers license, car keys, wallet, etc. One suggestion is to lock them in the glove compartment of your car so you'll know where they are. (Note: Don't lock your car keys inside.)
  • Also a list of the phone numbers for each of the professionals you expect to be arriving (e.g. locksmith, gas fitter, phone company, plumber, moving company etc.) so you can contact them either in an emergency or if they don't show up (ok, so that's an emergency too!)
  • A spare set of car keys and the phone number of the van hire company (in case you drop the keys down a drain and can't unlock the van) are also useful things to have.
  • Finally, having someone who can jump in a car and run down to the local DIY shop/supermarket/Chinese Takeaway while you're in the middle of some emergency will also help make moving day easier!
  • If there is a pay-phone near you that takes phone cards (and you're not carrying a mobile) then a spare phone card might be worth considering.
  • If you've got all your important phone numbers on your Cell phone/PDA/Laptop, then for goodness sake print out a paper copy just in case!
  • Don't forget to have the money for the moving company (many need to be paid before they will unload the van)
  • The address, keys and directions for the new house (you won't believe how stupid you'll look if you have to drive round in circles for hours to find the place and then have to break in through a side window because you've left all this stuff behind)

Sierra is a community e-waste collection center. Find out what we can accept here. Drop off your unwanted electronics during our normal office hours. All proceeds benefit local non-profits!

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