How to Relocate Your Life: A List for Moving

When moving, everyone has checklist. The realtor has a checklist for what you should do before listing your home. The mortgage company has a checklist for the documents they will need. The moving company has a checklist for how to pack your stuff. But no one has a checklist for how to relocate your life.

Eighteen months ago we were under contract to sell our home in Cincinnati. Our close date was fluid. We weren’t sure if we were moving south or out west. And barely anything was packed.

I pulled the duvet back to change the sheets on our bed. I was shocked to find two holes in our fitted sheet. My first reaction was anger. These sheets are two years old! How did they rip?! But as I stared, I got an idea.

Fully clothed in my non-office uniform of workout clothes (I know there’s another word. I just can’t go there. You know where there is, the word that combines two opposites: athletes and leisure), I placed my head on my pillow. My heels aligned perfectly with the holes. Moving my heels back and forth, they perfectly traced the holes in the fitted sheet.

In the stress of our move, unbeknownst to me, while I thought I was getting my nightly rest, my mind was racing through the worries of our move. Grinding my heels into the bed the same way I grind my teeth (I have no canines. Just real flat teeth).

At the end of it, 14 months ago, as we settled in our new home in Louisville, I swore never again. Never again would I move.

When it started happening again, I was feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff we had to do. I made a list to decrease stress and anxiety. It worked 100%. Each week, I’d focus on a few things from the list.

This list is everything I have learned and how I avoided another sheet situation.

Buying & Selling a House

  • Get a Real Estate Agent – Real estate agents get a lot of flack. I’ve been guilty of giving it. But a good agent is more than worth it. Our last three homes have all sold quickly in multiple bid situations. My Louisville favorite, my Cincinnati favorite and Charlotte favorite. I know this seems like an easy place to save a buck, but I have tried to do it myself on two homes. An agent’s value is real.
  • House-hunting Trips – Planning these can get tricky – trying to time trips as new houses pop up in the market. While selling a home quickly is a blessing, its curse is forcing a quick decision on housing. We bought our current house sight unseen by my husband!
  • Showings and Open Houses with Kids – We’ve passed time at the mall, our gym, Mellow Mushroom and just plain-old driving around. There’s no easy way around this, but I believe in a spotless completely decluttered house. Anything less is only going to make this process harder (including the offer numbers).

    Open House

    Selfie after leaving our house for the Open House. It’s a mixed feeling of relief because the all cleaning and prepping is done and anxious hope that someone will like it!

  • Financing – We’ve always shopped at least three rates. But other factors are important too: like the timing the bank can guarantee. Our last mortgage closed in 3 weeks and the one before in 4.
  • Insurance Agent – Another place to shop rates. We’ve seen significant differences in comparable policies. If you’re in Ohio or Kentucky, even if you’re not moving (and you’re still reading, thanks :)), this agency has amazing service and rates.
  • Transfer Utilities
    1. Water
    2. Electricity
    3. Gas, if applicable
    4. Internet
    5. Cable or DIRECTV (if you’re still doing that)

Packing & Transport

  • Boxes
    • Commercial Mover: If you are using a commercial mover and they are packing, these will be included (but interestingly marked).
    • Self Pack: Boxes can also be purchased at big box stores like Home Depot.
      • Craigslist is a good resource for anyone giving theirs away or some companies will re-sell theirs (i.e. in Ohio we found a children’s product company that resold their boxes for a quarter).
      • Next Door – another forum where I’ve seen people post that they are giving away old boxes.
      • Liquor Stores – Years ago a realtor turned me on to liquor stores for boxes. Most have dividers inside which are great for kitchen items like glasses or spices and oils. I once moved with like 10 Skyy Vodka boxes. I’m sure our new neighbors had fun with that.
  • Packing Material
    • Commercial Mover: They’ll take care of this.
    • Self Pack: Can be purchased at Home Depot or
      • Local Coffee Shops: if you have a local coffee shops, some are nice enough to save their old newspapers for you. I was a little nervous to use this with my china, but it was fine. There was no ink transfer onto the china, just a little bit on my hands.
  • Tape – When packing yourself, a tape gun is a must. And two is a luxury.
  • Permanent Marker – For our move from Charlotte to Cincinnati, the movers used the vaguest descriptors. I swear some boxes just said our last name. For our next move, I was as specific as possible listing the contents of each box. This is more tedious on the front-end, but saves so much time on the back-end. I put the specific descriptor on the top of the box and a general descriptor on the side so that when the box was stacked, I still had an idea of what was in it.
  • Movers
    • Commercial full-service has this covered
    • Self-pack – we’re too old to offer our friends a 12-pack. Local movers, like Two Men and a Truck can get the stuff into a Pod (or a moving truck).
  • Storage – We’ve used Pods during a renovation and moving. Fairly reasonable and easy to work with. I found the customer service reps really helpful.
  • Accommodations – whether commercial movers or self, there is always a lag time for our goods to get to where we’re moving. While waiting for movers to arrive with our items, we hang with family (thank you!).
  • Getting Cars to the New City – With one kid, I did this by myself. With 3, I was blessed with a father who offered to help.


  • Childcare – Daycare or Nanny. I have done both over the years for different reasons. Both are great options. It can be intimidating to navigate this in a city in which you do not yet live. My most success has come from reaching out to friends or co-workers already living in the city.
  • Pre-school – Same as above, real people have been my best resource to learn about the options, but tours are always a must here.
  • Schools – Even though our children are not of school age and haven’t been for any of our moves, we learned from a friend’s experience of living on the wrong side of the road (literally – we lived on the east side of the road and she lived a quarter mile away on the west side of the road) to consider that with each purchase. It helps with re-sale and we swear we are going to stay in one of these houses long enough that it matters for our kids.
  • Babysitters – Neighbors and co-workers have been the best place to start here.


  • Pediatrician –  I always locate a pediatrician before we move and establish ourselves as a new patient. Every single time we have moved, someone has come down with something (ear infection, pink eye, etc.) in the first few days. Nothing’s worse than having a sick child. Even worse if you’re in a new town and have to try to find a doctor. Do it before hand. It gave me a chance to get recommendations and choose.
  • OB/GYN – I was pregnant for our move from Charlotte to Cincinnati. Locating a doctor before the move eliminated stress. I knew how they wanted my medical records and it made for a smooth transition. Also good for the same reason above. If anything doesn’t feel right, I didn’t want to be worried about the pregnancy and searching for a doctor.
  • General Doctor – I failed on this one in Cincinnati and Louisville. For the latter, it meant I found myself mis-diagnosed twice at the Little Clinic (Kroger’s Urgent Care) before I finally went to a real doctor and he got me on the right path.
  • Eye Doctor – Another one where I failed until I found myself with pink eye and needing new contacts since mine had all been infected. Find a doctor before you need one.
  • Dentist – See above


  • Car Insurance – It always starts here. In every state, proof of current car insurance is necessary for anything else on this list. See above re home insurance. Shop it.
  • Driver’s License – Insurance plus proof of address plus proof that you are who you say you are (am I the only one who has no idea where my birth certificate is?!) is always needed.
  • License Plate / Transfer Title – Insurance, plus driver’s license is usually needed here. If a car is listed in two names, you’ll likely have to head to the DMV together (some states allow POAs). On the upside, these days we consider any interaction where children aren’t present (even getting a new license plate at the DMV) a date.


  • Transfer Funds – be aware that some banks take 10-14 days to clear funds (even wired funds) from an out of state bank.
  • Transfer Auto-Deposit – be aware that some payroll processors take 10 business days. If you’re on a two week cycle, this could mean it takes almost a month to switch.


  • Gym / Work-out Facility
    1. Cancel Old – most need 30 days notice from the monthly billing date and have clauses that allow early termination for a move over a certain amount of miles.
    2. Start New – I often wait until month 2 or 3 to do this. First because the move, unpacking and getting settled consumes a lot of time in the first month limiting workout times. Second because it’s important to choose the right place. Don’t rush this decision.
  • Change of Address – this needs to be updated at multiple places:
    1. Post Office
    2. Bank
    3. Credit Card
    4. Work
    5. Magazine subscriptions
  • Veterinarian – With each move, we’ve had to board our dog for a few days. Which usually means we need to find a place to give him updated bordatella shots.
  • Cancel subscriptions – public radio & church (oh man, I still need to do this one for this move!)
  • Cancel any household service – lawn services, house-cleaning, pest control, etc.


Once we had everything set-up in our house we wanted to share it with people, but it can be hard in a new town. We were fortunate that all of our moves took us to places where we had some friends, but one of the fun things about moving is meeting new people and making new friends.

  • A mom’s group – In Cincinnati I found the best mom’s group ever. It was run with the precision of a sorority minus the kegs stands and the sober monitor. Warning: it’s uncomfortable to walk into a room full of people and know no one. But we’ve all been there. Which means a lot of people in the room will pay it forward and be friendly.
  • Church – Who knew I’d meet so many amazing moms by volunteering at my church’s nursery and my kids got to play. The only bummer is they never wanted to go unless I was the teacher. Because I definitely go to church for peace and quiet, I mean God.
  • A Pool – this is the most expensive friend maker on the list, but also the most effective. Maybe because we’re humbled by standing around half-nude. Or maybe it’s the concession stand beer. Or maybe it’s the comfort of talking to another thirty/forty-something year old who isn’t sure why they brought their most prized beings in the world to this danger trap.
  • Volunteering / Getting involved – I discovered this one by accident. I wound up in touch with an organization in Cincinnati because I wanted to support the medical community dedicated to pre-term labor and high risk births. In the course of doing so I met amazing, inspiring people.

Wow! I had so much to say. No wonder I didn’t get this one posted timely last week. If you’re moving – I hope this helps. If it’s in the future, I hope you can reference back to this. If you’re not moving and you’re still reading, you’re my favorite.



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7 thoughts on “How to Relocate Your Life: A List for Moving

  1. Dacian says:

    Amazing post! SO useful haha
    I had to go through something similar, and it’s always nice to see that someone has to deal with these types of things as well. Or is that just me?


  2. bigred1997 says:

    We’re not going anywhere (and wish you guys hadn’t- but we get it when opportunity calls!) but I still loved this post Libby. Great info!!
    If you’re paying close attention to the time on this…. yeah, I can’t sleep tonight, so I went straight to where I could find some good reading.


    • Libby Vish Carl says:

      Hey Rob – We miss Maryhill too. It’s the most special little place! Sorry you couldn’t sleep. While I hope you fell back asleep – I hope it wasn’t my blog that put you back to sleep! 🙂


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