Moving Timeline & Checklist for Families in Medicine

Moving Timeline & Checklist for Families in Medicine

I see you. Your partner is spending long hours in med school or at the hospital training to become a Doctor. Or perhaps your partner has completed training and is looking to move on to a new opportunity. Summer will be here soon, which means one thing in the medical training world… it’s time to get ready to move. Whether it’s for Residency, Fellowship, or a job after training, moving is often stressful, overwhelming, and emotional.  

As a med partner, you’re used to the long days your partner is away from home. You’re used to meals being interrupted by a call from the hospital. You’re used to attending events on your own because your partner had to stay late at work. You’re used to figuring out how to juggle three kids at bedtime alone. You’re used to changing plans at the last minute because your partner got called into the hospital. You’re used to spending the weekend alone so your partner can study for upcoming boards.

But what you’re not used to is picking up, relocating, and starting a new life somewhere else—often with little say as to where. It’s not uncommon to find out we are moving just a few months before it’s time to pack up and go. As for med partners, we don’t have much control over where we move and are often left finalizing most of the moving decisions because our partners are busy at work or school.

As a med spouse who has moved over 15 times in the last decade, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. I’ve moved across the country, a few streets over, to a neighboring city, into temporary housing, into countless rentals, and most recently into our first home that we finally purchased… so I’ve seen it all. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, made a ton of mistakes, and created some unforgettable memories.

I understand the stress of relocating as the partner of a Physician. So, I am here to give you a little guidance as to what should be done and when. Keep reading to find out more details about moving for Residency, Fellowship, and jobs after training. Remember, every moving journey is unique, so tailor these timelines to fit your needs.

Before I go on, I wanted to make a quick note about moving for a Fellowship or a job after training. If you’re moving for Fellowship or after training, you often have one crucial factor on your side—time. Typically, fellowship matches occur in the year before starting, so you have the opportunity to take the time to figure out details related to the move.

Start looking for housing as soon as you know where you’re going. It doesn’t matter if you are buying or renting; you want to be as familiar with the area as possible. So, when it comes time to finalize housing details, you will feel confident in your decision. Research neighborhoods, look at local schools, calculate commute distances, and find what type of housing options are available.  

And for Residency, you usually don’t know where you’re moving until March. You can still do several things before March to get you and your family ready for the upcoming move. Even if you don’t know where you are moving, the chance of moving in May or June is very likely, given the Medical Calendar year starting on July 1. So, I’ve put together this brief timeline to help you stay on track with moving. Moving Timeline for MedFamilies

moving boxes with two pillows on top

Create a moving binder bindle.

Put together a binder to store all moving-related documents, receipts, and notes. I recommend having a large envelope or zippered pouch to keep receipts. If you want to be super on top of things, check out these moving planners that come in digital and physical options.  

Create a digital folder on your computer.

You will get many emails related to your upcoming move. Emails about the logistics of moving, your new home, maybe a new job, and all sorts of other needs along this relocation journey. By having a folder set up, you can easily organize these emails for quick reference later on down the road.

Take inventory of belongings.

It’s essential to have documentation of your belongings in case of damage or loss while moving. I recommend videotaping all of your belongings. I received the following tip from a fellow Dr. Spouse: videotape your electronics turning on and working correctly. This way, you have proof that they were in working condition before moving.

Pack away holiday decor well.

So it’s ready for the move and you don’t have to touch it again. Handle it once to pack up and then store it away until moving day.

Decide if you are going to rent or buy when you move.

By figuring this out early, you will narrow down your search. Perhaps you will change your mind halfway through the process; that’s okay. 

Create a budget for housing for the new home.

What monthly rent are you able to afford? What kind of downpayment and mortgage payment will be required if you’re looking to buy? Don’t forget to budget for utilities, furnishings, and potential repairs.

Declutter 25 items from your home.

Start getting rid of things that you don’t need now. Here are a couple of ideas of where to get started: filing cabinets, bathroom cabinets, kitchen drawers, and the master closet. You can sell, donate, or toss items you no longer need.

Schedule a trip to look for housing.

If you know where you’re going, book travel also. If you don’t know where you’re going, at least schedule a date for now to visit once you find out. Plan to visit a few weeks after finding out where you match or get hired.

moving truck

Make a list for future housing.

Include must-haves and deal-breakers. This makes the house search process much more manageable. Do you need to be close to a hospital? Do you need a certain number of bedrooms? Is outdoor space important? Start thinking about your future home now.

Create a budget for moving.

How much money can you afford to spend on this move? Include things like moving truck, gas, insurance, lodging, meals, scouting trips. It’s easy for these costs to add up, so plan ahead so you can keep spending down.

Declutter 25 items from your home.

Time to get rid of a little bit more! Donate, Sell, or Toss items. One of my favorite places to donate is through my local Buy Nothing Group. If you have one locally, check it out. It can be a real gem to help save items from the landfill.

Order moving supplies.

With supply chain disruptions, limited products available, and the cost of items going up, go ahead and order those supplies now. I’ve created a list here of moving supplies you may need this year.

moving boxes stacked by a window

Look at moving options contact moving companies to check availability.

Often, in med school and Residency, we are on a limited budget. So a self-move is the most appropriate method of moving. Start looking into renting a moving truck or a pod. If you’re moving for a job after training, a relocation package may be included in your offer. If that’s the case, use a moving company to help if you feel comfortable with others handling your belongings. Start asking around for recommendations on moving companies, look up reviews online and call moving companies to get quotes.

Start packing away seasonal items that are no longer needed.

If Spring is on its way in where you are, start packing away those items only needed during winter: heavy jackets, snow gear, etc.

Begin an inventory list for boxes.

Start writing down what you’re packing away. Give each box a number and record what is in each box. For example, after packing my first box, I would write down “#1 – pillows and blankets from the spare bedroom” on a sheet of paper. I would also write #1, spare bedroom, pillows & blankets on the box. When you know what is in each box, it makes packing and unpacking easier. Especially if you need one particular item that you accidentally packed up… you can find it really quickly.

Start looking at housing options in the new area.

In January, you created a budget for housing. And in February, you made a wish list of things you needed in your new home and neighborhood. Now, start looking at options. If you’re buying, use a local real estate agent. Often, the hospital programs in your new town may have recommendations. If you’re renting, start to narrow down neighborhoods and homes. Start contacting landlords to discuss viewings and availability.

Time to book travel if you’re moving for Residency

Since you find out where you are moving to this month, now is time to book travel for April to see housing options, if that is important to you. Book flights, if needed, and then make a reservation at a hotel or rental, so you have somewhere to stay.

Ask your new hospital or practice if they have any recommendations

Ask about housing or moving service recommendations in your new local area. Remember, when a new class of Residents comes in, that means a class of Residents is graduating, creating an occupancy availability. Also, local hospital staff may have additional housing opportunities for incoming Residents, Fellows, or Attendings. 

Join local groups in your new area.

A couple ideas, you can join Facebook groups with others of similar interests or lifestyles, Doctor’s wives groups, alumni groups, hospital groups. There are apps to help find like-minded moms like Peanut.

moving boxes open on wood floor

Research school options in the new area.

If you’re planning on sending kiddos to school in your new area. Now is the time to figure out where you would like them to attend. And to determine if your living situation and location will accommodate those wishes. Contact schools, send in applications, complete virtual interviews, or schedule in-person tours.

Choose a moving method and sign a contract.

After researching your options last month, you should be ready to sign a contract to hire a moving company. Make sure to read the agreement thoroughly. If you need help figuring out your contract, check out the moving terms here.

Confirm a moving day.

It’s okay if you don’t have a final address yet, but at least try to schedule when you will be moving. Tacking this date down will help you sort out details at your current home and at your destination.

Finalize housing options for a new home.

You will be moving in 30-60 days, so now is the time to finalize your options for housing. If a permanent choice isn’t available right away, there are extended stay options and short-term rentals you can always look into until something more permanent opens up. If you’re planning to rent, look into signing a lease now. If you’re planning to buy, try to get an offer accepted soon. It typically takes up to 60 days to close on a house, so this is the time to do it.

Give notice to your current landlord if renting.

Most landlords require 60 days’ notice, so send them a note in writing of when you will be vacating the property.

Reserve loading dock or street curb at the current home and new home for moving day.

If you have to park a moving truck on the street in front of your existing home to load up, make sure to get a permit from the city or make a reservation with your building supervisor. The last thing you want to worry about on moving day is parking the moving truck to quickly load your belongings.

Research and schedule car transporter, if needed.

Are you flying and shipping your cars? Are you taking one car and wanting to send the other? Start looking at options for a car transporter. There are a lot of options.

Make a plan for transporting pets, plants, and valuables.

These need special care while transporting, so planning ahead is essential. With valuables, I recommend keeping them on your person. But plants and pets are living items and need to be properly transported, which may require a third party to assist.

Meal plan to use up food in the house.

Get creative with the items left in your pantry and fridge. Make a plan to use up these items in the coming weeks.

Decide how you will arrange furniture in your new home.

I like doing this, so I know what items we need to get rid of before moving and what things to keep an eye on for our future home. There is no sense in moving a large piece of furniture that won’t have a home once you move.

Continue to declutter.

Keep getting rid of things. Shoot for at least 25 items this month.

Begin address change checklist.

So you can notify friends, family, and others about the upcoming move. You don’t need to tell them just yet, but start making a list of who you want to notify once it’s official.

Arrange to transfer medical records and prescriptions to new providers.

Find out how medical records get transferred to new practitioners. Do you need to pick up documents and transport them yourself? Do you need to have them faxed to new practitioners? Is there a fee? Start looking into this now.

Request a day off from work for moving day.

Make sure you have the day off for moving. You will need to be there to help direct, pack, load, and manage where things are going.

Contact renters/homeowners insurance to discuss change of address and rates.

Let your insurance company know you are changing addresses. Find out if there are any fees or rate changes associated with the move.

Coordinate childcare/pet car for moving days.

The last thing you want to worry about while moving is little kids or pets getting out of the house unattended because you (and laborers, if you hire them) will be going in and out of the house so many times. You can get lucky if you have an infant by packing up their room last to accommodate any naps. You can also keep small kiddos in a pack n play with toys for the day. But as your kids get older, it may be best to appoint someone else in charge of them for the day. Perhaps they spend the day at the park or in the backyard to stay out of the way. 

Begin packing items not needed until after the move.

Keep packing up items you won’t need until July. A little bit every day makes a huge difference in the end and will make the task of packing seem less overwhelming.

Give children age-appropriate tasks to help out.

Moving can be challenging for kiddos. If they have a sense of ownership in the move, the transition may be more manageable. If you have toddlers, ask them to help you pack up toys by letting them choose which toys stay out for the remainder of the stay in your current home. For older kids, you can have them help plan the move or take part in decorating their new room. As you prepare kids for moving, there are a lot of books available to read to kiddos to help them cope with the change.

moving boxes being taped up

Pack boxes.

Every day, try to pack 3-6 boxes. Every box counts. You can do this.


Keep getting rid of things you don’t need at your new home.

Finalize details of the move with moving company.

Contact the moving company via email to confirm moving dates and addresses. You probably have your destination address which you can share with them now.

Create a moving day schedule.

Break down moving day by the hour, so you know what to expect when the day comes. Share a copy of this schedule with the movers ahead of time and when they arrive for the day.

Return borrowed items.

Did you borrow a baking dish from your neighbor? Have an extra set of rainboots your best friend lent out during a rainy day? Make sure to get those things back to them. Another perk? It’s less for you to pack.

Get things back that you loaned out to others.

If you lent a friend your camera a few weekends back, make sure to get it back. It’s easy to forget about these things once you pack up and move, so take care of them now.

Purchase more moving supplies, if needed.

What are you running low on? Order it now so it will arrive in time for the move.

Arrange to disconnect utilities.

Call your utility companies to schedule a shut-off date for the day after moving. Check this off your list now because it will be one of the last things you remember to do on moving day.

Complete change of address form with the post office.

You can do this in person or online.

Arrange a tune-up for your vehicles.

Whether you’re driving your vehicles cross-country or not, it’s always nice to have everything checked out before you go. The last thing you want to worry about at your new home is where to take your car to be serviced if something goes wrong. So get it taken care of this month.

Create a “Do not move box.”

These are items you do not want to be put in the moving truck. These are items you should keep on you at all times, like passports, social security cards, jewelry, financial documents, irreplaceable items. For med families, this includes any equipment needed for the first day of work… white coats, stethoscopes, loupes, etc.

Fill prescriptions for current meds.

Stop over to the pharmacy to see if you can refill any medications before moving. You may not be able to get a new RX or refill right away after moving, so best to take care of it beforehand.

Transfer school records.

Talk to current schools and new schools about the process of transferring records. Figure this out now, while you are near the current school well before the new school year starts at your new location.

Arrange for updates at the new home.

Do you need to have a deep clean done? Painting? Remodeling? Schedule these appointments now so you can have them done before your items arrive, if possible.

Host a gathering

Include other students, Residents, or Fellows to host a Farewell event. Things will get busy over the next month, so it’s best to check this off the list before June.


Plain and simple, keep packing up items. Just another reminder 🙂

moving truck on highway in mountains

2 weeks before moving

Confirm travel arrangements for moving day.

Double-check flights or routes if driving. If you’re staying in a hotel or temporary housing, confirm check-in and check-out dates.

Collect clothing from cleaners.

Any items you’ve left at the cleaners, pick them up now.

Pack suitcases you will be taking with you on moving day.

I recommend packing at least a week’s worth of clothing for each family member if things get delayed with shipping belongings. Don’t forget toiletries, shoes, and other accessories.

Arrange for utilities for your new home to be turned on.

Set up accounts with your utility providers at your new home. If possible, I recommend you have things set to start the day before you arrive.

1 week before moving

Arrange for payment of movers.

Often you receive a discount if you pay in cash. If that is the case, make sure to have enough cash on hand to pay for services. If you are using a credit or debit card, make sure there is enough balance to cover moving costs.

Confirm your moving dates

Include the move-out date for your current home and your move-in date for your new home.

Change the locks in your new home, if possible.

If you cannot do this because your move is long-distance, schedule a locksmith to meet you on the day you move in. It’s essential to secure your belongings with new locks.

Deep clean new home.

Again, if you can schedule this ahead of time to be done the day before moving in, great! If you can’t schedule this until after moving in, plan for cleaners to come a week after moving in. This will give you time to unpack, as well as a goal to get things unpacked so a deep clean can be done.

Discuss contingency plan for movers running late.

What will you do if movers are running late with delivering your items to your new home? Is there a hotel you can stay in? Blow-up mattress available to buy if needed?

Back up computers to a hard drive.

Your computers will be moved around. Back everything up now in case something gets lost or damaged.

Donate all unsold items.

Anything that hasn’t sold now should be donated. By getting it out of the house, you will relieve a ton of stress, and that can often be priceless. 

Donate non-perishables.

Is there a local shelter or food pantry that is accepting food donations? If so, drop off items this week.

Empty out your work office if relocating.

Take a box or two to your office and clean everything out. Label the box and put it with the others at home. When you get to your new home, you can then take that box to your new office, if you have one.

Provide a thank you gift to mentors

Be sure to recognize those who have helped you, your partner, and your family during your current phase in this medical journey. Flowers, a pen, or a simple note are all thoughtful items.

1 Day Before Moving

Empty clean, and defrost the fridge.

Toss out or donate perishables. Wipe down the shelving. Clean out the ice bin.

Run self-clean oven.

Wipe down any debris that remains.

Change out any fixtures you are taking with you.

If you replaced the showerhead or wall clock time to put back the originals so you can pack the replacements in a box for your new house.

Place all keys, fobs, and garage door openers that must be returned in an envelope.

That way they are all in one place tomorrow and you don’t have to think about them again.

Place bags that you are taking with you together in a separate room.

This will keep movers from packing up the bags into the moving truck. 

Enjoy a meal from one of your favorite restaurants.

Opt to have food delivered in or take a break from the chaos at home and dine in. Savor one of these last memories in your current town.

With moving day tomorrow, you have finally come to the end of a long journey. As you wrap up this period of the medical training journey, there are fantastic new adventures ahead. Remember, in the end, everything will work out.

And if you’re reading this and you’ve got some time until moving day but need a little motivation to keep organized. Check out the Move Mama Move Relocation Planners with all the tips, trackers, logs, and checklists to help maintain your sanity.

"moving timeline + checklist for families in medicine" text with boxes and a stethoscope picture underneath

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