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How to Make a Moving Inventory List

Person writing checklist or to do list in notebook and sticky notes
Kesinee Srisura / EyeEm / Getty Images

Remembering what you own may seem easy until you move, and you have to recall every item you have. Making sure you know the whereabouts of your valuables is crucial during a move, so you can verify that all of your belongings made the trip to your new home. Creating a moving inventory list provides an itemized record you can reference when unpacking your boxes. While there are professional moving services that create an inventory of household items for you, it’s better for you to document your home’s contents yourself.

Making a home inventory checklist for moving can be as simple as writing everything down in a notebook as you move from room to room. You can also choose a more high tech solution and photograph or videotape everything in each room. Whatever approach you take, don’t leave anything out on your packing inventory, so you’ll have a complete record to check against when you settle into your new home.

What is a moving inventory?

A moving inventory is a document that lists all of the notable valuables in your home, their condition, and their estimated value. We know this sounds tedious, but it can save you in the long run when you move, unpack, or sign up for homeowners or renters insurance.

When putting together your inventory of household items, the more detail, the better. The obvious starting point is all of your furniture, followed by electronics, appliances, and other items that accessorize a room (area rugs, lamps, knickknacks, and so on).

All valuables also should be included. Think beyond jewelry to include collectibles (anything from baseball cards to porcelain figurines to coins, etc.), artwork, and other high-value items.

Make a note of clothing, DVD/CD collections, and other miscellaneous items. Essentially, anything you would need to replace in the event of theft, fire, flood, or another incident should be listed on your moving inventory list.

When should I make my inventory of household items?

If you don’t already have a home inventory list, you should make one now. You never know when you may need it, so it’s best to prepare. Moving is a convenient time to put together a packing inventory since you’ll be going through all of your things.

Making a home inventory will take some time, but, in the long run, it will be time well spent.

You will need a home inventory list for:

  • Moving: Whether you hire a professional moving service or move everything yourself, once you start unpacking, it’s important to make sure you brought everything with you. It’s also vital to list the condition of these items, especially if you hire professional movers. You will need to confirm you have received all of your belongings, and that they got to you in one piece.
  • Filing for homeowners insurance: In the event that your home is damaged by fire, flood, or another natural disaster, you’ll need to provide a list of all items damaged or lost in the incident when filing a claim for replacement. You’ll also list the estimated value of each item, so adding prices to your home inventory is essential.
  • Taking out renters insurance: If you live in a rental, you will need renters insurance to cover the cost of replacing your belongings should theft or disaster strike. The insurance company will want an inventory list to determine the approximate cost of replacing those items and, thus, the amount of your insurance coverage and premium.
  • Filing a police report: If items are stolen from your home, you’ll have to give police a full inventory of everything that’s missing. This list will also help you decide if you should file an insurance claim.
  • Organizing your home: It’s easy to accumulate things, so much so that it’s easy to forget what you own. Having an inventory of household items can help you keep track of your belongings, so you can limit unnecessary spending and easily locate your precious belongings.

How to make a moving inventory in 4 easy steps:

Putting together a packing inventory is a pretty straightforward process.

Step 1: Structure your list.

On a piece of paper or your computer, make a three-columned list. Include the item name and brand at the top of column one. On column two, write “condition,” and on column three put, “estimated value.”

Follow this structure for every room.

Step 2: Go room by room.

Start with the first room in your house, and make a list of everything in it. Don’t skip anything — remember: the more detail, the better. If you have a bookshelf in the room, list everything on the shelf down to the number of books (highlighting any valuables or collector’s items), framed pictures, knickknacks, and so on. Note each item’s condition and estimated value.

Step 3: Assign each item to a room.

If you plan to put these items in the same room in the new house, note that on the top of each page of the moving list items. However, if you plan to relocate items to other rooms, make a note of the new location next to the item.

Step 4: Take photos or record videos (optional, but highly recommended).

To supplement your packing inventory, take photos or videos of all items in each room. If you take photos, print them out and attach them to the corresponding page of your moving inventory list.

If you decide to record your process, take one video per room, and when saving that video, name it after the room it features. You should put a copy of all the videos on a flash drive and store it safely with your home inventory checklist for moving.

4 home inventory apps that can help you keep organized:

If you’re not the most organized person, several home inventory apps can make creating a moving inventory list a lot easier.

  1. Sortly:

This app allows you to list everything in your home, and include purchase date, warranty information, and serial numbers. You can add photos of each item, and set reminders for things like warranty expiration.

  1. Nest Egg – Inventory:

My Stuff is another iOS-only app that lets you list everything room by room or organize items by collection. You can add photos as well as product information simply by scanning barcodes on packages.

  1. My Stuff:

My Stuff is another iOS-only app that lets you list everything room by room, or you can organize items by collection. You can generate and print lists based on rooms, collections, and individual items.

  1. Magic Home Inventory:

Android users can make the most of their moving inventories with this app by creating lists by room, containers, item categories, or even a sunburst chart. You can add photos and easily move items from one container list to another.

The bottom line

As you prepare for a move, creating a moving inventory list provides a quick and easy way to verify that all your belongings make the move with you. Plus, it will be great to have on hand in the event you need to file a homeowners or renters insurance claim. Think of a packing inventory as an extra layer of security for protecting the stuff you love.

Frequently asked questions

How do you make a moving inventory? 

Make a list of all the items located in each room of your home. Be sure to list the value of each item next to its name.

What should be included in a home inventory? 

Every item in your home. This includes large items — such as furniture, appliances, jewelry, and electronics — and smaller items — like clothing, linens, bookshelf contents, kids’ toys, etc.

Where do you get rid of stuff when you move? 

Cleaning out items you no longer use or need in your home during a move is a great way to reduce clutter. Check with organizations such as Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and any local organizations to see what donations they accept. If you have a lot of stuff, many of these organizations will pick up your donations for free.

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