Even if you have yet to list your home for sale or found where you’ll move after you sell, you can still start planning how to handle storing and moving your household. Getting a jump on you plan could potentially save you money and mountains of stress when it comes to making your next move.

When to start planning

Moving has a lot of moving pieces, so start planning now. Most experts say it’s ideal to begin planning about two months before your anticipated move. That gives you plenty of time to determine what to do with furniture you want to store while staging your home, and how you’ll eventually get your belongings from Point A to Point B.

It gives you time to get bids from moving companies, check out portable moving containers (sometimes called pods), or scope prices for rental trucks. A solid two-month time frame will also help you scope out the best places to get moving boxes, packing materials and other moving accessories.

But don’t worry: If you need to move faster, you can still have a successful move. Here’s what to consider.

Choosing DIY, pro or pod

Will you count on friends and family who you pay in pizza, pay professional movers, or use portable moving containers? The choice may depend on how much and what kind of stuff you have, the amount of time you have, and the distance between the two places.

Your stuff: If you have a home full of fine furnishings or antiques, it may be worthwhile to pay more for professionals, whereas kid-friendly furniture that fits into a tightly packed moving truck might be better suited to a DIY move or rental portable moving containers.

Your time: If you have time to find moving boxes and packing material, and want to pack your own things, then a DIY or rental container move could work for you. However, if you are still wrapping up the sale of your new home or you’re slammed for time in other ways, hiring movers may be worth the money.

Your miles: If you are just moving across town, hiring movers might not be the best use of funds. A long-distance move requires a ton of strategy and it could be best left up to a moving company or a container shipped to your new home. Whichever route you choose, you’ll be spending a lot of time knee-deep in boxes and bubble wrap soon.

Planning a DIY or pod move

If you choose a pure DIY move, you pack, you drive, you unload. The biggest expense will likely be renting a moving van or truck. The biggest hassle will likely be lining up pals to help you!

An alternative to straight DIY is renting a moving container. The company will drop the pod off at a pre-determined time, you pack it up, and then they ship it to wherever it needs to go. If you need to store your things for a while until you actually move into your new home, many companies offer pod storage at an extra fee. Typically, pods cost less than a professional mover and less than straight DIY.

Once you decide on pod rental versus truck rental, you’ll then need to start the packing process. Start with the least-used stuff (items in the garage and backyard), and then move onto the living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, and finally, the kitchen.

One tip: Set aside a box of essentials you will need for the first night in your new home (a few dishes and silverware, basic cleaning supplies, phone chargers, towels for a first shower, sheet sets for everyone’s beds).

Planning a professional move

Concerned about finding a mover to trust with your most prized possessions? You can start by asking friends, family or your agent to recommend moving companies. But don’t stop here. Check customer comments on Yelp, the Better Business Bureau and other review sites.

Once you’ve narrowed things down, visit each company’s website or talk to them by phone. It’s smart to make a note of the full business legal name, the number of years they’ve been in business, and two very important numbers: Department of Transportation (DOT) and Motor Carrier (MC) license numbers. All moving companies that operate in the U.S. should be licensed with the DOT, and you can use that number to check safety ratings and inspection records.

Closer to your move, set up time for the movers to visit your home to do an estimate of how much your move will cost. It is absolutely critical to show them everything in every room so that they can provide an accurate estimate. Then review it carefully, looking for an inventory of your things, the distance between your old home and new home, and information on any other things the mover provides such as moving boxes or packing services. Be sure to keep a copy of the inventory list, and a copy of the estimate itself for your records.

When you’re ready, we have other tips for packing up, a checklist of who to notify, and what to leave for your old home’s new owners.