Checklist for the BIG move: moving from house to boat

This blog post is overdue. When we were moving to a boat we would have loved to have had a checklist. Something that provided us with some direction from getting from house to boat.

This blog post doesn’t provide boating or financial advice. But, it summarizes a years’ worth of downsizing experience, and provides some details that I haven’t mentioned before in previous posts.

Medical preparation

  • visit a dentist well in advance of your departure date in case you require interventions such as a crown or filling
  • visit an eye doctor and get your eyes tested
  • visit family doctor and arrange for a years’ worth of medication
  • visit specialists (such as allergists, for example. Discuss risks and possible emergency procedures.)
  • visit a travel doctor to acquire medications for your ship’s medical chest
  • take a medical training course
  • carry copies of your prescriptions in case they are needed for border/customs
  • research border protocols for carrying medications – certain substances may be prohibited
  • plan to buy or build your own first aid kit
  • arrange medical insurance
  • arrange to extend your provincial health coverage before you leave the country (for Canadians)

Offload responsibilities where possible

  • hire a babysitter or childcare provider
  • hire a housecleaner
  • hire window cleaners

Decide whether to rent or sell your home

  • engage with a real estate agent
  • stage/clean interior for showings
  • cut grass, landscape, etc.
  • determine where you might live if you find yourself in limbo – between house and boat
  • If you decide to rent, hire a property manager to look after things while you are away

Sell your vehicle

  • develop a plan to for your vehicle
  • will you sell it yourself? Or, a dealer?
  • can a friend sell it for you?
  • where will you sell it?  What country?
  • research cross-border duties and taxes (if need be)
  • arrange an online ad with AutoTrader or equivalent
  • consider how you will manage after your vehicle is sold (taxis, friends, buses, bike, wagon, etc.)

Envision your final weeks before moving aboard

  • Will you fly or drive to your boat?
  • will you be staying in a hotel just prior to moving? Or, a campground?

Determine a storage plan

  • Determine your storage plan (cost out, can things be stored with a friend or perhaps your own basement?)
  • arrange for piano storage


  • Begin to sell your things immediately
  • ship a pallet of things to your boat (for us, this was largely tools, and some homeschooling and kitchen supplies)
  • Create four piles: those you plan to keep, to donate, to sell and to throw away
  • keep creating the four piles to pare down. As the days progress you will become more ruthless
  • take pictures of the books you treasure, and then get rid of them – few books these days are irreplaceable
  • buy an industrial scanner – scan all paperwork, and store data online. Get rid of paper clutter, while keeping valuable documents like birth certificates
  • then, sell your scanner

Friends and family

  • decide how and when to tell your kids
  • decide how and when to tell your friends and family


  • Arrange homeschooling supplies
  • Write note to school board re: intentions for homeschooling


  • renew your passport
  • arrange to forward your mail
  • arrange electronic billing wherever possible
  • update contact information with utility companies (if appropriate)
  • give power of attorney to your lawyer (or someone you trust) to help streamline your affairs in your absence
  • arrange a new bank account – for us that meant we opened a US bank account
  • prepare yourself to cross a border as a cruiser (have on hand, boat registration documentation, as well as bank account or income information)

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