So, you’ve finally landed a new apartment in the big city. It’s all smooth sailing from here, right?
Well, not completely. Now’s the time for that little thing called moving.
Procrastination might have worked in college, but when it comes to moving into a new apartment, it’s important to prepare for your move early. That way, you won’t forget anything, or let your latest Netflix binge get in the way of packing and organizing for the next tenant the right way.
One of the biggest hurdles to preparing for your move can be organizing your to-dos. From nailing down a moving company to packing and updating your renters insurance (which takes less than a minute with Lemonade!), all of these tasks left unorganized will only add more stress to the moving process.
But guess what? Moving doesn’t actually have to be stressful, as long as you have your ducks in order! Bet no one told you that… ever.
We’ve done the dirty work of creating the ultimate moving out checklist, so you wouldn’t have to. Follow these apartment moving tips to a tee, and you won’t be eating takeout for a month, or saving all of your packing until the last minute. It’ll save you quite a few moments of stress, and Advils. We promise.
So without further adieu, here’s your ultimate moving checklist.
What to do before your move
Two months out: Plan ahead, get organized
1. Breathe in, breathe out. You’ve got this.
2. Choose your move-in date. Pro tip: Move in the middle of the month for better rates with your moving company, and move on a Friday so you can spend the weekend unpacking (joy).
3. Ask for time off from work if you’re moving on a weekday.
4. Check to make sure your renters insurance policy lasts until your move-out day.
5. Take measurements of your new apartment, so you’ll know what furniture will fit. Don’t forget to measure the door, elevator, or stairway to avoid any moving day nightmares.
6. Set a budget for your move, taking into account the cost of a moving company, boxes, supplies, moving insurance, etc.
7. Calculate how much extra cash you’ll need to save over the next few months to make up for the moving costs, and set a tighter budget for your day-to-day spending. (here’s our science-backed guide to meeting your spending goals, effortlessly.)
8. Use this excel sheet to track your to-dos, moving expenses, inventory, etc throughout your move!
9. Do research on the different moving companies available in your area, and get an estimate from each of them. The more you dig into this, the higher the chance you’ll save some serious cash. Btw, make sure they’re licensed and insured by verifying their DOT number.
10. Book your moving company. When you do, make sure to do these things:
- Tell ‘em about any additional services you’ll need, like extra stops at your storage unit
- Read over the contract before signing anything
- Get written confirmation of your moving date and costs (store this in your Google Drive!)
- Get moving insurance to cover all your stuff during the move (b/c renters insurance doesn’t cover stuff handled by movers!).
Six weeks out: Sort through your stuff
1. Reach out to a friend who’s also moving to sulk about how many things you have to do (seriously, it’ll be helpful to have a buddy through this).
2. Sort through your stuff, and figure out what you want to get rid of. Put them into two categories: To sell, and to donate 💖.
3. Calculate the value of the things you want to sell with a furniture calculator (we rec Splitwise’s or Blue Book Furniture).
4. Post the stuff you want to get rid of on a local Facebook group, or, better yet, have a garage sale party at your house
5. Designate a few donate boxes for the things you want to give away. Schedule a pickup with an organization like The Salvation Army or ClothingDonations.org.
One month out: Tell the world, prepare to pack
1. Pick a date for your move out party (you deserve it!). We suggest holding it no later than 3 weeks before move out.
2. Send out invites to your moving party!
3. Start gathering boxes for the stuff you’re going to keep. Ask your local retailers, grocery stores, businesses, or liquor stores to use their extra boxes. Also, check out the Craigslist free section. These things add up.
4. Notify these people/parties of your new address:
- Your bank
- The DMV
- Your employer’s HR department
- Magazine/newspapers you subscribe to
- Your credit card company
- The post office, b/c for some reason people still send snail mail (you can do this at USPS.org)
- Contact your utilities providers to cancel/transfer your utilities
5. Get a new renters insurance policy for your new apartment (and make sure to set your move in date as your effective date!)
6. If you have a furry friend, ask a bud to watch ‘em for the day – it’ll help you destress instantly
7. Gather your moving boxes, and label each box with (1) the room it’s destined for and (2) a number. Make sure to label on the side of the box, not the top, so you’ll be able to see it when the boxes are stacked.
8. Make a packing playlist – ideally, one with songs you love to sing along to, or songs that bring back old memories. It’ll ease the pain.
9. Start packing. You know what to do. (Jk, we’ll provide a step-by-step.)
10. Pack the things you don’t use often, like out-of-season clothes or dusty kitchen equipment.
Two weeks out: Begin packing, get ready to leave
1. Host your move out party, whether it’s a simple dinner party with your closest friends or an all-out banger. (Btw, keep the rowdiness in check with your security deposit in mind.)
2. Slow down on grocery shopping. Start using up things you don’t want to move, like the rest of your matcha tea or chickpea pasta.
3. Find out from your new apartment building if there are any move-in requirements (ex. having an active renters insurance policy before move in)
4. Take pics of your electronics (ex. TV) plugged in, so you won’t have any trouble assembling them in your new digs.
5. Now, the real packing begins. Breathe in, breathe out.
6. Pack up your kitchen. Make sure to put each item in boxes labeled ‘kitchen’ (unless they belong in another room in your new digs). Here are a few packing hacks:
7. Wrap breakables, like glasses or fancy hand-me-down china, in sheets or towels
8. Put styrofoam plates in between breakable plates to avoid disaster
9. Put knives in oven mitts to prevent injuries
10. Donate any unused food to an organization like Move For Hunger
11. Start packing up your room, minus the essentials you’ll need for the next two weeks. Here are some hacks:
- Pack heavier items in suitcases
- Put all clothes on the hanger in trash bags (rather than taking them off the hanger)
- Put jewelry in egg cartons to keep them from tangling
- Put any valuable/sentimental items in a separate box, to keep a close eye on them during moving day
12. Set aside an ‘essentials box’ (more on that later)
13. Pack up stuff in other rooms you won’t need over the next 2 weeks (and make sure to have your playlist jammin’ in the background)
14. If you’re moving to a new part of town, cancel your membership at the gym, yoga studio, etc.
15. Refill your prescriptions, and transfer them to a new pharmacy near your new apartment. (A lot of pharmacies let you do this on their online portal!)
16. Schedule a cleaning service to clean up your apartment a few days before move out (we rec Handy – they’re available in several cities across the US!).
One week out: Sort out the little stuff
1. Prep a week of meals, because the last thing you’ll want to do this week is cook.
2. Research the best spots to grab a quick bite around your new digs, so you can have a well-deserved food break while you’re unpacking.
3. Backup your computer – if something goes wrong, you’ll be thankful you have all your stuff in one place.
4. Reconfirm the arrangements (pick-up, time frame, price, etc) with your moving company.
A few days out: Finish up, clean up
1. Pack an ‘essentials box,’ and put in anything you think you’ll need for the first 24 hours in your new apartment: toothbrush, toothpaste, phone charger, toilet paper, a change of clothes, laptop, laptop charger
2. Paint your apartment (either yourself, or bring in a painter)
3. Pack up the rest of your stuff (!!)
4. Make sure your apartment is cleaned, so it’s squeaky clean for the next tenant.
5. If you own plants, stop watering them so they’re not heavy (or dripping) on the big day.
6. If you have smaller plants, pack ‘em in your moving boxes. Be sure to pack paper around the base of the pots to hold them in place, and punch air holes in the boxes to let them breathe.
7. If you’re bringing your fridge with you, empty, clean, and defrost it at least 24 hours before the move. Lay a towel in front of it to absorb excess water.
8. Take out cash to tip your movers.
9. Prep a gift for your new neighbors, like homemade (or store bought) cookies or a shiny new water bottle (you’ll want to get on their good side right away).
What to do during your move
Moving day: Double check everything, and say hello to your new digs!
1. Take pics of your place to prove it’s in prime move-out condition (and to document this big moment!)
2. Take precautions to make sure you’re not locked out – string a rubber band around one door knob, cross it over, and wrap it to the other side to keep the door from locking
3. Do a final walk-through your apartment, and ask yourself these things:
- Are all the windows closed and locked?
- Did you forget to take anything?
- Are the heater and/or air conditioner turned off?
- Is the water shut off?
- Have you turned in all the apartment keys?
- Are all the doors closed and locked?
4. When you arrive to your new digs, make sure your movers put each box in the room it’s labeled for.
5. Double check to make sure all your boxes are there, and nothing is damaged.
6. Tip your movers!
7. Once the movers leave, make your bed and unpack your shower stuff. So whenever you’re craving a post-move nap and shower, you’ll be ready to go.
8. Take pics of your new digs to show to your landlord once you move out, because you’ll want your deposit back!
9. Unpack your other essentials: towels, dishes, lamps, anything work-related, and your pet supplies.
10. Say hi to your neighbors, and give them their new gift.
11. Breathe in, breathe out, and take it all in. You did it.
Still looking for the right apartment? Read 5 Questions You Need To Ask When Renting An Apartment.