The Ultimate Apartment Moving Checklist

Moving apartments can feel like a full-time job. There’s no getting around it: it takes a lot of time and effort to move from one place to another. Fortunately, this apartment moving checklist will walk you through everything you need to know so you don’t miss a beat when you move.

2 Months Out

Review Your Lease

If you’re currently in a rental, the first thing you need to do is review your existing lease. That document contains critical information. You’ll usually find details about when and how you need to give notice. Additionally, there may be other move-out guidelines, information about security deposit returns, and more.

Get Quotes from Movers or Rental Trucks

Often, your biggest expense when moving is hiring movers or securing a rental truck. Since that’s the case, it’s best to start collecting cost information as early as possible. Additionally, by starting now, the odds that your first-choice company is available go up.

Finally, movers may need to come to your current apartment to give you an estimate. Since there may be a few days between your request and when they can arrive, setting this up in advance is a must.

Start to Keep All Important Mail

While most people get the bulk of their critical statements digitally, there’s a good chance that at least some of the mail you receive needs to get redirected to your new address. Get a file folder and start collecting any important mail that’ll need address updates. By beginning now, you’ll have a bit more than a full month before you need to make any changes, reducing the odds that something critical is missed.

7 Weeks Out

Research Top-Choice Movers or Truck Rentals

After you get your quotes, it’s time to do a little more digging. While you likely took a quick look at online reviews or similar information before requesting estimates, it’s wise to take a deep dive before formalizing any reservations.

Additionally, check out any contract terms that were presented. Read each line to make sure you’re comfortable with what’s there. By combining that information with a bit of extra research, you’re far more likely to end up with a reputable company you can trust.

Get Quotes from Cleaning Services

If you would prefer to hire a cleaning service than scrub your current apartment, start getting quotes now. Usually, this process is easier than arranging for estimates from movers, but it still needs to happen, especially if you have a tighter budget.

When you reach out, ask about move-out cleaning services. Typically, those involve more than what you get with a regular cleaning, ensuring your apartment will meet the landlord’s expectations.

6 Weeks Out

Schedule Movers or Rental Trucks

Often, reservations with the best movers or rental truck companies fill up fast, especially if you’re moving during peak season. That’s why you want to schedule those services now, ensuring you can get your top choice.

Speak with Friends and Family

If you’re forgoing movers and will need help from friends and family, discuss your move with them now. That gives them ample notice, increasing the odds that they can offer assistance.

Get Necessary Permits

While most moves don’t require permits, some do. For example, if you’re heading to a downtown apartment in a big city, you might need to apply for curb use to ensure the space in front of the building is available.

If your mover is experienced in your new apartment’s area, they can often clue you in about what’s needed. Otherwise, speak with the manager at your new building or the city for details.

5 Weeks Out

Sell or Donate Unwanted Items

Paying to move items you don’t want or spending time packing them up is a waste of time, energy, and money. Spend this week identifying belongings you prefer not to take with you and arrange to sell or donate them.

Schedule Cleaning Services

After reviewing any quotes, it’s time to schedule your cleaning services. As with movers, you should typically read some reviews and the contract terms to make sure you’re getting the best option. After that, make the call and set the date.

Gather Boxes and Other Supplies

If you aren’t going with a full-service mover, you’ll want to start gathering up boxes and other moving supplies, such as tape, markers, and padding. Often, the price tag for getting what you need is surprisingly high. By starting now, you can spread out the cost a bit if the need arises.

In some cases, you can actually get your hands on free boxes. Along with keeping any boxes from deliveries you receive, talk to neighbors, friends, and family members to see if you can have their boxes. Also, talk with nearby retail stores, as some will let you take empty boxes if you ask.

When you’re buying tape, consider getting some in different colors. That can help you stay organized, as you can assign a unique color to every room. If that isn’t an option, go with different colored thick-tip markers, as that can accomplish a similar goal.

1 Month Out

Give Your Landlord Notice

With move rentals, you need to give your landlord around 30 days’ notice before moving out. Use the process that’s outlined in your lease, or if there isn’t a procedure in your agreement, contact your landlord using multiple approaches.

For example, send an email to ensure your request is in writing and follow that up with a quick phone call. If you’re renting through a large company, you can also check the website for a move-out request contact form.

Ultimately, you want to make sure that you have a paper trail and that word reaches your landlord in a timely manner. That streamlines your exit, allowing you both to coordinate any last steps.

Review the Move Out Checklist

When you give your landlord notice, request a move-out checklist. That outlines the landlord’s expectations regarding your apartment and lets you know what they’ll be checking when assessing the unit’s condition.

If you’re hiring a cleaning service, you can also forward the move-out checklist to them. That way, if you need to make adjustments to your contract or appointment, that can be handled in advance.

Schedule Mail Forwarding

At this point, it’s wise to schedule any mailing forwarding with USPS. You can choose a future date for the forwarding to begin, allowing you to handle this must-do task well in advance of your move.

For UPS and FedEx, you usually have to redirect packages on an as-needed basis. Fortunately, both have a relatively simple process. With UPS, you’ll need a profile and to enable UPS My Choice. With FedEx, you can use FedEx Delivery Manager to make changes to the delivery.

Request Time Off from Work

If you’re not moving on a day that you typically have off from work, you’ll need to request time off no later than one month out. That gives most employers a chance to adjust to your upcoming absence, increasing the odds that your request will get approved quickly.

Similarly, if you’re responsible for handling your own coverage, speaking to colleagues about your upcoming move now can make it easier to get the days you need off. If you freelance, discuss your relocation with clients, ensuring they know if you won’t be immediately available for a period.

3 Weeks Out

File Change of Address Requests

At this point, it’s time to start filing change of address requests. Use your folder as a reference, placing the requests with any companies that you’ve received letters from twice since you began keeping your mail. Once you file the request, move that mail into a separate folder, allowing you to separate companies you’ve contacted from ones you haven’t updated yet.

Then, as you get new mail, continue that process. That way, you’ll continue receiving critical mail at your current apartment while ensuring the next month’s letters will arrive at your new address.

The only exception to this process is banks and credit card companies. For those, you’ll wait until closer to your moving day.

Pack Rarely Used Items

At this point, it’s also time to start packing. Begin with items you rarely use. For example, out-of-season clothing, holiday décor, and specialty kitchen items can be great places to start.

By beginning now, you’re spreading out the work significantly. That makes it easier to fit packing into the rest of your life, all while reducing the odds that you’ll end up scrambling as your moving day draws near.

Review Pet Rules

If you have a pet and are headed to a new city, there are a few things you’ll want to check before you move. Licensing requirements can vary by location. Since that’s the case, research what’s needed in your new area. That way, you can plan for handling those activities based on local law.

Handle Insurance

As with mail forwarding, you can usually schedule insurance updates in advance. Reach out to your renter’s insurance company to inform them of the upcoming move, giving them the date of the transition. That allows them to schedule the change in their system, seamlessly shifting the coverage.

Additionally, if you need moving insurance, get that handled now. It ensures that it doesn’t fall through the cracks once things start getting a bit more hectic.

2 Weeks Out

Confirm Appointments with Movers or Truck Rentals

At this point, your moving day is coming up quickly. Take a moment to reach out and confirm your appointment with the mover or truck rental company. Also, make sure that you have any of the needed permits and, if necessary, provide copies to the movers if they don’t have them already.

Pack Non-Essentials

Last week, you handled your rarely-used items. Now, it’s time to focus on non-essentials. Ultimately, this means packing up belongings you don’t legitimately need between now and your move. For example, you could pack extra dishes and cookware, keeping just enough out to get you by. Home décor can get packed away, too.

The goal is to tackle anything you can live without, at least for a little while. That way, there’s less to handle during the week before your move.

Avoid Buying New Perishables

At this point, it’s time to limit the purchase of any perishable food items. Often, those are harder to transport and store during a move. Since that’s the case, it’s usually better to go without for a little while or, at least, limit your purchase amount to what you can use up before moving.

Additionally, start working through any non-perishables that you have in cabinets and pantries. That reduces how much you’ll need to move, making the transition easier.

Schedule Utility Connections

Having your utilities connected when you arrive at your new apartment is essential. Since that’s the case, schedule the connection now. While most utility companies don’t require this much notice to start up an account, it’s better to be safe. After all, going without power or water makes the transition far more difficult.

If your current utility provider also services the apartment you’re in now, you can also coordinate any disconnections. Let the company know you’re moving, and they’ll usually be able to transition your account between the service addresses with ease.

Just keep in mind that you may want connections to occur the day before you arrive, not the day of your move. That way, they’re working when you move in, not simply scheduled to turn on at some point that day.

1 Week Out

Pack Non-Daily-Use Items

Once you’re one week out, it’s time to pack up items you aren’t using daily. Tackle any clothing that you won’t need as the week progresses. Wrap up as many kitchen items as possible. Pack work documents and equipment you can go without. In the end, you want only things you legitimately have to use daily to get left right before your move.

Schedule Utility Shutoffs

At this point, it’s time to contact your existing utilities and schedule any shutoffs if you didn’t handle that when setting up the connections. Just make sure that you don’t set up the shutoff on your moving day. Otherwise, you could wake up only to discover that you don’t have power or water, which isn’t ideal.

A Few Days Out

Contact Movers or Truck Rental

A few days before the move, contact the movers and truck rental company once more. Again, you simply want to confirm your appointment, ensuring there aren’t any nasty surprises that could derail your move.

Change Addresses on Bank Accounts

Once you’re a day or two out from moving, you usually aren’t getting anything delivered to your current address. Since that’s the case, you can update the addresses on your bank accounts without causing potential headaches. Plus, by doing it now, it won’t fall through the cracks.

Setup a Grocery Delivery

Few things can make a new place feel like home like being able to cook a nice meal. Since that’s the case, set up a grocery delivery in advance to ensure you’re restocked once you reach your new apartment. Choose a time on your move-in day when you know you’ll be there, preferably after the movers have finished unloading. If that might be challenging, set it up for the day after.

Pack Everything You Don’t Need

If there are any items left unpacked that you don’t need over the next few days, now’s the time to get them boxed up. Ideally, you want everything left to fit into one or two bags or boxes. That way, you can quickly handle the remaining items on moving day.

Purchase Drinks and Snacks

Whether you have movers coming or are getting help from friends and family, make sure you have some drinks and snacks available. That makes the experience more pleasant for everyone, which matters with something as demanding as a move.

Stick with single-serving packages for convenience, and opt for shelf-stable options whenever possible. If you want to offer cold drinks, get a cooler and some ice. That way, you can toss that into your car as you head out.

Have Tip Money Available

While tips aren’t mandatory when you hire movers, it’s not a bad idea to plan for some. By going the extra mile to treat movers right, they’ll do right by you.

Generally, you should tip each mover around $10 per every four hours worked. Additionally, it’s wise to provide a tip as they finish packing up and again near the end of the unloading process. That way, if two different sets of movers are involved, everyone gets their fair share.

Get New Apartment Keys

If you have the ability to get the keys to your new apartment before your move-in day, do so. That gives you one less thing to handle during what will be a hectic day. Plus, it may give you a chance to manage some setup steps, suggesting the unit is currently empty.

Handle Apartment Walkthrough

Most rentals require a walkthrough to go over the condition of the apartment. Ideally, that should occur a day or two before you move into the unit, allowing it to get handled when the apartment is empty.

Speak with the landlord to get details about when this can occur. Then, attend with a notebook in hand and a camera with video capabilities. That way, you can take notes and capture photos or footage of issues.

Plug in the Fridge

If you have access to the unit at least a day in advance and there’s power available, make sure the fridge is plugged in. That gives it time to cool down before you need to use it, protecting any perishables you may buy right away.

Moving Day

Pack Last Items

Plan to wake up early on moving day, giving you a chance to pack any last items before movers arrive or you grab your truck. For critical belongings, consider putting them in a go-bag that stays with you, ensuring you don’t lose track of essentials like medications, a change of clothes, a phone charger, and similar must-haves.

Take Video of All Movers

As the movers arrive, let them know you’re recording your move and ask that they introduce themselves on camera. Keep the tone upbeat, treating it more like you’re documenting everything for posterity. Then, record more snippets (with narration) throughout the day, especially when the movers are handling high-value items. That lets the movers know they’re being observed, increasing the odds that they’ll be cautious.

Handle Cleaning

Once your place is empty, it’s time to tackle any cleaning. That could include managing it yourself or giving the move-out cleaning company access.

Conduct Walkthrough

Conducting a walkthrough when you’re leaving the apartment is just as critical as doing one when you move into a new place. Make sure you and the landlord both accurately assess the condition and take notes, photos, and video along the way for your records.

Get Unloaded at New Apartment

After packing up, it’s time to unload. That may involve simply giving the movers access to the unit or doing it yourself, depending on how you approached moving.

Once you’re done, if you rented a truck, top off the tank and handle the return immediately. That ensures time doesn’t get away from you or that an unexpected event – like traffic – doesn’t make you late.

Unpack the Essentials

Now that you’re unloaded, unpack some essentials right away. Start with your go-bag and move on to other critical items, especially bedding, bathroom items, and basic kitchen equipment. That lets you live more comfortably now, making the rest of your unpacking seem easier to manage.