The Ultimate Checklist for Moving Out

When you’re vacating a rental, there’s a lot of work to tackle. Along with ensuring you leave the unit in tip-top shape – increasing the odds that you’ll get your deposit back – there are a lot of activities to juggle. Since that’s the case, having a reliable move-out checklist is essential. With that in mind, here’s the ultimate checklist for moving out.

2 Months Out

Review Your Lease

Before you start planning your move, you need to review your lease. Inside that document, you’ll usually find details about how much notice you’ll have to provide. Since following those requirements will make the transition more seamless, it’s critical to know what’s expected in that arena.

Research Movers

If you want to use professional movers to assist with your move, start researching them now. It can take time to find companies that offer the right mix of services at a price that aligns with your budget. Additionally, you want to be able to figure out who has the best reputation, ensuring they’ll treat your property right.

Research Cleaners

In a similar vein, if you want to hire cleaners to get your rental sparkling clean as part of your move, it’s best to begin researching them, as well. Find out who has a reputation for exceptional customer service and top-notch results. Additionally, check out any price information that’s available, allowing you to see what fits into your budget.

7 Weeks Out

Gather Quotes

At this point, you likely know which movers or cleaners best meet your needs. Make a list of the top three options in each category. Then, reach out and request a quote.

In some cases, they can give you a ballpark figure based on you answering some questions. However, others may want to come by your rental and see it first-hand, making it easier to provide an accurate number.

With the latter, make sure to schedule an appointment within the next few days. Partially, that’s because it could take the service provider a few days to generate a formal quote. By handling it now, you won’t be short on time when it comes to making a decision.

Get Boxes and Packing Supplies

If you aren’t using full-service movers, then you’re probably packing up your own belongings. If so, begin getting boxes and packing supplies right away. By doing so, you’ll have more time to pack, allowing you to fit that into your daily life with greater ease. Plus, you may be able to take advantage of free ways to get boxes, keeping your costs down.

For example, you could start keeping any boxes from packages you receive, asking neighbors, family members, or friends to do the same. You can also contact local retailers to see if you can get any boxes from them, as many receive shipments regularly and may have sturdy boxes to spare.

Otherwise, this approach lets you spread out the cost of boxes. Do keep in mind that buying them can add up fast, so research local stores to find the most competitive price in your area before making any purchases.


In many cases, the cost of your move is tied to the amount of stuff you have, so it’s wise to declutter before you start packing up. Consider using the four-box method. You’ll have a box for items you’ll keep, one for donations, one for sales, and one for trash. Then, work through each part of your rental, separating your belongings into those categories.

By starting now, you can give yourself one or two weeks to handle it all. That ensures you don’t have to rush.

6 Weeks Out

Schedule Movers

At this point, you should have quotes back from any movers you’re considering. Since the best movers may run out of appointments fast, particularly if it’s near peak moving season, call for an appointment now. That increases your odds of getting your preferred mover and the dates you want.

However, you may want to set your pickup date for a few days before you formally need to vacate the unit. While it doesn’t always happen, movers may need to reschedule. If they have to push your pickup date back, that could spell trouble if the original date was the last day you’d have access to the unit. As a result, it’s usually better to build in a buffer whenever possible.

Speak with Family and Friends

If you aren’t using movers to get your belongings out of your rental, it’s best to start calling friends and family members now. That gives them enough notice to potentially adjust their schedules or to ensure they don’t book your days with another activity.

Reserve a Truck

Another step you’ll want to take now if you’re not using movers is reserving a truck. Usually, you can get quotes online, allowing you to compare options quickly. Then, choose the one you prefer, and schedule a truck for your dates.

5 Weeks Out

Sell or Donate Unwanted Items

If you finished decluttering and have items in boxes designated for sales or donations, handle them now. Take donations to a local thrift store or similar outfit. For sales, host a garage sale, go to a consignment shop, or list items online.

If you don’t want to take donations to a thrift store, you could try sites like Freecycle instead. With those, you don’t charge for the items, but you can ask interested parties to pick them up, saving you a delivery trip.

Schedule Cleaners

During this week, you’ll want to lock in your cleaners. Choose the quote that best meets your needs and schedule the appointment.

Buy Cleaners

If you aren’t hiring a cleaning service, make sure you have cleaning supplies on hand now. That way, you can do some of the cleaning over the next couple of weeks and have everything you need for a deep clean once the unit is empty.

One Month Out

Notify Your Landlord

In most cases, you need to give your landlord one month’s notice before you move out. As long as your lease doesn’t require a different timeframe, handle that now. Use an online notification form, send an email, or use another written process that’s outlined in the lease.

Review Your Move-Out Cleaning List

Once you notify your landlord of your intention to move out, you’ll typically get a move-out cleaning list. That outlines the landlord’s expectations regarding the final condition of the unit, giving you a roadmap that increases your chance of getting your security deposit back.

Review the list carefully. If you have any questions about the requirements, ask right away. That ensures you’ll get an answer well before you have to tackle those tasks.

Request Time Off Work

If you’re moving out on a workday, request time off now. By submitting the request at least a month before you move, your odds of getting approved are likely higher. You’re ensuring your employer has enough time to adjust for your planned absence.

If you have to arrange for your own coverage, it’s also best to start that now. That gives you time to speak with colleagues and confirm with your employer that someone has it handled.

Update Non-Banking Accounts

At this point, you can usually start updating your address on non-banking accounts. As you receive mail from sources that you regularly get letters from, head online and update your address information. That way, when the next letter goes out, it’ll head to your new address.

3 Weeks Out

Schedule Mail Forwarding

At this point, you likely have your new address. Since that’s the case, you can set up mail forwarding to begin on the day you plan to move out. That ensures you won’t have to handle it when things get more hectic.

For regular mail, the USPS website is the best way to set up mail forwarding. For UPS and FedEx, you’ll need to create accounts to get access to package management tools, allowing you to adjust the destination for incoming mail.

Pack Rarely Used Items

Once you’re three weeks away from moving out, you’ll want to start packing. Focus on rarely used items, like seasonal clothing, holiday décor, or specialized kitchen gear.

2 Weeks Out

Confirm Scheduled Appointments

With your moving day approaching, it’s best to take a moment to confirm your appointments with any service providers you’re hiring. Start with movers, as their schedules are usually the most likely to get disrupted. After that, check with cleaning services, followed by truck rentals if you’re using them.

Ideally, you want to get confirmations in writing, particularly if your agreements involve any kind of guarantees. However, phone confirmation may be sufficient if you have the original date in a contract or email from when you set the appointment.

Pack Non-Essentials

With your rarely used items packed, it’s time to move on to non-essentials. Generally, you want to back up anything you know you can live without for the next two weeks, giving you less to handle during the week before you move.

Start pairing down your kitchen items, leaving just enough plates, dishes, and pans to handle your short-term needs. Also, box up clothing you can do without, as well as most of your home décor items.

It may also be wise to pack up hobby gear, particularly if it’s hard to find time to do it while you’re preparing for a move. That way, you’re down to actual daily essentials, streamlining the next week’s activities.

Limit Food Purchases

Moving food is inconvenient, particularly perishables or frozen items. Since that’s the case, avoid food purchases as much as possible. Instead, try to create meals with what you have on hand. That way, there’s less to deal with on moving day.

1 Week Out

Schedule Utility Disconnections

Since you don’t want to pay for utilities in a rental that’s no longer yours, reach out to the providers and schedule the disconnections. If you get to choose a time, you could opt for late on your move-out day. If you don’t, you may want to schedule the disconnects for the day after. That way, your odds of waking up to a home without electricity or water are slim, making your moving day more comfortable.

Pack Non-Daily Use Items

While your non-essentials are already packed, now’s the time to box up anything you’re not using on a daily basis. The goal is to limit what you’ll need to pack on moving day, so be aggressive about what you start putting in boxes.

Two Business Days Before Move Out

Reconfirm Appointments

Now that you’re only a few days out from your move-out day, reconfirm any appointments you’ve set. Usually, the most likely one to get pushed back is your movers. Mainly, it’s because they may encounter unexpected situations on other jobs, putting them behind schedule. Since that’s a possibility, you want to know now if it may happen.

While house cleaning services and rental trucks may also run into scheduling challenges, that isn’t as likely as issues with movers. Still, you’ll want to reconfirm your appointments at this time, just to be safe. That way, if something is awry, you can come up with another plan if it’s necessary.

Update Financial Accounts

Now that you’re only a couple of days away from moving out, you can usually update your address with any banking-related accounts. The reason for waiting is that your address is usually part of the purchase verification process. Since you don’t want any accidental confusion, it’s always better to do this as close to your move as possible.

Along with your bank or credit union, update credit card companies, brokerages, and similar institutions. Essentially, if it has to do with your money, make sure you get the address handled now.

Move Out Day

Pack Essentials

Ideally, you want to wake up on moving day well before your appointment with movers or a truck rental company. That gives you a chance to have a meal, get cleaned up and dressed, and pack any remaining essentials.

As you do, put critical items in a bag that will stay with you. Examples of such belongings include a change of clothes, medications, wallets, smartphone charges, work laptops, and other things that would cause you to struggle if you had to go without.

Handle Cleaning

After all of your belongings are out of the unit, it’s time to clean. That could include simply waiting for the team you hired to arrive or doing it yourself, depending on the approach you chose.

In either case, make sure the cleaning list provided by your landlord acts as a guide. Those are the areas they’ll check during the walkthrough, so they play a big role in whether you get your deposit back. By making sure everything on the list is handled, you’re far more likely to come out with some cash in hand.

Conduct Walkthrough

When you move out of a rental, you’ll usually accompany the landlord on a final walkthrough. During this process, the landlord assesses the condition of the property, determining if you’ll be held responsible for any damage.

By going with them, you can learn about issues they spot. If there’s a cleanliness problem, you may even be able to correct it, ensuring you aren’t charged for something you could easily solve.

Plus, you can document the experience, making it less likely they’ll try to improperly hold you responsible for something after the fact. While that isn’t common, not all landlords are scrupulous, so it’s usually best to be safe instead of sorry.