Moving can be an incredibly stressful time, as you pack, move and unpack your belongings. What makes the whole experience more stressful, however, is being unprepared.
Really, moving should be exciting– after all, you're getting a whole new place just waiting for you to add a personal touch. Organizing and preparing can help you remove the anxiety and enjoy the thrill of re-establishing yourself in a different location. With that in mind, here's our moving checklist, sure to prevent you from losing yet another favorite T-shirt in the abyss of moving boxes:
6 to 8 Weeks Before You Move
This is prime time for prep work. It's also when organizing is the most important. You'll reap the benefits of the work you do now when you're in your new apartment.
Here are the tasks you should get done six to eight weeks prior to the big day:
- Read your current lease to discover proper protocol for informing your landlord that you'll vacate– follow the agreed-upon directions. Most landlords require a letter or a signed document one month before you leave. That way, they can take photos and list the property to attract new tenants right away.
- Decide whether your move will be DIY or if you want to hire help.
- Research moving companies if you plan to hire professionals. Look at reviews and ask friends for references. Compare prices. You'll likely have to schedule an in-home estimate, so add that to your calendar.
- Create a physical folder where you can store important moving information, such as agreements you sign with a moving company or your new lease. Also keep a copy of your vacate letter.
- Schedule a date with your moving company of choice. You should get a written confirmation of your moving date and an itinerary.
- Devise a moving budget. It should include the cost of movers, any new furniture you'll need to buy and eating out during your move (who wants to cook when they're still unpacking kitchen boxes?).
- Inform the proper parties of your move (i.e., your child's school, doctors, employers, and groups you belong to).
- Transfer your renters insurance to your next apartment.
- Start accumulating supplies like boxes and packing tape.
4 to 5 Weeks Prior
As you reach the one-month range, you should start buckling down on moving tasks.
- Check with your moving company to see if you have any items you can't move. If you do, make arrangements to get those belongings to your new place.
- Start sorting through your stuff. You don't have to pack it all yet, but begin purging things you don't need. For instance, if your worse-for-wear end table won't fit in your next apartment, either sell it or donate it.
- Fill out the change of address form provided by the U.S. Postal Service.
- Schedule cancelation or transfer of your utilities, including gas, electricity, and Internet or cable service.
- Make arrangements for pet care if you're moving out of state and need a petsitter during this time.
- Ensure you can get a day off work if you need it.
- Get vehicle stickers for your new location, as many towns require them.
- Arrange for any necessary temporary storage.
- Change your address with your bank and move accounts if necessary.
- Start using perishable items you don't plan to move, such as food.
- Have a yard sale if your landlord allows it. This way, you can make a little extra money off some of the items you won't keep.
2 to 3 Weeks Prior
- Pack all nonessentials.
- Return library books or rented DVDs.
- Finish making arrangements with the utility companies, and reconfirm your date with the movers (which can also include friends who are helping you move).
- See what cleaning is required in your lease and schedule a cleaning day.
- Schedule any time off you need from work.
1 Week Prior
- Finish packing. Label each box with what's inside. Consider packing by room so unpacking is easier. For instance, your kitchen box should have all kitchen items inside.
- Create an inventory of all the boxes you have. You might even number them. This will help you ensure you have everything after you move.
- Pack one essentials box that has everything you need for your first night in your new place.
- Fill a cleaning supplies box, as scrubbing your old place is likely the last thing you'll do before you turn in your keys.
- Confirm plans for pet or childcare.
- Confirm the installation date of new utilities, such as Internet, gas, and electricity.
- Confirm details of moving day with your moving company or your helpers.
- Withdraw any cash you'll need for moving day, such as money for the movers and cash for ordering food.
- Clean the apartment to the required specifications.
- Schedule and complete a walk-through of the apartment with your landlord. Skipping this step forfeits your ability to argue with any security-deposit decisions your landlord makes. If you're around, you can point out any details and remind your landlord of what is and is not your fault.
- Ask your landlord if you can reserve a parking spot for moving day. That could mean pulling into the back alley or getting the prime parking right out front.
Moving Day: Your Old Apartment
Moving day, or weekend for many, really has two steps: tying up loose ends at your old place and settling into the new one. This is what you should do to end your stay at your old apartment:
- Finish packing, check every nook and cranny to be sure you didn't leave something behind.
- Take out the trash and complete any other last-minute cleaning tasks.
- Confirm payment method with your movers– when it comes to your friends, that might mean ordering a pizza and pulling out a pitcher of cold drinks.
- Keep pets and kids away from the action. Having a family member watch them is the safest option.
- Pick up your moving truck (if you're moving yourself) and inspect the vehicle. If you're using your own car, make sure it's in good condition. You don't want to deal with car troubles on moving day.
- Swap contact information with your movers.
- Pack your vehicle carefully.
- Turn off all the lights and put your keys in the designated spot. That could be on a counter or into your landlord's hands.
Moving Day: Your New Place
Getting out of your old apartment feels great, but it's only the first leg of your journey.
You might have to go back and forth a few times if you're moving yourself, so adjust this checklist as needed. Once you're moved into your new apartment, follow this checklist:
- Arrive before the moving company or your friends and unlock the apartment.
- Prop open any gates that lead in and out of the building so you have a safer and clearer path to your unit.
- Walk through with your new landlord before you start moving your boxes. Take photos and detailed notes. This is important when it comes time to get your security deposit back.
- If you have time, clean the new apartment before you put boxes down. Prioritize sweeping and mopping, as apartment showings have likely introduced dirt and dust to the floors.
- Start moving in boxes. Place each box in the correct room, based on the labels you wrote while packing – i.e., the kitchen boxes go in the kitchen and the bedroom boxes go in your bedroom.
- If you hired movers, take inventory of your belongings to ensure all the boxes are there and nothing is damaged.
- Pay and tip the movers, and give your friends whatever compensation you agreed upon, such as pizza.
- Return any rental truck you used.
- Unpack your priority box first, then get to work on anything else you have the