A Stress-Less, Time Saving Checklist that Does All the Heavy Lifting for You
Let’s be honest, moving is a pain. You’re probably tired just thinking about packing. And, now that you’ve found your next apartment, it’s time to get your move on! But, don’t worry, we’ve created an interactive moving checklist that’ll make your life easier. Instead of trying to tackle one massive project, we’ve broken the process down into manageable tasks to keep you on track.
Downsize & Donate
Time to de-clutter your place! Go through your belongings one room at a time and ask yourself: “When’s the last time I used this?” Goodwill and other, similar organizations will happily accept items that are still in usable condition: books, clothing, kitchen utensils, sports equipment, decor and more. Most will even pick up large, heavy furniture pieces. Remember, the more you decide to keep, the more you’ll need to pack, move and unpack in your next place!
Set Your Moving Budget
We hear you: moving is expensive. But save yourself from future stress and mini-panic attacks by setting aside funds ahead of time. This whole process is stressful enough, right? Use our Moving Budget Cheat Sheet to figure out ballpark expenses, then start getting resourceful on ways to cut down on costs.
Loop in Your Landlord or Property Manager
Dig up your rental agreement and read through all the fine print to figure out exactly what your landlord or property manager’s policies are when moving out. Since your security deposit depends on you meeting all their rules, spend time scrutinizing the details.
Read up on rules and requirements for:
- Intent to move notification: how far in advance you need to notify your landlord or property manager, and how they’d like to be notified (certified mail, email or via an online portal)
- Apartment condition and cleanliness
- Sending security deposits
Because your lease agreement is a formal legal document (meaning you’re contractually obligated to follow the rules), it’s best to stick to the script here. Contact your landlord or property management company and ask them to outline everything they expect from you before, during and after your move. Some properties want to schedule a pre-move walk through and see if there are any minor repairs you need to take care of before you leave. Others have strict policies around cleaning or shampooing carpets. You’ll never know until you ask!
Reserve Your Moving Truck
You don’t want to get stuck without a truck on moving day! Moving trucks book out early–especially if you plan on moving around the 1st of the month. The earlier you reserve, the better your chances of snagging the right sized truck at a convenient location and reasonable price. Rental agencies usually tack on a mileage charge (about $1 per mile) on top of the hourly rate, so try finding a truck rental shop that’s central to both your old and new place. And if you’ve made room in your budget to hire professional movers–give them a call and schedule the service.
Stock Up on Supplies
First, take a look at the Moving Supplies list and see about how much you’ll need to spend on all the small, medium and large boxes you’ll need.
If you’d like to save a few bucks on boxes, start looking now! Scan craigslist, ask friends and stop by stores in your neighborhood. But know that, unless you’re incredibly lucky, there’s a good chance you’ll need to buy boxes and other moving supplies. Resist waiting until the last minute and buying them in a store! Moving supplies are way cheaper when bought online.
Resist the urge to skip this task! After all, you need to get moving (literally) at some point; there’s no time like the present!
Don’t worry, you’re not actually packing anything yet. Your main goal is to make sure that you have everything you need to START packing. This way, your packing groove isn’t interrupted because you’ve run out of boxes or don’t have enough tape mid-way through.
Focus on one room at a time, grab your Moving Supplies list and make an inventory list (on your phone, PC, or paper) of every single thing in the room. That’s key. Once you have your list, review it and start assigning items to boxes. Make sure to log the box size and specific packing materials. For example, newspaper to protect fragile items or a special cover for your mattress.
Fill Out Change of Address Forms
Submit your USPS Change of Address form online at USPS.com/move and schedule your Mail Forwarding start date USPS.com/manage/forward.htm.
And, don’t forget to contact these companies with your new address, too!
- Credit Cards
- Student and Auto Loans
- Your employer
- Cell phone carrier
- Schools and child care providers
Last, log onto USA.gov/move for a complete list of the government agencies to contact and file a Change of Address form.
Schedule Sitters for Your Kiddos &/or Pets
Moving day is hectic enough without adding “keeping my kids and pets safe” to your list of things to do. The bottom line is: open doors, movers and heavy furniture just don’t mix with little ones and 4-legged friends.
Arrange all-day care for your little munchkins; drop them off before the movers arrive and pick them up after the last box makes it to your new place.
Finalize Your “Fix It” List
Don’t risk losing out on your security deposit because you didn’t fix a few minor things before moving out. Instead, ask your landlord or property manager to come by and finalize your “fix it” list with you. Most lease agreements only require tenants to repair cosmetic damages: patching small holes and rolling on a couple coats of touch up paint. After you have a clear idea of what needs to be done, head to the hardware store and pick up a container of spackle, fine grit sandpaper and painting supplies.
Ask yourself this question, and be honest when you answer: Can you get through this move without additional help? And unless you’re a naturally self-sufficient super star, there’s a good chance the answer’s “no.”
If you’re lucky enough to have really, really good friends who’ll pitch in and help you move–amazing! Lock them in before they forget (or change their mind!) and send them a calendar invite.
If not, search for a “moving helper” service within your budget to help load and unload heavy items.
Take a deep breath–let’s do this!
Before we get started, check that you’ve got the following handy:
- Packing tape
- Tape gun (optional, but HIGHLY recommended)
- Permanent markers
- Colored Paper: designate (1) color per room
The thought of packing up every single thing you own into boxes is intimidating, but we’re going to let you in on a game-changing approach that makes the process a lot easier to manage.
Ready? Okay, here it is:
Looking for more packing tips? Download our guide!
Transfer Your Utilities
After a brutal day of moving and cleaning, simple things like electricity and an Internet connection go a long way to make you feel better.
If this is the first time you’re transferring service from one place to another–don’t worry! Download our step-by-step guide and make sure that, before you even unpack a single box, your new apartment will have the basic comforts of home.
Hire a Cleaning Service
Like the items on your “fix it” list, your security deposit depends on you meeting the cleaning requirements outlined in your lease.
And we’re not talking about sweeping the floors and wiping the crumbs off your counters here. Most landlords expect every surface of the place to be squeaky clean when a tenant moves out–including the fridge. It’s not unusual for landlords to expect tenants to shampoo the carpets or de-ice the freezer. Some tasks are best handled by professionals–and this is definitely one of them.
Luckily, you still have some time to shop around and check out different services or even find a deal or coupon!
Map Out the Move
This task is especially important if you’re moving more than a few miles away. You’d be surprised how time spent sitting in traffic or getting lost on unfamiliar streets can throw a wrench in your moving day schedule!
Log onto Google Maps, enter in your current address as the starting point, and your new one as the destination. Then, adjust the “leaving now” time and date to reflect the day and time you plan to start your move.
If your truck rental charges a mileage fee, this is a good time to get an idea of how much that’s going to cost you. Spend a few minutes entering in the truck rental store address, and if you’re dropping your little ones off at daycare or with a babysitter map those out, too. Compare the routes and try to schedule pickups and drop offs in a way that’s convenient and cuts down on drive time. This is also a good time to look for gas stations and places to stop and grab a quick bite along your route!
Create Your Contact Info Sheet
Put together a Contact Info Sheet for everyone you’ve enlisted to help you move.
Your list should look something like this:
Name: First Last
Phone number: 555-555-5555
Role: friend helping move out of current apartment
Payment: Food & Drinks
Address: Meeting at my current place
Name: Sally’s Cleaning Service
Phone number: 555-555-5555
Role: Shampooing current apartment carpets
Payment: $75, cash only
Address: Meeting at my current place
Call everyone on your list and confirm scheduled times, location, cost and preferred form of payment.
Prepare to Pay…Everyone
Now that you have a nice, itemized list of moving day costs, head to the bank and withdraw what you need to cover everything. Make sure to visit your bank during business hours so you can also pick up Cashier’s Checks for the Security Deposit and first month’s rent at your new apartment. This is important because most landlords and property managers won’t accept cash or a personal check for those items–and some banks don’t charge and additional fee for them–so play it safe and get them just in case.
Put each payment in a plain envelope, seal it and write who it’s for clearly on the front. For your “cash only” vendors, enclose the exact amount–because, there’s a good chance they won’t be able to give you any change. Traditionally your movers and cleaning crew won’t expect a tip–but they’ll certainly appreciate bottled water! Plan on having a few on ice when they arrive.
Keep all these envelopes together (preferably in a folder or manila envelope) and store it in a place where it won’t get lost or forgotten.
Sign New Lease
Meet with your new landlord or property management company and make your new move official! And don’t forget to bring the Cashier’s Checks you picked up from the bank!
This is also a great time to ask for more information about their “moving in” policies and procedures. Like whether or not you need to reserve elevator access, designated loading zones and what time you can pick up your new key!
Moving Inventory List
Whew, you’re in the home stretch! At this point, your entire apartment should be in boxes except for items set to go into your “Pack Last” and “Open First” boxes.
Your Moving Inventory List helps you keep track of everything you have: the number of boxes, furniture pieces, etc. Check items off the list as you load them into the truck, and cross them off the list as they arrive in your new place. If you’re moving long-distance, or insured any of your things, include notes about the condition of specific items so you have something to reference in case anything is damaged in transit or goes missing. Create your own list from scratch, or download our template to get started.
Your “Pack Last-Open First” Box
Customize the contents of your “Pack Last-Open First” box so it contains all your basic, essential comforts of home. This box is meant to give you a little peace of mind throughout the unpacking process!
You’ll want to cover three basic categories: Personal, Tools & Supplies, Kitchen.
- A travel bag containing 3-4 days of clothes: include shoes and pajamas
- Essential toiletries
- Towel and washcloth
- Basic bedding: sheet set, pillows and blanket
- Personal electronics & chargers
- Toilet paper
- Pet supplies: food, favorite toys and bedding
Tools & Supplies:
- Extension cords
- Scissors/Box cutter
- Paper towels
- Garbage bags
- Paper plates, plastic cutlery and cups
Pick Up the Key to Your New Pad
Coordinate a date and time to pick up your new key before moving day.
Set Your Moving Day Schedule
Put together a general timeline of how things need to flow on moving day.
8:00 AM Pick up moving truck
9:15 AM Movers arrive
10:00 AM Load truck
12:15 PM Lunch Break
1:15 AM Drive to new apartment
3:00 PM Unload truck
5:00 PM Return truck
6:00 PM Drive to old apartment to meet cleaning crew
7:00 PM Inspect old apartment
7:15 PM Return keys to old apartment
Prepare Your Moving Day Pack
Tap into your inner organizational-guru and put your Moving Day Pack together. And, since you’ve done such a FANTASTIC job getting your ducks in a row, this task should be a snap to complete.
Keep the items below in a small binder or clipboard:
- Moving Day Schedule
- Moving Inventory List (2 copies), write your new address at the top of the list
- Contact Info Sheet
Put the following things in your Moving Day Pack (aka backpack or messenger bag):
- Your small binder/clipboard
- Payment envelopes
- Cell phone charger and adapter
- Extra t-shirt
- Pens: (1) marker and (1) regular
Pick up a 12-pack of bottled water and some snacks. If you have a small, soft-sided cooler bag, keep it in the fridge with the bottled water so you don’t need to worry about finding it later.
Finally, if you have room in your car and park in a secured garage, store your “Pack Last-Open First” box in the trunk along with any other valuables or personal documents.
Pick Up Your Moving Truck
It’s time to get a move on–literally!
Kick Things Off, On-time and According to Your Schedule
If you’ve hired movers, ask them to huddle up as soon as they arrive and hand them a copy of your Moving Inventory List.
Explain your color-coding room system, point out any fragile or heavy items, give them a run down on the day’s schedule, confirm they have your new address and coordinate the route they’ll take to get there.
If everything goes as it should, you’ll be outta there in no time!
Walkthrough Your New Home
It’s important to inspect your new apartment BEFORE you start bringing in your furniture and boxes.
Go room-by-room; turn light switches on and off, test the appliances and outlets. Use the camera on your phone to snap photos of anything that appears broken, chipped or damaged. Then write yourself a few notes about each issue including a short description and where it’s located in your apartment.
Once you’ve completed your inspection, call your landlord or property manager ASAP to give them a rundown of what you’ve found. That way they can’t hold you responsible for the repairs–after all, you haven’t even moved anything in yet!
Return Moving Truck
And don’t forget to top off the gas tank!
Bring in the Cleaning Crew
Head back to your old place and clean it from top to bottom. If you’ve hired a cleaning crew, ask them to huddle up before getting started so you can give them specific instructions and directions on what needs to be cleaned.
Once the cleaning is underway, do a final walkthrough of your old place. Open all the closets and cupboards, unplug appliances (if needed) and throw out any remaining trash.
Say Adios to Your Old Apartment
Return the key to your old apartment to your landlord or property manager.
… And that’s it! Woohoo!! High fives all around! Congrats on successfully moving into your new place!