You’ve chosen your new city, neighborhood, and apartment. All of the hardest choices are out of the way—but there’s still plenty of labor-intensive work to come. Moving into an apartment presents a unique set of challenges, but this moving guide and checklist will help you cope by offering moving tips and tricks to keep you organized.
Printable Checklist for Apartment Renters
At a glance
Apartment moving timeline
Two months before move
- Create a moving binder. Use it to keep track of everything move-related—your printable checklist, documentation, receipts, contact info, moving estimates, final bills, and other info you get from moving companies.
- Create a budget. Moving can be expensive, and hidden costs can easily cause you to spend a lot more than anticipated. Be prepared by researching costs and reading our guide on the cheapest way to move.
- Start packing your first (small) box. This box will not be packed or shipped with the others, but it will stay with you throughout the move. It will contain your important documents, like your passport, will, deed, etc. Begin gathering these documents early so you can identify any missing items. This box could also contain small valuables.
- Back up your files. Before you pack your computer and its peripherals, make a backup of important files and family photos on a disk or flash drive that you can carry with you (maybe in your box of essentials) during the move.
- Research and gather quotes from moving companies. It’s important to spend some time researching moving companies and their prices. If you’re looking to save money on your move you can also check out our guides to the cheapest truck rental companies and cheapest moving container companies.
- Decide what to sell or donate. Sell items online or through a garage sale. There are also plenty of community organizations that would be happy to take your donations off your hands.
- Create a room-by-room inventory of items throughout your home. An inventory allows you to organize everything you own and depict the value of each item. It helps you get more accurate moving quotes, determine renters insurance, speeds up potential claims, and more.
One month before move
- Decide on a moving company. Get a written contract that includes your moving date and costs. Or, if you’re renting a truck, make your reservation.
- Buy packing supplies. Packing costs can quickly add up. Check out our moving boxes guide to find boxes that are durable but affordable. You’ll also need tape, packing paper, and bubble wrap for packing fragile items. Cover your bases with our list of packing essentials.
- Clear your freezer. Your freezer should be clear about a week before the apartment move. Take this time to dig into the back of your pantry, as well. Use it or get rid of it. Here are some tips on packing food and liquids to prevent spills.
- Plan your new home. Get the dimensions at the new apartment and start planning how to arrange your furniture.
- Care for your car. It’s always a good idea to take your car to a trusted mechanic and ask what services might be needed for a long-distance drive or a move to a new climate. Contact your car insurance company to update the address on your policy. If needed, explore options to find the cheapest way to ship your car.
- Contact your internet, TV, and utilities providers. Set your utilities’ disconnect date. Begin researching which providers you’ll use at your destination and schedule connection of your services.
- Fill any prescriptions. Ask for doctor/pharmacist recommendations in your new area and consider obtaining copies of your medical records.
- Make travel arrangements. If necessary, book your flight, hotel, rental car, etc. If you’re driving long-distance, plan your route and stops.
Two weeks before move
- Change your address. Head to the United States Postal Service’s website to have your mail forwarded from the old place to the new. Also, update your new address with your bank.
- Cancel or redirect scheduled deliveries and subscriptions. This includes any routine package deliveries, meal services, etc.
- See if you need a moving permit. Some cities or areas require moving permits for moving trucks.
- Confirm dates with relevant parties:
- Begin packing. Pack one room per day, as often as possible. Move any leftover items (excluding furniture) to a centralized location. Schedule enough time to have the packing done at least two days before your moving date.
One week before move
- Begin cleaning empty rooms. Make sure to do a thorough clean. How well you clean can mean the difference between all, some, or none of your deposit being returned to you. Pay attention to any instructions your landlord or rental office has given you.
- Pack suitcases. Have one for everyone in the family to live out of for a few days as you complete packing everything in the apartment.
- Collect all keys. They will need to be handed over to the landlord.
- Have specific information for your movers. If you’ve hired moving services, provide the professional movers with your contact information, the address of the new place, and maps for getting to your new location.
- Make sure the right truck shows up. It should have a USDOT number printed on the side that matches the number on the contract you signed.
- Sign the movers’ bill of lading/inventory list. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
- Tip your movers! Our recommendation for tipping your movers is $20 per person for half-day moves or $40 per person for full-day moves.
After you've arrived
- Check your utilities. Make sure everything is working properly.
- Take plenty of pictures. If there is damage anywhere, these pictures will come in handy. This is vital if you’re a renter.
- Change the locks. Be sure to ask your landlord’s permission. If you get it, give them a copy of the key.
- Plan your housewarming party. If you have family or friends in the area, invite them. Or invite and get to know some your neighbors.
- Update your license and registration. Go to the DMV and make sure you have everything you need for your vehicle.
Whether you’re moving from to an apartment in a big city like New York or to one in small town, this ultimate moving checklist will help you navigate the unique challenges of moving from one apartment complex to another.
Apartment renters moving checklist FAQ
What are necessities when moving into a new apartment?
If you’re moving to a new apartment, it’s essential to get packing supplies and moving boxes, sort through your belongings, move your utilities to the new address, and make travel arrangements. You’ll also need to change your address, redirect subscriptions, get moving insurance, and apply for renters insurance for your new apartment. If you’re hiring movers, take time to compare pricing options and book your moving date well in advance.
In what order should I pack for a move?
Start by packing up your most important documents (like passports and birth certificates) and valuables. Then move onto seasonal decor and clothing. Finally, pack up the rest of your house by moving room to room. Don’t forget to pack a suitcase with a few days’ worth of clothes and toiletries. Leave toilet paper and cleaning supplies out of boxes until the last minute.
What should I do 4 months before moving?
Create a moving binder with documents and apartment checklists four months before you move. You can also gather documents and valuables that you want to keep safe during the moving process. Next, back up your files, research moving companies, and decide what you want to sell or donate. Take inventory of your home so you’re ready to pack when it gets close to your moving date.
How do you pack to move out of an apartment?
Simplify your apartment move by first collecting valuables and important documents. Then, donate or sell anything you don’t want to take with you. Next, pack one room per day, making sure you have all packing done at least two days before the moving date.