So you're looking to move. You've come to the right place.
Whether you just started your search, or you've already signed the lease, let HotPads help from start to finish with this handy chronologically-ordered moving checklist.
Once You Decide To Move
Determine your budget and decide what neighborhoods you are interested in.
Set up saved alerts on your favorite sites (*cough* HotPads *cough*) for new places within your area and price range.
Set your price and location ranges slightly beyond what you think you’re looking for. You never know when you might find something in an up and coming part of a nearby neighborhood, or find a great apartment with rent that can be negotiated.
Eight To Six Weeks Out
Create a secure Moving Folder with all of your personal documents easily available for reference. This should include things like:
Credit check. Many landlords and property managers prefer to pull their own, but it never hurts to have your own copy.
Background check, including Verification of Employment such as a recent pay stub or offer letter.
References from prior landlords (if you have them) as well as one or two personal references which can never hurt you.
A pet resume if you plan to rent with a pet.
Set aside a security deposit check so you can go to showings with a check in hand (Cashier's Check or Money Order is what most require).
Hot Tip: Landlords will appreciate your sincerity if you do this. It shows they can take you seriously and that you are responsible.
Set up a shared Open House calendar with whoever is taking part in your search, i.e. roommates, or a significant other.
Start investigating moving options such as a pod, a truck, or friends.
Read: Best Cities for Cohabitating.
At The Open House
Take note of your phone service in the unit. This may or may not be a deal breaker, but better to know now if your potential future apartment is a dead zone.
Take note of things like how much light the apartment gets relative to what time of day it is when you see the apartment.
Try to test out the sound-proofing between rooms in the unit, as well as between units in the building. Can you hear the footsteps of the residents upstairs? If so, remember that this is never going to become less annoying as time goes on.
Is the unit on a busy street? Ground level? 5-story walk up? These are all things to consider as you try to imagine yourself living here (and getting furniture in).
Once You've Signed The Lease...
Celebrate! You found a new place!
Four Weeks Out
Decide what furniture you are taking with you vs. leaving or selling.
If selling furniture, take pictures of it before you start packing up your apartment.
Use these pictures to post appropriate items on selling sites.
Take an inventory of everything you own and determine how these items will need to be moved. (ie- proper moving boxes for a longer-distance move, or in bags / piles for a short move)
Organize valuable documents in a place where you will remember them and have access to them throughout the move.
Make sure you've requested time off work if necessary.
Determine how you will physically get your belongings from your old place to your new place. Will you need to obtain a car? Moving truck? Moving pod?
Remember: Moving pods often require that you rent street space on the day they are being unpacked.
Two Weeks Out
Figure out where to get any moving boxes you will need.
Pro Tip: Liquor stores are great resources for free boxes!
Start packing boxes by room and label the boxes with their contents.
Confirm movers/moving truck/pod/ helper friends.
Sell / donate unwanted or unneeded clothing and furniture.
Get tax receipts for all donations!
Make a list of all the places you need to change your address starting with the US Postal Service, and then all credit cards, banks, non-location based bills, insurance, work HR, etc.
Pro Tip: Remember subscription services such as Netflix or your Amazon billing info.
Schedule the cable/Internet carrier of your choice to set up internet on the day of your move. This may seem like an extra coordination-related headache, but you’ll thank us on moving night.
One Week Out
Confirm movers (again).
Return anything you maybe have borrowed from friends/neighbors - you’ve got enough to move as is!
Cancel all your utilities effective the day after your move.
Transfer utilities to your new address effective day of the move.
Pack up all non-essential, non-refrigerated / pantry food items.
Schedule a cleaning service to come through your old apartment after you’ve vacated.
Pack up all non-essential clothing items. Leave out only the clothes you will need in the immediate week and a suitcase to pack them in.
One Day Out
Clean out your fridge.
Set out your toiletries and a towel for the next morning so that you don't pack them too early.
Have friends over to celebrate in your nearly-empty apartment.
Carbo-load in preparation for tomorrow’s events.
If friends are helping you move, reconfirm the time you're starting.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have enough beverages at your new place to welcome any / all friends who are kind enough to help you move.
Get some sleep.
Strip your bed and place your pillows and other bedding items in a (clearly marked) trash bag.
Pack your “moving” clothes in the suitcase along with a clean set of sheets and towels.
Take a shower and pack up your remaining toiletries.
Pro Tip: Leave a roll of toilet paper for your replacement tenant.
Pro Tip: Make sure appropriate boxes are marked FRAGILE and point them out to your movers.
Leaving For The Last Time
Shut and lock all windows after the cleaning crew has finished dusting, washing windows, bathroom, kitchen, fridge, etc.
Turn off all lights.
Turn down the AC/heat to a respectable level.
Leave your old keys in a mutually agreed upon spot for your landlord.
Take a moment to remember the times you had in this place. Take one last photo and then shut and lock the door one last time.
Your First Night In Your New Place
Make up your bed with clean sheets and blankets.
Hang a clean set of towels and lay out a clean bath mat in the bathroom.
Install your wireless router.
If you still have energy, spend some some time organizing boxes by room, and perhaps even location within that room. This will help you stay organized tomorrow, and in the coming days, as you unpack and get settled.
Order a pizza. You can never have enough pizza when you’re moving.
Crack open your beverage of choice.
Crawl into bed and queue Netflix. Tomorrow starts the first day of your new life!
Take note of the sounds you hear as you drift off to sleep. These things may feel foreign now, but in a few days time, they will be the sounds of your home.