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.

The Ultimate Moving Checklist - 6 to 8 Weeks Before You Move

Here are the tasks you should get done six to eight weeks prior to the big day:

  • Create a file for every document related to the move. This can be digital or physical – the important part is that you have everything you’re going to need all in one place.
  • Read your current lease so you know 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 you’ll do the move yourself or if you want to hire professional 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.
  • 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’llneed 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, groups you belong to).
  • Start to find new professionals (such as doctors) and other services (such as school and childcare) where you’re moving to.
  • Transfer your renters insurance to your next apartment. Look into getting insurance for the move itself, in case anything is damaged during the move.
  • Start accumulating supplies like boxes and packing tape.
  • Request time off from work, preferably at the end of the week. You want to make absolutely sure you have those days off, and moving at the end of the week gives you the weekend to start getting settled in before you have to return to work.
  • Start researching your new community for points of interest. You’re going to want to know where you have to go for groceries and the like, and there are always unexpected places you’ll want to check out after you’ve moved.

 

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4 to 5 Weeks Prior

As you reach the one-month range, you should start buckling down on moving tasks.

  • Set up your organizational system for all your boxes of stuff. There are many different things you can do, and there’s no right answer, but getting it all figured out now will pay off.
  • 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.
  • Finalize your moving arrangements, whether that’s reserving a truck or hiring a company for the specific day.
  • Separate your valuables from everything else, so they don’t get mixed up or damaged in the move.
  • 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.
  • 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. Also get new ID tags for your pet with your new address on them.
  • 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.
  • Book hotels if you’re moving long distance and need to stay somewhere overnight.
  • Take your car in to get serviced. You’re going to be driving a lot during the move, and if you’re using your own car, you don’t want something happening to it while you’re moving – you’re going to be under enough stress already.

 

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.
  • In addition to the cleaning, schedule a day to make any repairs your apartment needs.
  • Change your address anywhere that you get packages from on a regular basis. Yes, this means Amazon, but anywhere else you frequently order from should be included.
  • Use up all your food, to save the trouble of packing up the contents of your fridge.
  • Have one last party with friends and family in the area. Your place is still mostly intact, and you might not have the chance to later in the chaos of the move.

 

1 Week Prior

  • Finish packing. Label each box with what’s inside based on the organization system you created earlier.
  • 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.
  • Pack a suitcase as if you’re going for a trip. Between this and the essentials box, you shouldn’t be scrambling for anything the first night.
  • 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. Also have them show you where important things, such as utility hookups and shutoffs, are located.
  • 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 –e., the kitchen boxes go in the kitchen and the bedroom boxes go in your bedroom.
  • Take inventory of your belongings to ensure all the boxes are there and nothing is damaged. This is more important if you’re working with professional movers, but unexpected things can happen even if you’re moving on your own.
  • 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 time and energy to do.
  • Enjoy your new apartment!

 

Settling in

Moving doesn’t end on moving day. Over the next month, here are some crucial things to get done:

  • Finish unpacking all your boxes. We mean all of them. It seems like an obvious thing, but it’s so easy to leave a box untouched and assume that you’ll get to it later. Trying to handle a box a day should be a good enough pace to get done without too much difficulty.
  • Pick up any mail from the local post office.
  • Get new driver’s license and tags. If you changed states, or even just counties, there’s probably something you have to do related to your car. Do this as early as possible so you don’t get caught in a bureaucratic nightmare, driving a car with expired license plates for eight months (based on a true story).
  • Plan a housewarming party. If you enjoy parties, you’re probably already doing this. If you don’t enjoy parties, this can still be a useful kick to get you to make the new place presentable. There are few things as motivating as the possibility of looking like a mess in front of people in your new neighborhood that you just met.
  • Start exploring the area. You did some virtual research earlier, but now’s the time to walk or drive around and see what’s really near you. From the practical (grocery stores, gas stations) to the fun (movie theaters, bars, restaurants), you’ll want to get a good look at the place you’ll now be living for a while.

Moving is hard work, whether you do the entire task with your car or if you hire movers. This moving checklist should streamline the process, but don’t be afraid to personalize it. You may have a unique timeline and different items that will keep you organized. Congrats on the new place and good luck moving!

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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