How to Move: The Ultimate Planner

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Get a Jumpstart Planning Your Next Move

A successful move requires proactive planning. The goal is to keep your move as simple as possible. Most people aren’t fond of packing, but a new city can spark the flame of adventure and discovering the unknown.

The trick to a smooth move is having plenty of time to prepare. Start planning about two months before you move to take the stress off your shoulders. Moving is a large task, and like all large tasks, the secret is to break it down into smaller tasks.

Six to Eight Weeks Before the Move

  • Make a list of every task, such as laundry, cleaning, and packing. Write down (or type up) each task and check it off as you complete it. Physically checking off tasks is gratifying and will keep you organized.
  • Request time off work. Give your employer a written request as soon as you confirm the moving date.
  • Let your landlord know you’re moving out. Read over your lease and ensure you provide the required notice time and perform all your expectations. Most landlords have a 30 or 60-day notification policy, and some may require more.
  • Create a moving budget. Moving isn’t cheap, and overspending while moving is an easy mistake. A moving budget will show what to sell and what to pack. Likewise, a budget will decide if you hire professional movers or your friends and family.
  • Throw things away. Throw all broken belongings away and sell whatever you don’t use or don’t want. Instagram and Depop make selling clothes and other items incredibly easy. Facebook Marketplace is also an excellent resource.
  • Organize everything you’re packing. Your belongings should be divided into four groups: non-essential, essential, valuables, and delicate. Keep all your records together and classify them as valuables.
  • Learn the new neighborhood. Locate the grocery stores, banks, and hospitals. If you have children, locate the daycares, schools, and parks.
  • Lodging between apartments. Can you sleep in your new apartment on move-in day, or will you need to reserve a hotel? Stay with family or friends to save money.
  • You may need a new driver’s license (and plate) if you’re moving out of state. Check with the opens in a new windowDepartment of Motor Vehicles if you’re unsure. If you don’t drive, it would be wise to update your identification card with your new address.

Four to Five Weeks Before the Move

Your apartment should be looking relatively empty after tossing out junk and selling unwanted possessions. Hopefully, you have some more cash in your pocket, too. You will need to gather moving materials, such as:

  • Boxes
  • Bubble wrap/newspaper
  • Tape
  • Markers to label boxes

You will need to opens in a new windowchange your address. Tell your:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Bank
  • Credit unions
  • Insurance providers
  • Health care
  • Property management
  • Utility Providers

Contact your service providers and tell them you’re moving so you don’t accidentally pay for the utilities of your former apartment. Furthermore, you should:

  • Cancel subscriptions you don’t use. Newspapers, magazines, and streaming services add up. If you’re aren’t using them, quit paying for them and increase your moving budget.
  • Fix your car before you move. Your life’s possessions in your vehicle will add to its daily wear-and-tear. Don’t neglect routine maintenance like an oil change or tire rotation. Ensure your vehicle is functioning well before you load it up and trek to your new apartment. You don’t want to end up broke down roadside.
  • Eat all your food. Empty your refrigerator and freezer as moving food is a bad idea, especially perishables. Fruits and vegetables are likely to get bruised and damaged in transport. Don’t roll the dice; you risk damaging other belongings if food packaging breaks.

Two to Three Weeks Before the Move

  • Prepare your pets for the move. Pets need time to adjust to change, so arrange your current apartment to resemble your new apartment’s layout. This will help your pets adapt. Additionally, set up a meet-and-greet if someone will be watching your pet while you move. The first time your pet meets their temporary caretaker should not be when you move.
  • Update your renter’s insurance. Call your renter’s insurance provider and tell them you’re moving. They will be able to transfer your policy to your new address, so your belongings are protected the day you move in.
  • Pack documents, valuables, and fragiles separately. Keep these belongings in your personal possession during the move.
  • Keep laundry light. You need seven to ten outfits in your essentials bag. Keep an overnight bag easily accessible if you will spend the night at a hotel or with family or friends.
  • Pack up all non-essentials and label the box with the belongings inside. Items you use every day can remain unpacked.
  • Don’t race. Glass, plates, lampshades, mirrors, and speakers suffer the most from speed-packing. Following this checklist will give you plenty of time to complete all your tasks.
  • Clean your apartment now that it’s practically empty. Don’t procrastinate! The sooner you start, the sooner you finish.
  • Take a break and rest. Do something fun and spontaneous with loved ones to take your mind off the move.

One Week Away Before Moving Day

  • Write which room each box contains. This will minimize the strain on your back and make moving efficient.
  • Take responsibility for all your valuables and delicate items. 
  • Confirm your plans. Hotel reservations, childcare, pet care, or utility installation must be verified. A few days gives you a safety buffer should any plans fall-through.
  • Schedule your final walk-through with your landlord. You must be present, and your apartment needs to be as clean to receive your security deposit.

Moving Day

  • Keep all boxes near the door for a quick load out and to keep your apartment clean.
  • Take out the trash and ensure nothing has been left undone. If your landlord has to clean up after you, you might not receive your security deposit.
  • Exchange phone numbers with everyone in your moving party. A means of communication is critical should plans change while on the road. Likewise, tell your moving party where and when you will meet them before you get in the car to prevent distracted driving.
  • Return the apartment key to the landlord. It may have sentimental value, but keeping it may be detrimental to your security deposit.
  • Ensure your vehicle is balanced. An off-balanced, top-heavy car could flip on a sharp curve. Keep objects on the floor and secure loose items so they don’t shift or become a projectile.
  • Purchase cases of water to keep everyone hydrated.

What to do After Arriving at the New Apartment

  • Greet the property manager and have them open your apartment unit. Perform a walk-through with the landlord and discuss any preexisting damage. Take pictures of any damage.
  • Ask where your moving party should park. The community may have a designated move-in/move-out space.
  • Remove all valuables and important records from your car and place them in your bedroom closet. Your valuables are safest out of sight.
  • Direct your moving party and tell them where each room is. Tip your movers and shut all open doors or gates.
  • Take a break and stretch. Now that the heavy lifting is over, it’s time to set up the apartment.
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