The Ultimate Moving Checklist: 50 Crucial To-Dos | Common
01 Organize and Declutter

The key to any moving checklist, apartment or otherwise? Organization.

The less mess, the easier the move. The first place to start is by consolidating, selling, donating, returning, and minimizing everything you’ll be taking with you. It’s time to tidy up to prepare for the long journey ahead.

Before you start boxing up your current home, take the time to decide what to bring with you. While there’s always the option to store excess items in a storage space, it might be easier to part with items you no longer need.

Top ways to declutter before moving include:

1. Clothing donation

Lighten your wardrobe by donating clothes you never wear. If you’re moving to a warmer climate, you might not need half a dozen winter coats. On the other hand, if you’re headed somewhere with milder temperatures, consider ditching a few pairs of shorts.

2. Reassess your media

Sell extra books, records, or any other media that you’re no longer using. Consider opting for an e-reader or digitizing your music. With the advent of digital media, you can slim down your library without losing the movies, music, and stories you love.

3. Return what you borrowed

Remember to return library books, tools, or personal items you’ve borrowed. It’s not only a friendly thing to do, but it will also save you valuable time when moving. Otherwise, you may end up packing something just to ship it back.

4. Sort out your kitchen

Organize your dishes and eating utensils and ditch the excess. Likewise, consider getting rid of heavy small appliances (do you really need a quesadilla maker?) that you don’t use and let go of worn-out cookware that has seen better days.

5. Consolidate your junk drawers

Sort through junk drawers and cabinets. File papers and important documents, collect stray tools, batteries, cords, and other miscellaneous items, and find them a home. Miscellaneous items tend to accumulate, so it’s worthwhile to take a look at everything piling up in your drawers to decide whether or not it’s worth bringing with you.

6. Have a sale

Unload any valuable items you don’t need on eBay, Craigslist, or via an old-fashioned garage sale. This step could take some time, so we suggest starting early with your sale. You might be surprised how many people are interested in the stuff you don’t want. If you’re moving into a furnished home, this might be a big, profitable step!

7. Keep track

Make a simple inventory list. You don’t need to account for every fork and spoon, but a general inventory of your essential and most important items could be extremely helpful. If you know what you have, you’re less likely to lose anything or buy a duplicate.

Once you’ve decluttered, you might find the entire process of packing less stressful. Plus, it can be incredibly refreshing to have a clean slate when you move. After all, there’s no need to feel weighed down with stuff when you’re making a life-changing journey.

02 Budget Your Move

One of the most important things on your apartment checklist should be a budget. Moving can wipe out your savings if you try to solve problems on the spot instead of planning ahead. Take advantage of any freebies you can, and don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family members for help with some of the lighter work.

Of course, you can always hire a professional mover, but the costs may offset the benefits. Before making any decisions, assess your finances to determine the best situation for you.

Here are the key steps to reducing moving expenses and creating a moving budget:

8. Consider the season

Did you know that moving services tend to be in higher demand in summer and early fall? As a result of the higher demand, costs may be higher than in the spring or winter months. That said, moving through the snow and ice could take longer and be slightly more unpleasant. Weigh the pros and cons and keep an eye on your wallet—and your lease. See if it’s possible to adjust your lease to a month-to-month to avoid the more expensive seasons.

9. Give notice

To ensure a positive experience all around, give your landlord proper notice so you don’t have to pay any extra rent or fees. Often 30 days is the minimum required notice period for vacating a property, though this may range from lease to lease. That’s why it’s always wise to check your contract and be transparent with your landlord. Good communication and transparency is always the best strategy for avoiding complications with your current property manager.

10. Ask for extra time

If you’re on a tight deadline to exit your current home, you might need some extra time to get everything in order. For shorter moves, try to negotiate an extra day or two on your lease. Having extra time may mean you don’t need to hire any help.

11. Explore temporary accommodations

Moving before you’ve found your next home? You can explore affordable, temporary accommodations and short-term lease options. Try to search early for living options that fit your needs and work with your schedule. Today, there are more options than ever for finding wonderful apartments on short notice, with flexible lease options.

12. Budget your meals

While it may be difficult to cook with your kitchen half-packed up, we recommend avoiding take-out as moving day approaches. Instead, eat the food that’s been sitting in your pantry—pasta, canned foods, and any dry goods you’ve been meaning to cook up. Simple prepped meals could be a simple, budget-savvy choice to keep you full during the busy days leading up to your meal. Plus, you’ll have less to pack!

13. Avoid paying for boxes

Ask around town for used boxes and utilize all the tote bags you have so you’re not paying the premium for brand new boxes and packing supplies. Local retail stores, grocery stores, and small businesses frequently have large stores of extra boxes that they’re more than happy to give away. Check out local social media “free stuff” groups to see who’s giving away boxes. Facebook, OfferUp, and Nextdoor are smart places to put out feelers for free boxes.

14. Compare mover prices

Need a truck or moving services? Call up every available company in your area to collect quotes and find the best deal. Ask for printed quotes, and don’t be afraid to share them with other services. Often, businesses will offer more competitive pricing to earn your business. Did you have a friend who moved recently? Reach out and see if the moving company they used offers a referral discount.

15. Don’t forget about insurance

If you’re moving to a new state, you’ll need a new car insurance policy. But even if you’re moving to a new city in the same state, your rates may change significantly. Make sure you compare rates from several companies to find the best deal. Additionally, you may need to change your rental insurance policy to ensure you’re protected if a problem arises.

16. Talk to your employer

If you’re moving for a new job, hammer out the details with your employer. Many companies offer assistance with relocation, including funds to get you into your new home and flexible start dates to make getting settled easier.
03 Pack Smart

With organizing and budgeting done, the next step on your apartment move checklist​​ is packing.

You can begin packing up to a month before your move-out day—just be strategic about what you’re boxing up. The more organized you are, the easier it will be to unpack in your new apartment.

Consider these tips for making the packing process simple and efficient:

17. Use labels

It’s helpful to know where your boxes are going. Clearly label every moving box, and use your inventory list to track any additional details about how your items are stored. Good notes will save you a huge amount of time and energy!

18. Clean out the closets

Typically, it’s best to begin packing the items you’re least likely to need. Start with storage areas, closets, and less-used cabinets. These items are often forgotten until the final days before the move, so it’s helpful to be proactive with packing them. Just don’t pack up your tools and cleaning supplies quite yet.

19. Pack up your wardrobe

Formal wear, off-season clothing, and unnecessary accessories can all be packed up early. Ask yourself, “Will I be wearing this anytime soon?” If the answer is “no,” consider boxing it. Pack shoes and clothes separately to avoid damaging fragile apparel.

20. Clear your walls and shelves

Remove artwork, photos, and other decorations from the walls and pack them carefully. Consider using bubble wrap to protect frames and art pieces during the move. You can also pack any collectibles or other display items.

21. Box your entertainment

Next, pack craft and hobby supplies, books, and other media. It’s okay to save yourself a couple of things to keep you entertained, but keep it minimal. Try to find a large enough box to keep your television, computer, or other large electronics safe. You’ll want plenty of packing paper to ensure these items don’t move during transit.

22. Move on to the kitchen

You might be using a few plates and bowls until the very last day, but you can box up tools and utensils you don’t need in the weeks before moving. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you’ll need an item, consider boxing it but leaving the box open for quick access.

23. Take care of your valuables

Pack jewelry, trinkets, and special items in a safe and secure place. You may want to utilize a carrying case or a lockbox for your most valuable items. It’s recommended that you move these items yourself and keep them on your person to avoid losing them among the other boxes

24. Check the fridge and pantry

In the three or four days leading up to the actual moving day, begin packing your pantry. You’ll also need to remove any perishable food from your refrigerator. If you time it just right, you might be able to eat just about everything in your fridge before you take off. Additionally, consider donating excess food to a food bank.

25. Pack a suitcase

What will you need right away? These items tend to include clothes, medication, and items for work. Be sure to fill your luggage with the essentials to make your first day a little easier.

26. Include your toiletries

The bathroom may need to wait until the last minute. You’ll likely need soap, shampoo, skin care products, and other toiletries up to the day you move. Fortunately, these items are fairly small and easy to pack. Keep a couple of boxes or bags in your bathroom and fill them with toiletries on the day of your move.

27. Set aside your cleaning supplies

There’s still a bit more to do before you say goodbye to your old home. Save your cleaning products and first aid supplies for the last day.
04 Clean and Assess

You might wait to begin a full scrub down of your old apartment, but it might be more efficient to clean as you go. As you pack up each room, take the time to clean it thoroughly or, at the very least, try to section off clean areas from less clean.

Throughout the packing process, make note of anything that’s damaged, and either repair it or let your landlord know. The best way to get your deposit back is to be open and honest, and ask how you can help.

Before you turn in your keys and wait for your deposit, consider these cleanup procedures:

28. Patch holes

Have a few nail holes from artwork left on the wall? A little spackle and a putty knife can smooth over any minor blemishes, leaving the walls smooth and your landlord happy. Wood-filler also works for molding and wood damage.

29. Buff out the floor

Wood floors can take a beating, but in the process of moving it’s not uncommon to add a few scratches to the surface. You may be able to easily buff out scratches with polish and a little elbow grease.

30. Check the windows

If your window screens or blinds have been damaged, it may be cheaper to replace them yourself before you vacate the property. There’s no reason to let your security deposit suffer. That said, if they were damaged through no fault of your own, consider letting your rental company know ahead of time.

31. Disconnect your services

Contact your utility, cable, and internet services to disconnect them. You can’t always control what time they’ll be shut off, so schedule it for the day after your move. Don’t forget to set up the utilities at your new apartment as well!

32. Cancel your memberships

If you’re moving to a new city, cancel your gym membership and any other local services you use. You may need to cancel a month in advance to avoid being charged for the following month.

33. Update your address

Get in touch with your insurance carrier, bank, and phone company. File for mail forwarding at the post office to avoid missing important pieces of mail. This will only work for 12 months, but it should give you plenty of time to update your address with anyone you forgot.

34. Clean thoroughly

Start scrubbing as you pack. Dust all your furniture, and clean the legs of all your tables, couches, and chairs before the movers arrive. That way, your furniture will arrive crisp and clean (minus a few bits of moving dust) into your new home.

35. Reread your lease

Make sure you’ve followed proper cleaning procedure by revisiting your lease or asking your landlord. You may be expected to pay for carpet cleaning or other professional services. In some cases, it will be cheaper to rent a carpet cleaner and do it yourself.

Once you’ve accessed your old home, you should be nearly ready to move into your new home. Be sure to check hard to reach areas for dirt, dust, and debris, and consider asking a friend to come with you for a second inspection. A fresh set of eyes could help spot anything you’ve missed.

05 Make Your Move

Block off as much time as possible to keep stress low during the moving process. Consider the layout of your new place when you’re loading your truck—the first things you want to carry in should be the last things you put on the truck.

With everything packed, sorted, and cleaned, the moving process should go smoothly. If you’re looking for some last-minute tips, consider the following:

36. Use the service you pay for

If you hired professional movers, let them do the work. It might be hard to restrain yourself, but you’re paying for their service. Additionally, their insurance won’t cover anything you damage or any injury you maintain. Don’t be afraid to talk to them and supervise the operation.

37. Load heavy items first

The biggest, bulkiest furniture should be the first thing to go, followed by heavy boxes, smaller furnishing, and personal items. You’ll want to prioritize space in the moving truck to avoid multiple hauls.

38. Protect your possessions

Use moving blankets and pads and work slowly to avoid damage. Proper moving accessories will also help minimize any damage to the floor or walls of your new home. Keep everything pristine for when you’re finally settled in.

39. Stay hydrated

Provide plenty of water for everyone assisting your move. You’ll also want to stop frequently to eat—you’ll need all the energy you can get. Consider minimizing sugar and caffeine to avoid a crash. Prepare high protein, easy to snack-on items like trail mix, power bars, and sandwiches. (Save the traditional box of moving pizza for when all the boxes have arrived at your new place).

40. Clean anything you missed

With everything cleared out of your house, you might catch a few more areas in desperate need of some cleaning. Hopefully, you haven’t loaded your cleaning supplies into the truck yet.

41. Check the yard

If you have a yard, make sure you haven’t left any tools, furniture, or grilling equipment outside.

42. Make a final pass

Take one last look through every drawer, closet, and cabinet before you say goodbye to your old place.
06 Get Settled

Congratulations—you’ve finally made it into your new home!

Now on to checking off the getting settled part of the relocation guide. Whether you’re breaking out the champagne or laying down for a well-deserved nap, there are a few more things to consider before you can call it quits. Of course, you’re free to take as long as you’d like to settle in, you might enjoy checking off these final steps so you finally call your new apartment “home.”

Settling in can be easy and fun with these simple to-dos:

43. Make sure everything’s where it should be

If you’re using a moving company, make sure the truck is completely empty before they leave. Check fragile items and furniture for damage. You may not be able to look into every box but ensure your valuable belongings are all accounted for.

44. Fill out your move-in sheet

Most rental companies will provide you with a document to write down any pre-existing damage to your new home. If you’re not provided with one, be sure to ask. In addition, take pictures for your records as well, and try to timestamp and date any relevant photos.

45. Contact maintenance

Finding leaky pipes, running toilets, or notable cosmetic damage? Ask for repairs on anything that needs to be fixed ASAP. Prioritize the most important repairs and ask for a general estimate for when everything will be fixed. As always, be professional and polite in all your communications—it’s the best way to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.

46. Spruce up the place

Make sure your new home is clean before you start unpacking, and vacuum or dust as needed. If the apartment has been recently renovated, there may be a bit more to clean up.

47. Unpack the necessities

Organize as much as you’re able to on the first day in your new home. You don’t want to over-exert yourself, but you’ll likely sleep better if you’re not surrounded by clutter.

48. Make an unpacking plan

Organize as much as you’re able to on the first day in your new home. You don’t want to over-exert yourself, but you’ll likely sleep better if you’re not surrounded by clutter.

49. Explore your new community

Get to know the nearest grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants. A new apartment is exciting, but it’s worthwhile to step out, meet a few locals, and see a little bit more of the neighborhood.

50. Update your digital info

In the age of online retail, it’s easy to lose track of where you’re sending your packages. Delete your old address from online retailers and subscription services so you don’t accidentally order anything to your old place.

Moving Made Easier with Common

Check, check, and check! You’ve hit the end of the list and you should be more than ready to box up, clean up, and haul out. We hope this apartment checklist and moving guide is helpful because relocation can be challenging. That said, if you’re looking for an even simpler way to move, we’ve got that covered too. At Common, your coliving apartment comes fully furnished, and our keyless entry makes move-in the moving process possible in under an hour.

Our beautiful furnished apartments offer city living at unbelievable prices, all in the neighborhoods you want to live in. Once you’re all settled, meeting your neighbors is as simple as downloading our app to your smartphone. You can connect with neighbors, learn more about your city, and host a meet-and-greet in any of our warm community spaces. Learn more about how Common makes city living easier.