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Moving Center

Your Moving Game Plan

No matter where you’re at in the moving process, we can help make sure everything happens seamlessly. A little careful preparation at every stage can make your move manageable and smooth. From finding a place to rent, to picking the right movers to getting ready for the big day, we break out tips to create an ideal timeline of activities for the best possible moving game plan.

Beginning the search

Starting your search for the perfect home to rent should begin with a very frank internal conversation. First ask yourself what you want and then assess what you can afford. Only about 30 percent of what you make each month should go toward rent, which may mean prioritizing amenities and compromising where necessary. Once you have a rough idea of where you want to live, what type of home you’re looking for and what you can spend, let the search begin. 

The best place to start looking is online, where you’re able to filter results based on the parameters you’ve just created for yourself. Cast a wide net over the general area you want to live in at first, then narrow down your search using your requirements. It may surprise you how many available units are out there, but don’t let the results overwhelm you. 

It’s best to take it slower when visiting apartments so you’ll remember what you see. Any more than four per day is probably information overload. Take notes as you tour locations to keep track of pros and cons for each apartment, noting things beyond what’s new and shiny like the number of outlets in each room, how bright the apartment is and whether you get a cell phone signal inside. Also make sure to take lots of pictures and videos so you’re sure to remember each property accurately.

Becoming the ideal candidate

As you go out to look at apartments, you should also take into consideration how property managers will view you as a potential tenant. If red flags come up when you fill out a rental application, even if you love the place, you may not get approved. A few quick steps, taken in advance, can help improve your appearance as a tenant, including:

  • Check your credit score. Property managers like to see credit scores at 620 or higher for potential tenants. Lower scores may require an explanation on your part since they can indicate a higher risk you’ll default on rent.
  • Document your financial stability. Be prepared to show a property manager what your monthly salary is either with a recent pay stub or a letter from your employer. Property managers prefer that you make 2.5 to 3 times more each month than rent costs. 
  • Get ahead of any past evictions. While you may feel like an eviction in your past means never renting again, that’s not always the case. Ask the proper manager involved in the eviction to write a letter of explanation, if possible. You can also ask friends, co-workers and family to prepare letters of recommendation to supplement the negative impact of an eviction.
Finding the perfect place

Finally finding the right apartment always feels wonderful, but don’t let the excitement overshadow a cautious approach to finalizing all the paperwork. You want to make sure everything looks good and feels right. It takes time to get through the process of approval. Some property managers will require an application fee in order to run credit checks on all the adults moving in, and you’ll have to wait at least a few days for them to get results.

After your application is approved, the next step is to review and sign the lease. Don’t sign anything without reading it closely. While many leases contain the same basic language, each has variations with regards to pets, rent due dates, late fees and other rules. Because rental agreements can be lengthy, prepare to invest some time in reviewing the document. Don’t hesitate to speak up if something is confusing or you disagree. Your new property owner should want to clarify any issues and may even agree to make small changes.

Now that you know you’re moving, the last component to securing the perfect place is notifying your current property manager you’re leaving. Check your lease to make sure you give the right amount of notice, but most call for 30 days or more. You’ll want to submit this information in writing as well, saving a copy for your own records.

Four weeks before

There’s a lot you can do, well in advance of a move, to prepare. This early on it’s best to focus on getting and staying organized. The closer you get to your moving day the crazier things naturally become. This means setting up the details of the move itself, as well as beginning to think about what items need special attention. 

  • Decide who will be moving your stuff. This early on, it’s important to decide whether you want to hire movers or move on your own. While the value of hiring professional movers often outweighs the extra costs, it might not work out for you. If you’re going to move on your own, consider asking a few friends to help out. If you’re going to need a rental truck to load up your stuff, reserving four weeks out usually guarantees you’ll get the size you need when you need it.
  • Take inventory of what’s coming with you. To figure out how much you’re moving, you’ll need to take inventory. You don’t have to count every coffee mug, spoon or book, but take enough stock to get an estimate of what you have. This helps calculate moving costs and informs the amount of packing supplies you’ll need. It’s also a good time to thin out your belongings, donating unused or unwanted items to charity. 
  • Separate out what you’ll need to keep with you. As you take stock of what’s in your apartment, begin setting aside items that should not go into a box. This includes your personal records and paperwork as well as valuable personal items like jewelry. To protect this stuff and make it easier to keep track of it, bring it to your new home yourself.
  • Purchase packing supplies. You’re in luck because there is an actual formula for this. Estimate what you think you need. Then, buy 25 percent more to avoid running out of anything. You’ll need boxes, packing tape, sharpies for labeling and packing paper to wrap to fragile items. Even if you overbuy, most packing stores accept returns on unused boxes and other supplies.
  • Search for freebies. Consider asking the manager at your local grocery, liquor or office supply store what they do with their empty boxes. If they’re willing to give them away, ask when the best day and time is to swing by since you may have some competition. Start collecting empties by breaking down the boxes and storing them flat. You can also post in neighborhood Facebook or Nextdoor channels to see if anyone has supplies to share.
  • Schedule disconnects. Now is also a great time to schedule disconnect, install and forwarding dates with your service providers. It’s easiest to do everything before you actually move, and many providers let you get ahead of yourself. This includes water, heat, gas, cable and internet. Your first night in your new place, all you’ll want to do is sit and relax, so make sure you’re hooked up for easy entertainment. 
  • Schedule and notify your change of address. Schedule your mail forwarding service and notify the upcoming address change with your bank and insurance providers.

Throughout all this preparation, you can also begin packing. Try to pack at least two boxes each night, starting with the things you use less frequently. Label each box and designate a moving spot in your current home where you won’t trip over anything in the middle of the night. Start using up the things you’d rather not move as well, like perishable food and cleaning supplies.

One week before

Now it’s crunch time. With one week to go, ready the final details for your move. Pack a suitcase for yourself with about three days worth of clothes and toiletries. It will save you time hunting around in boxes those first few days for necessities like PJs or shoes. Prepare an itinerary for moving day to share with family or a good friend or two in case of an emergency. Make sure people know where you’ll be that day and how best to contact you.

You’ll also want to spend a little time on final tasks in your current apartment, mostly giving it a final cleaning. Don’t go crazy since your property manager will probably do a deep clean after you move out, but do your best to get the apartment looking as close to what its appearance was when you moved into the unit. Fill any holes you’ve made in the walls, remove scuff marks, wipe down surfaces and dust. Your lease may have terms about what you need to do as far as a move-out clean, but this list covers the basics.

Moving with kids

Walking your kids through the sometimes stressful process of moving isn’t always easy, but like with moving prep, starting early helps. As soon as possible, sit your kids down and make sure they understand why you’re all moving. Stay positive and get them excited about what they’ll have access to in their new neighborhood. As you pack, make sure the toys or personal items that give your kids comfort stick close. If they fit, load them into a backpack your child can carry with them, or create a special box for their room that they’ll know to open first. Pack up a suitcase for them as well with a few days worth of clothes to make the transition easier.

On moving day, consider hiring a sitter to occupy your kids. They’ll get curious during the move and want to explore, or at the very least try to help. Having an extra pair of hands to ensure they don’t distract you during the move will make things easier on everyone.

Lastly, when moving your whole family, make sure all the appropriate records come with you. If switching your children’s schools, make sure you have copies of their academic records. If going far enough away where you’ll need new doctors, be sure to get copies of everyone’s medical records to take with you.

Moving with pets

Keeping pets safe and calm on moving day should be a high priority when moving with furry friends. Remember, they won’t have any idea what’s going on, and the stress of so much new stimulation can make them nervous. It’s not uncommon for pets to accidentally get out and run away during a move, so consider getting a pet sitter or boarding them for the day. After the move is complete, make sure you have a transportation plan for getting your pet safely to your new place. Update your pet’s tag and the contact information associated with their microchip.

As you settle into your new place, try to keep your pet’s routine intact with normal feeding and walking schedules. Even though the environment has changed, maintaining a routine will help with the transition. You may also want to hand-carry their favorite toys so they’re ready and waiting at your new apartment. If you’ll need a new vet, be sure to get your pet’s medical paperwork to bring along. You’ll want proof your pet is up-to-date on their vaccines.

Moving day is finally here

Moving day is going to be a busy day, but it’s finally here. Here are the highlights of the day, if you’re making a local move. If you’re going further this will all still take place, but over the course of a few days instead.

  • Meet your movers, if you’ve hired them. Get the driver’s name and contact information along with a final inventory list as prepared by your movers. Make sure the moving team has your contact information correct as well.
  • Give your old home a final once-over. When all your stuff is out and loaded onto the truck, walk through every room and check all the closets and cabinets. If you’re sure everything is really out, turn in your keys and say good-bye.
  • Get to your new home ahead of the movers. This gives you a chance to check that the place is move-in ready. Check to see if utilities work and document any glaring issues to show your property manager.
  • Greet the movers at your new place. It doesn’t hurt to have bottled water and snacks for your movers at this point. They’ve already worked hard loading up the truck. Happy movers are productive movers. As they bring your belongings in, check the condition of each box and inspect each piece of furniture. Note any loss or damage as soon as you notice it.
  • Round out the day with a bit of unpacking. Start with your “open-first” boxes for each room. Unpack your suitcase and set up your toiletries. Make your bed and unpack anything else you’ll need immediately, then rest. You’ve had a long day.
Settling into your new place

With your move complete, it’s now time to unpack and settle into your new apartment. Work at a pace that still gives you time to get to know your new neighborhood and new neighbors. Start thinking about how you’ll decorate and what items you’ll need to buy, and enjoy making your new apartment a home.

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