How To Move:
The Game PlanA little prep will make sure your move is manageable and runs smoothly. This guide walks you through finding a rental home, choosing movers, and preparing for moving day, plus some special tips for moving with kids and pets. Or make your own. But we already did it for you.

Select where you are in the moving process below:

Finding a Rental Home

Quick Tip: Make sure you know the difference between what you want and what you need. That great location may come with a stunning view of your neighbor's kitchen. If your neighbor bakes, that's a bonus. If they clean fish a lot, it's a minus. Either way, you need to know what matters most to you. Make a list of your requirements and rank them.

  • Money Talks It's a good idea to review your credit report yearly, but not as imperative as TV would like you to believe when filling out an apartment application. Good credit is important but a perfect credit score, not so much. What a property manager really wants to see is that your gross monthly salary is 2.5 to 3 times the rent amount and that you pay your bills on time. Oh, and evictions are bad. Before you begin your apartment search know your budget so you don't waste time. Here are some tips if your credit is (ahem) less than perfect.
  • Find Your Best Match At, you can search our apartment rental listings by numerous categories including price, city, neighborhood, property type, amenities and pet policy. Cast a wide net over the general area you want to live in and then go from there using your list of ranked requirements to narrow your search. If you are looking for something specific, start your search several months in advance because it could take extra time. On the Blog, we put together a list for new grads looking for their first apartment. But anyone can use it.
  • Avoid Apartment Double Vision Finding a new place is exciting and you A-types can get carried away by trying to see a dozen in a day. Don't see more than four apartments in a day, they start to blend together. You're better off going to the movies and admiring apartments that don't exist in real life.
  • Does this Say Me? When you see your perfect place, don't get googlie-eyed. The appliances, the view, and the price may be exactly what you have been searching for but make sure your new home has your basic needs covered. Are there plenty of outlets, parking, light, water pressure and a cell phone signal? Without these things it may not be as dreamy as it seems.
  • Be Aware of Application Fees Always ask if there is an application fee as some landlords charge a fee to run the credit of each adult living in the home. Applying takes time and possibly money so be selective. If you live in a high demand city like New York or San Francisco, you may need to submit an application instantly to secure a place so have your information handy when you visit the property.
  • If You Haven't Read It, Don't Sign It While many leases are standard, each has variations especially in regards to pets, rent due dates, late fees and other rules. Make sure you review the lease carefully. Your new landlord may be less (or more) cool than the old one. Rental agreements can be lengthy, so be prepared to take your time. Check out the blog to see 10 Things You Should Do Before Signing the Lease
  • Give Notice Review your current lease to make sure you are giving adequate notice so you don't lose your rental deposit or incur any penalty fees. Each agreement is unique, but the general rule is to give at least a 30-day notice, in writing.

Four Weeks Before the Move

  • Consider hiring some help for your move. The value of hiring professional movers often outweighs the cost. Not to mention the damage you can do to your friends. In the Moving Center, you can request free moving quotes for your home or vehicle. Should you choose to go it alone, make sure you rent a moving truck at least four weeks in advance. Check out the blog for some tips about working with movers.
  • Take an inventory of your current home, room by room. You can use our inventory worksheet to get a general idea of everything you own. And no, you don't have to count every coffee mug, spoon and collectible souvenir cup you have. Just enough to estimate moving costs and the amount of moving supplies and help you will need.
  • Start collecting boxes and other packing supplies. Did you count everything? Awesome. Purchase as much in supplies as you think you need plus 25% more because it's hard to judge and most of us always run out of something. Most packing stores accept returns on unused boxes and other supplies. But if you want freebees, start early and get creative. Consider asking the manager at your local grocery or office supply store. Or, if you work in an office setting there is always one person who has a stash of boxes hoarded under their desk from their online shopping addiction.
  • Schedule disconnect and forwarding dates with service providers. Set up all utility connection dates for your new home before you even arrive. Many providers offer new member deals, so take advantage of that. Your first night in, all you will want to do is sit and watch cable movies, so make sure you are hooked up. While you're at it, forward your mail and change your address with your credit cards, insurance providers and important memberships.
  • Collect personal records Gather up all medical (including prescriptions), school and other important records and keep them at home or have them forwarded. Ask your medical professionals to recommend someone in your new area.
  • Start packing, already Each night try to pack a box or two. Label them and designate a moving spot in your current place. No, not the hallway or kitchen or any place where you will trip on them in the middle of night. Find a corner someplace. Also use up things that can't be moved, such as frozen foods, bleach and aerosol cleaners. Yay! Fish sticks and tater tots for dinner every night.

One to Two Weeks Before the Move

You're getting there. Remember to pace yourself so you aren't trying to cram it in all at the last second.

  • Arrange for moving help. Even if you are using movers, extra help is always welcome. Especially if you have kids or pets to wrangle. Check out the Blog for extra tips for Moving with Kids.
  • Start packing what you can. Did you not see the "Start packing, already" in the last section? We meant that. Don't leave anything behind. In some cases even leaving an empty box, let alone a refrigerator, can consist of "inhabiting" your old space, and could cost you up to two weeks of additional rent from your deposit.
  • Remember your immediate needs. Make two separate special boxes. One for valuables, one for necessities and keep them with you. Are you the kind of person that can't live without pizza peppers or soy sauce? Want clean sheets your first night? Pack 'em up. Your birth certificate, valuables and new keys would be helpful too.
  • Give your itinerary out in case of an emergency. Be safe and let people know where you are and how to contact you.
  • Defrost and clean your fridge and freezer. Do this at least a day before the move. Sounds like a pain but you really don't want your old fridge smelling up your brand new, sparkling clean place. If you aren't taking it with you, clean it out as could affect the amount of deposit you get back.
  • Make sure the moving truck has a place to park. No one ever remembers to do this. If you live in a metro area, you may need to inquire with the city to obtain a parking permit. Maybe let your neighbors know if you need to block the driveway.
  • Schedule a Walk-Through Inspection: Make an appointment with your landlord to inspect your new home, prior to the movers arriving.

Moving Day

All right. You are prepared and ready. Let's do this thing!

  • Meet the movers. If you hired a moving company, compare the mover's inventory and condition with your own inventory worksheet. Take some photographs in case of a dispute. Get the driver's name, contact info and final inventory list. Provide contact numbers at the destination.
  • Check your old home one last time. Once everything is loaded, walk through every room and check all the closets. If necessary, make sure the water, furnace and all appliances are shut off. Wave adios and ride off to your new future!
  • Upon arrival, ensure your new place is move-in ready. Check to see if your utilities have been connected and if there is any repair work to be done.
  • Meet the movers at your new home.
    • Arrive at your new home before the movers to avoid additional charges.
    • As the moving company unloads your items, check the condition of each box.
    • Record any missing or damaged items on the mover's copy of the inventory form.
    • Make a "subject to inspection for loss or concealed damage" notation on the inventory form.
    • Be sure to report any loss or damage to the moving company as soon as you notice it.
    • It doesn't hurt to have bottled water and snacks for the drivers. Happy movers are productive movers.
  • Start with the necessities first. Unpack the boxes labeled "Necessities." Place your toiletries and towels in the bathroom, sheets on the bed, and unpack any other items you'll need immediately. Aren't you glad you know where the soy sauce and pizza peppers are? Now go order some take out.
  • Congratulations! You have completed How to Move: The Game Plan. Here are some tips on obtaining some new furniture, getting to know your new neighborhood and throwing yourself a housewarming party.

Quick Tips for Moving with Kids

  • Have a talk. Talk to the kids and make sure they understand the "pros" of moving. Maybe show them a map of exciting new attractions close to their new home.
  • Be Positive. Kids copy their parents. Especially in the days before and during the move, keep a good attitude. Or at least pretend.
  • Get a sitter. Some kids will want to explore or "help." Probably best for them to spend the day with a playmate elsewhere.
  • Make sure comfort toys are packed on top. Some kids will see this as an adventure, younger ones can be thrown off a bit more. Make sure their favorites are in reach.
  • Pack clothes and supplies in a carry on. Luggage can get lost. Movers can get delayed. Make sure you have plenty of extras on hand, just in case.
  • Forward all School and Medical records. Get your current doctor to make a recommendation in your new town.
  • You can also review special tips for kids at the Blog.

Quick Tips for Moving Pets

  • Update Identification Tags. Don't forget the chip.
  • Prepare transportation. Most movers will not move pets.
  • Pet Day Spa? Pets —especially in apartments— can get under the feet of people carrying heavy things. This can be a hazard for everyone. It is suggested to get them out of the way for the day.
  • Make a special box for them. Some pets can get nervous or spooked by new surroundings. Make sure their favorite items are accessible.
  • Maintain The Routine Keeping normal feeding and walking schedules will make the transition go smoother.
  • Medical Paperwork When you move, take along a health certificate, rabies vaccination certificate and make sure their shots are current. Also, if moving to a new state, find out shot requirements from your vet.
  • You can also review special tips for pets at the Blog.