The Quintessential Moving Guide for Renters

The United States Census Bureau estimates that each citizen can expect to move nearly 12 times in his or her lifetime. These moves include renters and homeowners, but the recent upswing in the number of people renting makes this statistic even more likely.

About 54 percent of Americans feel that renting is more appealing than owning a home, and these individuals are likely to move more frequently in order to find the perfect rental. If you are part of this movement toward renting rather than owning, you may be facing an upcoming move to a new rental property.

Once you have successfully located a new place to live, congratulations! Contrary to popular belief, facing a big move does not have to be difficult or stressful. Follow this timeline of important decisions and actions in the weeks leading up to living in your new residence, and you will be much more relaxed on the final moving day.

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4-8 Weeks Before Move

It may seem like you have a really long time until your move, but 4-8 weeks beforehand is not too early for you to start making plans. First, you must make sure that you have submitted all the proper paperwork for your new rental, including signing the lease and paying your security deposit. Keep a copy of your lease and a record of your security deposit for your reference throughout the rental period and in the event that you will someday move again.

You also need to inform your current landlord that you will be moving out in the next few weeks so that your rental will be prepared and advertised for its next tenant. Examine your current lease for guidelines about when you must provide this information to your landlord, and set an official date for your departure.

Now is also a good time to start planning for moving day itself. Think about the monthly fee of your new rental, the cost of furnishing your new space and the expense of any other items that you may accrue from your move, and plan a moving budget. It is best to set a figure before you begin the process so that you know whether or not you have the money to hire professional movers. If professional assistance is in your budget, reserve your movers as soon as you have a move-out date. If you do not have the money for expert help, you need to start asking friends and family to reserve your moving day to assist you.

You can start gathering moving containers, pods and crates that will make moving your bulky items easier. The boxy shape of these packing containers will make it simpler to stack them for transport. You can even start filling your containers with out-of-season clothes or other items that are unnecessary to your daily life. Make a pile of unused clothes or unwanted household items that you can donate or sell and therefore not have to move.

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2-3 Weeks Before Move
As your move is approaching, you have some paperwork that you need to manage. First, be sure to call your insurance provider and update your renter's insurance to your new residence. You also need to register your change of address with the local post office and with your utility suppliers. Make sure that your current utilities will be shut off or transferred to another tenant's account on your moving day, and get utilities installed in your new rental. You do not want to move into your new place without running water or electricity for the first several days.

This is also a good time to begin packing your bigger items that will need to be disassembled for moving. For example, a big bookshelf will be easier if you take out the shelves and completely disassemble it. Be sure to save the hardware for all shelving, curtain rods and other furnishings in Ziploc bags, clearly labeled and taped to the item.

You can also start removing electronics that are not part of your everyday life. Take photographs of the backs or the control panels of these electronics before you beginning disconnecting them so that you can accurately reproduce all the hookups quickly and easily at your new residence.

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1 Week Before Move
With just a week to go before you make the full move, you can really get packing most of your belongings. Leave out any items that you will need over the next week, but you should make an effort to use as little as possible so that most of your belongings can be boxed away.

Start by packing an overnight bag with all of your personal essentials. This will be for your first night in your new rental and for the next day after your move. The last thing you want to do after a full day of moving your belongings is to dig around in boxes to find pajamas, your toothbrush and other essentials. The overnight bag should be with you, and you should have it ready with everything that you will need for the next 24 to 48 hours. You should also put all of your important papers, such as your legal or personal information and your rental agreement, in a single envelope in your overnight bag for easy retrieval.

Use your other clothing to pack fragile household items, such as dishes and decorative knickknacks. By using your own clothes, you are protecting your breakable possessions while also getting all of your clothing packed.

Try to pack your items in layers, but make sure that all your containers are solid so that nothing shifts or breaks in the moving process. Mark each of your containers by its destination, such as the kitchen or your bedroom, so that the container can be placed directly in the correct room of your new rental. This will help you unpack faster.

Take the time now to purchase some household cleaning supplies both for your current residence and for your future rental. You need to clean your current residence before you turn your keys over to your landlord, and you may also want to clean your new rental before you begin unpacking. Although the new rental may look clean, there is something nice about using your own scent and style of cleaning products to make the new place feel like home.



Day of Move
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On the day of your move, make sure that you are ready at least a half an hour before your team of movers is scheduled to arrive, whether that is a group of professionals or your friends and family.

Place your overnight bag and envelope of important documents somewhere that you will not lose it in the bustle of the moving process. It's a good idea to put these on the front seat of your car, with your handbag or somewhere that you will not lose track of them.

After all your belongings have been moved out of your current residence, take the time to walk through every room and to open every cabinet door and drawer. The longer you have lived there, the more likely it is that you have left something behind. While you are walking through each room, take pictures of the property as you are leaving it. If there is damage, document it. These images may come in handy if there are disputes over damage or over the return of your security deposit. Once you are satisfied that you have been very thorough, you can return your key to your landlord. Some landlords may require you to complete this walkthrough together.

Upon your arrival at your new rental, you should again walk all the way through the space, taking pictures and noting pre-existing damage. These images could become necessary when you decide to leave this rental as well. Help your moving team bring all your belongings into the residence, putting each labeled container in the appropriate room. Although you may be eager to start unpacking these containers, most of that can be done another time when you do not have a team of movers waiting on your guidance in placing your possessions.

Once everything is moved into your new rental, you can begin unpacking the containers, rebuilding your shelving and hooking up your electronics. If you do not have the time or energy on moving day, you have your overnight bag prepared, so you do not have to stress about doing everything all at once.


Trying to prepare for a move to a new rental can be stressful if you leave every detail until the day of the move. However, if you plan ahead for the weeks and months leading up to your change in residence, and you complete small tasks along the way to the final moving day, the process will be much smoother and less stressful.