Stress-Free Move-In: The Ultimate Checklist for Moving to a Rental Apartment in the US

by Katie
Apr 17, 2024
Local Moving Services

Imagine you’ve been looking for a new apartment… for ages. You’ve made billions of calls, previews, checks, and hours of discussion, and finally, you’ve sealed the deal. However, the euphoria from finding a new rental fades quickly. You assess the amount of stuff, estimate what you need to do, and suddenly feel the prick of fear.

“What if I’ve forgotten something?”

“What if I didn’t notice something?”

“What if I won’t have enough time to move?”

Indeed, moving can be a whirlwind, but it’s also a chance for a fresh start! This guide is for renters of all experience levels. We’ll break down everything you need to know, from packing hacks to making your new place feel special. 

Read this article to move in smoothly, stay organized, and love your new home from day one.

Peculiarities of Rental in the US

When renting an apartment, you must consider some crucial moments.

In the US, landlords often perform credit checks on potential tenants. A good credit score is vital to secure an apartment, especially in competitive rental markets. If you are a foreigner with no credit history, you might need a guarantor — a US resident who takes responsibility for you.

If you have a credit history, it’s easier to get off. Building credit history is essential in the US. On-time rent payments can be reported to credit bureaus and help build a positive credit score.

Landlords often ask for deposits as a guarantee. Security deposits are typically one month’s rent but can be more depending on the location and your creditworthiness. Rent is usually due on the first of the month, and late fees can be hefty.

In many rentals, tenants pay for utilities like electricity, gas, water, and trash collection.

Pay attention to pet policies. Many rentals have restrictions on pets, including breed limitations or pet fees. So, if you have a furry friend, be ready to pay more or to look for an apartment longer.

And, of course, ask for a contract. Read it thoroughly, as it will be your guarantee that a landlord won’t kick you out at any time. Leases are usually for 12 months, though some offer shorter terms. Breaking a lease early can result in significant fees.

Now that we have finished with the formal part, let’s move on to a more pleasant one. Here’s your step-by-step guide to moving to a new apartment.

Step 1. Sort Things Out

Beat moving day stress: start early (think 2 weeks) and sort through your belongings room by room, tackling those rarely used items first.

Think of moving as decluttering magic: here’s your chance to simplify your life! Sort your stuff and ask yourself: “Have I used this recently?” and “Do I really need it?” It’s hard to be honest when answering — but you should stay strong. Donate or sell gently used items, and recycle what you can’t keep. Less stuff means a lighter load (and a happier moving day). In addition, you greenlight a fresh start in your new place with only the things you truly love and need. It’s a win-win for you — and the environment!

Step 2. Pack Stuff

Pack like a pro by grouping things by their destination room in your new place. Remember to label each box clearly with the room and a brief description of the contents. Thus, you make unpacking feel like a breeze later and won’t miss anything. Invest in sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape to keep your stuff safe during the journey. 

To stay on top of everything, create a master inventory list of everything you’re packing. Packing smart now will save you time and frustration and make your move to your new home a smooth success.

Don’t forget about your first-day survival kit!

Pack a “First Day Essentials” box — your secret weapon for a smooth transition. You can include:

  • Bathroom Basics: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.
  • Cleaning crew: some wipes or all-purpose cleaners for quick touch-ups.
  • A first-aid kit for any minor mishaps.
  • Kitchen Essentials: plates, utensils, snacks, and drinks to keep your energy up.
  • Your pet’s (if any) food and favorite toys to ease their adjustment.
  • Pajamas, chargers, and any meds you need. 

Having these essentials readily available will make your first night stress-free and comfortable.

Step 3. Choose a Removal Service

Apartment’s found, stuff’s packed, what’s next?

Well, this block’s title has ruined the intrigue.

Choosing the right muscle for your move is critical. If you have lots of stuff, consider hiring reputable movers with good reviews and clear pricing. For smaller hauls, enlist some friends or rent a van. Furnished rental? Less stuff means a smaller vehicle, and fewer helpers might do the trick. 

Think about the distance, size and fragility of your items, and, of course, your budget. Pro Tip: Always get insurance for your valuables, whether you hire movers or go it alone.

Step 4. Update Your Address

Don’t let administrative details get lost in the chaos.

Updating your address is key to receiving important mail and staying connected. Make it an easy-peasy task with a checklist:

  1. Include administration agencies (driver’s license, voter registration), banks, subscriptions, and everyone who matters.
  2. Use forwarding services to catch any mail during the switch.
  3. Don’t forget to spread the word about your new digs to friends and family.

This simple to-do list keeps your move smooth sailing and ensures everyone important stays connected.

Step 5. Get Online & Entertained

Moving to a new place doesn’t mean you must get stuck offline. Before you actually move, research what Internet and TV options are available at your new address. The Internet’s a must-have for many, so set it up before move-in day to avoid frustrating gaps. Consider bundled packages with Internet, TV, and phone — they can be cheaper. 

Be proactive if you want to ensure your comfortable first day at the new place. Schedule appointments for internet and media services ASAP after securing your move-in date. This will increase your chances of staying connected and enjoying your favorite content from day one.

Step 6. Take Care of Insurance

Landlord insurance protects the building, but what about your stuff?

While not always mandatory, renters insurance is highly recommended. It protects your belongings in case of fire, theft, or other damage. You pay a small price for peace of mind.

You may also consider tenancy liability insurance. This covers accidental damage to your landlord’s property, protecting you from unexpected (and expensive) charges. It’s especially relevant if you have a pet, a baby, or a young child.

When considering an insurance company, choose wisely. Read the policy details and pick a plan that fits your needs and budget. Don’t risk it — renters insurance keeps your belongings and wallet safe.

Step 7. It’s Deco Time!

When you finish the formal part, you can enjoy turning a new apartment into your home-sweet home.

Swap bland blinds for colorful drapes, add throw rugs and cozy cushions. Unleash your creativity with removable wallpaper, damage-free wall decals and washi tape. Decorate with photos, artwork, books and greenery to tell your story.

Noteworthy: Remember to check your lease and consult your landlord, but small, reversible touches can transform your rental into a personalized, welcoming space you’ll love calling home!

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