Moving Tips for New Renters

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This article originally appeared on The Mortgage Reports on March 30, 2018. 

In this article:

Moving tips for new renters can save you time and money (and perhaps even preserve friendships). Here are the top three:

  • Create a plan a few weeks out. Even if everything you own fits into a backpack, you’ll need to get rid of some things and acquire others.
  • Call your friends or line up movers, and choose your moving day.
  • Make a Plan B. You may need to spend your first night elsewhere if things go awry.

By asking questions, learning the facts, shopping around, making lists, packing carefully and planning early, you’ll be in a great position come moving day. And you’ll be in a better frame of mind to enjoy the days that follow.



Being proactive pays off

A soon-to-be renter’s worst enemy is procrastination, says pro organizer Robyn Reynolds.

“This is your first time renting, so it’s normal not to know what to expect. You may not be sure how to conduct the move,” she says. “That’s why it’s imperative to plan ahead. Prepping early is the key.”

Nan Hayes with Caring Transitions, a relocation, estate sales and liquidation services provider, agrees.

“Start organizing for your move eight weeks out, if possible,” Hayes says.

Determine what you need

At least a few weeks before moving day, plan for what you’ll want (and not want) in your new digs.

  • Develop a space plan. “Measure your future rooms and doorways so you know what will fit before you move in,” says Hayes. “Record the location of cable outlets and light switches so you can plan where to place furniture. Figure out which rooms you will need lamps for.”
  • Learn what’s included in your unit. “Check to see if any basic furnishings, appliances, window treatments, shower curtains and other items are included in the rental,” Hayes adds.
  • Imagine living in the unit. You may be doing things you have not before — cooking, cleaning, laundry, caring for a pet — and you don’t want to discover that you have no broom, dishes or extra sheets after you move in.

You’ll need more money…

You probably already budgeted for first and last month’s rent and a deposit, but wait; there’s more.

  • Set aside a budget. Amanda Sullivan, professional organizer and author of Organized Enough, says an average move into a first rental can cost $4,000. That includes around $900 for a moving service, $100 for boxes and tape, and up to $3,000 or more for furniture.
  • You can save money by acquiring used furniture and enlisting friends and family to help you move. “If you’re on a smaller budget, only buy what you require. You don’t need a TV in every room, for example,” says Kristin Trzoski, a Realtor with Prime Real Estate.
  • Shop around for items the unit lacks. “You’ll at least need a table and four to six chairs, a sofa and easy chair, side table, coffee table, TV and stand. Your bedroom will need a bed frame, mattress and bedding as well as a dresser,” says Hayes.
  • Have large new purchases shipped directly to your rental, if possible. “It’s ideal to have that stuff set up before you and the movers arrive with all your stuff,” says Sullivan.

…And less stuff

  • Take inventory and pare down. “Get rid of old, unwanted and unused items like clothing, furniture and small appliances that just take up space. When you move, you want to use the least amount of people to help. You want to take the least number of trips,” Trzoski notes. “The bigger the moving truck, the more gas you will use. And the more time you will spend loading and unloading.” Hold a garage sale or donate unused goods to charity.
  • Assemble your moving crew. “Interview a few moving companies,” says Sullivan, who cautions against choosing the cheapest service. “Ask how many movers they send. Find out how long the job will be. Learn if the price they quote is an estimate or the actual price. Ask for quotes both with and without packing and unpacking. And see if your new building requires your movers to be insured.”

Paperwork and miscellaneous

A few weeks before the move, you’ll also want to nail down your moving day and take care of a multitude of small tasks. However, these tasks, if forgotten, can have big consequences.

  • Select a move date. “Book the moving company or do-it-yourself rental truck. And be sure the date works for your landlord and those helping you move,” says Reynolds. Note that some buildings may not allow moves during certain hours or days.
  • Arrange matters with your utility companies. “Be sure that electric, cable, internet and phone services will be operational the day you move in,” Reynolds notes.
  • Collect your moving gear. Gather boxes, tape, packing materials, markers, a stepstool, hand truck and other supplies. “Try to find used boxes, which will save you money,” Reynolds says.
  • Make insurance arrangements. Consider purchasing rental insurance. Notify your auto insurance company of your new address.
  • Make travel arrangements if you are moving long distance. Book your airline ticket well in advance. Or have your vehicle inspected before the big drive.
  • Make a video of your belongings. If your stuff gets damaged or lost during the move, this can help when filing an insurance claim.
  • Arrange for mail forwarding. Change your mailing address online with the U.S. Postal Service. Contact your banks, credit cards, subscriptions and other companies to inform them of your change of address.

Counting down…

At least a week or two before moving, follow these tips:

  • Finish packing. Wrap fragile items carefully. Use plenty of crumpled newspaper or other packing material in each box. Tape and label box exteriors well. “If you have fragile items or are going cross country, let professional movers pack at least those items,” says Sullivan. “Labeling by room name will help you sort and unpack more quickly.”
  • Pack an overnight bag. Include your new keys, snacks, pain reliever, medications, laptop, first aid kit and change of clothes. “This prevents you from tearing through boxes to find these things once you arrive,” Sullivan says.
  • Arrange to have your unit cleaned. Contact your landlord and request this.
  • Get plenty of rest right before the big day. Moving is hard work on the body and mind.

The big day

On the day of the move, be sure to:

  • Stretch and prepare your body. Lift carefully with your legs, not your back. Get help with any big, heavy or bulky items. Take breaks every so often. And use a hand truck when possible.
  • Load your rental truck properly. Put larger furniture items in the truck first and then your boxes. This will better secure bigger items in the back and prevent them from falling out suddenly when you open the truck, says Reynolds.
  • Aim to arrive at the rental before your movers do.
  • Manage the moving crew. Tell movers precisely what to load and unload and where.

And don’t forget to express your gratitude to your friends who helped you move (pizza and beverages are definitely in order). And unless the professional movers were rude and threw your stuff all over the lawn, it’s customary to tip them individually, enough to buy their own pizza. Start your new life in your new place in the nicest possible way.

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