The end of an apartment lease presents you with several options. You can stay in the same home, or you can decide to move. Maybe you’ve been thinking about having a shorter commute, more space, or a better school district. But how do you start the process of moving? It can be overwhelming at first. However, deciding what to do when your lease is up begins with a single question.
Stay or Move?
Your first big decision towards the end of your lease is whether you would like to renew it or move into a new apartment, condo, or house. If you know your current set up works perfectly, or if you are sure you need more space or a shorter commute, this is an easy step. If you’re on the fence about either choice, a good place to start is looking at your options. Check out some other apartments in your area and compare the price, utilities, and location to your current living space. It might be time for a change.
You also need to find out when you need to tell your landlord your plans. Your lease should have included how much advance notice the landlord requires before you either renew your lease or move out. If you plan to stay, make sure to renew your lease in time to prevent your rent from being raised. If you decide to move, you usually need to give a minimum of 30 days written notice, so the landlord can begin finding a new tenant.
Getting Ready to Move
If you decide to move, there are a few things you should line up before the day comes. This makes your life simpler and means you can enjoy this exciting experience.
Find a New Apartment
This is by far the most intense of your tasks. Apartment hunting can be overwhelming; however, finding a home that suits you better than your current situation is worth it. If you can, bring a close friend or family member with you to help make the process more fun and to keep you grounded.
In addition to giving written notice that you are moving out, you will need to make sure your apartment is clean. In order to get your security deposit back, you should check your apartment thoroughly for any damage you can fix that isn’t caused by living in a space. For example, paint over the chips in the doors, but don’t worry about faded paint from sun coming in the window. Clean the stain on the carpet, but loose door handles are probably fine.
Leave Your Keys and a Forwarding Address
Not returning your keys is also probably going to stop you from getting your security deposit back. It means the landlord needs to bring in a locksmith to put a new lock on the door, which will probably use all the money you put down to begin with. You also need to leave a forwarding address for your new home, so any mail that is accidentally sent to your old place can be passed on to you.
Packing can be an overwhelming task. The idea of getting all your belongings boxed up in a way that you can easily sort and access once you move is certainly a lot to worry about. Because of this, it’s helpful to have a game plan for packing before you start.
Go through your clothes, papers, décor, and any other large category of things you own to decide what you still use and need and what you can sell or donate. This helps with packing—it obviously gives you less to pack—and it can help with your fresh start.
Pack as You Go
A few weeks before your move, start packing things you don’t use regularly. Décor is usually a good place to start, followed by off-season clothes, specific kitchen appliances, and other things you won’t need for two or three weeks. If you work at it a little at a time, it gets less overwhelming, and you get to see yourself make progress towards your exciting change.
Pack your items by the room they belong in, so you can easily sort the boxes into the right rooms in your new home. This makes unpacking easier too, because you won’t have to search all your boxes to find a specific stock pot or bathmat—you already know where they are. Make sure you label your boxes, by writing, numbering, or color-coding, so they get to the right spot.
Know How to “Hack” Your Packing
Look up some little tips and tricks for specific, tricky items. You might stack your dishes on their sides in the box, not from the bottom up, to prevent breaking. Or use saran wrap and plastic bags to keep your toiletries bottles from leaking. Put your heavy items, like books, in smaller boxes so they are a manageable weight to carry.
Pack an Essentials Box for Immediate Needs
Keep your essentials, like toilet paper, cleaning wipes, tissues, a Wi-Fi router if you’re technologically savvy, sheets, snacks, soap, and whatever else you know you’ll want as soon as you’re inside your new home. Chargers are a good idea for this box too.
Save the Important Things
Make copies of all your important paper records, like birth certificates, social security card, tax claims, and insurance papers. If anything happens to your belongings during the move, you’ll still have these with you. Less vital (but still helpful) is to take a picture of your electronics’ cord set up. This way you’ll have a reference and setting up your tv and any other devices in your new home will be easier.
Empty Your Refrigerator
Food is hard to pack and transport, but it’s also not fun to end up throwing out a lot of good food because you can’t take it with you. To solve this problem, stop getting groceries a week or so out from the moving date. If you’re able to work through what you have, you’ll end up with less to throw out. You can make it a game to try to find recipes that use most of the ingredients you already have. Anything you have left that’s unopened and unexpired can be donated to a local food bank, so if you know you won’t get through all of it, find somewhere to give your food.
Consider Looking into Local Moving Companies
Some companies offer packing options, which can help your peace of mind and get something off your plate. Moving companies know what the limits of boxes and trucks are, and they are familiar enough with packing and unpacking to do it quickly. However, moving companies can’t pack all your belongings, for mostly legal reasons. You’ll have to pack up all your perishables—like food and medication—and dangerous items like lighter fluid, matches, and paint. It’s also a good idea to pack your valuables yourself, just to be on the safe side. Before choosing this option, make sure to read the information about it carefully, and if possible, get insurance on the packing process as well as moving.
Moving can be a daunting task, especially if you haven’t been through it recently. Because of this, it’s good to have an idea of how to succeed on the day of. You can start prepping as soon as you know you’ll be moving, even if it’s months away. The more you’re able to do over time, the easier the actual process on your moving day will be.
If you know you’ll be moving a few months out, you can try to find a day that will be cheaper to hire a moving company. Ends of months and weekends are the busiest times, and holiday weekends, like Labor Day or Memorial Day, are worse. If you’re able to move on a day during the week, or a weekend in the middle of the month, you’ll end up saving some money.
Research to find a good moving company in your area. You can use rating sites, like Yelp, or the Better Business Bureau to find a reliable and respected moving company in your area—like Alliance Moving and Storage—to make your move smoother. A good moving company can make all the difference between a stressful change and a fun day.
Make a Game Plan
Make a rough timetable and list of what needs to be done on moving day. You can’t anticipate everything, but having a general plan helps the day go more smoothly. If you have friends helping you, make sure they know before the day what time they need to be at your house. Your timetable and list will help everyone coordinate jobs, and you can start assigning tasks or asking for volunteers as soon as people arrive.
Make sure you’ve communicated with your new landlord or real estate agent about what time you will be arriving at your new home, if applicable. You should also look up directions and make sure you and anyone else driving is familiar with the route. The last thing you want is delays caused by getting lost or needing to stop multiple times to check your GPS again.
Prioritize Your Items
Pack the moving truck and any cars you are using by category of items in boxes. So, pack all your kitchen stuff in one section, then your living room, then bathroom, and so forth. Find the order that works best for you. Whatever you need last before leaving your old apartment is probably also what you will need first in your new one.
Keep your especially important things with you. Your important documents, unpack-me-first box, and food should be packed into the car you drive. This way, if something goes wrong, you at least have your immediate necessities.
Don’t Forget to Eat and Drink
Make sure you’re eating enough and staying hydrated. Moving day is busy, and you have a lot on your mind—it’s easy to forget to drink enough water or stop for meals and snacks. You can help prevent this by packing a small cooler with drinks and snacks for the drive to your new home, or with a meal to unpack and eat as soon as you’re there. It also helps to have a plan for food after you’ve unloaded your boxes and furniture from the vehicles. Moving in is a great thing to celebrate, so if you can, look up some restaurants nearby that deliver. If you have people helping you, buying food is always a good thank you, too. None of your friends will turn down free dinner, especially after a long—but good—day.
Finding a Good Moving Company
Having a moving company help with your move makes it much easier. Moving trucks have more space than cars and pickup trucks, so you can fit more things in one vehicle. Movers themselves are trained professionals and make your day go a lot smoother by knowing how to pack and unpack a truck and are licensed to drive it. Even if you have friends of family helping you, using a moving company is a good idea. But how to find one?
While you do have nationwide chain options, anyone who has been in a locally owned restaurant or store versus a chain can tell you local businesses are a better way to go. Not only are you supporting an independently owned company, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get better service. Local is going to be your best bet for an exceptional moving experience.
To find a good local company, you can start with sites like Yelp or use reviews on Google Maps. Another great source is the Better Business Bureau, which accredits businesses and can help you chose the best option. Better Business Bureau also helps you find information about customer complaints, how long the company has been in business and how long it’s been accredited with the BBB, and other basic information. Using these resources helps you make the best choice for your move.