The Ultimate Moving Checklist

There’s nothing that can raise blood pressure and stress levels quite like moving. And while you might not be able to remove all the anxiety, you can certainly dramatically reduce it by planning ahead.

For the most part, you probably know when you need to move in NYC as it correlates with your lease. This means you can start planning at least six weeks in advance of the actual move-date if not sooner. With that said, your timeline might be shortened due to extenuating circumstances (hey, we’ve all been there).

The Ultimate Moving Checklist

The Ultimate Moving Checklist

Moving in NYC comes with its own set of challenges, but this handy checklist should keep you from losing your belongings and your sanity.

Six Weeks Before

  • Go through your apartment and start purging your belongings. It’s amazing how much stuff you accumulate even after a year of living in location. Go through every room and start getting rid of items you don’t need
  • Make a moving binder of everything from your estimates to an inventory of the items you’re moving. It might seem tedious, but it’s much easier to refer back to something when everything is in one place
  • Create a floor plan of your new apartment. If the broker or landlord don’t provide you with layout, then bring your measuring tape and create one yourself. Make sure to also measure your doorway, elevator or stairway to make sure all of your furniture will fit. Armed with measurements, you can plan out exactly what furniture to bring and how you’ll arrange the place, saving you quite a lot of time when it comes to unpacking
  • Research movers. Yes, you can go the budget way and move yourself, but why deal with the stress of traffic and parking when you can hire a professional? There are a variety of movers available in NYC so do your research and find one that matches your budget and requirements. Some movers will only offer the bare minimum while others provide a more extensive service where they’ll even put together your furniture
  • Set aside money for the move. You don’t want to be surprised by any sudden costs so plan out your budget thoroughly. Factor in costs like boxes, supplies (tape, scissors, etc), moving insurance, moving company, travel cost for you and so on
  • Pick your move-in date. Chances are you’re moving in on the 1st of the month, but there might be some cases where you have some flexibility with your move-in date. If that’s the case, try to move on a Friday as you can then spend the weekend unpacking
  • Take time off work. Don’t surprise your work with sudden time off. Let them know in advance that you’re planning on taking a day or two off work to move.
  • Book your movers. The further in advance you can do this the better, especially if you’re moving during peak season from May through September. When you call them make sure to do the following:
    • Any additional services you’d like such as assembling furniture, sending packing supplies, extra stops, etc.
    • Carefully read the contract
    • Purchase moving insurance to cover your belongings
    • Get written confirmation of moving date and costs and store this email/document in a cloud storage system like Dropbox or Google Drive
  • If you have kids, you’ll want to talk to their school to let them know of their transfer so they can send over the new school their transcripts

Four Weeks Before

Now starts the hard part – the actual packing of your items!

  • Throw out or donate all the items that you’re not taking with you. You can do this slowly over the upcoming weeks
  • Create a proper labeling system for your boxes and stick to it, whether that’s labeling by room or type of contents in the box. Keep track of every item in your boxes with a spreadsheet. It sounds tedious, but it’ll be a godsend once you start unpacking to know exactly what items are in each box
  • At the same time, start packing up items. Pack one room at a time starting with the room that has the least amount of essential items and then continue from there.
  • Inform the following places of your new address:
    • Your bank
    • DMV
    • Your work
    • Credit card company
    • Post office (for mail forwarding)
    • Utilities to cancel or transfer them to the new place
    • Friends and family
  • Separate your valuables if you have them. Sure, you can take pictures of them and pack them in with the rest of your belongings, but what happens if they get lost or damaged? Moving companies generally have moving insurance, but most only reimburse you for $100 per pound. So that expensive China set? If it breaks you’ll only get $200 or $300 for it. Take pictures of your valuables and store them elsewhere
  • If you don’t have renter’s insurance, purchase it now for your new place. If you already have one, contact your insurance company and inform them of your new address.
  • Go through your apartment and make note of any touchups you’ll need to do before you move out. Sure, you can leave your apartment as is, but that also means you can’t expect your full security deposit back
  • If you have pets, update their ID tags and micro-chip to your new address
  • Arrange for temporary storage if you won’t be able to move in to your new apartment right away

Two Weeks Before

  • Schedule a cleaning and repair day. The more work you put in, the more of your security deposit you’ll get back. It might cost you extra but make sure to:
    • Paint your walls back to their original color
    • Fix any small holes or patches in the wall
    • Deep clean the bathroom and kitchen
    • Fix any broken tiles
    • Remove any temporary shelving and walls and fix up any damage they might have caused
  • Reconfirm your moving date with the movers
  • Return any borrowed items to your friends and family. You know you have that one item that you’ve kept for years. Time to give it back!
  • Back up your computer. Things can and do go wrong during a move and you don’t want to lose all of your important files
  • Take pictures of your current electronic setup so that you’ll have a reference to how everything was connected when you unpack at your new place
  • Remind your friends and family of your new address.
  • Try to use up the remaining food items in your apartment and make two weeks worth of meals. With all the stress of moving, the last thing you want to worry about is cooking
  • Pack up items in your kitchen and wrap up any fragile items in bubble wrap such as dishes, glassware, etc.
  • Start packing up items in your room and bathroom minus the essential items you’ll need for the next two weeks
  • For pets and children, it might be a good idea to find some care for the during the actual move, so try to find a sitter or family member who can watch them for the day

One Week Before

  • Refill any prescriptions you have and transfer it over to a pharmacy near your new apartment.
  • Donate any unused food items to your local food pantry
  • Research your new neighborhood and find best places for a quick, cheap bite and some cool places to hang out
  • Finish packing everything in your apartment. Make sure to keep a bag with your essentials (toiletries, change of clothes for a couple days, pillow, towel, etc). Your first night in your new apartment, the last thing you’ll want to do is scramble through boxes looking for your toothbrush
  • Confirm with utilities the installation date of internet, gas and electricity
  • Reconfirm care for plans for pet and/or childcare

A Few Days Before

  • Donate or throw out the last of your items that you won’t need
  • Do one final clean of your apartment to make sure it’s spotless.
  • Disassemble any furniture for easier moving. Make sure to keep any screws, brackets, etc. in a convenient baggy and either tape it to the underside of the furniture or label it and put it in its own box
  • Print out your floorplan and have enough for the movers as well.
  • Throw out any dangerous or flammable materials. This includes things like:
    • Paint
    • Aerosol cans
    • Matches
    • Alcohol
  • Take out some cash to tip your movers. Generally, you’ll want to tip $20-30 per mover.
  • Reconfirm everything with your movers again including pick up time, contact number, how many overs will be on hand, the special requests you’ve made, etc.
  • Arrange to get the keys to your new place from the landlord or building management. Most will give the keys to you a few days beforehand, but if they refuse, arrange to have them meet you on moving day
  • Take pictures of your old apartment to make sure everything looks fine just in case your landlord tries to hold on to your security deposit

Moving Day

  • Give your keys to your old landlord or building management
  • Check boxes off in your inventory as they’re loaded into the moving truck
  • Look through every room to ensure no boxes or other items are left behind
  • Give your keys to your super or landlord
  • Perform a final walk through of your apartment and make sure:
    • Lights are off
    • Windows are closed
    • Faucets are not running
  • When you arrive at your new place, check off your inventory of boxes and make sure all of them make it into your apartment
  • Instruct the movers to place the boxes in the appropriate rooms. As well, make sure they also place larger items like couches and mattresses where you have marked it on your floorplan.
  • Doublecheck to make sure all your items have been loaded out!
  • If you paid for furniture assembly, make sure they put it together in the right room and location.
  • Tip your movers!
  • Take pictures of your new apartment and make special note of any damages in the apartment. You’ll want to store this away for later
  • Unpack your essentials and set up your bed
  • If you have the energy, clean up the apartment. A quick vacuuming and mopping will be enough to get rid of any dirt and dust you tracked in during the move
  • Pick up your child and/or pet and bring them to new place

Take a deep breath. You did it! You’ve successfully moved into your new place.