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 eight to ten 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).

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

Eight Weeks Before

The earlier you can start your moving plan, the better. There’s a lot of tasks you need to get through and breaking it up into manageable steps makes the process less overwhelming. You can begin preparations as early as ten weeks, but eight weeks is probably the sweet spot. Once you’ve decided not to renew your NYC lease, you should start the process immediately. There are a few things you can do now to prepare for your NYC move:

  • Create a digital folder for moving day and fill it with photos of quotes receipts, and other documents
  • Request time off from work for the day of the move and the day after. If you’re moving during the work week, you might also want to take the day before off. The earlier you submit your request, the more likely you will be to get approved.
  • If you have children, start researching new schools. NYC allows your child to attend any of the public schools, but you might want your child to go to someplace that’s closer to home
  • Inform your landlord/building manager that you will not be renewing  your lease! They should provide you with the appropriate paperwork to opt out of renewal.

Six Weeks Before

Now is the time where you really want to get started with the nitty gritty aspects of your NYC move. You’ll need to finalize details and lock down your professional NYC movers.

  • Go through your apartment and start purging your belongings. It’s amazing how much stuff you accumulate even after a year of living in a location. Go through every room and start getting rid of items you don’t need.
  • Create a floor plan of your new apartment. If the broker or landlord doesn’t provide you with a 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 NYC Movers? 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.
  • Talk to friends and family about the move. You’ll want to make sure they know what’s going on and have your new address on hand. This is also a great time to set up a going away party so you can spend a bit more time with your loved ones. Don’t forget to invite the parents of your child’s friends especially if you might not see them for a long time.
  • Collect free boxes for your move. Sure, you can buy boxes, but why not save money by recycling used ones? With the prevalence of online shopping, your neighbors, friends, and family likely have plenty of boxes to spare. If you want sturdier boxes, ask restaurants and liquor stores if they have any you can take.
  • 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.
  • Find a new doctor, dentist, and vet in your new area. While it might not be a big deal if you’re moving within the same neighborhood, if you’re switching boroughs you definitely want to find something more local.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Stop purchasing new items. The less stuff you have to move, the less time it will take the NYC moving crew. More importantly, it’s also less stuff you have to unpack. If you do have to buy something, buy as small a quantity as possible. Get a roll of paper towels or a quart of milk instead of a gallon.

Two Weeks Before

Two weeks might seem like a lot of time, but you still have a lot to do! Use this time to fix up your apartment and start packing.

  • 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!
  • Backup 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

You’re in the home stretch now! Moving day is close at hand and this is the time to go into overdrive to get everything done. The earlier in the week you can finish all the tasks, the less you have to do.

  • 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.
  • Prepare a walkthrough with your landlord. Make sure to take pictures during this time as proof that your apartment is in good condition and there aren’t any problems. Send these pictures immediately to the landlord as evidence just in case they try to keep your security deposit.
  • Reconfirm care for plans for pet and/or childcare

A Few Days Before

The last few days before you make your NYC move can be super hectic. Besides packing the last of your things, there are a few other tasks you should complete before moving day.

  • 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 floor plan 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
  • Check the weather to see what it will be on moving day and make adjustments as necessary

Moving Day

The day has finally come! So long as you already completed all the steps above, it should be a breeze, especially if you hired trusted NYC movers. With that said, there are a few things you should.

  • 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 floor plan.
  • Double check 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
  • Introduce yourself to the neighbors. You don’t have to do it while you’re moving, but it’s a good idea to say hello shortly after you move in
  • Install curtains for privacy and to block the sun.
  • If you used a broker, thank them for helping you out!

Take a deep breath. You did it! You’ve successfully moved into your new place. The next few days will be filled with a lot of activity including unpacking, going grocery shopping, and looking at new furniture and decor for your place. However, the actual moving process is over!

Hopefully, the above moving checklist can keep you on track and make your next NYC move a breeze. If you really want to make moving day easy, make sure to hire reputable NYC movers like us!



What should I do if I need to make a last minute move?

Last minute moves can be tough. The less time you have, the more stressed you’ll be. If you have the budget, you can hire NYC movers to pack everything for you and move your stuff. Many even offer storage solutions so you can keep your belongings with them while you look for a new place. Of course, you might not have the budget for it. If that’s the case, pack as quickly as possible and get rid of everything you really don’t need. That includes things like old books, clothes, shoes, etc. From there, pack up and find a temporary place to live for the time being. Hopefully, you’ll be back on your feet in a few months.

Why do I need to tip movers?

While tipping isn’t mandatory, it’s still good etiquette when moving. Of course, if your movers did not provide good service, you do not have to tip. Only give a tip if you felt like the movers did a good job. Don’t let them bully you into providing a larger tip either!

Where can I sell my old stuff?

There are plenty of places where you can sell your old things. Check out Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist if you don’t mind responding to emails. Otherwise, you can host a ‘garage’ sale in your apartment to get rid of things quickly. For whatever is left over, donate to goodwill. Only throw out items if they are in bad shape.