image of apartment moving out checklist

Here’s what to do before the big day. (Source: Sladic/Getty Images)

Moving out of an apartment is hard. Whether you’re upgrading from a studio to a 1-bedroom, or taking a chance on a different neighborhood (or, for the truly bold, a different borough!), you’ll need to somehow transfer your whole life out of your current home. If you’re the last-minute type, don’t just assume you can rip down your posters, toss your things in a suitcase or two, and be on your way. And if you’re a more stress-prone individual, remember that there’s nothing freak out over. Just follow this 10-point apartment move-out checklist.

1. Give Plenty of Notice

Before you even start daydreaming about your adorable, new, balcony-clad apartment — let alone start the actual moving process — it’s imperative to let your current landlord know you’re leaving. Required timeframes vary, so you should check your lease, but typically, you’ll need to provide 30 days’ written notice to your landlord or property manager. If you don’t comply, you could be on the hook for the following month’s rent, which means you’ll have way less money to throw a killer housewarming party.

2. Donate Your Old Stuff

This is a great opportunity to think about donating old clothes, unused furniture and that cozy-but-just-not-your-style scarf collection that’s been gathering dust in your closet. Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Vietnam Veterans of America will literally come to your home, pick up your donations, and leave you a tax-deductible receipt. Aside from amassing oodles of good samaritan points, donating excess stuff also means you won’t be paying to move it.

3. Transfer Your Utilities

You know what’s worse than paying a whopping electric bill at the end of a blistering July? Having to argue with your electric company when you’ve already moved out and are being billed for the new tenants’ multiple AC units. Sometimes your management company will take care of this for you, but often you need to let your providers know that you’re leaving and transfer services to your new home.

4. Exercise Restraint at the Supermarket (For Now)

Sales on family-size cartons of Nutella are always tempting, but as your departure date nears, consider holding off. If you continue your normal shopping habits up until you leave, you’ll find a fridge and pantry full of food that you either need to toss or take. And once you factor in the moving truck, the movers, and all of those extra boxes of food, a 10 percent Nutella discount doesn’t seem like much of a bargain.

5. Review Your Documents

When you moved in, you should have taken stock of all of your current apartment’s issues — any noticeable cracks, breaks and the like. Review your lease and thoroughly check your apartment to make sure that the before and after match up.

6. Schedule an Inspection

Sometimes, surprises are nice: like birthday parties and presents and blind dates that don’t completely suck. Other times — like when you’re moving out of an apartment — surprises are bad. And bad ones often come in the form of monetary penalties. Schedule a walk-through with your landlord well before your move-out date so they can inform you of any changes that need to be made. This way you can address them, instead of just (surprise!) not getting your deposit back. You might need a follow-up inspection if substantial changes are needed.

7. Fix Any Major Problems

It’s expected that rentals will experience “normal wear and tear” that comes someone living in them. If your landlord is feeling reasonable, you don’t need to worry about that. But you are responsible for any other damage you’ve caused. So if you find significant changes during the inspection — like holes where you hung that weird, artsy poster your ex gave you — make sure to fill them, so you can pass the final inspection with flying colors. Grab some spackle for those holes, carpet cleaner for those mystery stains, and get to work.

8. Hire a Professional Cleaning Service

We know, it seems weird to finally pay for a deep clean when you’re about to leave, but hiring a cleaning service will help you in the long run. If you’re already unfamiliar with cleaning services and don’t usually dabble in Lysol products, chances are your apartment is not spic and span. So after you’ve spackled and bleached and scrubbed and things still look a little iffy, consider this option. Paying a bit to ensure a clean apartment increases the likelihood that you’ll get that security deposit back, which is (hopefully) worth more than an afternoon of professional scrubbing.

9. Pack the Car or Truck Like a Grocery Bag

Whether your friends are lending you their pickup truck or you’re renting a U-haul, the same rules for cramming everything in still apply: heavy stuff first, followed by lighter, more delicate items. Use the same reasoning you do at Trader Joe’s: You wouldn’t put that fluffy loaf of bread or a dozen eggs at the bottom of your bag. Nobody wants smashed bread, just like nobody wants crushed family heirlooms.

10. Change Your Address Well Before the Big Day

Make sure to change your official mailing address before you leave, or else you’ll experience some serious lag time and all your important mail will continue to arrive at your former home. You can change your address with the Postal Service so they’ll forward your mail to your new apartment. Also make sure to change any pre-saved addresses, like Amazon, or else that beautiful new jacket might not make it to you in time for next winter — if ever.

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