THE BLOG
11/06/2013 09:29 am ET Updated Nov 07, 2013

The Ultimate Moving Guide for First-Time Renters

Congratulations! You landed a new apartment! Now what?

For first time renters, maneuvering through the apartment rental process does not end with the notice that you secured a new place. There are many details to consider after you've successfully tackled the apartment search and begin preparing to relocate that may not be spelled out in your lease. In this post we'll discuss some of the most important and not-so-obvious factors to keep in mind along with recommendations for making your move seamless and stress-free so you can start enjoying your new home the minute you walk in the door.

When preparing for your move, one of the biggest challenges is deciding how you will physically get your belongings from their existing location to your new home. Depending on the quantity of items you have to transfer, distance of your move and amount of heavy lifting you're willing to do, you have a couple options at your disposal.

Hiring Professional Movers

If you have a lot of stuff to move, a large amount of heavy furniture such as sofas and wardrobes, or are looking for a moving solution that requires the least amount of lifting on your end, enlist the services of a professional moving company. While this is a convenient approach, it is one of the more costly moving options and does require upfront research to ensure you receive a competitive rate.

You'll want to begin the process of investigating moving companies at least two-three weeks prior to your move in date as availability may be limited. In some cases, cities require you to obtain a permit to allow a moving truck to park on a city street and unload your belongings which can take a minimum of five-seven days to secure. Check your city's policy and keep this in mind when calculating the time and cost involved in hiring a professional moving service.

As you research local moving companies, be sure to check out reviews from past customers to ensure the company has a good reputation for being reliable and professional, and also to avoid any risk of scam. Yelp is a great resource for learning about others' firsthand experiences with moving companies.

We recommend obtaining and comparing price quotes from several companies so you're better able to determine which option is right for your needs. In most cases, movers have a minimum time limit for which they charge, usually between three-four hours, and an hourly rate, typically based on how many individuals they need to send to assist with moving your belongings. There can also be fuel surcharges added to a moving company's basic services and minimal charges for extra supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap or tape that they may need to supply. Be sure to take note of these details in your conversations so you can make the most informed decision about which moving company is best for you.

A great way to minimize the cost involved in hiring a moving company and also expedite the relocation process on your move-in day is to have all your belongings boxed and furniture wrapped and ready to be placed onto the truck before the movers arrive. By having everything organized in advance you won't incur any added fees beyond the transfer of your belongings from one location to another and it will dramatically speed up the process of getting you settled in your new home. Make sure to label all your boxes clearly so movers have an easy time identifying where to place each box in your new apartment.

Most moving companies offer insurance on all boxed belongings for as low as $0.60/box, which is a good way to protect your things in the case of an unexpected accident.

DIY Move

If you don't have many large pieces of furniture to move, don't mind minor physical labor and are looking for a budget-friendly moving solution, consider renting a moving van or utilizing your own vehicle (if its size permits) which you can pack and unload. Rental companies such as U-Haul allow you to choose different size vans or trucks at various price points depending on how long you need them and how much stuff you will be moving, along with the option to rent moving dollies to assist with your move. U-Haul also sells basic moving supplies including boxes of all sizes, sturdy packing tape, bubble wrap and other packing supplies.

We do advise you enlist the help of friends, family or neighbors to move heavy or fragile items like your sofa or television to avoid risk of injury or damage to your belongings.

Mail Services

As you pack up, make sure to register your new address with the USPS (it's only $1!) so nothing important gets lost in the mail during your move.

Updating Your Billing Address

Once you've moved into your new place, you'll need to update important accounts with your new billing address. These include credit and debit card accounts, cable and internet provider accounts and online subscription services like Netflix and iTunes. If you have any prescription refills or information stored at a local pharmacy, you can call and have them transferred to a pharmacy conveniently located by your new home as well.

Renters' Insurance

At a minimal cost of $12/month on average, renter's insurance is well worth the investment and should be added as a priority item to your moving checklist as a first time renter. Renter's insurance protects your most prized and personal possessions from fire, theft and vandalism.

Household Supplies

Before your move-in day, stock up on basic cleaning supplies and make sure to pack them along with the rest of your boxes as you'll likely want to give your new home a quick scrub before unpacking your belongings and settling in. Common cleaning supplies can be bought in bulk as they have a long shelf-life and by obtaining the basics ahead of time you'll save yourself an extra trip to the store on moving day, giving you more time to enjoy your new place!