Your new apartment lease is signed. Your move-in date is scheduled. Now it’s time for the hard part: getting ready for a stress-free move into your new space. Use this checklist to help make moving day go as quickly and smoothly as possible.

1. Hire a moving company

Budgeting for movers may seem like a costly expense, but whether you are moving across town or across states, hiring help can make your transition to a new home a peaceful one. This is especially worth considering if you have bulky furniture and appliances you need to take with you.

Most movers set prices by the number of rooms and the estimated time for the move. The distance of your move, as well as any professional packing, storage or large, heavy items, also will impact the cost.1 So, the more you declutter beforehand, the less you’ll need to spend on the move. Here are other things to consider when you hire movers:

  • Keep important documents and belongings with you. That includes IDs and passports, tax records, jewelry and medications.2
  • Schedule your move for the earliest slot in the day when movers are still fresh and moving faster – it may save you money.3
  • Count your boxes before you sign off on the move. It will be harder to recoup losses from the moving company if you already signed paperwork that asserts the move was completed with all belongings.2

2. Pack smart

Before you pack up, sort through your belongings.4 A move means a clean slate, so you have the chance to decide what you actually want (or can reasonably fit) in your new place. The rest you can either toss or donate.4

Once you've sorted, you're ready to pack. These tips can help you stay organized:

  • Pack a bag for the first few nights in your new place.5 That might include your coffee maker and coffee mug, a plate, utensils, dishtowel, soap and medications. It should also include essentials like toilet paper, toiletries, pillow and a blanket (i.e., what you'd pack for a weekend trip).
  • Label and number each box.3 This will reduce time spent looking for certain items. Write down the total number of boxes, too. This will help you figure out if anything goes missing on moving day.3
  • Pack your breakables together and label them as fragile. This reduces the chance of these items breaking during the move.3 Consider transporting fragile boxes on your own instead of leaving them with movers.
  • Categorize your kitchen.3 This room will likely be one of the first you unpack. Use labels so you can quickly locate items.
  • Keep your plants together.6 Your green pals can easily get damaged during the move, so consider transporting them yourself.

3. Get your accounts and utilities in order

In the bustle of a move, it's easy to forget about utilities. Not only do you have to schedule utility services to begin at your new apartment, but you also need to shut off utilities at your current place.3 That includes:

  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Cable and internet

Schedule your new services to begin one day before the move.3

While you're at it, you'll need notify the Department of Motor Vehicles – most states require notification of address changes within 30-60 days of a move.7 Also, update your address with your bank, change your USPS mail forwarding address and redirect subscription services to your new apartment.6 Don't forget to notify your renters insurance company that you're moving. Call them to review policy options based on your new location.

4. Make arrangements for your pets on moving day

Moving day can be especially stressful for pets. Arrange for them to stay with a friend or boarding facility on the day of the move. This will ensure they are safe and won't slip away while your back is turned and the doors are open.3

5. Get your old place ready for new tenants

Check with your landlord to see what your move-out responsibilities are, such as cleaning or repainting walls, so you have the opportunity to recoup your full deposit.6

If you're short on time, consider budgeting for professional cleaners. Make sure the cleaners are bonded and insured in case there's property damage. If you prefer to clean on your own, see if you can get a friend to help.

The unexpected can always happen, even on a perfectly planned moving day. If you give yourself plenty of time beforehand to schedule movers, pack and get everything in order, you’ll have a much easier time settling into your new space.

Need to store your things before you move into your new place? Learn how your renters insurance can help protect belongings you may need to put into storage.