New Apartment Checklist

Moving doesn't have to be a chore. We'll keep you on task!
Moving doesn't have to be a chore. We'll keep you on task!

Moving into a new apartment can be a fresh step into the next chapter of your life -- whether you're heading across town or to another state. There are many things that need to be done before you can occupy your new home. And one of the easiest things you can do to make this process exciting and manageable (rather than overwhelming!) is to create to-do lists for yourself. A smooth move is all about categorizing moving must-dos into lists.

I've found that using a few targeted checklists that all address specific things is key. As someone who's moved 16 times in the last 10 years, trust me: Creating these dockets saves you time and unnecessary stress in the long run!


The new apartment checklists that I cover here should help you track your progress, stay organized and keep records that protect you, your financial independence and all your prized belongings.

Feel free to adapt my suggestions to your situation. For example, I'm a pen-and-paper kind of gal. A sheet of paper that I can fold and put in my pocket is perfect for accessing at the hardware store or at home as I take care of things for an upcoming move. But maybe a checklist on your cell phone or day planner would be more useful to you.

Even if you're only moving a few miles away, you'll be part of a whole different community. Your new apartment will feel more like home if you get to know the people in your new network. If you feel safe, knock on your neighbors' doors to introduce yourself. If you get a positive vibe, throw a housewarming party and invite folks living nearby. Creating an opportunity to talk and get to know one another is a great way to kick off living in your new home.

But before you unpack any boxes, you'll need to get organized. Get started on the next page.

Apartment Furniture Checklist

Before you move, it's helpful to create three different furniture checklists. First, do a walk-through of your home, working your way from room to room, writing down all the furniture pieces you want to keep. This rundown is helpful once you unpack: Either cross off items as you go or after you've finished as a way to make sure nothing was left behind or lost.

While you're forming this first checklist, draw up another one for pieces you don't want to keep. Remember, this is a perfect time to simplify your life by ditching the things you don't use or like. You can always find replacements that you dig a lot more, or simply enjoy your home with less clutter. Whatever you decide to do -- donate your haul to a charity, give it to a friend or sell it at a garage sale or on Craigslist -- get rid of this stuff! Use the list to hold yourself accountable as well as to organize and track your progress.


Lastly, about a month before you start boxing up your belongings, start recording any furniture you need to buy. Use this list to guide you in shopping for sales and sticking to your budget. Because furniture can easily get damaged during a move, I'd recommend shopping for these additions after you've moved into your new place. However, if your employer is paying for relocation costs, it can be much less expensive to buy everything you need before you move so that you don't have to foot the bill for delivery.

Apartment Supply Checklist

Start collecting boxes well before your scheduled move.
Start collecting boxes well before your scheduled move.

A supply checklist is perhaps the most helpful inventory you can have on-hand. All kinds of general materials you'll need before or after you move go on this tally. Categories include: cleaning agents, tools, moving equipment like cardboard boxes and dollies, and anything else you can think of. Some common individual items are shelving, drawer liners, shower curtain liners, back brace belt for support and newspapers and bubble wrap (if you don't have professional movers helping you). This tends to be a sizable list.

I like to knock out this one on the computer in Excel because the grid format lets me create columns that I can easily use to order my list: item name, date needed, store that carries it, price, room it's going in. Print out a copy; cross off and add entries in pen when you're not around a computer. Update those changes in the Excel file every week or so as needed, printing off a new copy to work from each time.


If you're tight on time, you may want to categorize items by the stores that carry them. This way, you can get everything in one place at one time, instead of buying supplies piecemeal over the course of multiple trips.

Another great way to use a supply list is to buy items for specific rooms all at one time. For example, if your current kitchen needs some deep cleaning to pass an upcoming walk-through with your landlord, buy the oven cleaner, heavy-duty mop, scrub pads and everything else you need at one time, get the job done, then buy items for the next move-out project.

One set of supplies that you might forget is food for fuel on moving day. To stay hydrated and energized, pick up bottled water and snacks that don't require utensils or plates, such as apples or granola bars. And speaking from personal experience, an ice-cold beer after a long day moving is a great reward worth putting on this list!

Handling a big life decision like moving is a major milestone in growing up and expressing your individuality. Can you guess what's coming up on our next new apartment checklist?

Apartment Decorating Checklist

When you go apartment hunting, take along a camera. It's unlikely you'll be permitted to stop by much before moving in, so working from photographs is your best bet for designing a d├ęcor scheme for your new home.

After deciding on an apartment unit, take photos of each room. This will help you plan the space, such as where to position furniture or hang shelves. Knowing ahead of time where you'd like to put big or heavy items saves you (and your back) the hassle of moving them more than once. How would you like the couches arranged in the family room? What wall should your bed's headboard go against? These are questions worth answering before you take possession of your new apartment, if possible.


These pictures will also help you remember the color of walls, tile work and flooring, as well as where windows are located so you can coordinate new accessories or furniture.

Sometimes, the color of your decor is largely dictated by an apartment's existing features (cabinets, wall color and flooring). But if it's up to you, here are two big things to keep in mind when deciding on a color palette:

  • You can create fluidity and flow throughout your home despite the smattering of colors you introduce to it by selecting colors in the same "family." For example, if your kitchen is a deep cranberry color, sea foam green in the adjoining dining area probably wouldn't look too hot because the colors clash in tone. Go with other jewel tones, such as rich greens or even a chocolate brown, instead.
  • Greens, blues, purples and other cool colors tend to make you feel cooler, literally, while reds, oranges, yellows and warm colors have the opposite effect.

Once you have a rough decorating game plan, it's time to jot down a checklist of all the things you need to create the design you want: paint, window coverings, throw rugs and accessories like pillows and candles. Be sure you record only things that don't already appear on your other lists! Remember, financial independence is always better than being in debt, so if you have to forego some items to stay out of the red, wait until you have more cash flow to support your decorating tastes.

The new apartment checklists featured so far cover the things you need to acquire. The checklist coming up can really help you with all the things you need to do before moving into your new place.

New Apartment To-do List

You can transfer most utility accounts online.
You can transfer most utility accounts online.

There are many things that need to be taken care of before you move. Here's an ordered sample list to get your started:

  • Give your current landlord notice of intent to move out, in writing. Your lease will specify how much notice you're required to give; 30 days is common. In your letter, ask your landlord to confirm she received the notice.
  • Schedule an exit walk-through with your landlord. Do this soon after you give notice. A couple of days before the walk-through, call to confirm it. Also, ask your landlord to bring her checkbook for the security deposit (your lease, however, may allow her a month or so to return it).
  • Clean your apartment. You're expected to return the apartment to the same overall condition as the day you moved in. If you do a good job cleaning, you should get your security deposit back in full.
  • Take photos of rooms, including walls, floors and fixtures. These photos are your insurance against any claims your landlord may make of a mess or damages. Once you receive your security deposit, feel free to toss the photos.
  • Do an exit walk-through with your landlord. If your landlord doesn't provide an apartment checklist that she initials or signs during the walk-through, I'd recommend penning an impromptu one. All it needs to say is that your landlord finds the apartment in good condition and that, consequently, you are to receive your security deposit in full. Both of you should sign and date it. If there are any problems, spell them out on the form.
  • Transfer utility accounts, like Internet, cable and your landline. To spend less money and gain more financial independence, you could cancel some accounts altogether, like your gym membership or Internet if your new apartment complex has a workout facility and free Wi-fi.
  • Submit a change of address form with the post office. This will ensure that any mail delivered to your previous address gets routed to your new residence for a few months. You need to notify other parties of your new address, too. Here are some to keep in mind: credit cards holders, your bank or credit union, phone provider, health club and professional organizations where you're a member. Also, be sure your family, friends and employer update your address in their accounts.

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