Rental move-in checklist

Household 2 min read

Moving into a new home or apartment can be a seamless and stress-free process with a little bit of advance planning. Last month we talked about questions to ask when renting a home or apartment, and considerations during the lease-signing process. Now that you’re holding an executed lease in hand, it’s time to get started on your move-in checklist.

Planning ahead

Planning ahead during the pre-move phase can save you time and energy during the move itself. Take pictures and measurements of your new home and sketch a plan for where you want your larger furniture pieces to go. Whether you’re using a professional moving company or strong friends, they’ll appreciate only having to move the piano one time to its final destination.

Boxes should be labeled according to the room where they’ll go in your new home. Taping a piece of paper on the door with the room’s name on it (for example, “Bedroom #2” or “Office”) will ensure that your boxes make it to the correct destination on moving day.


Your landlord should provide you a list of utilities so that you can have service transferred to your name. Don’t wait until the day before your lease starts, however, as it often takes several business days to complete the transfer. You can usually avoid disconnection and reconnection fees by calling a week or two in advance, and most utility companies will waive any deposit if you have good credit.

In addition to electricity, water, and gas, don’t forget to ask about trash and recycling, and the security system if there is one. It’s also helpful to ask for a list of local landscapers, housekeepers, babysitters, veterinarians, and more. Many landlords keep a “concierge list” to assist their new tenants.


It’s never been easier to change your address and forward your mail now that you can do it online through the U.S. Postal Service. We recommend setting up mail forwarding at least a week before your move to ensure a seamless transition. Since the forwarding order only lasts a year for first-class mail, be sure to update your address with billers, family, and anyone else who regularly sends you mail.

Move-in essentials kit

Moving day can be pretty chaotic. Pull all the items you might need together ahead of time and make sure they travel with you. Our recommendations include tools, pen and paper, scissors, box cutters, lease and moving paperwork, phone charger, and cleaning items.

Move-in walkthrough

Your landlord will likely provide you with a move-in checklist to document the condition of the property upon move-in. Don’t forget this important piece of paperwork as it protects you from being held liable for existing damages! If your landlord doesn’t give you one, there are dozens you can print from the internet, complete, and return (keep a copy for yourself). We also recommend that you photograph and even video the condition of the home to back up your checklist with visual evidence. If you use your phone, it will add a date and time stamp to your images; just make sure you save them to a backup location.

A little planning and forethought goes a long way towards ensuring that the move-in process is hassle-free, and lets you enjoy your new home sooner.

Christy Black and Amy Boyle co-author the DIY and home decor blog 11 Magnolia Lane. With frequent work-related moves between them, they are self-professed experts on moving, renting, and fixing up new (and not-so-new) homes.

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