13+ Tips for Planning Your First Apartment Move | Timeline & Checklist

planning your first apartment move

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A few weeks ago, I moved from my parents home into my first apartment. I looked all over the internet for tips on moving into your first apartment – and didn’t find much! So I decided to write this checklist!!

If you’ve been searching the internet trying to find specific tips for moving into your first apartment, but only finding vague tips – or the same information recycled 10 times over – I got you!

[Note: This blog post was originally published on July 18, 2021. It was last updated on April 4, 2022.]

Tips for Moving Into Your First Apartment

Moving Into Your First Apartment – What I Wish I Had Known

Okay, so it’s useful to know a bit me (Hi, I’m Brianne), so you can plan for your first apartment move.

About My First Apartment Move:

  • I moved like 20 minutes away, so no need for a moving truck for a cross country move!
  • I had almost NO furniture to move. I left the dresser, queen bed, etc, at my parents house.

^^ I did this for a few reasons, mostly because I’m 30 and I want to buy new things. This post will still have helpful info for folks moving into a first apartment on a budget, but I do want to let you know that I’m a business owner and 30 years old (with zero kids and no partners).

I’ve broken this post into 3 sections:

  • 7-12 months before first apartment move
  • 3-6 months before first apartment move
  • 1-2 months before first apartment move

Get out your Google Calendar or planner, and let’s get planning!

*** 7-12 Months Before Your First Apartment Move ***

Okay, here’s what I did to prepare for my first apartment move way before it happened! A lot of blog posts focus only on one part of the move [preparing or unpacking or.. whatever!], so I hope this helps!

Tip #1 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Put $200 + in a Savings Account per Month

One of the biggest stressors for a person moving into their first apartment is planning your budget and getting your money. It’s hard to know how much you’re going to need to save for your new place, and heaven knows I tried to do the research! [Lol, cry!]

I’m currently writing a blog post on how much I think it costs to furnish a new apartment (stay tuned), and in the meantime I recommend putting $200 to $1,000 a month in a savings account to prepare for your move.

Here are a few expenses I was planning for:

  • Packaging materials [boxes, tape, bubble wrap, etc]
  • Buying New Furniture
  • New Dishware
  • Cleaning Products & Supplies
  • Taking work off to move
Moving Into Your First Apartment
Check out this tweet HERE!

Note: I put my moving fund in a NEW bank – not the bank I usually bank with. I don’t think your apartment moving fund should be your regular savings account, and ideally it’s a savings account at a separate bank from where you spend money. (For instance, if your regular bank is US Bank, I recommend opening up a separate savings account at a credit union.)

Why a separate savings account?

Listen, I love online shopping and travel. I put $500 – $1,000 in a separate savings account each month. I put that money in a different account, because I knew that if I had access to it that I would spend it!

Tip #2 – Moving Into First Apartment: Shop Black Friday Sales

Because 2020 was a wild time, I ended up moving into my own place a year later than planned.

BUT while this wasn’t wonderful (ugh), it was really great in that I was able to purchase apartment staple during Black Friday – and I saved a TON of money. I didn’t do this on purpose – for me, it was a bit of luck!

And now, *you* get to learn from my luck, lol!

Moving Into Your First Apartment
See this tweet on Twitter HERE!

I’m writing blog posts on everything I’ve bought for each room in my apartment (stay tuned on that info), and looking at prices I realized I saved a LOT of money by shopping Black Friday sales before moving out.

Now, we don’t want to buy a TON of stuff, because then we have to move it. Here’s what I bought pre-move that saved me $$$:

  • Sharp Vacuum
  • Cookware set (pots, pans, etc)
  • TV
  • Waffle Maker
  • Board Games
  • Swiffer WetJet
  • Hangers

Here are some things you should consider buying on Black Friday (if these are items you want!):

  • TV
  • Dinnerware
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Coffee Maker
  • Slow Cooker
  • Luggage

A couple of days before Black Friday, I looked online to see what would be on sale, and then made a plan.

Tip #3 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Spend a Day at IKEA

Before I moved into my apartment, I spent a day at IKEA (ideally on a slow day during the week). I went through each section, and noted how much things cost that I like.

Put more specifically, I literally went through IKEA and took a photo of the item + price of every item I could think of that I’d need! I then created a spreadsheet, organized by room, to add up costs!

[I chose IKEA, because it has SO MUCH STUFF in one place – and it’s honestly going to be the cheapest option on almost everything.]

Moving Into Your First Apartment

After I went to iKEA, I found that I was looking at about $8,500 for everything I wanted. Because I’m not planning on getting everything at iKEA (I want things to last a long time), I then doubled that budget. This gave me a more solid understanding of what I wanted to have in the bank pre-move.

This exercise was super helpful and calmed my anxiety about moving into my first apartment, because I had a more solid understanding of what items actually cost.

Tip #4 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Clean Out Closet 3X

Okay, I didn’t do this on purpose, it just kind of happened. Because my move was delayed, I ended up going through all my clothing three times.

“Three times?!” I can hear you say. “What is wrong with you?!”

Going through my clothes three times meant that I was able to be more real about what pieces I like, and what pieces I was holding onto. By going through my clothing multiple times, it made it easier to slowly pare items down.

Moving Into Your First Apartment

The first time I went through my clothing, there were a lot of item that I wasn’t sure about giving away. So, I kept those. Then, during the second or third time going through my clothing, I’d be like, “Oh. I decided to keep this 2 month ago, and I still haven’t worn it. It’s time to let this go!”

By having less clothing, it made it easier to move into my first apartment more quickly!

Real talk though, I’m now unboxing and hanging up clothing in my new apartment – and I’m giving more clothing pieces away, lol.

Tip #5 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Create a GIANT Pinterest Board for Decor

Next, let’s talk about planning the style for your first apartment!

Moving into an empty space can be extremely intimidating. I made a giant Pinterest board called “Apartment Design 2021,” and I started it off by going through and pinning decor and rooms that I liked.

Moving Into Your First Apartment
Pinterest board HERE!

For months, I literally just pinned stuff I like, without trying to figure out why. Later on, this was helpful because I could see trends and similarities in what I liked – and didn’t like! Months later in 2022, I still add to this board as I furnish my first apartment.

About 3-4 month before my move, I then went into that MASSIVE Pinterest board, and I added “sub-boards” for different rooms (ie office, Primary Bedroom, kitchen, guest bath, etc).

On my phone, I used the Pinterest app to move images to their specific room. From there, it’s been a lot easier to plan out the aesthetics and decor of my apartment!

Check out my apartment decor Pinterest board HERE!

*** 3-6 Months Before Your First Apartment Move ***

In this section, I share what I did to prepare for my first apartment move!

Tip #6 – Moving Into First Apartment: Start Looking at Furniture

At this point is when I started looking at furniture. I pinned furniture I was interested in to Pinterest, and I also comparison shopped across websites.

2 Hot Tips:

  • Search the item name on Google Shopping: Copy the text that has a product name, ie, “XXX Brand Gold Canopy Bed” and then paste it into Google Shopping. This will show you what websites are selling that bed and the prices. I also ]
  • Save the product image and upload to Google Image Search: Many home furnishing companies sell the exact same item – sometimes with varying prices!

Note: DON’T buy anything yet, unless it’s on MAJOR sale. It’s way easier to have items shipped to your new address, rather than moving them yourself!

It’s way easier to have items shipped to your new address, rather than moving them yourself!

Tip #7 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Start Collecting Moving Supplies

Moving Into Your First Apartment

It sounds kind of silly, but I recommend that you start collecting boxes at this point!

From saving boxes from regular deliveries, to snagging boxes from a friend or family member’s move – this can save a lot of stress! Save newspapers, bubble wrap, etc.

I shoved all of this in a corner of my parent’s garage, and I’ve heard of other folks flattening boxes and putting them behind a couch or under a bed!

*** 1-2 Months Before Your First Apartment Move ***

In this section, I share what I did to prepare in the final stretch for my first apartment move!

Tip #8 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Compare Renter’s Insurance and Purchase

It’s so stinking easy to forget about renter’s insurance! For this reason, I recommend getting renter’s insurance set up before packing.

There are whole blog post (and blogs!) dedicated to renter’s insurance. HEre are a few quetions I made sure to ask:

  • Does this cover damages in an earthquake?
  • Does this insurance cover damages if the apartment floods due to pipe breaking?
  • Does this insurance cover damages if there’s a flood due to a natural disaster?
  • Does this insurance cover damages if there’s a flood due to a natural disaster?
  • What is a misunderstanding that customers commonly have about what it is covered?

Tip #9 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Set Weekend for Move & Ask for Help!

Now that you’re closer to the move (yay!), it’s time to enlist friends and family to help you!

I recommend choosing a weekend and then asking folks for their help. I had an afternoon dedicated to moving heavy objects with mv grandpa’s truck, and I had everything ready to go for folks to pick up and move for me.

I didn’t get a moving truck or hire movers, mostly because I don’t have a lot of furniture. Because I’m self-employed, I moved over the course of a week, taking a few loads a day. This made things less stressful for me!

Also, if you’re moving to a big city, you might need to file a notice with the city to move – and there might be rules on booking a moving truck and where to park it! Be sure to ask your landlord or leasing company about this!

Tip #10 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Move Utilities into Your Name (Don’t forget WiFi!)

Moving Into Your First Apartment

Every city has different rules for how soon you need to notify your power, electric, gas and waste companies about your move.

I called the companies as soon as I signed the lease, to know when I should call back and get my utilities switched over. I then put 3 reminders in my calendar to call and do this, as well as an additional reminder to call a few days before moving to make sure everything was good to go!

So, here was my timeline:

  • Signed Lease 3 Months in Advance: Call utility companies with move-in date. Either set up service switch then, or get info on when to call back
  • 2-3 weeks Before Move-In: Call to switch services into your name before move
  • 1-2 weeks Before Move-In: Call and make sure everything is set up!
  • After Move-In: Call to confirm services

I know this seems like a LOT of phone calls, but I know that companies can have a lot of miscommunications. I’d rather call a few times to make sure I’m good to go, rather than deal with a headache!

WiFi is automatically included in my rent, but if you need to set up an appointment for WiFi, plan on doing that 3-4 weeks MINIMUM before your move!

Tip #11 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Set Up Forwarding Address with Post Office

About a week before my move-in date, I went to the USPS website to set up mail forwarding. I also paid a $20 fee to have mail forwarded for 6 months. (The initial period for mail forwarding is free.)

Looking back, I wish I had gone a step further and updated my new address on:

  • Amazon
  • My various banks // financial institutions // credit card companies
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Subscription boxes [ex: clothing rental subscriptions, like Nuuly]

Tip #12 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Take Photos & Clean

Something I forgot to plan was cleaning and repainting at my parent’s house. I had my bedroom, bathroom and home office – and I forgot to plan deep cleaning those spaces.

My parents are pretty chill, so I’m going back and doing that cleaning a few weeks after moving! Make sure to plan how/when you’re going to clean your current space before moving!

Tip #13 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Pack Suitcases for a Two Week Trip

Moving Into Your First Apartment

Okay, this last moving tip saved me! Because I’m moving while also running a business, I needed to be able to still live my life while unpacking!

To plan this, I packed 3 suitcases as if I’m going on a 2 week trip. I had clothing, meds, makeup, toiletries, etc, all set put in suitcases. Having all of that separated made it so much easier to live my life in the chaos of moving!

As I’ve unpacked and gotten sorted, it’s been SO NICE having those items in one place!

I also put valuable documents and info in these suitcases, as losing something like a passport would be a huge bummer!

Tip #14 – Moving Into Your First Apartment: Furniture Delivery FTW

Ok, I alluded to this last apartment moving tip earlier on, and I want to be sure to fully explain.

It is much easier to have items *shipped* to your new apartment, than it is to pack up items and *move them* to your first apartment.

For my first apartment move, all I had to do was hit “checkout” on a number of websites, having the following items delivered [or picked up and taken directly to my new apartment]:

  • Dining Table, bed frame, etc
  • Bath linens like towels and bath decor
  • Hangers and organizers

Bonus Tip: Share an Amazon Wishlist!

My wishlist HERE!

People are going to want to send you housewarming gifts, so I recommend putting together a list of 20 or so items you’ll need pretty immediately for your new apartment.

You can share this list on social media, as well as send it to the family email list. I recommend choosing items that are $5 – $100, and I focused on having a majority of my items listed be around $20-$30.

Make sure to have fun things on your list that folks would have fun buying as a gift!

Here are some things I put on my wishlist:

Moving Into Your First Apartment

There’s The Guide to Your First Apartment Move!

I hope that this list helps you plan your first apartment move! Below, I’ve shared some other blog post that I think will be helpful:

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