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Moving Timeline: When to Start Planning Your Next Move

Niccole Schreck

Moving to a new apartment can be stressful and expensive. In addition to your rental application fee, first month's rent and security deposit, you'll need to purchase moving supplies and possibly hire a moving company. The good news is you can minimize moving costs and make the entire process go smoothly with a game plan. Here is a timeline to help you get started:

One Year Before The Move:

It may sound extreme, but you should start saving money at least one year before your move. Remember that you will have to pay the security and pet deposits at your new place before you get your deposits back from your current landlord. You may even need to pay rent for two apartments for a couple weeks, depending on your move schedule. Save yourself undue stress by putting a small amount of money away with every paycheck. You'll thank yourself later.

Two Months Before:

-- Purge. Go through your belongings and sort them by what you will keep, what you'll sell or donate, and what you plan to toss. If you haven't used an item in the last year, get rid of it. You can host a yard sale to make some money off the things you aren't taking with you, and donate what you don't sell. Hold on to the receipt for your donations to get a tax credit.

-- Take inventory. Compile a detailed list of all your belongings for insurance and planning purposes. It will help you estimate moving costs and the amount of supplies you need.

-- Organize records. Gather your important documents, such as your children's school records and your medical history, and put them in a safe place. Call your children's schools and notify the office that you will be moving. If your children will be attending a new school, don't forget to enroll them.

Six Weeks Before:

-- Investigate movers. Start planning who will help you move, whether it's your friends or a moving company. If you're hiring help, get quotes from at least three companies, investigate their credentials and make reservations. If you choose to move with help from friends, determine if you need to rent a moving truck. Most people move on weekends, so if you're doing the same, be sure to book your truck rental now.

-- Get supplies and start packing. When you're purchasing packing supplies, get 25 percent more than you think you'll need. You'll save yourself the hassle of multiple trips, and most stores will accept the return of unused items. Each night, pack a box or two of items you don't use on a regular basis, like your out-of-season clothing. Label the boxes, and put them in a corner or spare room so they're out of the way.

One Month Before:

-- Give notice. Most landlords require a 30-day move-out notice. Review your lease to make sure you're giving adequate notice so you don't lose your security deposit or incur any fees.

-- Notify service providers. Set up all utility connection dates so you don't spend your first night in your new apartment in the dark without cable and Internet access.

-- Change your address. Don't miss any important mail. Be sure to change your address with the U.S. Postal Service, car registration and insurance, student loan lenders and banks, as well as any newspaper or magazine subscriptions.

One Week Before:

-- Schedule walk-throughs. Make appointments with your current and new landlord to do a walk-through of each apartment, and document everything with time-stamped photos. This will help ensure you receive your full deposit back at both apartments.

-- Clean. Clean the entire apartment as thoroughly as possible. You might not get part of your security deposit back if you don't. Vacuum the carpets, sweep hardwood floors, dust all surfaces and clean the bathroom and kitchen.

The Night Before:

-- Defrost the fridge and freezer. Defrost your refrigerator, and give it a good cleaning. Not doing so could affect the amount of the security deposit you get back.

-- Pack essentials. On your first night in your new apartment, you don't want to be sifting through boxes to find your toothbrush, clean sheets and phone charger. Pack a box of necessities, and make sure it is clearly labeled.

-- Sleep. You've got a big day ahead of you tomorrow, so make sure you're well rested before you hit the road!

Niccole Schreck is the rental experience expert for rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable apartment and provides tips on how to move.

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