Guest Blogger: Kris Lindahl REALTOR® CRS CLHMS
Moving is a daunting process: Between packing and getting organized, hiring movers or DIYing a move, and settling into the new home, the steps may seem endless. Use this pre-unpacking checklist to tackle all the little things that come after a move that aren’t unpacking the boxes.


The rental may have been turned over move-in ready, but this phrase means different things to different people. If the home isn’t as clean as a new renter likes it, the first step is cleaning whatever is not up to snuff. Areas that may have been overlooked include closets, drawers, medicine cabinets, refrigerators and freezers, basement and attic storage space, and entryways and exits. It’s far better to clean before unpacking because it’s easier to get into the nooks and crannies.

Call the Utility Providers

Unless utilities are covered by the landlord, new renters must call the utility company to get the services transferred over to their names. Renters should provide the move-in date, so the previous occupant is billed for service that occurred earlier. Many renters will want to schedule cable and internet services for entertainment. Since it may take a couple days to get a service technician to the apartment, it’s a good idea to make the call soon after move-in.

Examine Possessions

Renters who hired movers to move for them should review their possessions for damage. Boxes that seem crumpled or torn may be damaged. Their contents can be inspected for harm. IF moving electrical appliances in the winter, allow time for them to reach room temperature before plugging them into electrical outlets to avoid damage. Movers will accept liability for electronic items that are physically damaged, but will not accept liability if a unit does not turn on or has video quality issues, if there was no external damage to the item. Furniture should be inspected for scratches, stains, or other damage that was not there before the move. A renter who finds evidence of damage should file a claim with the mover or use their insurance policy to cover repair or replacement costs.

Register the Vehicle and Obtain Parking Permits

Renters who moved to a different state will need to register their vehicle. It’s easiest to do this right after the move; once unpacking starts, this can fall to the back of the list. Renters in cities may need neighborhood parking permits to avoid getting ticketed by local police. Municipal authorities can advise renters on the documentation they need to obtain necessary permits.

Change the Mailing Address

If this was not taken care of before the move, renters should change their mailing address with the post office to continue receiving their mail. This can be done online or by visiting the local post office.

Create a List of Emergency Contacts


Renters must not assume that emergency numbers are the same in their new location as they were in their old community. One of the first things to do, for safety’s sake, is make a list of emergency contacts and place it on the refrigerator. This list should include emergency and non-emergency police, fire, poison control hotline, the local emergency room location, contact information for next-of-kin, phone numbers for utility providers, service providers, and any other numbers that are need-to-know.

Arrange Furniture

Arrange the furniture before starting in on boxes. Renters can use online planning tools ahead of time to plan where everything should go, or they can experiment with ideal layouts in the space. Try out a couple different layouts. It’s easier to switch things around when there’s only furniture to move.Most moving companies have a one set policy meaning that if you plan ahead you can have the movers place your furniture right where you need it rather than moving it yourself later on.

Walk Around

Take a break from these tasks and walk around the neighborhood. It’s nice to know what’s nearby and renters can grab some take-out while their dishes are still packed.

After all of these tasks have been crossed off the to-do list, it’s time to unpack the boxes. Take it slow, work one room at a time, and enjoy the process of settling into the home.

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