Apartment Advice

Your Full Guide to Moving Out for the First Time

This article comes to us as a guest contribution by Hawthorne SLC, an apartment complex that offers modern townhomes in downtown Salt Lake City.

It’s finally that time.

You’re ready to move out of your parents’ house and into a place of your own. You are about to make one of the biggest transitions of your life, and you might be wondering where you should begin.

That’s where this guide comes in!

You’re about to get answers to a lot of questions you might have about moving out. The aim of this moving checklist is to provide you with a steady foundation for the big day, so you can go into it feeling ready and eager.

This comprehensive guide to moving out for the first time will take you through quite a few sections:
  • Figuring out Your Finances
  • Finding Somewhere to Live
  • Dealing with Furniture
  • Updating Your Address
  • Turning on Your Utilities
  • Getting Packed
  • Moving
  • What to Do After the Fact

Keep reading to find all the information you need to tackle your first big move!


1. Figure out Your Finances

Cost of Moving Out for the First Time
Every penny counts when you’re moving out for the first time!

The first thing you’ll need to calculate is how much you can afford to pay in rent every month. This amount will determine which apartments you should be looking at and which ones are out of your price range.

How Much You Should Pay in Rent

To figure out your maximum rent allowance, you need to subtract all the essentials from your monthly income after taxes.

Essentials are monthly expenses you can’t avoid. Your phone bill, car insurance, car payment, credit card payments, and groceries would all fall under this category.

Once you subtract the essentials from your income, the remaining amount is what can be put toward your rent.

It’s a good idea not to spend every penny you have left on rent. A little wiggle room is always necessary to decide on a reasonable rent limit and stick to it!

Save up for Moving Expenses

Second, but no less important, is the matter of moving expenses. Even if you cut back on as much as possible, there will still be costs associated with your move.

You should save up enough money to cover the security deposit on your new apartment as well as your first month’s rent.

If you have enough stuff that a moving service is necessary, you should save up the money to pay for it ahead of time too. While they aren’t always needed, hiring professionals to move your things for you will make things a lot easier when moving day rolls around.

Expect the Unexpected

One last thing you should save money for is the inevitability of surprises.

No one enjoys unexpected expenses, but it’s best to be prepared for them. You should have as much extra saved as you possibly can.

$250 is a good amount to shoot for, but more is always better.

You can never be too careful!


2. Find a Place to Live

Apartment hunting is a task to take seriously. This is the place you’re going to be living for the foreseeable future, and you want to make sure you pick the best option available to you.

You shouldn’t just go with the first thing you see because it’s the easiest. There may be something better out there. Consider all your options before choosing.

One of the things that should factor into your decision is how close each apartment is to the things you need nearby.

For instance, if public transportation is a necessity, then you will need a place where it’s easily accessible.

Just as important is an apartment’s location to the things you enjoy. While the gym, the park, or the library may not be the first thing on your mind, they can help your new apartment feel even more like home.

You don’t have to give up doing things you like just because you’re out in the world now.

Check the Place Out

Once you’ve picked a place to live, it’s crucial that you check everything out.

You should always make a record of any damages left by previous tenants. Having this proof before you move in may be the difference between getting your security deposit back when you move out or not.

The apartment complex or landlord may have a premade checklist for recording the condition of your new apartment upon your arrival. After completing the list, both you and your landlord should sign it to make it official.

When you eventually move out of the apartment, your checklist can be compared to the condition you are leaving everything in. It will provide all the proof you need that you aren’t responsible for nail holes and nicks in doorways that you never caused.

Are You Going to Have a Roommate?

Another factor of apartment hunting is deciding if you are going to live alone or with someone else.

Roommates are an excellent way to cut back on how much rent will cost you. It may even give you a broader range of apartment options due to having other people helping out with expenses. You could afford a larger apartment or one in a better location.

Related: Pros and Cons of Roommates (vs. Living Alone)

Having a roommate is, of course, not an obligation to moving out for the first time.

A lot of people would much rather live alone and have their privacy. That may be why they are moving out in the first place. But it is a decision you need to make before you make the final choice on where to live, so you know how much space you’re going to need.


3. Furnishing Your First Apartment

Furniture for Moving Out
Moving out for the first time is your chance to truly express yourself! Why not do it via furniture?

Some of the most frustrating things to move come in the form of big, heavy furniture.

If you want to move in with furniture you already own, there are ways to keep it safe and sound.

Aside from moving with your furniture, you could always purchase new pieces for your apartment after you move instead. This may be the better option if you’re moving a long way. Just make sure to put some money aside for it, or you may end up with a bare home for a while.

Move Your Existing Furniture

Taking furniture with you can be a nerve inducing experience. There are steps you can take to ease your worries about the state of your furniture in the moving truck. Moving supply companies have protective items for furniture readily available for anyone that needs them.

Your mattress may benefit from being wrapped in a plastic mattress bag. You can use furniture pads to cover and protect appliances. And foam corner covers may keep your coffee table from getting scuffed during the move.

While you’re picking up your moving supplies, it may be in your best interest to invest in some wardrobe boxes for your clothes. These boxes are made for simplicity.

Just take your clothes out of the closet and hang them in the box — no folding required. After you move in, you can quickly transfer them to your new closet wrinkle-free.

Buy Furniture

Sometimes it’s not possible to take your furniture with you. In that case, you’re going to need to buy some.

For someone moving out on their own for the first time, it may not be an option for you to purchase everything brand new.

Secondhand furniture by way of yard sales and thrift shops is a great way to give well-loved pieces a new life with a little DIY.

Buying on a budget is a lot easier when you go on the hunt for these deals. Keep an open mind while you’re looking. Not everything will appeal to your design sensibilities, but it may still keep you perfectly comfortable.

Buying furniture online is also a good option to consider. On top of being able to search for exactly what you want at the price you need, you have the added convenience of home delivery.

If you don’t have a vehicle capable of hauling large things, you’ll be better off having someone else bring it to you.

Related: see our first apartment checklist to find the 15 essentials that you need to have


4. Update Your Address

One thing that may slip your mind after you’ve decided on a place to live is updating your address.

There are several parties you should notify once you’ve signed the lease on your new place to make sure they know how to reach you after the move.

What Needs Updating:
  • Driver’s license and vehicle registration
  • Car insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Your bank (make sure you order new checks as well)
  • Your work
  • Voter Registration
  • The post office for forwarding mail

These are the most important things that will require your new address. If there are other things you want to be sent to your apartment, such as subscription services, you will need to update those as well.

You should also move any prescriptions you have to a pharmacy close to you if you’ve moved a good distance away.


5. Turn On Your Utilities

Utilities When Moving Out
Don’t forget about the essentials!

Utilities are essential to everyday life. They include your water, electricity, gas, sewer, and sometimes trash services.

The utilities in your apartment may already be on and ready to go when you arrive.

In that case, you will just have to get them transferred to your name to start paying for them. Ask the landlord for the company’s information so that you can call and have it all set up.

If your utilities aren’t turned on yet, you may be responsible for doing it yourself. If they aren’t included in your rent, have them turned on or transferred before moving in.

You should call the company that takes care of these things in your area once you know your move-in date. Set up a time for someone to come out and turn everything on for you. You may not even have to be there when they do it.

Set up TV and Internet

TV and internet services aren’t technically necessary for survival. But, they’re still often considered as utilities, and you should find a provider before you move in.

Research service providers in your area so you can decide who provides what you need at a price you can afford.

Before getting anything new installed, such as new cable lines, it’s best to consult your landlord. They may have certain restrictions on what can and can’t be put in. Not everyone wants a satellite dish on the roof. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

After you’ve decided on a provider, you can set up a date and time for them to send someone to install everything. You will more than likely need to be present when these things are turned on, so it’s best to schedule someone to come out a day or two after your move-in date.


6. Packing and Moving Out

Now comes the exciting part.

You’ve got everything settled, and you’re ready to get into your own place!

But your journey isn’t over yet. Getting packed and actually making the move is the biggest part of it all.

Pack Everything Up

Don’t leave everything for the last minute. You don’t want to be up all hours of the night right before you move because you didn’t leave yourself enough time.

Pack things up little by little in the weeks leading up to the move to prevent unnecessary stress.

Free moving boxes are not a hard thing to come by. You can get all your packing done without having to spend a dime on brand new boxes for your stuff.

Places like grocery stores, liquor stores, restaurants, and recycling drop off locations can provide you with more boxes than you can handle. You may even be able to grab a few empty boxes from family and friends.

As you are packing, leave everything most essential to your everyday life for last. Create a box and call it your Essential Box. Make sure to mark it well.

In this box, you should put everything you know you’re going to need (like toilet paper) within the first 24 hours of moving into your apartment. It’s the box you will unpack first, and it will save you a lot of headaches once you’re settled.

Related: How Much Does A Moving Company Cost?

Moving Day

It’s the big day, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to get an early start.

Get up well-rested and have yourself a good breakfast to prepare for the day ahead. No matter how little work you’re doing in the actual move, it’s bound to take a lot of energy out of you.

If you are using a moving service to help you get from one place to another, make sure you have some cash on hand. Your movers are doing a lot of hard work for you, and it’s always nice to give them a tip for it.

Try not to let the stress of adulting get to you.

You’re prepared!

You’ve got this. It’s okay if everything doesn’t go just as you planned. There are a lot of moving pieces involved in moving out.

Just go with the flow, and everything will get where it needs to go.


7. Settling into Your First Apartment

Relaxing in Apartment
The most important part.

Now that you’ve officially moved out, you can start to make your new apartment your own.

The first thing you’re going to want to unpack is your shower curtain and your bedding. Trust me — everything is better after a hot shower and a power nap.

The sooner you can put up your curtains, the better. If you don’t have curtains yet, cover your windows with sheets or blankets until you can get some. It’ll make it easier for you to feel at home — and sleep — with the windows somewhat covered.

After you have everything in your apartment, one of the first things you should do is make a run to the grocery store.

Pick up enough food for at least a few days so you don’t have to constantly eat fast food while you’re unpacking. Besides, having food in your kitchen will make your new place feel more like home.

The entire experience of moving out for the first time can leave you dizzy, to say the least.

It’s the most spectacular and terrifying roller coaster.

Take a deep breath and hold on tight.

Handling everything from financing to furnishing doesn’t have to send you for a loop. Make your way through the process, scream your head off if you must, and let this guide carry you from the start of this wild ride to the finish.

Related: The 53 Kitchen Essentials for Your Brand New Apartment


Last, but not least, give yourself a pat on the back!

You’ve done it. You’ve moved out. It’s a big step, and now you can officially say you have conquered it.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your first night in your new home. You deserve it.

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