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12 Tips When Moving into Your First Apartment

Janine DeVault

Dec 05, 2022 8 min read

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Moving into your first apartment

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Moving into your first apartment is a huge step toward your independence, but it can also be overwhelming. Finding a rental that fits your lifestyle and budget is essential to your comfort and quality of life. In this article, we’ll walk you through what to consider when searching for the perfect apartment, everything you need to do (and buy) before you move, and how to coordinate your moving date. 

Let’s dig in! 

Take Time to Find the Right Place

Before signing a lease on an apartment, you need to be sure that it’s somewhere that suits your lifestyle and budget, and that it’s in a location where you’ll feel comfortable for the duration of your lease. Here are some points to consider to help you select the right apartment. 

Apartment Research

Thorough research is key to finding the perfect apartment. Looking carefully at what is available on the market will help you ensure that the unit you ultimately end up renting is fairly priced. 

There are countless places to search for rentals online, and the most popular options may vary from city to city. Sites like Facebook Marketplace, CraigsList, Rent Seeker, and RentCanada are great places to start. You can also follow local property management firms and peruse local Facebook groups to find additional listings. 

Choose The Right Location

Finding an apartment with a convenient location will help you cut down your time and money spent commuting to work, social events, and even the grocery store. As you review apartment listings, evaluate the neighbourhood and whether it fits your lifestyle. Of course, you should also select a location where you feel safe and comfortable. 

Ask yourself if the location is convenient for getting to work. What about visiting friends? Does it have parking? If you don’t have a car, is there easy access to local transit? Are there amenities nearby, such as a grocery store, gym, or anywhere else you may frequent? If not, you might wish to continue your search. 

Property management

Read Your Rental Agreement

Always read your rental agreement thoroughly before signing to ensure you understand what the rules of the rental are and that the terms are fair. Violating your lease could put you in an uncomfortable position with your landlord, and egregious violations could put you at risk of eviction, so don’t sign blindly. 

If there are any terms you disagree with or need clarification on, don’t hesitate to bring them up with your landlord. You may even be able to negotiate certain terms. 

Inspect the Apartment

Before signing a lease, you should thoroughly inspect the apartment. You don’t need to hire a professional for this, but you should walk through and take note of the condition. Often, apartment listing photos may mask flaws and damages, so don’t take the unit’s condition for granted.

Look for signs of water damage, mould, loose fixtures, flaking paint and stains. Don’t hesitate to check the taps to ensure the water runs properly and the sinks and shower drain. Flush the toilet to ensure it is working correctly as well. Test the doorknobs and ensure the locks are functional. You should also watch for signs of rodent or insect infestations.  

When you rent an apartment, you’re expected to return the rental in the same condition it was in when you took possession (minus normal wear and tear). An apartment inspection will ensure you and your landlord are on the same page about the apartment’s condition before you move in. If you notice anything broken or worn, make a note and take a photo for your records. This includes windows that don’t open properly, loose hinges, or scratches on the floors.

Moving process

Things to Consider Before You Move

Planning ahead will ensure you have everything you need in place before you move, from your finances to the physical items that will make your new house a home. 

Set Up a Monthly Budget

Create a monthly budget before you start your apartment search so you know exactly how much you can afford to put toward rent each month. This will help you narrow your apartment search to options that truly fit your budget and help you resist the temptation to overextend yourself for a particularly dreamy rental. 

Adhering to a monthly budget will ensure that you set aside enough money each month to cover your rent, utilities, and other expenses. Making on-time payments is key to protecting and building your credit score and staying on good terms with your landlord, so keeping your finances organized is essential.

Here’s what to include in your monthly budget:

  • Advanced rent 

  • Your damage deposit

  • Fees associated with the rental process

  • Utilities (water, gas, electricity, internet, etc)

  • Monthly food costs

  • Transportation expenses

  • Personal items

  • Shopping

  • Tenant insurance

  • Monthly subscriptions (Netflix, gym membership, HelloFresh, etc)

  • Student loans or debt payments

  • Entertainment fund/general spending money 

When you first move into your new rental, you will have some additional expenses, but these will not be ongoing. Some landlords may request that you pay the first and last month’s rent in advance when you take possession of the rental. Even if this isn’t the case, it’s wise to have at least two rent payments saved up when you first move in to eliminate financial strain. Additionally, you should expect to pay a damage deposit (usually half the first month’s rent), and there may be application fees or contract fees if you’re leasing through an agent. 

Plan to save up some money for apartment-related purchases when you move, too. Even if you think you have everything you need, there will inevitably be items you overlook. Small things like a dish tray, broom, or garbage receptacles all add up, and you’ll be glad you set aside some extra money to purchase them. 

Get Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s insurance (also known as “tenant insurance”) covers you and your belongings from theft, fire, and other risks. Tenant insurance also includes liability coverage in the event of an accident within your home or if you accidentally damage the landlord’s property. It may also cover your additional living expenses if you have to vacate your rental for repairs. 

Some landlords require proof of renter’s insurance upon move-in, but even if they don’t, it’s an essential expense. Fortunately, policies are typically very affordable and provide immense peace of mind. You can source quotes online and purchase tenant insurance through an insurance broker. If you own a vehicle, you can likely bundle tenant’s insurance with your car insurance. 

Very first apartment

Set Up Utilities

Before you move, contact your utility companies to coordinate activation, so you don’t find yourself moving into a new apartment with no power or water. If you already have utility accounts in your name, you’ll need to transfer the service from your old home to your new one. If you don’t have utility accounts yet, contact the service providers to create them. Be prepared to pay a deposit when setting up brand-new accounts. 

Update Your Address

Updating your address is essential for ensuring you don’t miss any important bills or mail when moving into a new apartment. A month or so before your move, begin making a list of all the organizations you need to contact. Each time you receive a piece of mail, add the sender to your list! To ensure you don’t miss any outliers, arrange for mail forwarding through Canada Post for the first few months after your move-in date. This way, you don’t have to worry about any bills or essential communication falling through the cracks when you move into your new rental. 

Buy Items for Your First Apartment

Purchasing all the household essentials prior to moving in will help you make your new apartment feel like home much faster. Here’s a room-by-room breakdown of everything you might need when moving.

Kitchen

  • Dishware

  • Cutlery

  • Pots and pans

  • Knives

  • Cutting board

  • Cooking utensils (spoons, spatula, etc)

  • Food storage containers

  • Grater

  • Can opener

  • Corkscrew

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Mixing bowls

  • Dish drying rack

  • Dish towels

  • Dishcloths

  • Oven mitt 

  • Hot pads

  • Sponge

  • Dish soap

  • Trash can

  • Trash bags

  • Coffee maker

  • Toaster

  • Microwave

Living & Dining Room

  • Sofa

  • Coffee table

  • Reading lamp

  • Table and chairs

Bathroom

  • Toilet brush

  • Toilet plunger

  • Cleaning products

  • Bath mat

  • Towels and washcloths

  • Trash bin

  • Shower curtain

  • Hand soap

  • Shampoo

  • Toilet paper

Bedroom

  • Bedframe 

  • Mattress

  • Mattress pad

  • Sheets and pillowcases

  • Comforter

  • Pillows

  • Clothes hangers

  • Laundry hamper

Additional household items

  • Broom

  • Dustpan

  • First aid kit

  • Vacuum 

  • Laundry soap

  • Glass cleaner

  • All-purpose cleaner

Before The Move-in Date

As moving day approaches, it’s time to ensure your apartment and your belongings are prepped for the move! 

Declutter Your Belongings 

Moving is an excellent opportunity to get rid of all those things you’ve shoved into the back of your closet and forgotten about. After all, you don’t want to bother packing, transporting, and unpacking things that you never even use.

As you pack, consider each item and decide whether you want to keep it. Create piles for items to donate and items to throw away. Sometimes, you can sell things you no longer use on Facebook Marketplace or in a local consignment shop. 

Have The Apartment Ready Before Moving

You’re probably eager to move into your new apartment as soon as possible, but before you do, make sure it’s move-in ready. If you intend to paint any of the walls, do some last-minute dusting, or have any shelves or fixtures installed, plan to do it before you move in. These chores are much easier (and faster) without your belongings taking up floor space. 

First apartment moving checklist

Hire Movers

Take the pressure off your friends and family and hire movers to help you with your move. It will save you a ton of time and frustration when the day comes. Don’t wait until the last minute to book them. With most leases ending at the end of a month, this is their busiest time. Call several weeks ahead to get quotes from different companies and make your choice accordingly. 

If you are purchasing any furniture items for your new rental, coordinate their delivery for your moving day. That way, you can get your movers to help you bring them inside! 

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of moving parts to consider when coordinating a move, which is why planning ahead is crucial. Taking the time to think through each of the points discussed above will ensure you are well-prepared when the time comes.

Janine DeVault
Janine DeVault

Janine is a writer who focuses on topics such as credit education, money management, and renting best practices for tenants and landlords. Janine loves to travel and has lived in Canada, the US, and Mexico.

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