1. Complete Your Move-In Checklist
Once the keys to your new rental are handed over, it can be so tempting to dive right into unpacking, painting, decorating and getting settled. But before you even open the first box, be sure to take an hour or so to complete the move-in inspection checklist. It’s not only easy to forget about and lose when you wait, but it is much easier to see and document issues before your stuff is everywhere. Why is the inspection form so important? It (along with any pictures you take) is your official proof of the unit’s condition when you moved in. If your agency/property manager would try to slap you with charges upon moveout, it will be the only thing used to mediate disputes.
2. Transfer and/or Set Up Utilities
Utility situations depend on what kind of rental you move into and the policies of your agency and/or city and state. In some situations, you will walk in the door and nothing will work (water, lights, heat, etc.). In this scenario, you will need to call each utility, open accounts and officially start service for your unit. Don’t know where to start? Your property manager/agency should have the names and numbers of the main public works departments in your area.
Most rentals, however, typically already have all the utilities “turned on,” but you will still need to call each and every one to transfer them to your name. Be forewarned: Just because a specific utility is working does not mean it has been officially turned on and/or transferred. Previous tenants may have forgotten to cancel service; and after payments stop rolling in, companies can and will instantly turn off service without notice until you open new accounts in your name.
Last but not least, before you start setting everything up, get clarification on which utilities are included in your rent and covered by the property management, and which are your responsibility. While you will most likely be responsible for water, electricity, gas, Internet/TV and trash, other fees such as landscaping, home association fees, routine pest control and more may already be covered!
Sharing expenses with a roommate? Here are some tips for splitting up the utilities!
3. Change Your Address
Even if you post your new address on Facebook or send out cute change-of-address cards, you still need to officially change your address with the U.S. Postal Service as well as all your personal banking, insurance, school/work and shopping accounts. Changing your address with the U.S. Postal Service can be done online or in person, and it ensures that all of your mail will be forwarded to your new home for 60 days. However, it will eventually stop forwarding your mail, so be sure to notify specific companies and accounts yourself. Beyond the obvious ones (banking institutions, insurance companies, loan agencies), don’t forget to notify your place of employment (and update your tax documents!), school databases, Amazon (and other favorite shopping sites) and medical providers.
Make sure you don’t miss any important agencies!
4. Update Your Rental Insurance
Along with updating your address for your insurance company, you may also need to open or adjust your rental insurance policy. First, if you don’t have rental insurance, be sure to get a basic policy that will protect you and your things from theft, natural disasters, floods, mold and other unexpected situations. If you already have renter’s insurance, your policy may need to be adjusted based on your new living location and/or type of rental property. Policy prices are affected by geographic location as well as specific amenities, such as the presence of sprinklers and security systems.
5. Make It Your Home
Last but not least, spend some time and effort making your new place your home. Even though you’re living in a rental, you can often still paint, decorate, express your personality and make your rental truly feel like you. Use the ideas shared on our Apartment Living Blog and search Pinterest for “renter-friendly décor” ideas to transform your rental into a place you love to be.
In addition to getting settled inside your rental, it’s equally valuable to get settled outside the walls of your home too. Get to know your neighbors, and discover everything your new neighborhood has to offer. Beyond the local shops, restaurants and businesses, also explore parks, libraries, theaters, museums, churches and other cultural landmarks, as they will all help you feel more integrated and at home in your new community. And just to be safe, make sure you locate the closest public services, such as the police station, fire station, post office, DMV, recycling center and a bank, so you can easily find them when you need them.
Moving into a new rental is about so much more than picking the right place, unpacking your boxes and checking out the corner bar. From finishing move-in inspections and sorting out utilities to officially changing your address and updating insurance policies, take care of these nuisance items as soon as you move in. Checking off these logistical and legal tasks will ensure you quickly and easily settle into a normal daily life in your new home.