Renter's Guide

Moving Into A New Apartment

Table of Contents

Plan Your Move-In Date

Coordinate with your new landlord so that by the time you arrive at your apartment, the previous tenant will have moved out and all work that needed to be done on the apartment is completed. If the apartment was already ready for move-in, you should have received the keys at lease signing. If not, you’ll receive the keys closer to your move-in date.

Make sure to review the rules for move-ins as buildings have different rules. For example, certain buildings will not allow you to move-in in the evening, while other buildings may require you to apply for a move-in day and time-slot. You may also have to reserve elevator time with either the doorman or the building super.

If you’re using a moving company, make sure to ask your landlord or building management company if a Certificate of Insurance (COI) is required. The COI is a document from the moving company’s insurance company that verfies that the company is in fact insured. There should be no charge for a COI.

Weekend moves are considered the best but sometimes they won’t align with the start of your lease. In that case, try aiming for a few days after the start of the lease.

How to Find a Moving Company

Okay, so you’ve decided that you want to use the services of a moving company. You’ve just saved yourself a lot of headache! You can find options for a moving company and their user reviews on sites like Yelp and Google.

Call ahead or email the companies to make sure that they’ll be able to offer you the services that you require while still remaining within your budget. Some moving companies will ask you ahead of time for an inventory of boxes/furniture you want moved in order to give you an estimate.

Important: Moving companies will charge more for higher floor walk-ups. You should also expect to tip the movers more if they are working during extreme conditions (heat, snow, etc.)

Taking Inventory

Moving is always a great chance to figure out how much stuff you’ve accumulated since the last move. Regardless of whether you choose to donate, throw, gift, or sell, this is a great time to get rid of items that you no longer need.

Having a hard time throwing away your personal belongings? A good rule of thumb is to remember the last time you used the item – if you haven’t used it in the past three months or won’t be using it again in the near future, considering dumping it!

You could also run into a jam if the stairwells or elevators in your new place are too narrow for your old furniture to fit. In that case, a trip to an IKEA or other furniture store may be in your future!

As always, consider donating or recycling your clothes and books!

Packing Tips

There are many ways to pack and organize your belongings. One efficient way is to start packing room by room and sort items into boxes depending on what kind of category they fit into. Another strategy is to start packing items that you won’t be needing anytime soon (i.e. off-season clothing, kitchenware you rarely use, books you won’t be reading).

Be prepared by making sure that you have more than enough boxes and packing tape. Other items you might need include:

  • Sharpies for labeling boxes (this will make your life much easier when unpacking)
  • Scissors
  • Small Zip-lock bags for storing loose items
  • Rubber bands or twisty ties
  • Bubble wrap or newspapers for covering fragile items

Most people will buy their boxes, but it’s also possible to find free/cheap boxes by asking local stores if they have any unwanted clean boxes. Good stores to ask are grocery stores, liquor stores, and supply stores.

Tip: Never try to over-pack boxes. They WILL break. Also, try to reinforce the bottom of the boxes with extra tape to lessen the chance that your box will burst open from the bottom! Also, be VERY careful about packing liquid containers – make sure they are sealed tight!

Instead of packing your valuables and personal documents away into boxes, put them into a backpack or small suitcase that you can keep close to you during the actual move.

Disposing of Old Furniture

Every city has different methods of disposing old pieces of furniture and trash. For NYC, the Department of Sanitation’s website can be found here.

Some movers will offer to take your old or unused furniture away for you (though they will charge you extra for it).

Tipping Your Movers

Although not required, surveys online show that most renters end up tipping their movers an extra 10%20%, based on quality of service. Aside from tipping, remember to offer your movers refreshments such as gatorade or coffee, depending on the weather and temperature.

Tip: When tipping, divide the cash equally and hand the money to each mover individually.


Congrats on finding an apartment and moving in! You’ve successfully completed the hardest rite of passage for a New Yorker. Be sure to visit the Official Website of the City of New York to get further tenant resources that you may need in the near future.

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