Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Moving Into Your First Rental? Tips and Tricks for First-Time Movers

Stressed about moving into your first place? Follow these tips and soothe your concerns.

Arielle Burton Associate Content Manager
Arielle Burton is an associate content manager on CNET's Performance Optimization team. She graduated from Hofstra University in New York. Prior to joining CNET, she worked with legacy news (ABC7NY and Fox Business Network) and tech companies (Mashable). She specializes in crafting compelling alerts, building community engagement on news platforms, and optimizing CNET's content for all audiences. Ultimately, Arielle is a digital media professional by day and a fierce chef by night.
Expertise News Platform Aggregation, Alerts, Home Page Curation, Content Optimization
Arielle Burton
5 min read
members of a family move boxes and belongings up a staircase
ljubaphoto/Getty Images

Moving season is here! Whether you are graduating from school or just moving on your own, congratulations on securing a new spot

Moving Tips badge

With moving comes a whirlwind of emotions, you're excited about the new experience, but the logistics of how to accomplish a smooth transition can be overwhelming. Take a deep breath. This handy guide will outline the basics of what you should do prior to your move-in date and inspire you with ways to make your new place feel like home.

Feeling anxious about your move is normal, but here are a couple of tips and tricks that'll help you navigate your move. From setting up your utilities -- like water, electricity and internet -- and stocking your place with essential items, what you need to know is below. 

Read more: Best Moving Companies for 2023

Memorize your new address and put it in your phone

In order to have a seamless transition, you must have a few important pieces of information, specifically the address of your new place and your move-in date. You want to make sure to have it somewhere handy. In order to complete the following steps you will need it. 

So unless you want to carry around your lease, be sure to update your devices with the new address and mark your calendar with the move-in date.

Read more: Protecting Your Move: How Moving Insurance Works

Moving apps can help manage your move

Instead of trying to guess or remember where you packed things, apps on your phone, tablet or laptop can help you effortlessly and conveniently track your belongings. Apps can also change your address, hire helpers and even design your new pad.

The nifty inventory app Sortly lets you create detailed records of your stuff and can print QR codes that link to pictures of what's in every box. Updater can make changing your address easier, and MagicPlan can help you decorate and design your new space.

Read more: Save Time and Money With These 7 Must-Have Moving Apps

Set up utilities before you move in

About two to three weeks prior to your official move-in date, you'll want to set up accounts and schedule service for these utilities:

  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Internet 

Cable or satellite TV is an optional service, but many people are cutting the cord and switching to streaming services or using a dedicated internet device like Roku.

You may be able to find your utilities provider in your leasing agreement. If not, ask your landlord. If you decide to go with a different provider, make sure it services your area and is up to par with your community policy.

Your lease should also tell you which, if any, utilities are provided with your rent. Landlords may pay for water service, and some will even include gas and electricity.

Some utility companies may require a deposit to set up your account. Your deposit is usually determined by your credit score. If you can't afford a deposit, your utility provider may let you make small extra payments each month to establish it.

Read more: Energy-Efficient Renters: Use Less Energy in Your Apartment and Save Money

Consider renting a truck or hiring movers

Whether you decide to use a moving service or coordinate the details and carry everything on your own, here's what you should know.

If there's not a ton of stuff for you to move, it might be best to ask friends and family for help. With only 10 to 20 boxes, you can probably carpool your things and save money. Anything more than that and you'll want to look into renting a truck.

Read more: How Big a Moving Truck Do I Need? Get the Right Size Rental Truck

If you decide it's not worth the hassle to move on your own and feel overwhelmed, hiring professionals is an option as well. However, make sure to ask around and get quotes so that you can choose the most affordable and convenient arrangement.

Do I need to change my address?

Yes, when you move it's best to forward all your mail to your new address. Feel free to stop by your US Postal Service office to fill out an official change-of-address form. You can fill this form out online, but if you have a community mailbox, you will have to go to the local post office anyway to verify your new address and pick up keys.

You'll also want to change your address with your bank, doctors' offices and any online retailers you shop with so you don't accidentally send packages to your old address.

Read more: How (and When) to Change Your Address When You Move

Once you make your move you'll need to update your driver's license. Some states require it be done quickly -- California has a deadline of 10 days. Check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles soon after your move to avoid being fined. 

Do I need renter's insurance?

Unlike owning a property, renting doesn't always require insurance, since you don't own the place. However, you do own all your stuff, and you don't want to lose it to fire, flooding, theft or other disasters. 

While renter's insurance isn't mandatory by law, some landlords may require you to have it. This is typically discussed before signing the lease, so you should know in advance. It's generally pretty cheap -- $15 to $20 a month, per Nationwide, and online options like Lemonade have quotes as low as $5 per month. Ultimately, the peace of mind you have knowing that your possessions are covered could be worth it.

Read more: Best Apartment Security Systems in 2023

What items and tools do I need for a new rental?

The last thing you'll want to do on moving day is have to go shopping for essentials and tools. Whether you are moving into a new or old unit things happen, so it's best to have these items beforehand:

  • Toilet paper
  • Soap 
  • Paper towels 
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Screwdriver 
  • Hammer 
  • Adjustable wrench

How do I meet my neighbors?

If your new place has a community area, using it is a way to meet your neighbors and get a feeling for the community. Keep an eye out for events like game nights, visit the pool, or volunteer to fully immerse yourself in your new community. As an adult, making friends is not always easy, but here are a few ways to do so when moving to a new place. 

Read more: 7 Tricks That Make Gaining New Friends After You Move Easy

Moving to your own place for the first time is something to be excited about and proud of. To ease the stress of it, give these tips and tricks a try. Moving may be much easier than you expect.