Moving into Your New Apartment? 7 Apartment Hacks I Wish I Knew Beforehand

1. Do your research, both in-person and online.

Duh, right? Well, some people don’t do much research about their next new home. If possible, schedule an in-person or virtual tour with the apartment complex. Use Google, Yelp, and Facebook to see reviews of past tenants and see if there is a trend of bad reviews or good reviews and come to your own conclusion.

Pay attention to your interactions with the landlord/management and if there is something fishy prior to singing the lease, there is probably something that will go on later down the line. They should be trying to impress you and want you as a resident, and if any red flags occur, don’t fold, even if the place is nice. It isn’t worth the headache once you are deep in your contract and have a terrible management company or landlord, who doesn’t care about their residents. I have had several instances where apartment complexes (even new ones!) didn’t care about signing a new tenant, and that isn’t inviting at all.

In addition to touring, if you are able to, see what the area is like late at night. Ask yourself, is this okay if I were to sleep here tomorrow? Take notes of your surroundings if there is anything that might seem odd.

2. Plan ahead. Move during non-peak times, if possible.

Generally, moving around October – March is the time where most apartments have larger discounts (i.e. specials or decreased rent) and need to fill units faster. Apartments generally have more people moving during the summer time due to school or other reasons, and have less discounts and less available units.

Create a schedule and try to stick to it. If you are moving from your parents or a dorm room, there probably isn’t much to pack. But if you are planning on bringing a lot of things, try to pack things well in advanced. I’ve moved three times already and each time I moved, I had more stuff to bring with me, and less time to pack as days went by closer to the move-in date. This ended up burning me in the end, and most recently, I had to take two trips back to my hometown to get everything (which was three hours away.) It was NOT fun!

3. Save money if possible.

Use resources available to you, like social media apps local to your area. Nextdoor, Reddit, and Facebook Marketplace are great ways to find moving boxes for cheap or free from someone else who just finished moving.

Apartment locators can also be helpful in finding different places around your area with your price ranges and desires. They are licensed realtors who make a commission through the advertising budget of the apartment complex. Once you sign the contract, they sometimes get as much as an entire month’s rent for salary. Keep in mind that some apartment locators only use select apartments that they work with because they know that will give them the bigger bonus.

Use them as a resource, but don’t take their word for gospel. They are here to make money, and they will put in as much effort as they feel is necessary (which can be good or bad). Not every apartment locator (or realtor) is genuine, and they will be tested when you ask questions (so ask them!) I’ve had several apartment locators flake on me or fail to answer simple questions, and that isn’t cool. Using them as a secondary resource for local apartments is an easy way to find out what might be available. Good apartment locators will put in the effort to find homes or apartments that fit within your budget and your realistic apartment desires. See what bonuses they might be offering too – some have offers of prorated rent (usually a month free that is discounted into an entire year) or free movers. This could be handy once you move, and can save you some money!

4. Pack an overnight bag.

If you are like most people, moving is half of the battle. Once you are in your new home or apartment, you still have to unpack everything. And most likely, you aren’t going to unpack everything once you get into your new place (especially if you are a procrastinator like me, and still had to pack on move-in day.) You might find yourself winding down in the evening of move-in day, and you’ll just want to sit down and rest. For me, the first night was usually the roughest. Sleeping on the floor, watching TV on the floor, and eating pizza is usually how it goes. Packing the essentials can help save some time, especially if you just want to get a nap in. 

Try to have the basics in one bag. Your chargers, tooth brush, deoderant, and other necessary requirements you’ll need on your first few days moving in. It’ll save you a lot of headache, especially if you didn’t have time to label everything that you were packing.

5. Read through the entire lease agreement at least once, and highlight or comment important things.

Most leases are pretty standard, especially if there is a realty board like there is in Texas. Pay attention to the most important things in the lease, such as the move-in and move out days, the amount of keys, fobs, or other entry devices for the front door, mailbox, and other entry points like the garage, any fees that may be associated with your lease such as pet fees or late payment fees, any unconventional rules the apartment might have, and any responsibilities that you’ll need to fit in with your schedule at your new place. (such as changing air filters or maintaining the yard if there is one.) These will avoid confusion later down the line in your lease, and could avoid any unwanted charges you might incur. 

6. Document EVERYTHING.

Ensure everything is documented on day one of move-in, before moving anything in! Sometimes, apartments want you to take the fall for their shoddy work. Other times, they just don’t care about what condition their apartment is in until the next person moves in. It’s important to walk through the unit without anything inside, and check all interior walls, crevices, cracks, cabinets, and more.

Record the entire walkthrough and ensure you have maximum coverage while filming. You’ll need to fill out a move-in condition report from the landlord, and often times it is blank, which means you’ll be responsible for anything you did not document aside from normal wear and tear. Once you move-out, they will go through and inspect your apartment, and compare that document to what the present condition of the apartment is in. If you didn’t mark something down on that form (or document through video or photographic evidence) they might charge you a fee, depending on what happened. Even if you don’t document, your video or photo evidence will serve as proof through metadata that you took this photo or picture on the day of move-in.

In my case, I moved in and documented the entire walkthrough and noticed chewed blinds from a previous tenant. My old complex tried to charge me for this, but it was documented, and I saved myself several hundred dollars. 

7. Inspect the necessary things immediately and CLEAN.

Find all appliances, faucets, and toilets. Since you won’t have anywhere else to stay, it’s important to ensure all of these things work prior to getting settled in. The last thing you want to do is unpack everything and then realize your toilet or water isn’t running, or that there might be a leak somewhere.

In addition, check the major appliances and see if they are working properly. See if the stove or oven heats up, along with the refrigerator cooling properly. Crank up the A/C and wash the dishwasher and washer for your clothes (if applicable) on an empty setting first.

Once you inspect the necessary things, clean the apartment before moving your stuff in. The last person who was living there may have been careless about cleanliness, and might have wiped the kitchen counter with the same rag as the toilet. Try to wipe down all surfaces and sweep/clean/vacuum all floor areas. This will save you in the long run, avoiding Walmart Feet (google it if you don’t know) by the next day.


These are all tips I wish I had known, and now that I’ve experienced these things, you won’t have to. If you thought any of these tips were helpful, leave a comment below on which tip you thought was most helpful, and I will dive deeper into that tip in an additional blog post. 

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