woman with moving boxes

First Apartment Checklist

Getting your own place is one of the great rites of passage as a young adult. What’s not so great? All that planning and prep work that it’ll take to get you there. From scouring for rentals to moving your stuff and creating a budget, there is a lot to be done before kicking back in a pad of your own.

You’ve probably considered how the cost of rent will impact your budget moving forward, but have you accommodated for the one-time costs that come with moving? Read on to build your new apartment checklist and learn what you can do to prepare before the big moving day.

Moving Costs

If your new place is across the country, hiring a professional moving company can cost close to $5,000. Even if you’re just moving across the city, you’ll incur some costs in moving your stuff.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to moving costs is the easier it is, the more expensive it will be. Hiring full-service professional movers to pack, haul, and unpack your apartment can cost, on average, $80 to $90 per hour .

Another option is using a container service, like PODS or U-Pack , where you can pack your things up, and they’ll haul the container to your new place. If you’re staying local, PODS estimates this service will cost between $299 to $499 .

Moving cross country? A long distance PODS rental could run you $1,499 to $2,999 on average.

Typically, the most affordable option is packing things up on your own and renting a moving truck. You could cut costs even further by scoring free moving boxes from friends or local businesses and relying on friends and family to help you move unwieldy boxes and furniture.

Rental Deposit

Depending on where you’ll hang your hat, your landlord could require you to pay a rental or security deposit before moving in. Your deposit is a sign of commitment to the landlord and ensures that in the case of damage, you’ll be on the hook for repair costs.

Typically, the deposit is equal to at least one month’s rent before moving in, but some require first and last month’s rent before they hand you the keys. Deposits are capped at a month’s rent in some states. Try to ask for a receipt of the deposit if your landlord doesn’t provide one.

If your property allows pets, and you’re planning on bringing your furry friend with you, you might also be required to pay a one-time pet deposit or pet fee before moving in. On average, pet deposits are somewhere between $100 and $300 .

In many cases, you’ll get the deposit (or a portion of it) back when you move out, pending any repair costs for damage and cleaning.

Rental Insurance

It might not be on the top of your moving to-do list, but consider signing up for renter’s insurance before you move. Some landlords even require proof of insurance before moving in. Renter’s insurance might seem expensive or complicated, but you’ll probably pay less than $20 a month for coverage .

Depending on your policy, the insurance will cover the replacement cost of clothing, furniture, electronics, and jewelry in the event of theft or fire. Most policies do not cover flooding—so if you’re moving into a flood zone, you’d be wise to add that insurance onto your policy.

Getting insurance might seem like a complicated step in the process, but all it takes is a quick call to a provider to get set up on a plan. If you’re already paying for other forms of insurance, like auto or motorcycle, your provider might bundle the coverage together for savings.


Your landlord typically covers monthly water and garbage bills, but double check this before you make the move. If you want electricity, internet, and cable at the time of the move in, then you’ll need to coordinate these services in your name.

Depending on what cable or internet package you go with, you’ll probably have to pay a one-time setup and installation fee.

This fee could range from $50 to $150 , depending on which provider you choose. Depending on where you live and the service you select, getting internet or cable set up in your new place can take up to two weeks, so plan accordingly.

Your electricity provider typically won’t charge a setup fee. Unlike internet and cable, this service typically just needs a single day’s notice to be activated.


When looking around your new place, try to suppress the urge to furnish everything right away. There’s nothing worse than buying things you may just get rid of in a year or two because you didn’t shop around.

Try creating a list of apartment essentials you’ll need to purchase off the bat, like a mattress, kitchen table, or desk. You might think that a trendy West Elm lamp is a perfect fit for your place, but if you don’t even have a bed, think twice about what’s a necessity, and what’s just an accessory.

If you need furnishings immediately, but you’re dealing with a tight budget, consider cutting costs by buying used, seeking out hand-me-downs, or borrowing stuff until you can afford to purchase it on your own.

•  Ask for second hand. Friends and family are often trying to unload unwanted furniture, and if you’re not picky, you might be able to furnish your place with some free or discounted goods.

•  Buy used. Craigslist, yard sales, or apps like LetGo are chock-full of good condition furniture for a great deal. Bonus points: you can possibly bargain down from the asking price for additional savings.

•  Borrow items. Someone in your network might have multiple kitchen tables or are transitioning between homes with extra furniture. Asking to borrow the basics for a short period of time can give you the chance to save up for items before buying them so you don’t have to break the budget.

Buying stuff for your new apartment is probably the most fun part of moving, but it can quickly become one of the most expensive parts. Opt to spend less with smart strategies so you can save for that perfect sectional in the future.

Make Room for Your Moving Buddy

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that moving is in the top ten when it comes to stressful life events. Even when you prepare, budget, and plan, things can go awry. In that case, stuff, like finding your bank’s ATM in your new neighborhood or saving smarter, shouldn’t have you breaking a sweat.

With fee-free cash withdrawal at 55,000+ ATMs worldwide, SoFi Checking and Savings® can be the moving partner you didn’t know you needed.

Start making yourself at home in your new place with SoFi Checking and Savings.

Learn More

SoFi Checking and Savings
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .

SoFi Bank Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

ABOUT SoFi SoFi helps people achieve financial independence to realize their ambitions. Our products for borrowing, saving, spending, investing, and protecting give our more than one million members fast access to tools to get their money right. SoFi membership comes with the key essentials for getting ahead, including career advisors and connection to a thriving community of like-minded, ambitious people. For more information, visit SoFi.com. Want an easy and convenient way to manage your financial life? Get the SoFi app. For iOS and Android.

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender