Moving into your first apartment is an exciting step. But it can be overwhelming, too. Here’s what you need to know as you prepare for this important step.

Get Organized

There’s a lot to do, so start by getting organized. Use a physical or digital notebook to keep track of your to-do list, contact information (for example, phone numbers and email addresses for your landlord and moving company), important dates, packing list, and home improvement ideas. You’ll also need a place to stash contracts, lease agreements, renters insurance policies, and other important documents.

Line Up Utilities

Utilities like water, electricity, gas, phone service, trash, cable, and internet may or may not be included as part of your rental agreement. Find out what is and is not included in advance. If a utility is included, ask your landlord if there’s anything you need to do to get it started. For anything that’s not included, call the local provider to establish service. While you can certainly live without cable service for a short time period, you’ll want to be sure that power and water are turned on before you move in.

Set Up Mail

Ask your landlord how mail and package delivery are handled in your building. There may be a locked community mailbox, in which case you’ll need to know where it is and get a key, or mail slots in each apartment’s door. Another option is to sign up for a P.O. box at your local Post Office.

While you’re at it, inform everyone who sends you mail about your new address including your bank, credit card company, car loan company, family and friends.

Coordinate Your Move

Find out exactly when your move-in date is and start planning the actual move. If you’ll be using a moving company, book the move in advance. You may also want to purchase moving boxes and packing supplies so that you can start packing.

Pick Up Your Keys

Find out how and when to pick up the keys to your new apartment. Don’t assume that your landlord will be available with the keys when your movers arrive! Arrange to get them in advance so that you don’t waste precious time. You’ll also want to make copies of your keys, especially if you will be sharing the apartment with roommates.

Ask About Paint

Your landlord may have already prepped the apartment for you with a fresh coat of paint and freshly cleaned carpet. If not, you might be tempted to tackle his as a DIY project before you move your furniture in. However, check with your landlord before performing any type of improvement. You’ll need permission for anything permanent (like paint or wallpaper). Even hanging pictures on the wall could be problematic.

Go Shopping

Now for the fun part — furnishing your new apartment. In addition to the obvious items such as a sofa, TV, or kitchenware, make sure to stock up on cleaning supplies, a household toolbox, a plunger, laundry supplies, toiletries, linens and towels, and trash bags.

Finally, have fun! Once you’re moved in, invite your family and friends — and perhaps some of your new neighbors — over to help you celebrate your new move at