floor layout

Although moving is rarely simple, a bit of intelligent planning (and working with the right tools, like Moveline) can prevent all sorts of headaches in the long run. That’s why we’ve put together a helpful list of things to confirm with a new landlord or property manager before you sign a lease (or mortgage, for that matter) and move into a new place.

Can you have pets?

Few of us with pets would ever be willing to let them go simply because a new apartment won’t allow them. When it comes to pets, the policies run the gamut from animal-loving to quite tough. Some landlords and property managers may allow pets of all kinds (or under a certain weight limit) with just a refundable pet deposit, while others may have breed restrictions and charge not only a deposit that may or may not be refundable, but also a monthly pet fee (sometimes referred to as “pet rent.”) Particularly since the very act of moving with a pet carries with it a lot of extra responsibility, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you jump headfirst into signing that lease or pursuing that co-op.

Who’s responsible for what services?

Before you can get a clear picture of what your monthly expenses will look like, it’s important to know what you’re responsible for and what you’re not. Are you obligated to pay for electric/gas, water/sewer and garbage collection, or are portions of those utilities taken care of by the management? What about pest control? If there’s a lawn (in the case of a townhouse, duplex or rental home), are you responsible for maintaining it, or is a service provided at no cost to you? Your monthly budget can be affected by hundreds of dollars depending on what’s expected to come out of your pocket versus what’s already taken care of, so be sure to ask specific questions about every possible expense.

Will everything fit?

Look, we love IKEA, but let’s face it: that modular wardrobe system you put together with your own bare hands in your current apartment probably isn’t going to be broken down into perfect modular pieces and put back together again in perfect shape at the new place — that’s just not how particle board works. So, for those larger items of furniture, find out if the hallways, stairwells and/or elevators will accommodate them during the move, or if you’re fighting a losing battle. Likewise, be sure to take proper, wall-by-wall measurements of the entire home; simply knowing the overall square footage and eyeballing the dimensions won’t help you when moving day comes and your headboard is three inches too long for your bedroom.

One more pro tip on layout: make a note of where all the cable and electrical outlets are; that knowledge, coupled with accurate dimensions, will help you plan out what goes where in the new space, helping you sidestep a lot of undue stress while saving the movers a good deal of time.

Can the movers be accommodated?

Speaking of movers, it’s important to know what obstacles they might face on moving day, as well as what resources they’ll have at their disposal. Find out from your potential landlord if there’s a loading dock or zone the movers can use to park the truck and do the unloading; also, ask if the elevator(s) can be reserved, and if so, what the restrictions might be on days and times. Generally speaking, buildings that allow new tenants to reserve elevators for move-in only do so on the weekend and during off-peak weekday hours, but figure out exactly what you’re dealing with before moving day arrives so the process can be as seamless as possible. If you’re moving into a building in a densely populated area, this is a critical step. If the truck can’t park and unload at your new home, the moving crew you hire may have to shuttle your move, which adds time and extra costs to the move, especially if it’s not planned for in advance.

Can you paint?

Particularly if you’re a stickler for decor, find out if you’re allowed to paint the walls (if you sense an opportunity to bend the rules, explain that you’ll paint them back to their original color before you leave — occasionally, that bargaining chip works wonders), as well as whether or not other modifications (wall hangings, full window treatments) are permissible. Even if they’re not, there are plenty of inventive and attractive workarounds, but it’s best to know up front for obvious reasons.

Are there any dealbreakers?

Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one person’s dream home can be another’s nightmare scenario. Case in point: while the charm of that pre-war apartment may leave quite an impression, the water pressure in the shower might not. The same can be said for the hustle and bustle of living in the city; while some may love the buzz of metropolitan life, the nightly wail of sirens may be too much for others to take. Living near a cemetery means peace and quiet for some, but spooks others away. On a serious note, parents in particular may wish to check the state or national sex offender database to see if any predators reside in the same building or on the same street.

Your needs (and dealbreakers) may be completely unique, but listen to your gut when making a decision about where to live, and then see what can be changed and what can’t. In the end, home sweet home is only as sweet as you perceive it to be. It’s worth taking the time to make sure your next one is one you can truly live in. The only thing more painful than moving, is having to do it twice.