Five Things You Should Do Before Moving into Your First Apartment
1) Ask questions before signing anything.
A lease is a legal, binding agreement between you and your landlord. Sometimes the language can get confusing and the terms might not make sense. Or, maybe, you notice something in the contract that concerns you after you read through it. Perhaps you see something in the initial walk-through that you want to know more about. Whatever your question is, do not be afraid to ask it. A good landlord would rather have you walk away with the answers and not signing a lease than see you sign it and have issues later because you were not clear about something in the beginning and never asked for clarification.
Landlordology has a great list of questions to ask your landlord before you sign your lease - 20 Revealing Questions that Every Renter Should Ask (from a Landlord's Perspective).
2) Do a walk-through of the apartment with the landlord, if possible, before moving anything in.
On move-in day, before you get caught up in the whirlwind of moving in everything you own, see if you can get the landlord to do a walk-through of the apartment to check for damages or any other pre-existing issues that might have been missed when they were preparing it for your arrival. This is a good idea for two reasons. The first is so that you both can see what is going on without the clutter of furniture and boxes. The second reason is that once you move your belongings in, your landlord can argue that they have no way to know for sure the issue was there before you arrived. If the damage can be blamed on you instead of the previous renter, the cost of repairs will likely come out of your deposit when you get ready to move out. Depending on what that cost is and the terms of your lease, you might not get anything back.
3) Ask for help.
Part of being an adult is being independent, but part of it is also recognizing when you cannot do something on your own and need to ask for help. When it comes to moving, you will always need help - with carrying boxes and setting up furniture on move-in day at the very least. If you have family or a friend you trust in the area you are moving to and you cannot do a walk-through before you move in, make arrangements to have them do it for you. Be sure they know what information you need beforehand.
4) CLEAN before unpacking.
Generally speaking, renters are supposed to make sure an apartment is clean and in good condition before they move out, and most landlords will give the apartment a more thorough cleaning between renters. However, sometimes an apartment sits vacant for a little while or things get missed. Then, there is the mess that can happen when you move in. Cleaning up before you unpack will help you catch what might have been missed. It will also familiarize you with the space you have and give you a better sense of how you can arrange things than you might have gotten during the walk-through.
5) Be considerate of your neighbors while moving items in.
When you are in the middle of moving in, it is easier to look for convenient ways to get your belongings into your apartment. Unfortunately, the most convenient ways to do so can make it more difficult for your neighbors to come and go as they need to and give them the wrong impression of you as a person. It is their community you are joining when you move in, after all. You will have an easier time becoming a part of that community if you are considerate of them from the beginning.