April 2020 COVID-19 Update: Moving companies in Chicago are deemed an essential service by Governor J.B. Pritzker’s statewide stay-at-home order (the order is slated to stay in place until at least April 30). Renters are free to pursue a planned move to a new apartment, provided they don’t move while feeling ill and that, even if they’re 100% healthy, they abide with moving companies’ new safety protocols in the Coronavirus era.
Many Chicago apartment renters put their search for a new apartment into higher gear during the warmer months. Even though leases are constantly renewing and expiring throughout the calendar year in Chicago, renters may find it preferable to move when the weather’s more cooperative. Spring and fall undoubtedly contain more of those meteorological Goldilocks days that are not-too-hot, not-too-cold that Chicago apartment renters can bank on. All the same, brave renters have even been known to enthusiastically move during the depths of Chicago’s subzero winters once that newly found ideal apartment is available. No matter what time of the year you’re moving, here are some of very important things you shouldn’t forget:
Helpful Tips for Moving In or Out of Chicago Apartments
Change Your Address
Paper mail still arrives at apartments in Chicago. And yes, some of that mail might be important! Chicago apartment renters who move around the city frequently will know the drill for changing their address with United States Postal Service (you don’t have to visit the post office anymore, it’s all done online), but if this is your first time renting an apartment in Chicago then this is something that you should knock out well in advance of your move-in date.
Allow up to two weeks before you move to begin forwarding mail and make sure that important deliveries don’t slip through the cracks while you move apartments. If mail starts arriving at your new address prior to moving in, then simply ask the landlord or current tenant to hold it there and it will be waiting for you when you move in.
When Should You Start Packing?
You can hold off on buying new furniture for your new space. But you should not delay in packing up all your current belongings before moving day arrives. There’s always more stuff than you anticipate, and time is at a premium when it comes to moving.
Keep in mind that most moving companies will charge a flat fee and then an hourly rate for the time required to get the move done. To save time and dollars, make sure that you have everything that’s small and miscellaneous -- such as the contents of your dressers, medicine cabinets and desks -- packed and ready to haul out in no time. If you’re a renter who doesn’t have much furniture to their name, then kudos for keeping things manageable. If all of your furniture doesn’t even fill the space of a flatbed truck, then maybe you can manage to get the move done without the aid of professional movers.
But for renters who have a substantial amount of stuff, and not enough generous friends to volunteer their time and muscle, then turning to a professional moving company is the most sensible option. And that will help clear out the large, expensive items that you may not trust yourself to handle anyway.
More reading: How to find a moving company on a budget
How to Reserve Street Space for Loading & Unloading Moving Vans
The City of Chicago Department of Transportation has enforceable No Parking signs for movers. The signs cost $25 and renters can fill out an online submission form to purchase them. Don’t feel like forking over the cash? Many aldermanic offices in Chicago offer residents free, non-enforceable No Parking signs for moving day. But there are limitations on where to place these free signs and, predictably, “non-enforceable” means that other motorists needn’t comply with your wishes to keep the street clear during your move.
How to Transfer Utilities
Carefully read the lease agreement for your new apartment to determine which utilities the tenant needs to pay and which are the responsibilities of the landlord. Contact the utility companies directly as soon as you sign the new lease and have your move-in date planned. Let them know you’ll be moving in and plan ahead if you need to be on site for services like cable or internet installation. Your new Chicago apartment won’t be very comfortable without power or internet access, so it’s best not to leave these issues unresolved. Electricity and cable/internet are the two most common utilities in Chicago that renters have to place under their own names when they sign an apartment lease because many apartments in Chicago include water and heat with the cost of rent, but it’s not universal by any means. Read the lease agreement carefully and call utility companies ahead of time.
Returning Keys & Copied Keys
Return your keys to the landlord once you're ready to vacate your old apartment.
Clean Out Fridge & Freezer
Moving out of your apartment can be stressful and costly on its own, so why deal with the added headache of transporting foods that need to be refrigerated? Don’t stock up on groceries the week you’ll be moving. Defrost the freezer at least one day ahead of moving and allow time to clean up any excess liquid and wipe down the inside of the fridge. Same goes for the pantry and kitchen cabinets: do a thorough sweep to make sure you’re removing any food that could potentially spoil and leave a nasty first impression for the next person who moves in to the apartment or condo.
Instead of tossing out unused food and other items that won’t be travelling with you to your new home, consider donating non-perishable items to a local food shelter. There are even charitable organizations that will take perishable items and immediately put them to use in food-scarce communities. Ask the property management company or your landlord if they work with any of these charities. You can always recommend that they start donating to one in your neighborhood if they aren’t doing so already.
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