Several factors influence how long it takes to move a household. Are you renting or buying? Do you need to end a lease or sell your current home? How much stuff do you own? Some states can close real estate deals faster than others. Some moving companies are more efficient than others. Despite the variance, there are some general timelines to consider if you are about to move into a new house or apartment.
At Life Storage, many of our customers rent storage units to make a move more manageable, and we’re there every step of the way to make the transition easier. Throughout the process, several customers have asked us, “How long does it take to move?” What they’re really asking is, “How long do I need to rent this storage unit for my move?” We may not be able to give you an exact timeline, but we can help you set general expectations so you can prepare better.
Buying & Selling Timetables
There are two aspects of closing that many movers need to deal with: buying a new home and selling the current one. These timelines should overlap somewhat. However, you might close on your current home days or weeks before the sale goes through on your new home. Then what?
Working with a real estate agent will help you match up these closing dates as much as possible. If this can’t be done, hopefully, you’ll have enough heads-up to plan accordingly. Here’s a basic rundown of what you can expect.
Buying a House
Each state is different with closing times. If you can buy a home with cash, some states will let you close on a property within a couple of weeks. However, most people will need a mortgage, so we will base our timeline on that scenario.
How long does it take to close on a house?
In September 2021, the average time to close was 50 days, according to data from the ICE Mortgage Technology Origination Insight Report.
- Mortgage Approval: 2 to 4 weeks
- Transfer of Ownership: 6 to 10 weeks
Many hold-ups can happen during these processes. An underwriter might demand more income paperwork before approving the mortgage. Nothing can go forward until this initial approval happens. Then there can be delays with the survey and title during the transfer of ownership.
What is the fastest you can close on a house?
If you want to close on a house as fast as possible, putting in an all-cash offer is the quickest option (if you’re able to do so). That’s because you’ll skip the whole verification process needed to obtain a loan from a lender. Cash buyers feel less risky to sellers because there’s no chance of buyer financing falling through.
Remember, the closing date on your original contract is subject to change, so ensure you have built-in flexibility and stay in constant contact with your realtor and attorney.
Selling a House
When you sell a house, you need to factor in the time of sale and closing time. What if your home sits on the market for six weeks? Your realtor should have a good handle on the current market and can advise you whether it’s smart to sell your home first or buy a new home first.
Sometimes your dream home pops up unexpectedly, and you don’t really have a choice. In this case, hopefully, you can sell your home within a reasonable period of time so that your current home and your new home can close around the same time.
Home Selling Timeline
The entire home-selling process, from home staging to accepting a contract, can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months.
- Stage Home: 1 to 2 weeks
- Value and List Home: 1 week
- Viewings and Contract: 1 to 3 weeks
If the market is bad and your home is overpriced or undesirable, that initial selling time can be extended indefinitely.
So how long does it take to move once a house is sold? In general, it will take about 10 weeks to close on a home once you’ve sold it. Look at the section above for more details on an estimated closing time.
The timelines for renting can be mixed with timelines for owning. For instance, you may be moving from a rental to an owner-occupied. Conversely, you can also relocate from an owner-occupied into a rental. Keep this in mind when planning your calendar.
Breaking a Lease
Generally, it takes between 2 weeks and 1.5 months to break a lease, even if the lease is month-to-month.
Most landlords require a 30-day notice before you can vacate a property. Some landlords also require that notice be put in on the first or last of the month. For example, if you put in your notice on January 15th, you may be required to wait a month and a half until February 28th before you can move out without penalty. Read your leasing contract for more details.
Securing a Rental Property
You can secure and move into a rental property in as little as 1 week. In more extreme cases, it may take 1 to 2 months to be able to move into a rental property.
Securing a rental property is way faster than closing on a home. Between 2019 and 2021, more than half of renters found a new place to live in less than one month, according to data from the 2021 American Housing Survey. If the property is currently vacant, the landlord may allow you to get in ASAP after some repairs are done, and the contract has been signed.
How long does it take to get approved for an apartment? While there’s no hard-and-fast rule for how long the apartment approval process should take, you can expect to hear back within three business days. The time span can be longer if it’s peak moving season (summer) and the property manager or landlord has many applications to process. If it’s taking longer than you expected, it never hurts to follow up!
How Long Does it Take to Pack a Home?
Every step of the moving process takes time. But if you’re buying a home, your allotted time is shaped entirely around the real estate closing process. This means that you will have from when the contract is drawn to when it closes to pack up your house. If the closing takes 10 weeks and you can pack up in two weeks, great. However, if closing on a home takes 8 weeks, but you haven’t packed in that time, you’re in for a great deal of stress.
General Packing Timeline
In general, packing at an even pace will take most people about a month.
- Studio or 1 Bedroom: 10 – 15 hours
- 2 Bedroom: 15 – 20 hours
- 3 Bedroom: 20+ hours
- 4 Bedroom: 40+ hours
Start packing as early as possible and devote as much time as possible. The stress only builds the closer you get to the move, and packing while under less pressure is much more efficient and pleasant.
If that seems overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, check out these packing resources:
Using Professional Movers
If you want to save time, hire professional movers. How long do they take to find and hire? Keep reading to find out.
Time to Find and Hire
In general, quality movers book out about 6-8 weeks to move an entire home. However, you may be able to find movers for a smaller apartment within 2-3 weeks.
Don’t wait to hire movers! The sooner you can get a date on the books, the better. This haste is especially true if you’re hiring an in-demand mover. If the movers are fully booked, ask to be considered for a cancellation spot if you are looking to move into an apartment ASAP.
Movers can pack up your home in half the time it takes amateurs. Most desirable movers will be able to move larger items both quickly and safely. Here’s what to expect when figuring out an hourly rate. However, ask the movers directly for a more accurate quote based on what you own. Some items like fridges and pianos take longer.
How long does it take movers to pack an apartment?
The following time estimates are based only on packing up your home using professional movers; they do not include travel times, unloading, or unpacking.
- Studio or 1 Bedroom: 2 – 4 hours
- 2 Bedroom: 4 – 6 hours
- 3 Bedroom: 6 – 8 hours
- 4 Bedroom: 8+ hours
Moving Day Time Span
The professional mover times above are based on 2-4 professional movers. You can get close to this same timeline on moving day if you have 4-6 people helping you move and everything is packed and ready to go on moving day.
When moving on your own, consider the following time-altering factors:
- Distance from the old house to the new house
- Total number of boxes
- The number of helpers available
- Items requiring extra time, like appliances or large furniture
- The number of trips that will be required
How Long Will It Take to Unpack?
You made it to the final step! Unpacking is hard to predict because some people are okay living with boxes for weeks or months at a time. In general, it should take about the same amount of time to unpack as it does to pack.
What to expect when moving to a new apartment?
- Do a thorough inspection before moving your stuff in. You’ll be excited to finally get your belongings moved in, but before you do that, inspect your new place and ensure everything is as promised. In particular, take note of any damaged or non-working appliances.
- Notify your landlord or property manager of any damage you find. If anything is wrong, be sure to alert your landlord or property manager so they can fix it and record that this damage occurred before you moved in (this helps ensure you get your security deposit back when you move out!).
- You may still need to set up utilities and internet. Yes, you’ll be tired and ready to plop down on the couch in your new place, but before you can do that, you might still need to coordinate with utility companies to turn on electricity and install internet.
- Clean before you settle in. Once you get boxes and large items inside your new apartment, it’s a good idea to sweep, mop, and dust off countertops before unpacking. That way, you’re starting from a clean slate.
We hope this guide helps take the stress out of moving. And if your new place can’t quite fit as many belongings as your last—don’t worry! For family heirlooms or seasonal items you don’t want to part with, you can always put them in a storage unit for safekeeping. Enjoy your new home!
This post originally appeared on the Life Storage Blog 2/11/21 and was updated 6/13/23 with new information.