Nothing is sweeter (or scarier) than realizing you finally have the savings and ability to move out of your parents’ place. But hitting the pavement and scouring the back of the Classifieds is so 1995. Thankfully, the web is packed with search engines, resources, tips, and checklists to get you moving and keep you organized.
PadMapper aggregates the listings from the top rental sites, making it the Google of apartment hunting. What it touts in listings, it lacks in features, making it ideal for the minimalist who's short on time. Apartments.com has an app to help you search while you're already out on the hunt. It's loaded with details, panoramic pictures (no hidden surprises out of frame!), and floor plans. HotPads.com lets you see apartments in relation to points of interest nearby and uses density maps to show demographic data like median age and rent.
Save time when searching for apartments by browsing only the listings with images. Landlords who are hiding something or who aren't professional enough to post several decent photos aren't renting anything you want to lease. Also avoid listings that give an area, but not any address or cross street. The landlord may withhold the address for privacy reasons, but you should be able to see the cross streets to gauge your commute, parking, and safety situations.
Speaking of safety, you can do your folks (and yourself) a favor by picking a safe neighborhood with the help of CrimeMapping.com. The site works directly with local law enforcement to report confirmed crimes. It can email you crime alerts in the neighborhood.
When it's time to move, save money by packing and moving your own stuff with family and friends you can thank with a pizza. Have the friends but not the truck? Rent one at the size you need from U-Haul and rent the gear (dollies, ramps, tie-downs, etc) at The Home Depot. If moving your own stuff isn’t an option, The American Moving and Storage Association can help you find a company within their membership. Definitely check out consumer advocacy site MovingScam.com, which has a blacklist of companies with user complaints that will save you a headache and has an app that can estimate your moving cost.
If you're looking to move out but aren't exactly ready to move in, Public Storage is nationwide, lets your access your own unit when you need to, and typically rents the first month at only a dollar. PODS brings a shipping crate to you, lets you fill it, then takes it away to a storage unit--convenient, but a little more costly and more difficult to access to your stuff.
Get organized and avoid the nagging "what am I forgetting?" feeling with a mover's checklist, ideally one that helps plan your move over time. Apartmentsearch.com has a lengthy, but comprehensive, example and Atlas Van Lines uses your move date to tailor a personalized scheduled checklist.