5 Steps for Moving Into Short-Term Housing

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated February 24, 2022
A woman moving in new house carrying a cardboard box
Photo: Joshua Resnick / Adobe Stock

Make the move into temporary housing with five easy steps

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Imagine this: Your current home sold more quickly than anticipated, and your new house isn’t ready yet. Or maybe you’re making major renovations to your home and need a temporary space to live while the contractors transform your space.

Whatever the case may be, temporary housing is a quick fix for a housing quandary. Here are some tips for how to find and move into temporary housing.

1. Determine the Best Type of Temporary Housing for You

When looking at temporary housing options, you can choose from five categories of short-term options. The first step is determining which type of housing works best for your circumstances and budget.

Corporate Housing

Corporate housing is usually set up through a leasing company to arrange for company members moving from out of the area. Some companies have their out-of-town employees stay in these types of rentals instead of putting them up in a hotel. These are usually apartments or condos with full amenities, but they are part of an exclusive deal between the company and the housing officials. 

Extended Stay Hotels

Regular hotels are convenient, but the bill can quickly add up if you stay for more than a few nights. With that in mind, extended stay hotels augmented their model to charge a weekly or monthly rate, easing the cost pressure for guests who need to stay a bit longer. These rooms are usually designed to function as a small apartment, including a kitchen, a living area, a bedroom, and a bathroom.

Short-Term Rentals

Sometimes, homeowners or apartment owners will offer short-term lease agreements on their properties instead of typical one- or three-year leases. The rent amount is usually higher the shorter you stay, due to the need to flip the property more frequently.


If you live in a robust rental market, you might be able to find a sublet as your temporary housing option. Sublets are apartments or houses that someone has leased for a set period of time, but now they need to move out either permanently or temporarily, so the renter then leases the apartment themselves. However, sublets are not legal everywhere, and some landlords don’t allow them, so make sure you’re moving into a legal sublet before you sign any paperwork.

Vacation Rentals

It’s possible to use a vacation rental as a method of temporary housing. During the off-season, you might even be able to get a better rate on a vacation property or stay longer than the normal vacation rental period. Ensure that the rental property allows longer stays before taking off for the beach or mountains.

2. Find Temporary Housing

A young woman browsing on her laptop
Photo: Liubov Levytska / Adobe Stock

Now that you’ve decided on what type of temporary housing to use, it’s time to find the perfect place to stay. There are a few ways you can go about finding temporary housing

Hire a Broker

Using a broker is one way to go if you’re looking for something specific and don’t want to put in a lot of leg work. Brokers have the lowdown on the housing market in your area, the rental lengths, pricing, and expected amenities. Depending on your needs, they’ll also likely be able to provide you with furnished or unfurnished options. Plus, you can usually use a broker free of charge because they’re paid by the apartment or property owner.

Search Short-Term Rental Websites

There are plenty of websites that list short-term properties, but you can also check out your local online classified ads for people subletting their leases. When considering renting a short-term property, beware of online scams that request your personal information before showing you the property. To keep your information secure, wait until you’ve seen the property and drawn up a leasing agreement before you hand over the rent.

3. Make a Plan for Your Belongings

Remember, your housing situation will be short-term, so don’t take too much stuff with you. Make a plan for your belongings by sorting everything into four categories: take, toss, donate, and store.

Items to Take

Pack for temporary housing as if you’re going on a long vacation, plus anything you might need in the kitchen. For example, only bring enough flatware for daily use and one set of sheets and towels per person.

If your temporary housing is not furnished, bring as few furniture pieces as you can while still making it feel like home, including beds, table and chairs for meals, a couch, and a coffee table. If your housing is furnished, you can simply store your furniture until you move into your new home.

As far as clothing, bring what you’ll need for as long as you’re going to live there. If you’re planning to live in your temporary housing through a seasonal change, either pack accordingly or make sure you have access to what you need in a storage unit.

Items to Toss

Here are some items to toss when moving into temporary housing:

  • Broken or worn-out cookware, appliances, and furniture

  • Torn, stained, or worn-out clothing 

  • Old bedding or linens

Items to Donate

Moving is the perfect opportunity to donate your unused items and avoid bringing unnecessary things to your new house. Lots of charitable organizations provide pickups, so check for what’s available in your area. If you can’t get a pickup, you can visit your local Goodwill or Salvation Army donation center. 

Here are some examples of things you can donate to charity:

  • Working appliances

  • Furniture that’s in relatively good condition

  • Gently used clothing

  • Very gently used linens

  • Cookware

  • Sporting goods

Items to Store

If you’re planning to use a storage unit while you’re living in short-term housing, fill it with items you don’t need during that time. Anything that you use daily should come with you, but the rest can go into storage. Remember, you can always access your storage unit if you accidentally pack something in the wrong place.

4. Box and Label Everything 

 A father and his son labelling moving boxes
Photo: Robert Kneschke / Adobe Stock

Once you’ve sorted all of your belongings, do yourself a favor and box things up by room and then label the moving boxes. Better yet, take photos of each filled box, print them out, and tape them on the side of the box. Since you’re not staying in your temporary housing for long, keep the labeled boxes to make repacking even easier.

5. Secure the Temporary Move Details

There are a few more tasks you’ll need to take care of before you lock up and move into short-term housing. Check out these must-do tasks, and use our moving checklist to avoid leaving anything behind.

File a Temporary Change of Address

You’ll obviously want to get your mail at your temporary digs, but you won’t need it sent there forever. Fortunately, the USPS has options for forwarding mail that you can set for specific time intervals. File a mail forwarding request so your mail doesn’t pile up at your old home.

Let Everyone Know Where You’re Going

Notify your friends and family of your temporary address—it would probably be alarming if they stopped by your old home to find it empty with no explanation.

Pay Bills and Cancel Utilities

Before moving into temporary housing, ensure that everything is paid up at your old house, and then take the utilities out of your name. That way, you can have a fresh start when you move into your temporary digs.

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