Let's be honest: There's no such thing as an easy move. (After all, it ranks alongside job loss, divorce, and death of a loved one on the stressful-situations scale.) But the more you plan and organize in advance, the less taxing it will be.
With the busy moving season approaching, we've updated our timeline of the steps you should take for a stress-free move like finding movers on time, what you should pack first (and last), and prepping your new apartment with tips from NYC-based moving, packing, storing, and organizing companies.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article was published in July 2017. We are presenting it again with updated information for April 2021.
Keep reading for our best advice—and keep it handy for your smoothest move possible.
• Now’s the time to request a moving date with your old and new buildings, say the experts at FlatRate Moving. Many buildings have black out dates and times for moving, so be sure to ask your management company.
• Begin researching moving companies (you can compare mover reviews and prices at Unpakt.com).
• Make an inventory of the items in your home and decide what you won’t be taking with you, then contact various charities and marketplace venues (Craigslist, eBay, the local second hand store) to pinpoint where you can unload your goods. Remember that in order for a company to give you an accurate estimate of the cost, you'll have to know which of big items and furniture you're moving.
Start packing (and donating)
• Book your mover. The earlier you book and the more flexible your moving date, the better your quote will be, say the pros at Unpakt.
• Begin paring down by getting rid of or donating the stuff you no longer want or need (old magazines), and using up what you can (like food, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and the like)
• Start packing items you won't need for the next few months, like off-season clothes, tchotchkes, books, etc.
Prep for the move
• Reconfirm your moving date with your old and new buildings and reserve an elevator if necessary. In some buildings, you may have to provide a moving deposit or fee.
• Book a storage unit. You can cut down on moving costs by putting some items you don’t need for the next few months into a storage unit. Manhattan Mini Storage offers unlimited free one-way trips in their free storage shuttle (a van with plenty of cargo space) to help you transport your stuff to one of their storage facilities. Plus, a friend who recently moved out of New York City, but stored her things here, offered us the following advice: CubeSmarts in the Bronx--which are on subway lines for post-storage rides home--are less than half the price of those in Manhattan and the units are a couple square feet larger.
• If you’re going to be doing some or all of the packing yourself, now’s the time to purchase or accumulate moving supplies, like boxes, bubble wrap, tape, markers, and labels. You can go the old-fashioned route and buy boxes, or use a service that will drop off reusable crates a few weeks before your move and pick them up a few weeks after, says David Mendizábal a moving expert with GYST, an NYC-based lifestyle management company. Unpakt can help you estimate how many boxes you will need base don the size of your current home.
• Begin packing things you won’t need for the next month. Make sure to label everything clearly. It will make unboxing much easier later.
• Locate all of your important documents (passports, birth certificates, wills, insurance policies...) and move them to a safe place, like a fire-safe box or a safety deposit box.
• Finish giving away, donating or selling any items you’re not taking with you.
Get ready for moving day
• If you have young kids, book your babysitter now for moving day. Trust us, you don't need them adding to your stress.
• Make sure any certificates of insurance are completed for all buildings that require paperwork.
• Pack up the fragile items first and then, everything else room by room, leaving only items you absolutely can't live without in the upcoming days. Be ruthless.
• Confirm move details with your moving company. Most places will give you a courtesy call to confirm your appointment, but just in case, call to confirm that you’re all set. There is nothing worse than waiting around for your moving service and being stood-up, says Mendizabal.
Prep the new apartment
• Make sure your new home is clean and ready to move into.
• Contact utility and related companies (gas, electric, oil, water, telephone, cable TV) to disconnect service disconnect at your old address and reconnect it at your new address (just make sure to keep everything as is until moving day). Submit your change address with USPS and related services (magazine subscriptions, newspaper delivery, etc, and don't forget to change your voter registration, too).
• Pack a suitcase of clothes and essentials for the first few days in your new home. According to Mendizábal, this should include PJs and clean sheets for the night after your move, a toothbrush, face wash,and an outfit for the day after the move. The last thing you want to do when you finish moving is start opening boxes to find sheets or clean socks!
• Put anything that isn't needed ASAP into storage to retrieve at a later date.
The final details
• Finish packing everything.
• Empty out what’s left in your pantry and refrigerator.
• Take out the trash and recycling.
• Make sure your moving company has a way to reach you (Tip: Take your phone off vibrate!).
• Do one final sweep of your apartment. Breathe a sigh of relief!
• Offer your movers drinks and a light lunch or snack (everyone loves bagels). And if you're moving from or to a walk-up or they're moving on a particularly hot day make sure you have extra cold drinks at the ready.
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