How to Hack Moving to New York City in 2019

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It is said, “Once you make it in New York, you can make it anywhere”. I don’t know if “making it” is a skill I can sell, but let’s just say after years of living in the Big Apple, I’ve got a pretty strong resume.

And hey, I didn’t want all of my knowledge to go to waste. So I polled our moving experts, put our heads together, and crafted a guide to one of the most difficult (but rewarding!) undertakings you may ever experience: moving to New York City

Believe it or not, moving to New York City – and thriving once you get there – requires, above all else, a different mindset. Read on to learn much more, or skip to what you’re looking for; this is a comprehensive guide meant to be explored.

The New York City Mindset

To make the most of moving to New York City, the first thing you need to have is a new mindset. Key qualities of this mindset include being:

  • Determined
  • Clever
  • Plotting
  • Confident
  • Conniving

Ask yourself, if someone challenged Steve Jobs to move to New York City as a young man with only $3,000 in his bank account, what would Steve do?

Steve would plot his own, unique course.

The rest of this article will help you plot your own course and cultivate a “warrior mindset”, starting with:

  • How to physically move into New York
  • How to rent an apartment in New York
  • How to enjoy life in New York

One note of caution, though: this isn’t totally a how-to article, because there is no single “how-to do it” when it comes to New York, there’s only how to think about it.

“The two worst strategic mistakes to make are acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip; to avoid this, the warrior treats each situation as if it were unique and never resorts to formulae, recipes or other people’s opinions.”

Paulo Coelho

You’ll have to devise your own steps to take, starting with knowing when to move to New York City.

When to Move to New York City

If you have been blessed with a place to stay in the city, a sublet from a friend, an employer’s corporate apartment, then you can skip this part.

Are you an average person moving to New York City? Most everyone agrees that April is the best first-monthto move to New York City.

Normal months to

move to New York City

________________________

January – No

February – No

March – No

April – Yes

May – Yes

June – No

July – No

August – No

September – Yes

October – Yes

November – No

December – No

Crazy months to

move to New York City

________________________

January – No

February – No

March – No

April – No

May – No

June – Yes

July – Yes

August – Yes

September – No

October – No

November – Yes

December – Yes

This solution to extreme heat is not practical while apartment hunting in NYC.

Timing is crucial because both the weather and the busy moving season will have a say in how smoothly your move goes. Weather touches extremes in The Big Apple, and finding NYC movers isn’t easy when they’re all booked up in the summer, or you have to clear a city sidewalk for a huge moving truck in the snow.

As Paulo Coelho points out, don’t go ahead and move prematurely, but definitely don’t miss your window. To some extent, your own window will depend on your personal life, but it will also depend heavily on the weather.

You might believe that weather doesn’t matter, that you are hardy, and because you grew up in Saskatchewan or Texas that temperature is no big deal to you. Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter how hardy you are.

Why Weather Matters For More Than Comfort

One of the biggest benefits to scheduling your move to New York is how many hours in the day you have to view apartments. The closer to the vernal equinox you position yourself, the better off you are. You want the most daylight possible.

But as the chart earlier might suggest, being crazy confers a three-month advantage over being uncrazy.

But the problem with heat is that it makes you unpresentable to potential landlords no matter how meticulous your planning. Ride-sharing will partially mitigate your troubles, but not entirely. Why? Often there will be multiple stories to ascend by stairs and the apartment won’t have AC when you finally step inside it. Plus, there may be 10 to 50 other warm bodies sharing the same tight space! 

If you do amazingly well in hot humid weather and tight spaces, if you’re not prone to sweat, if you’re in good physical shape, if you have a ton of energy and discipline, and if you like paying more for movers, by all means, move to New York in the summer.

Otherwise, the classic spring/fall pattern applies to you.

How to Rent an Apartment in the City

There are two million apartments rented in New York City, so this should be easy, right?

Just a quick preface and disclaimer: I’m not going to tell you where specifically to live or move to in New York City. So much of that depends on you and your unique personality, means and needs. This is the only place you need to do your own research, and it’s easy to find places with opinions on the matter.

Having said that, if you are an adventurous person and want to replicate the spirit of moving to the East Village in the 60s, West Brooklyn in the 80s or Astoria Queens in the 90s, you may want to dig a little deeper. Downtown Manhattan in 2020? Meh. Some would say it’s not even “really” New York City anymore. (Of course, people have probably said that for decades, so it’s all relative).

How Much Does an Apartment in New York City Cost?

Zumper reports the average cost to rent a 1-bedroom apartment is $2,890 and a 2-bedroom is $3,330. Oh yeah, don’t move to New York City without a great cashflow or huge savings. There are definitely more and less expensive options, but that’s the modern-day going rate.

What Does a “No Fee Apartment” in NYC Mean?

Surprising to few, brokers play a big part of the New York City apartment life. When someone sells an apartment to rent or buy, they often incorporate the broker’s (roughly) five percent fee into their asking price. As brickunderground.com puts it:

Believe it or not, here in New York City, renters pay broker fees too. There are rentals that come without broker fees (and websites dedicated to helping you find them), but these deals tend to either be in less-than-great shape buildings, or for higher-end luxury apartments where the landlord either employs her own leasing agents or pays the fees of outside brokers herself. If you’re determined to avoid the broker’s fee, be prepared to do some digging.

If a landlord pays the fee for you, or there isn’t a fee, the place us usually listed as a “no fee apartment”. And it may or may not be worse off for wear. If the landlord doesn’t pay the broker fee themselves, that’s when the apartment is advertised as having some sort of “renting fee”. Make sense?

Wherever you decide to live, and especially if you’re targeting almost anywhere in Manhattan or Western Brooklyn or Queens, there are some fundamental hacks that I suggest you adopt.

And don’t forget to don your warrior mindset.

Cash Is King 

What’s the largest amount of cash you’ve held on your person? For me, it was the $4,000 in cash I carried on me to secure an apartment on first sight. There is nothing like pulling out an envelope full of cash and putting it into a stranger’s hands.

For most places in Brooklyn, Queens and Upper Manhattan, apartments require first-month rent, last month’s rent, and deposit. But first and deposit in cash is usually good enough to secure your apartment. This is even truer when you have all the paperwork ready in advance. More on that later.

By the way, if you somehow have the runway to offer greater than a six-month deposit, you have a good chance of beating out the competition. (That’s how things work in NYC.)

Being Prepared (and Being First) Is Queen

Old-timers still tell you to check the Village Voice, a Sunday print weekly, whose early editions you could grab a copy of by waiting by newsstands on Saturday night. But those days are long gone; first, they shut down the print edition, long an integral part of New York culture and life, and by now they’ve shuttered the entire magazine.

So how do you get an edge if everyone has access to the same Craiglist listings as you do? There are many ways, but the keys are having cash, being supremely prepared, and being first. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Have a $3,000 to $7,000 cash deposit on your person, depending on your target apartment. (Use 100-dollar bills and keep your grip in a cloth passport wallet under your clothes)
  • Create a printed packet that includes:
    • Rental resume, including references
    • Professional resume, including references
    • Credit score (Yes, they will run their own, but this will set you apart and build trust)
    • Background check (Same as above)
    • Bank statements and/or pay stubs
    • Color photocopies of your ID
  • Show up dressed nicely and as mentally prepared as if you were on an important job interview
  • Rely on vehicle transport, so that you will likely be the first person on site
  • Be decisive – nobody wants to wait a long time on your decision

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Be ready to go at 8 a.m in your target neighborhood; as soon as a new apartment is posted on Craigslist there, get a rideshare directly to that place. I recommend rideshares – or maybe taxis – because (a) you won’t have to worry about parking, and because (b) you can speak to apartment representative en route.

Show that you are prepared and mean business by using a checklist of questions you need to ask to feel good about putting down a deposit. Try not to bog them down with less important questions like, “How far is the subway?”.

Easy, right? Of course it’s not easy. Nothing about this is easy, which is why you will experience an extremely satisfying feeling of accomplishment once you land an ideal New York apartment.

Congratulations in advance.

The “CC a Lawyer” For Your Lease Hack

Renting – and existing within – a NYC apartment is sort of a low-key battle of wills between you and the landlord, unfortunately. Even if you seem to have reached a stasis point in which a long-term lease has been signed, there may still be some lingering, tacit demands put upon you. I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but better safe than sorry.

Here’s some common demands that sometimes come up from your landlord after you sign your lease: 

  • You must sort your recycling by such-and-such an hour of the day, on “X” day of the week
  • Your friends can only stay over three days, not seven
  • You can’t have a pet
  • You must pay the rent on the last day of the month, not the first day of the month, despite what the lease may say
  • The apartment above you hosts the landlord’s family member, who hosts raucous poker games five nights a week

Here’s the thing about these kinds of subtle demands: they are tests of your will. As a New York veteran, let me tell you: do not give in, do not show weakness. Show strength. And the best way to do that is to have a lawyer.

Yes, simply hire a New York-based lawyer, partly to consult on your rights as a tenant, which are considerable in New York City, and partly to subtly say to your landlord: don’t mess with me.

What’s the easiest way to maintain your renter rights? Simply CC your lawyer on all your correspondence with your landlord.

How To Get Around New York

This is really easy. Just raise your hand and get in. No phone necessary.

First of all, don’t drive. Just don’t do it. Perhaps when you first arrive, from New Mexico, or Edmonton, or Dallas, Texas, or wherever you hail from, you can take one bleary-eyed, death-defying trip up Manhattan. You might enter off I-84 through the Holland Tunnel, to Broadway, and then all the way up. Map it, you’ll figure it out.

But the first order of business with your car is to find a place to park it. More on that later in the Hudson Valley Hack.

If you move to New York City and don’t use (a) the subway and (b) NYC taxis, you’re doing it wrong. Why is that? Primarily because both transport modes offer you a uniquely New York experience, and they’re there for a reason.

The Subway Experience

Plainly spoken, getting your subway card should be the first thing you do as a resident. It’s the most practical way to get around the city.

But it’s not just a transportation method, it’s a living theatre. There is no metro train system in the world, let alone in the United States, that provide as much musical talent and other entertainment as the New York subway system.

Consider the enormous quantity of performers who have performed in on the NYC subway. In recent years artists like John Legend, U2 and Maroon 5, along with hundreds more signed artists of less renown. 

Fast forward to today and you can experience a golden age. There are on average 13,000 live performances per year on the New York Subway system – don’t miss it!

An important note on public safetythe subway system is generally safe, despite alarming reports in the New York Post or Daily News. And as Sparefoot reminds us, please stand clear of the closing door. 

The Yellow Cab Experience

Also safe? The taxi system. This includes all taxi services, but I’m referring specifically to the legendary yellow cab taxi system, a traditional way to experience living in and getting around the city.

Not to cast aspersions on ride-sharing services based on apps, but when there is enough volume of taxis, taxis become several magnitudes more convenient. This is where NYC has so much in common with European cities. In many parts of the city, all you need to do to get a ride is put up your hand. (And it doesn’t hurt to be aggressive.)

Part of the fun of this is getting preempted by other ride hailers. You will quickly learn to claim the forward most, and most visible, location of your city block in order to be first in line. You will also learn to share. And here’s the best part: you will learn to speak to a stranger about his or her life. Can you do this on Lyft and Uber? Yes, of course, but you won’t wonder whether they’re just buttering you up for a five-star rating.

What’s a Moving Container? A Guide for Everything You Need to Know

You Must Walk

“Walking is the best way to see a city.”

– William Helmreich

Finally, if you like to walk, you’re in luck!

You should walk as often as you possibly can, to as many places as you possibly can. (Biking is fine too, but cars will not watch out for you all that well.) I will spare you the sermon on the social and health benefits and put it down to this: walking is the best way to discover New York City, no matter what your borough, or where your neighborhood.

You may try to discover New York City through an app, a website, or recommendations, or even articles like this one, but all these methods fall short. The best places you’ll find will come from exploration by foot.

As you will see from the video below, William Helmreich and his partner in crime, Matt Green, are happily and blissfully walking every single block of New York City.

Now, you can cheat if you like and limit your walks to your neighborhood or wherever you end up. And that’s fine too, because if the chances are very high that there is something very interesting to see and someone interesting to talk to.

Which brings us to the next great way to hack moving to New York City.

The Hudson Valley Hack When Moving to New York

If you’re not from the tri-state area then you’ll have no idea what “Hudson Valley” means. But you’ll probably have heard of its most famous town: Woodstock.

And now you’re thinking, “Why Woodstock? I want to live in the New York City; I’m not moving across the country to live in bucolic farmland, to drink kelp-oatmeal smoothies!”. Fair point.

Here’s why this place matters: for those of you who either (a) don’t have a place to live in the city or (b) need a place to park your vehicle, the Hudson Valley can be your temporary friend; it’s the perfect staging ground from which to enter the city. Not Woodstock itself because it’s become very expensive, but the rest of the Hudson Valley. It roughly begins with Poughkeepsie and ends somewhere well south of Albany, around towns like Saugerties.

Here’s what you’ll find in the Hudson Valley:

  • The possibility of a reasonably priced short-term rental. If you look at a map of the area, you’ll see a very few places that are an hour or two from the city with lower rent. Not Long Island, not Connecticut. What does that leave? Jersey. (Enough said. Sorry, Jersey.)
  • A train which will take you from places like Rhinecliff to Grand Central Terminal, the heart of Manhattan in less than two hours
  • Reasonably-priced food which still bears the influence of the city. For example, incredible lox and bagel sandwiches. 

And here’s a protip for those of you score a Manhattan apartment but have nowhere to park your vehicle (for less than $2,000/month, anyway): park it in public parking in Poughkeepsie and merely hop on the train when you feel like escaping for a country weekend. Your vehicle will be waiting.

How to Make Friends in New York

As they say, everyone in New York is from somewhere else. Well, it turns out that nothing could be more untrue, actually.

The truth behind that saying is that everyone from somewhere else tends to interact with other people from somewhere else.

Don’t be that New Yorker. Don’t be the tourist in Cancun who never utters a word of Spanish, the backpacker in South East Asia who only consorts with other backpackers in South East Asia or the exchange student in Europe who hangs out only with other Americans. The version of that person exists far too frequently in New York City.

There are dating apps, meet up sites, and hobbyist groups. Sure, use them. But don’t ever underestimate the power of exploring on foot and talking to people in person when the opportunity arises.

There is also a misconception that New Yorkers are unfriendly. In downtown Manhattan, sure, everyone is in a rush – and wary of wasting time with a stranger. But its many nooks and crannies of the city, you will find very friendly, very native New Yorkers. These are some of the most complex and interesting people on planet Earth.

Which brings us the last reason you should get to know the natives: some of them are simply amazing storytellers.

I once knew a native New Yorker named Phil who worked in the transit police force. Part of his job was to patrol the subways, which are mysteriously labyrinthine. But I can’t do a single one of Phil’s stories justice, so you’ll have to uncover your own.

And you’re in luck – their favorite storytelling subject is the city itself.

Where to Shop, Visit and Find Peace in New York City

Katz’s Jewish Delicatessen – who hasn’t eaten here?

Food? Create your own New York Menu

A quick word on food: earlier in the guide, we talked about the importance of walking to discover your own personal version of the New York City—one that you uncover yourself.

That’s truer of dining than anything else. Longtime residents will tell you, rightly, that the remarkable diner culture is steadily disappearing.

C’est la vie. It’s been well documented in New York City that the remarkable diner culture of yore is disappearing. (Oddly enough, you might be a little more likely to find it, or traces of it, upstate; hence the Hudson Valley hack.)

On the flipside, chefs from all over the world continue to create the most diverse and accessible dining scene in the world at every possible price point.

So rather than lament missing out on the past, in addition to a few recommendations I’ll make, I advise you to create your own, new institutions. (But for old time’s sake – and while you still can – stop by the Veselka Diner at 4:30 a.m. on a tipsy mid-January night when it’s 27 degrees Fahrenheit out. And stuff yourself.)

Which Tourist Areas in New York Are Worth It

While the food and entertainment landscape can be – and is – constantly remade, the city is having a harder time recycling its fundamental public spaces (and some private ones). City planners, architects and New York’s great patrons of the Robber baron era had so much foresight, talent and commitment, even the gigantic maw of 21st Century commercialism has barely dented their majestic legacies.

So please enjoy these timeless and essential fixtures of New York. They will bring you an escape from crass commercialism and some solace from noise and insanity.

As long as you’re wise enough not to go to them on a weekend.

The Brooklyn Promenade

Have you ever seen marvelous photos of the Manhattan skyline? Chances are that it was taken from the Brooklyn Promenade. The promenade is less popular than you’d think; I’ve met many New York residents who have never been. Here’s something to keep in mind: the point is not to promenade but to sit! Every native Brooklynite who appreciates beauty has been. There’s something to that.

Best time to visit: Daybreak on any day of the week when the forecast says clear skies. Anytime after hours.

The Brooklyn Bridge

One of the many marvels of man the Brooklyn Promenade provides a view of is the Brooklyn Bridge. But the best way to experience is to walk across it yourself. And yes, it’s open all year-round. Don’t be that person who moves to New York and never actually visits the Brooklyn Bridge, except crossing it in a car.

Best time to visit: Any time after a fresh snowfall. (Unless you’re close to Central Park; then go to there instead.) Also, any beautiful day in spring or fall during a weekday for spectacular views.

The New York Public Library

As you will see when you visit it, the NYPL is a library also an architectural masterpiece. Yes, it’s overcrowded, but what venue this gorgeous isn’t? It’s more easily accessible than the British Library in London and has beautiful interiors in which to read, write and reflect.

Best time to visit: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on a Monday during a sunny day.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Like its sibling, the Museum of Natural History, the Met (not to be confused with the opera) is in a class of its own among world museums. I visited this museum for 30 days in a row at one point, but was still unable to truly appreciate the breadth of its collection. It contains art and design from every part of the world and every era of human history.

Best time to visit: 10 a.m. to noon on a Monday or Tuesday, or between 6-9 p.m. on Fridays. Any time of year.

The “Flagship” Barnes and Nobles on Union Square

I put flagship in quotes because this isn’t the actual flagship Barnes and Nobles. (That one closed down in 2014.) But it is the biggest and perhaps the best. It was here where Ursula K. LeGuin revealed her favorite book to a shocked audience (we’ll tell you why in the comments). It’s no Powell’s books (Portland), but it’s certainly “wander-worthy” and a good place to pass a couple of hours.

Best time to visit: Weekday mornings and late evenings, during the winter.

The Strand Bookstore

yelp.com

For the purist who would never set foot in a Barnes & Nobles, you are in luck. The Strand – long hailed by the literati as the world’s greatest bookstore – sits right in heart of lower Manhattan, only a stone’s throw from the aforementioned “flagship” Barnes & Noble on Union Square. It has three times the character, too, but a little too crowded for my taste. This is a great place to actually, you know, find a very good book.

Best time to visit: Precisely between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 am on a Tuesday morning, the only time it isn’t busy.

The West 4th St Basketball Court

“Portrait of a Park”, Simeon Soffer

Yes, there are other courts with perhaps “better” basketball, like the famous Rucker’s. But there is no court which remains as ensconced right smack in the heart of a lower Manhattan neighborhood like this one. You can walk here from NYU, The Strand, Soho, even Chelsea; it lies in the heart of the West Village.

But the best is to stumble upon inadvertently and spectate through the fence for a few minutes. And the quality of play can be tremendous (or ridiculous) if you get lucky.

Best times to visit: Spring, summer, or fall on a weekend afternoon.

Joe’s Pizza, on Carmine St.

theinfatuation.com

If you get hungry while watching basketball at the West 4th st. court, this is the place to eat, and it’s just around the block. Who knows how long it will last in its current non-gentrified incarnation. But Joe’s Pizza has reigned as the epitome of fresh-served thin slice New York pizza since, by all accounts, the 1960s. That’s a remarkable run in a city whose food landscape is constantly remade. (Recent Google reviews qualifying it as “dingy” make my case).

The funny thing about New York City is the average pizza venue is pretty bad. Just warning you. But Joe’s lives up to the New York promise of wonderful pizza (if you prefer thin crust). Caveat: you must insist on a fresh slice, like a local. You’ll figure it out.

Best times to visit: During your office hours.

The Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station

One of the few remaining public dining venues which has stayed true to its roots as an everyman cafeteria. (The Met, in contrast, shuttered its traditional cafeteria and only partially redeemed itself by opening the “The Balcony Bar”.) The Oyster Bar is an informal yet elegant and interior design landmark. If you take our advice on the Hudson Valley hack, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop in here for lunch.

Best times to visit: In the winter, to cheer yourself up during lunchtime hours.

Macy’s Herald Square

newyorkerhotel.com

You may have read about the Macy’s closure epidemic sweeping the nation, but it has not, and probably will never (fingers crossed) affect the flagship Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan. And yes, this is the same building in which Santa Claus performed his miracle on 34th St. Case closed.

And by the way, don’t expect the same paltry selection of the Macy’s of your childhood in that one suburban mall. This department store offers every designer brand you’ve ever heard of (and no, it’s not cheap).

Best times to visit: Christmas Eve (so you can experience “Madness on 34th St.” firsthand).

How Long Should You Stay in New York City?

Yes, the city is exhausting.

Even the modern sanitized version of it still has the manic feel of a roller coaster ride with your phone just about to drop out of your hand while you try to prevent your friend from vomiting, and meanwhile, you catch a fleeting glimpse of the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. All while being yelled at. And you will eventually yell back.

But coming from a New York veteran, stick it out at least one year. You must live all the seasons. Have you ever stood in the snow at an above-ground subway platform in Queens, waiting for the N Train to ferry you down to your Canal St. office? No? Well, then tough it out.

Two years is the standard, and if you can make it to three, you’re automatically amazing.

But there’s no requirement to be a lifer; if you move here, work here, study here, and live here for at least one year … you can make it anywhere. 

How to Best Unload Your Moving Truck

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Loading your truck is like getting ready for prom. You want everything to be perfect.

Unloading, on the other hand, is kind of the same way; take everything off, drop it on the floor and go jump in the pool with your friends, right?

Yes and no. Unloading a moving truck is definitely easier than loading one, but like jumping in the pool, there are good ways and bad ways to do it.

Below are some tips for safety and speed so you can not only do the job right but have plenty of time for the post-party. (And this all applies for moving containers too!)

How to Prepare Your Unload

Park on a flat, level surface

If you are renting a portable container like a PODS, you can expect it will be set on even ground. The same thing goes for a rental truck.

You’ll want to park in a similar level place, to make unloading both safer and easier. If you simply have to park on a sloped surface, point the front of your truck downhill. (You can imagine why.)

Apply the emergency brake

This applies even if you park on a level surface. It also doesn’t hurt to put chocks – or rocks or blocks of wood – under one or more of the wheels. 

Open the back of the truck slowly

Your stuff will have shifted around in transit, and the possibility of something tumbling out onto the ground, or on you, is very real.

If something is about to come tumbling out, you may feel and/or hear it pushing against the door as you open it. But not always.

Keep your eyes open and have an extra set of hands ready.

Ramps slide out quickly, be careful

Rental trucks generally come equipped with a loading ramp that slides right out from under the rear door. Unlatching it, sliding it out and locking it in place is simple. So is hurting yourself if you aren’t careful.

That ramp is heavy! And pulling it too hard can turn it into a battering ram with you being the one getting battered. Ease it out all the way and set it down on something not your toes. And remember to set those hooks at the top of the ramp securely in place!

How to Unload Safely and Quickly

Get off to a pretty slow start

That’s right! Even if nothing looks about to topple over, you still want to take it easy when you begin unloading your stuff.

Your stuff will shift and resettle in transit

This goes triple if you have a freight trailer!

The pedal of the bicycle you so carefully placed on top of all those boxes might now be stuck in between two of those cartons, and pulling too hard trying to free your bike can send a whole stack of stuff cascading down on top of you. 

Remember, if your truck was packed to the gills, you won’t have much room back there for your feet. Take your time. Watch your step. Ease those first items off the truck, always aware of how close your Nikes are to the edge of that deck. One misstep and there goes your stuff (and you).

Assign a ramp person

If you have someone (or a few people) helping you, assign one person to stay on the truck to break down the load and put everything at the edge of the deck where the others can grab it without having to climb into the truck.

Not only does this save time, it also eliminates a ton of bending over.

Working like this, it’s never long before the person on the truck gets ahead of the others. This is a good time for that person to nominate someone to help carry that sofa or dresser off the truck and into the house. In addition, jumping off the truck and helping get all the stuff they’ve set on the deck into the house is the obvious way to keep the process rolling.

Tackling the unload all by yourself? Try working in a similar fashion. As you break down your load, position as many boxes and other items as possible along the edge of the deck. Then you’ll be able to make a bunch of trips back and forth without having to walk up and down that ramp every time, saving both your legs and your back.

 

Form a box brigade

Building on above, if you are lucky enough to have two or more people helping you unload:

  • Keep one person working on the truck
  • One person carrying stuff from the truck to a staging area (usually the garage or the front door)
  • One person working inside carrying everything from the staging area to where it all belongs

Naturally, the person on the truck will start getting ahead of the person carrying stuff to the staging area, who will in turn probably get ahead of the person running back and forth inside the house. Periodically jumping off the truck or stepping inside to help your buddy catch up keeps everyone moving – and quickens the process of emptying out that truck or portable container.

Which, of course, leaves more time to enjoy the pool.

Use a dolly

When you are unloading your moving truck, a hand truck (also known as a dolly) is your best non-human friend.

Rolling heavy stuff means you don’t have to carry it. Rolling a stack of boxes means making one trip instead of three or four! The bigger your load and the heavier your stuff, the more you will thank yourself for having that hand truck around. It’s an essential item to rent of your moving truck doesn’t come with one, or if you don’t hire moving labor.

Make sure, by the way, to use that hand truck correctly. You should always be higher than the dolly when rolling stuff down that ramp. If you are hand-trucking something large and/or heavy, have an extra set of hands at the lower end to keep that thing moving steadily—and slowly!

Want to really learn how to use a dolly? Check out this post.

Center everything before it goes off the truck

It goes without saying that when you’re unloading major appliances and large pieces of furniture – or anything for that matter – you want to be doubly certain neither your feet nor the wheels of your hand truck miss that ramp.

But you also want your hand truck to hit the ramp squarely; if one wheel starts going downhill before the other your hand truck will start to tip to one side. Your buddy on the bottom end will naturally try to steady it, which can send one of his feet off the side of the ramp, and things will just keep going downhill from there.

Whether you are rolling or carrying that big heavy appliance or piece of furniture, you want to get centered on the back of the truck before you head for that ramp.

Again, when using a dolly, those wheels go down before you do. If you and a buddy are carrying that item, whoever is holding the bottom end needs to travel down first. In either case, the person on the lower end is responsible for maintaining a straight line of forward progress. 

Ready to unpack?

That’s a whole other thing, so make sure to read our unpacking guide too!

Protip: If you have to walk up a slope or up any stairs, it’s good practice to turn yourselves around so the person holding the top of that big bulky piece is again in a higher position.

Going upslope, however, the person on top takes over steering duty. The person on the bottom then will have the responsibility of providing most of the upward momentum. (This is especially true when going up a staircase.)

In other words, the person on bottom pushes while the person on top does their best to avoid banging into the walls and tripping up the steps. 

Get Some Quick Help

And if all else fails (or you realize you have more stuff than you thought you did after loading your truck), do yourself a favor and double-check our movers’ prices for unloading trucks.

Get Help Unloading Your Rental Truck

See prices for movers by the hour—instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

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From my decades of experience moving people, an unbooked mover is pretty motivated to come out, as opposed to sitting around doing nothing. Do a quick fly by on HireAHelper if you were wondering, “But are there any local movers near me available to lend me and my friends a hand?”

I’ve saved plenty of people’s moving day who thought to check, even last second.

Illustrations by Emily Roberts

What’s a Moving Container? A Guide for Everything You Need to Know

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If you’re planning a move and have done the slightest bit of research, you might be wondering, “What’s a moving container?” Most of us can understand rental trucks, which we often see passing by us on the highway.

Well if you’re still confused, think of moving containers as the younger, hipper cousins to rental trucks.

Moving containers (commonly, but incorrectly called moving pods given “PODS” is a specific brand) are basically just portable storage units. They are metal or wood containers in which you can store your stuff.

Moving far away?

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Because they are portable, they can be loaded onto a truck for transport down the block (or across the country!). Moving containers make it ultra-convenient for people to load, pack and transport their stuff.

They can be delivered to your home or office, where it remains on the grounds while someone loads it up with your stuff. When you’re ready to move, you can call the company to have a professional driver pick it up and deliver it to the next location. There, you unload the goods and move in! You might have seen them on the grounds of your neighbor’s home or local businesses.

Once you know what they are, you’ll start spotting them everywhere.

What Do They Look Like?

It varies, but by and large, moving containers just look like big boxes. Container sizes vary. Some are as big as 16 feet long, while others are as small as 7 feet long. Their heights differ, too. Some are skinny and taller to take advantage of the height to pack in more stuff. Others are shorter, which is really convenient for loading but, of course, might not allow you to fit as many things.

Where Do I Go to Get a Moving Container?

PODS claims to be the founder of this niche in the industry, and it is arguably the best known of the container companies. But there are other big names, including 1-800-PACK-RAT, Smartbox, and Go Mini’s, to name a few. Even U-Haul has gotten in on the act with U-Box.

What Are the Differences Between Companies?

PODS offer customers the chance to rent up to three different sized containers based on their needs. Others, such as Smartbox, rent out just one size container. (In their case, it’s 8 feet wide and 7 feet tall.) Containers are also made of different materials, depending on which company you choose. PODS are steel-framed. U-Pack’s containers are made of “weatherproof metal.” Some others are made of wood and usually include some weatherproof type of covering instead.

People frequently debate the merits of each type of container. Some say the metal containers – the likes of which can be found at PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT – are best because of their sturdy construction and ability to stand up to any kind of weather. Others argue they lack air circulation, which can potentially cause mold, mildew, or at the very least, musty smells. The wooden containers, such as the pressure treated plywood ones that U-Haul/U-Box rents, might allow for more ventilation, but they are not necessarily as weather resistant.

If you really want to dig into all the pros and cons of each company, including average prices, reviews, pictures and more, check out the moving container page at Moving101.

How Much Do Moving Containers Cost?

Moving containers can be pretty affordable relative to other moving services. They are especially good for those moving to and from smaller homes and apartments. 

Prices can range between around $500 (to move stuff to and from a small home or apartment in a local move) to $5,000 (for multiple containers making a long-distance move with many items from a large home). The cost really depends on the amount of stuff you plan on transporting and the distance the driver will be traveling.

How do you figure out exactly how much your containers would cost? These are the questions to ask:

How Big Is My Place I’m Moving Out From?

When you have a bigger home, you generally need to rent more containers, which of course elevates the price.

In addition, you have to be able to park these containers somewhere without violating local ordinances; with multiple large containers, you might have trouble—especially in a city where parking can be challenging. Sometimes, more containers also require more drivers or trucks. This all matters when gathering estimates.

Where Am I Moving To and From?

As you might imagine, the cost also depends on which company you choose, based on which container is better for your stuff and if they’re available in your area.

For example, PODS typically charges a little more than $600 for a local move and more than $3,000 for a long-distance move. On the other hand, Door to Door charges about $1,700 for local moves and more than $2,300 for a longer move. (UPDATE: Door to Door has been purchased by U-Haul and absorbed into their U-Box service.)

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

Clearly, all the prices are more than you would spend on a rental truck that you would drive yourself. That makes sense if you think about it. Companies are baking in the costs of the professional driver, their moving trucks, maintenance and fuel. (The cost will also rise the longer you keep the container for storage, as well as the more stuff you have to pack.)

Generally, moving containers remain economical for many of those planning a move and looking for a little more convenience and storage. It will cost more than a full-fledged DIY Move that includes renting a moving truck, but it won’t break the bank in the way a Full-Service Move would cost.

When Would I Use a Moving Container?

Moving containers are a good fit for people who want to conveniently load and unload their stuff in a specific location, on their own schedules. (There’s also no question it’s a better fit for those going a shorter distance and moving less stuff.) But there are plenty of times a portable storage is your best option.

Let’s say you can’t get the key to your place until the 25th of the month, but your lease ends on the 14th. What do you do? You call a moving container company.

How Does Booking a Moving Container Work?

Then typically, you go online or get on the phone, pick out a container, then schedule a date to drop it off wherever your stuff is. A sales representative will help you schedule based on how long you plan to keep the container for loading. You might ask about keeping it longer for storage purposes, in which case you can keep it on the grounds of the old place, or have it transported to the new place if you can get permission from owners or those moving out. Or you could even keep the container in one of the company’s storage facilities if they offer one.

You might need the container a few days to load it up. This is one of the differentiating factors between moving containers and trucks (and sales reps love to point this out). After all, rental trucks usually lock you into a schedule with little to no wiggle room.  

But there’s a catch with that flexible schedule. Sure, you can keep the container for long periods of time. However, if you keep containers longer than one month, you will pay much more than the original estimate because moving container companies generally charge by the month.

That means you have one month to load your stuff, schedule a pickup and delivery at the next destination, unload, and finally plan for the final container pick up.

About that pickup: usually, the container company sends out a driver to load up your container onto a big truck and drive it to where it needs to go. Another reason people might find containers appealing is the fact they don’t have to drive a van or big rig themselves. You leave the driving to professionals. Anyone hesitant to maneuver one of those big trucks on a highway or a long distance could see this as a major selling point.

Can My Movers Help Me with Moving Containers Too?

Yes! Professionals can load and unload containers just as they would a rental truck. You just have to ask!

Moving containers can be a smart choice for people who are looking to make a Full-Service Move at a fraction of the cost, or especially to pull off a Hybrid Move. It’s also a great option for those who need storage. Getting professional help moving can make the move actually not stressful. If you want to save your back and your relationships (by not having to ask family and friends for help), then they’re worth consideration.  

What If I’m Moving Long Distance?

Most container companies are actually excellent alternatives to traditional moving companies, since you can save a lot more money and transport is still included in your cost.

The best way to do a stress free, long distance move while still saving money is by hiring local moving labor on both ends of your move. This is called “Hybrid Long Distance”, and HireAHelper employs people who are trained professionals in getting you the best possible price point – sometimes as much as 40% cheaper than those big vans you see on the highway.

Click here to learn more about how to cut down the price for a long distance container quote.

Where Should I Start?

  • The first step is learning about the different companies and types of containers they have. Check out Moving101 for all the info you’d ever possibly need. Since every moving container company’s reviews and prices are gathered there in one spot, you can easily find your best option for you, based on your budget, availability and type of container.
  • The second step is to call up the sales representatives to get the low down on their availability, find the best fit for you, and book it!
  • The last step is to decide if you’re going to hire professionals to help you complete tasks like loading and unloading the container. Remember, don’t feel boxed in. You have the power to choose how long they work for and what items they move for you.

Get Help Loading Your Container

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With a little planning, moving containers fit nicely into any Full-Service Moving hack or Hybrid Move. You can keep your stuff somewhere while you’re moving, or have someone drive your stuff to wherever you need it. If you’re moving, you’d be a little silly to not compare prices and see if a container could save you a lot of money, or if using one would just be way more convenient.

How Much Do You Tip Movers?

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 Are you supposed to tip movers?

We get this question all the time. The answer is “no”. Or, “yes”. It kinda depends, so let us explain.

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