The Moving Checklist: Everything You Need to Know to Move

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Updated (12/3/2019): New info for 2019

The moment you know for sure that you’re about to move, life seems to turn on its head.

You instantly have a million questions on what to do next, but often feel like you have no place to turn for those important answers. That’s where we come in! This moving checklist will ensure that you get all of the essentials done so you stay on track for a stress-free move.

Create a Timeline to Tackle Your Move Using Our Moving Checklist

Moving is a process. It shouldn’t (and can’t) happen overnight. Our checklist provides a detailed and resourceful step-by-step guide as you start your journey to a new place, big or small. What should you be doing now? What should you be doing the month, week, or even day of the move? Heck, is there anything extra to do after the move, besides unpacking? We’re here to answer all of those questions for you!

Table of Contents

6 Weeks Before the Big Move

4 Weeks Before the Big Move

3 Weeks Before the Big Move

1 Week Before the Big Move

A Successful Moving Day

Following Up After the Big Move

6 Weeks Before the Big Move

Moving Checklist: 6 Weeks Out

How do I plan to move out? And what are my moving options?

Before you begin this moving checklist, we highly suggest you read this Moving 101 guide to get all of the details on your moving options. Essentially, moves fall into one of these three categories:

  • Do-It-Yourself Move: You rent the truck (or find a friend’s truck), load it up, then drive it all to the next location by yourself or with friends.
  • The Hybrid Move: You hire help to load and/or unload the truck, you drive and rent the truck.
  • Full-Service Move: You can relax while the movers take care of loading and driving. The movers you choose will depend on a number of factors, including budget and timeline.

Moving101 has charts and up-to-the-day costs to help you find the right move for your situation. Plus, you can use the Moving Cost Calculator to get your budget in order from the very start.

When should you schedule movers?

For the absolute best prices and flexibility, start purusing available movers and trucks now, at roughly six weeks out.

If you are renting a truck for your move, make sure to compare your options. U-Haul isn’t the only option anymore. Budget and Penske are just two of the rental truck competitors that have their own fleets available all over the country.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to stress about actually booking movers just yet … you have until about three weeks before the move to do it comfortably. And if you’re just booking labor-only move helpers from HireAHelper, you also have plenty of time to secure them – you don’t necessarily have to start worrying until two weeks before the move. After that, though, movers and trucks become harder to come by.

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How do I prepare to move to another state?

However, if you are booking a Full-Service Move, complete with movers, a truck and even a container, then booking now at six weeks out will keep you right on track. This is especially true if you are moving to another state, where things like state laws and paperwork for movers going across state lines come into play. This month and a half timeline is more likely to ensure the things you need on moving day are available and reserved just for you!

Consider renting a container for your things.

Container moves are a perfect way to move in some situations, especially ones where your new property is not ready yet. This container guide lays out the pros and cons to help answer whether or not a container move is a good fit for you. Did you know most moving companies will store your container for one month for free? Yes, this guide has the scoop to help you decide what’s the best plan for your situation.

Get rid of the stuff you don’t need now before you think about packing.

Purging before a move is a great idea for a number of reasons. Not only will you have less to pack up and move, but you’ll also have less to unpack and organize in your new place. The easiest way to slowly purge is to keep a small box or bag in every room of your house (especially in the closets). Items you find that are broken, missing or just never used should be added to these boxes and eventually donated or thrown away. You can also have a garage sale or sell your old items online, which will help you make some last-minute cash right before your move. For items you end up donating, be sure to save the documentation from the donation center so you can use it as a tax write-off at the end of the year.

What exactly can I do with my old stuff?

When it’s time to finally sort through the items in those donation boxes, here is a list of items you can donate to particular spots in your city. And if you have any random items to get rid of (a mattress, outdated appliances), we’ve got you covered too. Read up at those links!

4 Weeks Before the Big Move

Moving Checklist: 4 Weeks Out

Start notifying businesses about your upcoming move.

Four weeks before your move is a good time to start notifying the necessary people or companies about your relocation. These parties include:

  • Utility companies
  • Local schools
  • Homeowner’s insurance company
  • Current landlord
  • Bank/credit card companies
  • Government agencies
  • Anywhere you hold subscriptions
  • Anyone else who may be sending you important documents over the next few months

Not only do you want to notify them of your move, but of course you will need to give them your new address to them if you will still be using their services. When it comes time to change your mailing address, this step-by-step guide was extremely helpful for us.

Start collecting moving boxes now.

No moving checklist is complete without helping you figure out what kind of moving boxes you want. And there are plenty of ways to get them on the cheap … or even FREE if you do a little research. This checklist outlines all of the places you can score free boxes, and here’s a list of places you can try to at least get a deal on the ones you do purchase. But always remember that wherever and however you get your boxes, be sure they are clean and in good shape. No matter how cheap they are, there’s no value in getting your stuff dirty or crushed.

Since you still have plenty of time before the move, you don’t need to be frantically throwing items into boxes. Four weeks is plenty of time to start packing your stuff with an organized game plan. Will you pack items from one room together? Will you pack items of the same size together? Whatever method works for you is great, just be sure you are labeling your boxes as clearly and as detailed as possible so the unpacking process is even easier! If you’re not sure what labeling system is best for you, we really love this trick because it makes moving day efficient.

Purchase furniture to be built or delivered. 

Buying furniture now is a great idea so it can be ordered and delivered to your new home just as you’re about ready to set things up. Instead of lugging over that king-sized bed or oversized buffet, sell those items on Craigslist and look for new items that will fit. If they’re back-ordered or will take time to ship, that’s perfect because you still have a month to go!

Remember: if you have them shipped to your new address, you won’t have to worry about moving them. For items you end up buying on Craigslist, be sure to set up the pickup date on your moving day so that you can utilize the truck you have already rented! You can use this same trick at stores like IKEA. You can do all of your shopping and arrange to pick up these large pieces on your moving day so you can get the most bang for your buck for your moving truck rental.

3 Weeks Before the Big Move

If you decided to rent a truck, figure out which one and how big it needs to be about now.

Now that we’re three weeks out, it’s time to book your truck. The kind of truck you rent will be different for each move, but it will mostly depend on how much stuff you’re moving from point A to point B. You may want to shop around to find the best deal and see which day will be the least expensive. This post guides you through all of these important truck rental factors.

Okay, who exactly should I hire to move my stuff?

That’s the easiest question on this list! Just check out HireAHelper for all of your heavy lifting needs. You can find local movers to help you on moving day so you won’t have to lift a finger. It’s suggested that you book your Helpers about 2-3 weeks in advance, so now is the time to get this checked off your to-do list.

It’s (officially) time to start packing.

It’s finally time to start packing up. And since you already figured out where to get boxes on the cheap, you can go ahead and pick up all of your moving supplies. Don’t forget to consult this post for a list of all of the supplies you will need for packing (plus tips to pack them up efficiently).

Make sure you know what you’re not allowed to transport on moving trucks.

Yep, you can’t bring it all! Here’s an entire list of things you should keep off the truck come moving day. Be sure to have a game plan to get these items to your new place.

How do I pack strange objects?

Moving Checklist: 3 Weeks Out

Let’s face it, not everything you own is going to fit nicely into a cardboard box. But we’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions to pack up even the most unusual objects, such as these: 

1 Week Before the Big Move – What should I do a week before moving?

Do the mandatory cleanups of your old place.

It’s always nice to leave your old property in good shape for the new homeowners, but for renters, it’s imperative to do a few things before you leave in order to increase the chances of getting your security deposit back. After your place is emptied, make sure to patch and paint any holes in the walls so you don’t get charged for this simple repair. If there is anything else your landlord requires (like getting the carpets professionally cleaned), be sure to coordinate this before you head out.

What else should I pick up at the store?

Call us crazy, but we think a fanny pack may be the best thing to wear come moving day … and here’s why! Now’s the time to find a sweet one so you’re all prepped and ready.

Also, consult this list so you have the seven items you absolutely need for moving day.

Prioritize the right cleanups for your new place.

Cleaning is the next big one on our moving checklist. If you can get into your new house, we highly suggest you head over there before you actually move everything in to give the space a good, deep clean. Here are five areas that need some TLC right away. You can also setup time for a locksmith to come over to your new place to re-key the locks shortly after your move.

A Successful Moving Day

Moving Checklist: Moving Day

Be fully prepped with all the right stuff.

  • Put on your handy dandy moving day fanny pack and make sure you have these moving day essentials all ready to go.
  • If you booked a container, it should be fully loaded before moving day … especially if you have a morning pickup for your container.
  • If you rented a truck, make sure you get to the rental place early to avoid a line. Start your day on the right foot and totally on time! Also, if you hired Helpers, make sure you allow yourself at least an hour for picking up the truck so you can get back in time. You don’t want to waste any valuable time with your hired help!
  • The best thing you can do is to have a talk with you and your moving team at the beginning of the day. Go over all of the key pieces of information so everyone is on the same page from the start. You need to be a confident leader!

If I hired movers what should I do?

Sit back, be a manager and watch them do the heavy lifting. Yes, this may feel a little awkward, but it’s what they’re there for! (Plus, for insurance reasons, you’re usually not allowed to help anyway.) Don’t be afraid to speak up if you want them to do something differently, like wrap the piece of furniture with one more pad for safety!

If I didn’t hire movers what should I do?

Get ready to hope your friends show up! Maybe do some stretches so you can avoid injury and mentally prepare yourself for being on the downside of a couch in a stairwell praying your friend holding the top doesn’t let go! At the very least, it’s going to be a long day, so stay hydrated and nimble. You’ll be extra excited to check this off the moving checklist.

Unload and label your stuff in the most efficient way.

If you used our labeling tips to make a gameplan for which room each box should be delivered, then you’ll want to label the doors in the new place based on the key. This will keep things organized and will ensure that your Helpers get the right boxes in the right rooms of your new pad.

Should I tip my movers? If so … how much?

There’s a lot of debate on whether you should tip your movers or not, and if you do tip…how much should you cough up? For more clarification, check out this post and then make your call.

Following Up After the Big Move

Moving Checklist: Hiring Movers

Get rid of or utilize all your moving boxes correctly.

Chances are you’ll have a lot of leftover boxes. Here are some ideas to make the most of all of that cardboard:

If you can keep those boxes around for your next move, your future self will thank you. But if you don’t want to repurpose or don’t have the room to save them, please, don’t forget to recycle them! Here’s a searchable database that’ll let you know the closest place to recycle anything of yours that can be reused, including those moving boxes!

Meet your neighbors online!

Nothing like starting off on the right foot with the people you’ll be living next to for quite some time. Check out this post on neighbor etiquette, download the Nextdoor app (must have!), and then muster up the courage to head next door and say, “hello.”

Unpack (efficiently). 

Of course! We’ve got industry tips to make your unpacking party more manageable and more enjoyable. (Yes, it can be fun, but make sure you don’t hurt your back!).

Can I finally relax?

Yes, it’s time to celebrate! You definitely deserve to focus on this celebration step before moving onto the few remaining steps! After your move we think it’s important to take a deep breath and celebrate in your new home. You’ve earned it!

What’s next?

Now the fun finally begins … getting settled into your new home! Consider painting the walls one of our favorite neutral colors, adding some smart home accessories, and even try tackling some of these DIY projects to transform your new home into home, sweet home. 

Two Ways to Take This Moving Checklist With You

    1. Tried and True Printer Friendly PDF – A ready-for-paper checklist. Pencil sold separately.
    2. Digital Friendly *Expanded* Version – Download/screenshot/save to your camera roll.

Illustrations by Dola Sun

Should You Use Salt or Sand on an Icy Driveway?

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Updated for 2019: This post has been updated with new information.

Taking a spill on your icy driveway is bad enough when you’re carrying your car keys. So imagine wiping out while carrying a dresser full of clothes. Scary scenario, for us and for our movers. (And one reason people prefer to move in summer.)

If the forecast for your move date calls for moisture and freezing temps, you might be thinking: Should I cover my front walk and driveway with salt or sand? Sand is used to cover up the snow, salt will melt it.

If you have the option, sand is always better.

Why? Let’s break down first how to best apply both of these, which will explain the pros and cons of both.

First of all, shovel the area you’re going to walk

The best defense is a good offense. If it snows the night before your move, it almost goes without saying that the first thing you’ll want to do is grab a shovel and get to work clearing the area.

If you live where temperatures can remain below freezing for days on end (if not weeks—hello, Minnesota!), then you’ll understand the importance of shoveling your driveway before all that snow gets packed down and turns to ice.

Now let’s decide whether to melt that ice or cover it up.

Sand or Ice?

If Mother Nature insists on coating the driveway with ice, we have two choices.

We can either melt it or cover it up.

The answer depends on how cold it is, as well as how much you care if it gets into the environment. In either case, the biggest priority is traction.

The case for sand

Covering up ice in our way can be quick and pretty easy. All we need is a bag or two of sand.

Sand is less toxic, much cheaper, and works immediately.

But you might have to keep reapplying it. Keep in mind these few things:

  • Since sand provides traction, once it gets ground into the snow or ice it becomes less effective. As many times as you or your movers will be walking back and forth on it, you’ll likely have to put more down once or twice during the move.
  • In extremely cold temperatures, sand can freeze in hazardous clumps. Some suggest adding salt to the sand to help prevent this from happening, but if it’s cold enough, that salt won’t help either (more on that in a minute).
  • Sand comes in several varieties. The stuff explicitly meant for icy roads is better than sandbox sand, which in turn is better than something like mason’s sand. In other words, the grittier, the better.
  • After the fact, sand can collect in drainage systems and the soil, eventually clogging up lakes, streams, pipes and sewers. That means it’s also getting into our drinking water. Clean up what you can or give the neighbor’s kid a few more bucks to make sure it’s cleaned.

The case for salt

Instead of covering your packed snow and ice with sand, you can try melting it with salt. Because it’s specifically designed for this purpose, it can definitely be an attractive option.

But if you don’t apply salt several hours or a day or so ahead of when you need to safely walk on the area, salt is largely pointless, as it needs time to begin working.

Running out and buying the biggest, cheapest bag you can find might be your first instinct, but as with sand, there are a few things to consider.

  • Driveway salt, sometimes called “rock salt”, doesn’t melt ice like, say, a hot rock or a flamethrower would. Instead, when mixed with water, it forms a liquid brine (a fancy name for “salt water”) which has a lower freezing point than pure water. This brine then acts to lower the freezing point of the water it comes in contact with, effectively melting italthough only down to a certain degree. (Brine that is 20% salt will still freeze below 0˚F.)
  • Throwing some salt down on your icy driveway will get you nowhere if it’s too cold for the salt to actually mix with the ice! The salt needs to draw moisture from the air to create a brine which will act on the ice it touches, which will melt and further the reaction. Alternatively, there needs to be some heat, from the sun or from friction, to initiate the melting process. In other words, don’t wait until your movers are pulling up to your house before you start throwing that salt around.

Other concerns about salt

The cheapest and most plentiful salt you’ll find is basically table salt, or sodium chloride (NaCl). That may sound perfectly safe, but do be aware:

  • That salt may contain small amounts of cyanide, which isn’t exactly good for any curious pets or animals.
  • Using salt can cause metal to rust and can damage blacktop, cement, flagstone, brick, wood and pretty much anything else your driveway is (or has). If you’re interested, this damage is not merely from the salt, but from the increase in freeze/thaw cycles that come with the brine’s lower freezing point, which can begin to break down the integrity of the surface with which it is in contact.
  • Got a cool yard? Salt can damage plants by inhibiting their ability to absorb water and nutrients. Salt also leaches heavy metals into the water supply.
  • Got pets? If salt gets lodged in your pet’s paws, it can cause a nasty burning.

There are also salt and sand alternatives!

Alternatives to salt would more accurately be called “variations of salt” and have a spectrum of merits. While you can probably find any of these at a store, which one to pick is most dependant on exactly how cold it is where you are.

  • Calcium chloride (CaCl): Covers a wider area than rock salt with a lower freezing point (around minus 25˚F). It also works more quickly because it gives off heat as it dissolves. Like rock salt, calcium chloride is corrosive to metal and can leave a slimy residue. It also encourages algae growth which clogs waterways.
  • Magnesium chloride: It’s similar to calcium chloride, albeit somewhat less corrosive, and will begin to absorb moisture from the air at 32% humidity, speeding up the melting process.
  • Potassium chloride (KCl): Despite its use for executions by lethal injection, is safer for pets and plants than calcium chloride. With a freezing point of around 12˚F, it is also less effective.
  • Nitrogen-based urea products: This is similar to fertilizers in that they are expensive, ineffective under 20˚F and, like other salts, will eventually get into the water supply, lakes and streams.
  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA): Can prevent ice down to around minus 27˚F and is much more environmentally friendly than the abovementioned salts – at a much higher price.

Are there more eco-friendly alternatives?

With all the pros and cons of these salts and chemicals, you may be wondering, “Is there an eco-friendly way to de-ice my driveway?”

Yes. Maybe. It depends on your definition of “eco-friendly” and your motivation to be so.

Grist offers a few eco-ish alternatives to rock salt in an editorial. GreenMoxie also goes all out. Read about them there.

But what everyone seems to agree on – including us – is that there’s no better way to keep your driveway and your front walk clear of ice than grabbing that shovel and getting to work.

Or maybe get the neighbor’s kid to do it.

Final Tips

  • Salt and sand the day before your move, clearing away any chunks or other bits to help keep it all from refreezing overnight.
  • Applying salt the morning of your move? The heat from all the foot traffic will help the melting process, but in the meantime, scattering some sand on top wouldn’t hurt.
  • Get an idea of how much square footage you’ll need to cover before you run out to grab that salt or sand. If a sales assistant isn’t there to help, you might find how much you need right on the bag.

And remember, get rid of whatever snow and ice you can along the way. Your movers will love you for it.

How to Move Your Garden Without Killing Your Plants

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UPDATE: Check out the How to Move Your Garden infographic below!

It’s true, just because you’re moving doesn’t mean you have to say farewell to your garden.

There is actually a myriad of reasons you might want to move your garden. Maybe you purchased a new greenhouse and want to transfer your tomatoes and other vegetables inside before fall sets in. Perhaps you just bought a new home and want to relocate your favorite perennials to the current landscape. Or maybe you simply want to place potted plants into the ground instead.

Whatever the reason, you find the need to move your garden from its present location, which is not something you should do without reading about it first. There are a lot of steps to successfully moving a garden, so get your hoes, your wheel barrels and your expandable hoses ready folks, let’s move!

If you are able, choose the season you move.

The worst time to move a garden is in the heat of the summer. Not only is the dryness damaging to the roots, but the sun is especially hot at that time of year and direct light can cause a great deal of damage. More on this from thespruce.com:

Never leave the roots exposed to sun, heat or wind. It’s tempting to remove all plants from their pots and place them where you want them to go in the garden, but roots will desiccate quickly. Remove each plant just prior to planting.

Provided you aren’t moving into a winter wonderland, any other time is better. Of course, if you have no choice but to move your garden in the heat of summer, there are tips we will include along the way to ensure your garden’s safety.

Mark where everything is going to go first.

Wherever the new location for your garden, be sure to have the spots in which you are going to plant them ready to go ahead of digging out and transplanting. In other words, visually indicate what’s going into them so things don’t get confusing. If you are planting them in bigger pots, make sure the soil is ready to go at the bottom so the transfer will be ready to go. Conversely, if you are planting directly into the ground, make sure your spots are already dug out and big enough before anything is pulled out.

If you are moving in the heat of summer, we suggest dousing these spots with water before transferring the plants. The roots will need the moisture after the shock of being uprooted. 

If you aren’t sure exactly where you want to plant, dig trenches and create a temporary nursery for your plants!

Pot, bucket or burlap: get the transportation ready.

If you are moving your garden from one pot to another or if you are moving your potted plants into the ground, skip this step. But if you are moving your garden from one home to another, then you’ll need receptacles that can be also be moved. If basic pots or buckets aren’t available, wrap the root ball in burlap for transporting. The shock of moving is enough to kill a good deal of plants, so it’s important to make sure the transport goes as smoothly as possible.

Use a special watering schedule for soon to be in-transit plants.

It’s important during transportation that you water your plants correctly. Not to mention that watered plants are also easier to remove with the root intact.

First, you should water your garden the night before you plan on moving it so that the plants are well hydrated for the move. This helps them sustain what’s called “the jolt of transit”. 

Secondly, don’t go easy on the roots; Soak them well! If by chance you have plants with bare roots (or “naked roots”), the bottoms of these plants need to be submerged in water for two to three hours before being replanted. Here are just a few common bare-root plants to look out for:

  • Shrubs
  • Hosta
  • Daylilies
  • Roses
  • Fruit trees
  • Prarie Onion

Trim excess stems.

It’s suggested you cut off any stems or foliage that are dying or in excess. Doing this will diminish the trauma your plant might experience. However, this isn’t universally necessary for all plants, so use your best judgment!

Dig up using the drip line.

Now it’s time to dig up those plants. But you won’t want to dig into the base of the plant. Doing so risks chopping up a healthy root! Instead, take a hand shovel and dig a ring around the main stem of your plant, carefully paying attention to where the roots are positioned. This is the drip line, otherwise known as the area your plant drips onto the ground, and it’s a great method for digging up plants.

For larger plants, the ring you dig around the plant should be at least 6 inches deep. When you start digging around any size plant you will find that you will likely cut some roots on the way. This is okay, but make sure they are clean cuts, not torn.

Once the ring is dug, use a larger shovel (or several, for larger plants) to pop them out of place. Don’t shake or remove any soil from the root ball, since this will serve as protection. Put your plants into their transportation vehicles to get them ready for their final destinations!

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Re-plant (the right way).

You want to plant your garden in its new location as soon as possible. We would suggest doing it right after you are done uprooting them. If that isn’t possible, then quickly get them into their temporary, transitional home. Just remember, the longer the plant is out, the harder it will be to set.

Before placing your newly removed plants to their new home, you should water the holes and trenches you’ve created. Once you placed water again, gently top the roots off with some soil. Protip: Make sure the soil is solid, but not so dense it smothers the plant.

Reduce stress on the plants.

Once you have your plant in its place, give it a little shower to cool off the leaves. Provide some shade for plants planted in direct sunlight for at least a couple days. You might need to water these plants every day until they grow strong again. If you can do this gentle process in the cooler parts of the day, your plants will thank you for it. Also, if you see anything drooping, water it right away!

Check out our infographic for how to move your garden without killing your plants!


Tim Moore is the lead editor of Backyard Boss and is a lifelong backyard enthusiast. He grew up immersed in the outdoors, camping every weekend and tending to the backyard with his family. Follow Tim and Backyard Boss on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for everyday inspiration for your backyard.

How I Afforded to Move to the Big City

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For the first twenty-five years of my life, I lived in the same small town in south Florida. My hometown is nothing short of—well, boring.

While taking online classes at the University of Central Florida (UCF), I decided that in order to finally graduate, I needed to move straight into the heart of UCF. But the college campus is in Orlando and I had never moved more than thirty minutes away from my parent’s house, let alone a big city!

Moving from a small town to a big city can be intimidating. (At least, that’s how the movies make it seem.) However, what I learned from my own big move was that it shouldn’t be, and can actually be affordable – if you know what to do.

Step 1: Establishing a New Job

Step one when you are moving to a new city is to naturally find a job.

If you’re not moving for a career, establishing a new job in a big city was probably the most intimidating aspect of my move, especially since I was still in college.

In my small town, there were just a few chain restaurants here and there, only one hotel, and a handful of locally owned businesses. That’s it. Needless to say, jobs were scarce. (I worked at the same hotel for nearly four years because I heard horror stories about how hard it was to find work.)

Before I moved, I used the site Glassdoor because you can set up filters for the type of work I’m looking for. Every single day, I would submit resumes to jobs I considered accessible and efficient. My advice? Don’t be picky about the kind of job you start off with when you get to your new, big city home. You literally can’t afford to be.

Even if you aren’t a student like I was, one line of work I highly recommended is serving. Why? I needed to find something that would allow me to pay my budgeted rent and the ability to buy groceries without committing to forty hours a week. Serving not only teaches you humility, but it’s the easiest line of work to fall into; there are typically tons of opportunities, it’s an easily transferable trade, and the money isn’t bad, either.

Here are a few hacks to remember for getting a job in a big city:

  • Sign up for job search websites, such as Glassdoor
  • Schedule as many phone interviews as you can before you move
  • But don’t start taking interviews until you are 1-3 months away from your move date
  • For any in person interviews, let your potential employer know you are traveling for potential travel reimbursement
  • Calculate an exact starting so you can cite it for all your potential employers

Step 2: How to Budget for the Big City Prices

It can be hard to decipher what amount of rent you will be able to afford if you haven’t even started your new job. This was stressful for me at first, but I figured out a trick!

I saved up the equivalent of three months’ worth of rent so that I would have everything covered. I did this by saving 10% of my weekly earnings for my Big Move a year (yep, 12 months!) before I planned on moving.

An easy way to keep track of your money is to practice using a personal finance management app on a regular basis. There are plenty, but personally, I like to use Mint because it helps track what is going in and out of my bank account. (Which means I can see when I’ve been whipping out my debit card too much.) You can also set various different budgeting goals so you can start saving for your Big Move and traveling expenses.

I also set simple budgeting stipulations for myself that I implemented to last from the year before I moved, until the year after I moved.

During this time, my budget was strict, but worth it in the end. Here are the key components you need to keep track of:

  • Rent and Utilities: 35% of income
  • Life (food, gas, etc): 25% of income
  • Transportation: 15% of income
  • Debt Repayment (yes, get a credit card): 15% of income
  • Savings: 10% of income

Protip: Affording an Apartment

It was actually really easy to find a home within my budget. Unlike my hometown, Orlando has an insane amount of living options! Initially, I started by looking for studio apartments by UCF (there were a lot). But then I discovered Roomsurf, which lead me to find fellow students in need of roommates. It was a lot better (and safer) than using Craigslist.

I got to bunk with a fellow English major and met some of my best friends at my apartment complex. This was another great thing; I didn’t have to live in student housing, but I still lived around people my age.

Here are some things to keep in mind for you Big City home search:

  • Intricately figure out your rent budget before you start looking
  • Include three months’ worth of rent money in your savings (just in case)
  • Budget for traveling expenses and plan one full weekend to look at houses/apartments nonstop
  • Look for low-income housing, often near a city’s major college campuses
  • Find a roommate using Roomsurf, or another roommate app

Step 3: Getting Rid of Your Stuff

Next, start packing!

Rather than bring my baby photo albums and soccer trophies to my new, big city abode, I realized that there were some items that would be best left at my parent’s house. I also realized how much stuff I actually had! This meant either multiple trips or a pretty hefty moving truck rental.

Instead, I decided it was time to condense. Rather than dumping off a box of used clothes at Goodwill for them to make a profit, I found a way to use my old stuff to raise money for my Orlando move.

I hosted a garage sale. Then, I sold the remainder of my clothes to my local Plato’s Closet, a brick-and-mortar shop that will pay you for your slightly worn name brand clothes. What they didn’t want, I listed and sold on Poshmark. (Poshmark is a digital marketplace that allows to list and sell your subtly worn garments.)

Boom! Just like that, I was ready to start fresh, and I even had money in my pocket to fund my Big Move.

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Protip: Affording Movers

Let’s face it, if you’re trying to save money, you probably aren’t going to drop a few grand on professional movers.

But after I went through all the effort to sell a lot of my stuff, all I needed to do was haul a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen’s worth of essentials in a small rental truck. So instead of getting some big moving company quote, I just got my rental truck separately and hired a couple movers à la carte, to save a lot of money.

How did it work? After packing all my stuff, they got it all loaded into my truck for me (plus my annoyingly heavy couch). Then, I drove my truck to my new place in Orlando with the movers following behind me. After I got there, they just opened up my truck and got it all upstairs to my new place.

Since it only took a couple hours, the whole process only cost me a couple hundred bucks on HireAHelper, which honestly saved my moving day and was way, way worth it for the cost.

Now I’m a City Girl!

Moving to a city completely different from your own will take some getting used to. However, it is a far easier feat than most people realize. If you are looking to move to your nearby metropolis, I highly recommend it. Just like any move, it just takes some budgeting and ambition to get the wheels turning. And with these little tips and tricks up your sleeve, you will be fully equipped to make the Big Move all on your own.

Tiffani is a writer and a dreamer who moved to the big city to explore her opportunities. She has a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing from UCF and likes to travel. She also likes to watch Marvel films while researching social media marketing tips and cuddling with her pup, Lady Pug.

Can Movers Help You With Other Stuff Besides Moving?

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If you thought moving companies do nothing but put all your stuff on a big truck, you’d be right—if you were living sometime in the distant past.

Today’s moving companies are constantly expanding their range of services and offering them all à la carte. That half-job or heavy lifting you need help with? Sure, you can try begging and bribing your friends, or you can call up a few movers in your area. You might be surprised at what they can help you with.

So What Else, Exactly, Can Movers Help With?

More than you can probably imagine. Heck, you don’t even need to be moving to have them give you a hand! More and more, people are turning to moving companies for all kinds of tasks too big to tackle alone. Movers make great day laborers, for things like:

Clearing out your garage or basement

  • Having a couple of sets of hands to move stuff while you figure out whether it goes to the curb or your cousin’s house or back into the garage can save you an entire weekend (if your garage looks anything like mine)
  • This also applies to attics, sheds, or anywhere

Hauling individual furniture from Point A to Point B

  • From your house to the curb; from your bedroom to the basement; to that cousin’s house; to the municipal trash dump; to your local secondhand store or consignment shop

Moving everything out of the room you are repainting or remodeling 

  • And then moving it back when you are done

Hauling stuff to your home from the furniture store

  • Or from your second cousin’s house, or from the garage of the guy selling that big beautiful piano on craigslist

Movers can (and often will) also take care of those jobs tangential to a move:

Even if you’ve managed to tackle your entire move on your own, you may be left with a mountain of unwanted cardboard boxes and unusable packing paper that you just don’t want to deal with. Movers, however, see gold in those mountains. So try giving them a call.

Protip: Most movers tend to charge for a minimum of two hours of labor, due to scheduling their business hours. This is not by any means a hard and fast rule, but make sure you ask before you book your help.

Can I hire movers to JUST help me load and unload my U-Haul?

You betcha!

Renting a truck or a moving container and hiring moving labor for all the heavy lifting is a huge trend—and for good reason. You save a ton of money by renting your own truck, and you save your back by hiring movers.

À la carte movers often:

  • Bring all the equipment
  • Have all the knowledge necessary to do the job right
  • Pack stuff you need packed, wrap stuff you need to be wrapped
  • Load it all up safely and securely

You drive your U-Haul (or Penske or Budget), or have your portable container delivered, and a fresh crew of movers unloads everything at your new home. This is what we call a Hybrid Move. As far as moving goes, it’s the best of both worlds. And it’s what HireAHelper movers do best.

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Protip: If you are moving locally, your movers may be able to rent you moving blankets for a small fee. But if you are moving out of the area, you might be able to rent them from your rental truck company. You may, however, have to buy them. Just please don’t move without them!

Can my movers do my entire move?

Yes, of course. Your traditional Full Service moving company will handle the whole moving enchilada if that is what you want, including packing up your entire home, right down to your last box of biscuits. This is the easiest way to move. It is also by far the most expensive.

Movers Know Best

Of course, we can’t tell you what’s best for you. But we can say with total confidence that movers know how to best handle your stuff. Whether it’s a single item job or a few pieces of heavy furniture; whether you’re moving one room or one door down or one hundred miles away; whether you need loading help, unloading help, or both, hiring moving labor is the best and most economical way to make sure your belongings are taken care of.

If you’re not sure what to do, that’s cool. Calling a mover and asking a few questions costs nothing. And it could end up saving you a lot.


Illustrations by Rob Wadleigh

Your Life in Another Country

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Where you grow up not only determines a lot of your personality (and what you like), but it can determine your overall quality of life too.

There can be drastic differences between someone who grew up in New York vs. Los Angeles … and the difference is even more striking if you grew up in a different country with a different culture. After all, a child in Bangkok will have a drastically different experience than one growing up in Ireland.

Life Comparison Tool

Have you ever imagined what your life would be like if you moved somewhere vastly different from where you are now? Where would you choose to live? What would you spend your time doing? How would life be easier or more difficult?

Comparing things like life expectancy, unemployment rate, average purchasing power, median age and access to the internet can give you a better idea of how other cultures live. So we built this handy tool to let you do just that!

Start by picking your “country of origin” by choosing it from the list below. Next, pick the country you’d like to compare it to and analyze the different statistics.

Feel free to mix and match as you choose—be curious!

  • United States
compared to
  • United Kingdom

You are years olderyounger.

You are % lessmore likely to have AIDS.

Your country would have % lessmore debt.

Your nation would spend % lessmore on education.

You would have % lessmore free time.

You would make % lessmore per year.

You would have % lessmore saved.

Your country would be % lessmore active on the internet.

You would live a % shorterlonger life.

You would be % lessmore likely to be obese.

You would be % lessmore likely to be unemployed.

You would be % lessmore likely to be murdered.

 

Sources/Methodology:

CIA World Factbook, Unemployment |  CIA World Factbook, GDP | CIA World Factbook, Gross National Savings | OCED Data | CIA World Factbook, National Debt | CIA World Factbook, Educational Expenditures | United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime | CIA World Factbook, Obesity | CIA World Factbook, Life Expectancy | CIA World Factbook, Median Age | CIA World Factbook Internet Users | Free Time calculated by percent of OCED Hours Worked Yearly to total hours in a year

Originally published: June 25, 2018. Updated: January 23rd, 2019.

A Pro’s Guide to Moving Heavy Furniture Without Hurting Yourself

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Chances are, there are movers near you who can help you move that fridge, bed, or whatever else makes your back ache by the mere thought of picking it up. But if you can’t find the right help, or if you and your back feel up to the task, then keep reading—we’ve got you covered!

The First Step to Moving Heavy Furniture

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Okay, that’s a little weird, but moving heavy furniture is the same idea. You gotta really, really prepare.

Before you roll up your sleeves and start picking stuff up, you’ll want to do a few things:

  • Clear as wide of a pathway as you can
  • Measure that your furniture isn’t too big to go through that path
  • Mark a clear, physical end point where you will drop the item

The last one will probably be near your moving truck or storage container or, if you’re particularly strategic, a staging area (meaning your driveway, sidewalk, or the garage during sketchy weather) in order to better “Tetris” your stuff.

Disassembling Furniture

The great news is that many movers across the country will offer to disassemble any furniture that might need it in order to be moved. All you have to do is ask if your local mover offers the service.

If you’re disassembling furniture all yourself, there are plenty of basics to know when taking off table legs, moving desks, or detaching a flat screen tv.

The Most Important Basics When it Comes to Disassembly

  • When removing table legs, immediately reattach whatever nuts and bolts were holding the leg in place after the leg is off. This keeps screws from disappearing 
  • Always use a screwdriver with a magnetic head when unscrewing flat screen tv mounts, as losing important screws is extremely easy to do
  • Dresser mirrors always get removed and properly packed up. Any undetachable dresser mirrors require tons of special attention to move
  • Dining room chairs aren’t often designed to be taken apart easily, if at all. But if you have chairs with exposed bolts or screws, you may be able to disassemble them

The above just scratches the surface of what professional movers with experience know about moving furniture and disassembling furniture. You’ll learn plenty, just like I did, by trying to do it yourself.

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“The IKEA-Exception”

The furniture in your home didn’t just grow there, right? It had to have been carried in.

But the one exception to the “furniture doesn’t grow there” concept is IKEA-like furniture, or in other words, most anything you had to assemble yourself.

Full Service moving companies will generally refuse to move customer-assembled furniture made of pressboard. This is because such furniture was designed to be assembled, put in place, and never ever moved again. Any customer requesting their pressboard bookcase (or pressboard anything) be professionally moved usually has to sign a waiver stating they understand it will very likely get destroyed and the movers will assume zero responsibility for the destruction.

If you have any pressboard furniture or any furniture that – be honest with yourself – is generally cheap and flimsy, consider selling it or giving it away. Moving it costs time and money and will more than likely turn it into an unusable piece (or pieces) of trash.

Wrapping Furniture

how to move heavy furniture

At some point during the move-out process, you’ll need to wrap your furniture so it doesn’t get scratched, gouged and cracked into oblivion.

Cloth furniture pads (also known as “moving blankets”) are what movers use, and we highly recommend them. Wrapping your furniture before you carry it through your home and out the door can help protect it against incidental dings in the doorway and, quite possibly, holes in your walls.

No true professional mover will ever dream of transporting heavy furniture without furniture pads.

Protip: Moving pads can make it hard to keep a firm grip on your furniture. I always preferred to wrap everything in the staging area, or right there on the truck.

The Most Important Basics When it Comes to Wrapping Furniture

Wrapping a refrigerator or a bookcase is pretty straightforward. Wrapping a non-rectangular item like a sofa or a chair can be a challenge.

  • The key is to secure your furniture pads neatly and tightly, covering every surface except, in general, the bottom side
  • You mostly need to just make sure the pads don’t come off. Some movers use shipping tape to keep their pads in place, while others use shrink wrap. Both are effective but costly (not to mention a little wasteful). That’s why other movers use big rubber bands called “mover’s bands”. They are versatile and reusable for applications far beyond moving furniture (like, say, wrapping an office chair)
  • To secure those pads, whether you use tape, shrink wrap or those big rubber bands, just remember: avoid putting tape or shrink wrap directly on your furniture’s surfaces

How Many Furniture Pads Do I Need?

For reference, furniture pads the pros use measure 72” x 80”, give or take.

End tables, small bookcases, and dining room chairs usually only need one (1) pad; most furniture needs two (2), while things like sofas, really large dressers, even some big headboards need three (3) apiece.

How many furniture pads do you need, then? Your best bet is to go from room to room, check how many things you have that need to be wrapped, note how many pads each item will require to cover their surface, then tally it all up. (To be safe, you might want to tack on a half dozen more!)

How Do Pros Move Furniture Through Doorways?

how to move heavy furniture

Angling

If your sofa is too wide to fit through a doorway in your home, there are a few things you can do.

The simplest is to tilt it 45 degrees (more or less) so the front edge of the seat cushions and the top of the back of the couch are aligned vertically. This will make the bottom rear edge of the couch look like it is sticking further out, but all you geometry lovers out there will appreciate how this actually makes the couch narrower.

Curling

If your couch is still too wide, try standing it on end and curling it through.

Laying down a blanket first will help you smoothly and safely slide your couch through the doorway. Ease the top back edge through first, then curl the sofa around the side of the doorway closer to the seat cushions as you slip the rest of the couch through. (You can also push it through seat cushion edge first.) This same strategy can be used when trying to get oversized easy chairs through a seemingly too-narrow door.

Detaching

If you find you need a few extra inches of clearance before your sofa will pop through that doorway, try removing the legs or feet.

Even though they are sometimes nothing but short squares of wood, I’ve found on many occasions that taking them off is the difference between success and a damaged door jamb. On occasion, I’ve had to actually remove a door from its hinges in order to get a couch out the door. While not difficult, you will need a flat head screwdriver and a hammer to coax those hinge pins out, and a couple of extra sets of hands to keep the door in place until those pins pop free.

Moving Furniture Up and Down Stairs

how to move heavy furniture

Hauling large pieces of furniture – more importantly, heavy pieces of furniture – down a flight of stairs is a dangerous proposition if you don’t take it slow (and smart).

  • Make sure you have a strong friend (if not two) on the lower end as you go down (or up) the stairs. Take those steps one at a time. Rest as often as need be, simply by laying that dresser or bookcase down, right on the stairs. Just make sure it doesn’t start sliding!
  • Watch for walls, banisters, and hanging light fixtures
  • It’s easy when you’re watching your feet to forget about everything else. And that, I can tell you, includes your knuckles!
  • When sliding items around corners on landings, use a blanket underneath
    • When doing so, put a blanket down to make the sliding process easier and to avoid damaging that dresser and/or the floor. If the floor is carpeted, the item is really heavy, or if the surface it is resting on is uneven, try walking that thing forward – using small, slow, easy steps

Using Wheels to Move Your Furniture

how to move heavy furniture

If you aren’t The Hulk, a little extra help in the form of wheels can make a huge difference. Here are what the pros use:

  1. 4-wheeler: A 4-wheeler is great for moving large, heavy items over long flat distances. Two main things to watch for: your piece of furniture is resting firm and balanced, and that the wheels, usually black rubber, aren’t marking or scuffing your floors.
  2. Hand truck: A hand truck has two wheels and a metal plate on which to rest your furniture, and a long upright surface with handles. Their soft-ish wheels let you move heavy items up and down stairs and across uneven surfaces all by yourself. However, we highly recommend having a second set of hands at the lower (bottom) end of that piece of furniture any time you are negotiating stairs.
  3. Appliance dolly: An appliance dolly is basically a heavy-duty hand truck with a strap to secure in place the refrigerator, washing machine, dryer or whatever. Despite its name, an appliance dolly can absolutely be used to haul furniture.

This All Seems Hard. Are There Furniture Movers Near Me, Just In Case?

Most likely, yes!

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Start by searching HireAHelper’s massive network of local movers to find movers near you to tackle the big stuff. You don’t necessarily need to hire an entire moving crew if you just need to move your heaviest items.

Normal moving rates will apply, usually starting at a couple hundred bucks for two experienced professionals for two hours. They will usually bring all the necessary equipment, too!

If you just aren’t sure you want to move heavy furniture yourself, relax. Professionals know how to do everything in this article, plus way more.


Illustrations by Marlowe Dobbe

Your Kitchen Remodel: Cost Factors, Layout Ideas and How to Renovate

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Going into a kitchen remodel is a very intimidating task, especially if you are not very familiar with the process. In spite of this, there are a lot of people blindly diving into this large-scale project every year … including me!

How many? According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, over ten million Americans had their kitchens remodeled in 2015. And the numbers have only risen in the years since.

If you are one of those more than 10 million people tackling a kitchen remodel this year, this post is for you.

Everything To Expect When Remodeling A Kitchen

Kitchen Remodel

When I set out to get my kitchen remodeled, I honestly had no clue where to start. I had such a hard time finding info online that could map out the process for a rookie like me.

I vowed right then and there I would offer the internet everything I learned after I lived through that experience!

Take it from me, seeing the whole picture from the start is extremely helpful.

Most of the hard work (for anyone not physically putting together their kitchen infrastructure themselves) is at the front end of the process. Renovation is a lot like cooking: there’s a lot of prep.

Read over the complete process someone goes through before any work actually happens on a kitchen space:

  • Establish a budget
  • Find a designer to confirm new layout and provide accurate blueprints
  • Find and hire a contractor you trust and can afford
  • Identify where you want to buy cabinets and countertops
  • Research colors, textures, trends, materials, etc.
  • Order your cabinet and countertop and triple check to confirm your kitchen’s specs
  • Order anything else you may need (appliances, backsplash, light fixtures, faucets, sink, range hood, etc.)
  • Work with your contractor to establish a timeline
  • Keep track of all of all materials as they arrive
  • Clean out all of your old kitchen cabinets
  • Set up a temporary kitchen somewhere else in the house
  • Allow the contractors to do the heavy lifting, but be prepared to live in total chaos

Seems like a lot, huh? Don’t worry, here’s the step-by-step process.

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The first step is to create a layout, with or without a designer

Kitchen Remodel

If you plan on changing the layout your kitchen, the first thing you should do is hire a designer to work with you in identifying the best layout. Believe it or not, there’s a website for that. Head to ASID (the American Society of Interior Designers) to find one for hire near you!

From there, the designer will provide scaled blueprints that you will need to move onto the next steps. This step is technically optional, but it turned out to be the best thing I did during my remodel process!

Collect bids from contractorsKitchen Remodel

The next step in the process is collecting bids from contractors you are interested in hiring to complete your project.

Usually, bids come at no cost, so I encourage you to get several bids so you have a more accurate idea of what the project will cost you in the end. Before you decide on the contractor you wish to work with, be sure to check out this contract hiring guide and make sure you outline all of the details before you commit (and pay!).

What Specific Decisions Will I Have To Make?

To be perfectly honest, the amount of decisions you need to make as you prep for a kitchen renovation is overwhelming. But preparing for them in advance makes each task a lot more manageable.

Outside of the obvious questions regarding color and style, there are a lot of other things you will need to consider and purchase. Here is a list to keep handy:

  • Cabinet hardware
  • Cabinet door design
  • The material of the cabinet (which impacts cost)
  • The material of the countertop (which, again, impacts cost)
  • Box cabinets or special order cabinetry
  • Backsplash style, size, material
  • Appliances (style, brand, cost, color, “extras”)
  • Open shelving or closed cabinetry
  • Flooring materials and costs
  • Window treatments
  • Light fixtures
  • Extra organization (there are options built-into your cabinetry)
  • Installation of the cabinetry
  • Size of the cabinets (depth, width, and height)
  • Drawers vs. cabinets
  • Timeline
  • Can lights or fan
  • Material of sink
  • Plumping changes
  • Electrical changes

Be smart when shopping for materials

Kitchen Remodel

Once you hire the contractor, they will be a great resource for pointing you in the right directions for your materials, specifically for cabinets and countertops.

Sometimes contractors can get these products at a discounted rate if you shop at the retailers they recommend. Talk to them about this option before you decide on where you want to purchase your big-ticket items.

And if they don’t have any recommendations, you can always shop at big box hardware stores.

Protip: You will need to bring your exact measurements from your designer (or contractor) when you go out to physically shop, as well as have an idea of what design you want the kitchen to have. Of course, the salesperson can also help you make these decisions, but this is your kitchen, after all!

Finished buying? Your timeline begins now

Kitchen Remodel

After you make the cabinet and countertop order, your contractor will work with you to create a timeline of the projects that need to be done before the cabinets arrive, which will include:

  • Demolition
  • Electrical work
  • Plumbing work

Remember, cabinets can take up to eight weeks to arrive, and possibly longer if they are custom. Getting to work before the cabinets arrive will ensure they are ready to install quickly after they get to your front door.

Your contractor (or you) will get to work

Kitchen Remodel

It’s time to get to work! If you have contractors, they will work to demo your current kitchen, then work even harder to put the new and improved one back together. If you did get a contractor, this is the easy part for you because, at this point, the work is out of your hands. Most all of your hard work should have already occurred during the front end of this project.

Hope you don’t mind living without a proper kitchen for a while. Be patient and your new kitchen will be ready soon enough for you to enjoy!

How long will a kitchen renovation take?

Kitchen Remodel

Every kitchen renovation will vary in terms of timing, depending on the scope of work and the size of the space. But traditionally, a kitchen renovation can run on average 4-8 weeks. Living without a kitchen for that long can be a large inconvenience, but I am here to reassure you that if we can manage it, so can you!

Kitchen Remodel

My best advice to handle this chaos is to set up a temporary kitchen prior to demoing your current kitchen. We have our fridge, microwave, and crockpot working overtime! Plus, we meal prep at our parent’s house to make healthy food for the week (so you don’t have months and months of takeout).

Is It All Really Worth It?

Kitchen Remodel

Now being on the other side of it, it was absolutely worth it!

According to HGTV, a kitchen remodel is projected to give you a 70% return on your investment, while statistics from Today’s Homeowner reports that this number could be as high as 91% of a return on this investment! So as much as this intimidating task may seem overwhelming at first and chaotic to live through, coming out the other side will be worth it in the long run. You are adding significant value to your home by making these updates now and getting a gorgeous kitchen to enjoy at the same time.

Of course, there is a lot more information you can devour as you prepare for your upcoming kitchen remodel, but I hope this beginner’s guide gave you an overview of what to expect. Seeing the bigger picture from the start will provide you peace of mind to tackle each step with confidence, and maybe even a little bit of excitement!

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. 

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