I’m an expert on moving in NYC having moved twice within the last two years, so I know a thing or two about it. From Michigan to Hell’s Kitchen and then the East Village, I’ve done it all. The best way to approach a move is by being as prepared as possible mentally and physically. And go into it knowing that you’ll need time and some level of frustration is inevitable.

When I moved to Hell’s Kitchen from Michigan, I had few friends in the city. With my parents’ help, we rented a U-Haul and drove my belongings here. We stayed in an economical hotel near Manhattan for two nights while I searched for apartments on websites like Craigslist or Roommates.com–turnover rates are high in the NYC rental market, so you generally can’t plan visits until closer to your move-in date.

Two years after my original move, I decided to relocate to Manhattan. Though it wasn’t easy, I was better prepared this time around and knew exactly how much money, time, and energy the process would require.

The 6 Big-Picture Considerations to Address Before You Move:

  1. Know your budget – It’s best to have a budget in mind and know what type of residence you’d prefer- like a studio, 1 bedroom, or apartment that you’ll share with others. More often than not, people end up paying the most they’re willing to shell out anyway, so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
  2. Know what you’re bringing – Do you want an apartment with or without furniture? What size bed do you have, or will you need to purchase one? Are you bringing your dresser, or just looking for an apartment that has a closet? This is also a good time to start getting rid of things you won’t need/use anymore. The less stuff you have to move from one place to another, the better. My rule is if you haven’t used something in two years, get rid of it. Take measurements of your furniture and bring a tape measure when viewing apartments.
  3. Apartment/Roommate Search Sites — Use your best judgment when searching for places on roommate search services like Craigslist and Roommates.com. If you think something is fishy, trust your intuition. I had a great experience finding my first apartment through Roommates.com, but two years later when looking for my next place, I didn’t have any luck at all. Success rate varies depending on the time frame in which you’re looking to move.) Another neat way to find roommates is by attending meet-up events hosted by speedroomating.com.
  4. Be Careful About Brokers – With a broker, you should always be transparent about what you want to ensure that no one’s time is wasted. Remember that a broker charges up to 15%, so get your money’s worth.
  5. Make a Backup Plan – If you’re planning to travel with someone else, make sure to have a backup plan. Things could always fall through at the last minute, and you don’t want to be left stranded without anything to do.
  6. Research – If you’re thinking about relocating, research the area first. Is it a secure neighborhood? Do they have good places to eat out? What public transportation options are available? How does the rent compare to other apartments in the area? Finally, how close is the commute from your potential new home to your office?

The 7 Details You’ll Need to Watch For:

  1. Moving Companies – If moving unaided, call various moving companies for quotes. Some might be unavailable during your desired time frame, some may charge less on weekday moves, etc., so research is key. Additionally, it’s advisable to use a company that offers insurance. And even if you’re opting to have the movers pack everything, try purchasing boxes and packing wrap from a cheaper source like Home Depot instead of through the moving company–they tend to significantly mark up these prices.
  2. Be Watchful for Extra Costs – Know that there may be other, unforeseen expenses when you’re budgeting for your move (like movers, parking tickets, tips for the people helping you move, etc.).
  3. Building Communication – If you live in a building with an elevator, make sure the freight elevator is available to use when you book your movers. Some high-rises charge a fee to use the freight elevator on weekends, for example, the building I just moved out of Hell’s Kitchen.
  4. Roommate Communication — If you have roommates, make sure to establish a clear line of communication before you move out. This includes letting them know what time movers will be coming when you’ll drop off the keys, and how long it will take for you to receive your security deposit back. If you’re moving in with other people, also let them know what time you plan on moving in so that there isn’t any confusion or overlap.
  5. Electricity Account – Set up the ConEd account in advance: http://www.coned.com/customercentral/becomingacustomer.asp
  6. Cable/Internet Account – Research internet and cable providers to get the most competitive deal–sadly, many apartments in older buildings in Manhattan are not able to receive FiOs.
  7. Mailing Address – After you’ve settles on a new place, change your mailing address through USPS (it only costs $1 online). https://moversguide.usps.com/?referral=USPS

If you’re moving to or from a city, then you know how much of a headache it can be. With these tips though, I hope to make your move as smooth and easy as possible. Moving sucks, but it’s just something that we have to deal with every now and again – especially if we want to live in an urban area. After going through my own move recently, I feel like I can handle anything life throws at me now! For me personally, moving was also an important milestone; after getting everything settled in my new place, I felt like officially crossed into adulthood.

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