How do I optimize having 2 flats for a week?
May 16, 2010 5:24 AM   Subscribe

I need advice on moving between apartments within 5km of each other.

We're moving from a 1BR apartment to a 2BR apartment about 4km away. I have a month to plan the move and about a week of time where we have possession of both flats. I'm looking for advice specifically about how to best make use of that one week of overlap.
posted by bardophile to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
1) If you can afford it, hire in-town movers. If you're in a city or town of a reasonable size, there are probably several outfits to choose from for reasonable prices (in Philadelphia, USA, this would run $400-500). This will make your life infinitely easier. Schedule it for the middle of the overlap week.

2) Paint before moving in, if you're going to paint.

3) Leave enough time after your stuff moves to a) decompress from the move, esp. if you do it yourself, and b) clean the old apartment.
posted by The Michael The at 5:42 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Lots of small boxes for books. If you have zipcar or other short term car rental you might get away with a truck for the beds and big stuff for just half a day.
posted by sammyo at 5:43 AM on May 16, 2010

Oh, the other hard lesson learned from my last move: plan on packing EVERYTHING at least two days before the movers arrive. Live out of a suitcase and order out for food, or, even better, go to a hotel. That way there's no last-minute "oh crap, this isn't packed... and this... and these..." and you're scrambling to box things as movers are carrying other things out.
posted by The Michael The at 6:04 AM on May 16, 2010

One question for the OP that is important for the rest of us to help you, I think: Do you have your own vehicle during the week? Are you getting a moving truck or van for a day or more? Tell us all about your transportation possibilities.

I've made a similar move several times, and I've found it useful to pack up a lot of small things first and move those in my own car before the furniture and such moves on its own one day.

A general thing I've done with moves is to label boxes as to their intended location (kitchen, BR1) and, if relevant, contents. I also put up postit notes around the new apartment with information as to what goes where. This way you don't have a big pile of boxes all in one place that you have to sort out after the fact. It speeds up unpacking. Spend part of the week measuring, if need be, to then determine where things go and set up the labeling organization system.
posted by knile at 6:24 AM on May 16, 2010

Well, first things first:

Start gathering boxes. You can often get cardboard boxes from the cardboard recycle bins of stores, just ask permission first. If you live in the US, I'm told you can have some smaller boxes sent to you by USPS for free (though I have not done this myself and am not sure how they feel about using these boxes for moving purposes).

Begin packing everything you can in the weeks prior to the move. Books, DVD collections, extra silverware, winter clothes, etc. Anything you can do without, box it up. I suggest getting colored markers or stickers and marking boxes by room (Yellow for Kitchen, Blue for Bathroom, etc.) for easy unloading at the new place.

Some people swear by movers, but I wouldn't think you'd have a ton of stuff if you're only in a 1BR currently; the DIY approach will definitely save you some money if you have the free time, energy and ability.

Some people prefer hauling their stuff in personal cars, or getting friends to help with their vehicles (if this is your plan, you might consider having an afer-move BBQ or other kind of dinner for your helpers), but I have always found it was worth the money to rent a nice big truck and do only one or two large loads. Services like PODS exist, but for a move this short I would just get a truck myself. Be sure to reserve your truck in advance; I like to get mine the day before the move and load it up that evening, then be ready to go in the morning. Oh, and when you you pick up the truck (if you go that route), do a good inspection to make sure it is road-worthy and to note any damage.

Speaking of damage, I highly recommend that as soon as you get the keys to the new place, do a walk through with a digital camera and take pictures of all the rooms and any existing damage. Can't take too many. Keep the pictures some place safe for when you move out, just in case they try to say you caused some damage that was pre-existing. Some people will have you fill out a written form to this effect noting any damage, but I like to have the pictures as well. Sometimes you don't discover a problem until later (the dishwasher leaks, etc.); report anything not noted on the first inspection to your landlord/property manager in writing as soon as you discover it, and keep a copy for yourself.

Once you get that all out of the way, the move itself should go pretty swiftly. Remember to notify the utility people and make sure everything is switched over properly if someone isn't taking care of that for you, and to get your mail forwarded to the new address.

Be sure to review the terms of your old rental agreement to see what is expected of you as far as cleaning deposits, etc. If you can get some of your money back by cleaning the carpets yourself, you might check around to see if it is worth your while.

Also take pictures of the old place once you are all moved out to document the condition. If someone tries to come along and wants to deduct from your deposit something they claim was missing or damaged, or that the place was so filthy they had to hire a special cleaning crew that cost a fortune, it's nice to have pictures to fall back on just in case.

Lastly, you might consider knocking and talking to your new neighbors. Introducing yourself is always nice, and exchanging e-mails (if you are comfortable with that) is a good means of contacting each other if the need arises.

Not sure if that sort of stuff is what you were after as far as advice, but I hope it was somewhat helpful at least. Good luck, enjoy the new place!
posted by Menthol at 6:25 AM on May 16, 2010

I'm looking for advice specifically about how to best make use of that one week of overlap.

Do all your packing before that week, or as much of it as you possibly can. The last bit of packing always takes about four times as long as it reasonably should, and you don't want to end up doing all the cleaning in the last 6 hours you have left before giving the keys back.
posted by Catseye at 6:30 AM on May 16, 2010

I'd not have thought a 1br move of 4km warrants professional movers.

Start by challenging if you actually need to move all your stuff. If you've not used it in the last 12 month get rid off it.

If you decide something needs to be moved start packing asap - although up to 1br you can probably pack in a day if you decide to do it all in one go.

Heavy duty bin liners are excellent for 'packing' and moving all manner of soft furnishings, clothes etc.

If you decide to make do with your/your friends' cars I'd make it a rule not to leave the house during your overlap week without loading the car up with stuff and dropping it off at the new place. That way your normal journeys during moving week will move the majority of you stuff. I did this when I was moving all my stuff into storage once when relocating - every morning I'd allow 10 minutes to load up the car and for my lunch break I'd head over to the storage facility and move in more stuff. It meant that on my 'moving out' day I only had three trips with my bed, mattress etc and could do it all with my medium sized car.

Don't underestimate how long it can take to clean the place you're moving out of because you'll be cleaning all the places you rarely clean.......if your lease specifies professional carpet cleaning allow time for that after your stuff has moved out.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:40 AM on May 16, 2010

should probably highlight that 'pack in a day' = pack in a very long, tiring and horrible day at the end of which you'll ache and wow to start earlier next time!
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:42 AM on May 16, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great advice so far. Two clarifications, one in response to knile, and the other just from reading.

1) As to transportation, I have access to a car in the evenings and on weekends. We will need to at the very least hire a local crew with largish pickup truck to transport our appliances and furniture, but are looking into what the costs would be of a moving company. Our budget is pretty tight.

2) We are in Abu Dhabi (UAE), so a lot of resources that those of you who are in the US take for granted are simply not available. However, I am asking around locally to figure out what resources are available here that we wouldn't have had access to in the US. Labour is cheaper, for instance. Getting packing boxes will probably entail many trips to
the shopping strip not too far from our flat.

If there is any other info that would help, please let me know. I appreciate your taking the time to read and/or respond.
posted by bardophile at 6:46 AM on May 16, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, and the only reason I'm thinking about a mover is because there's a toddler underfoot, and hubby is not going to be able to do much helping out with the packing end of things. I don't have a license here, so his end will probably consist of schlepping things to the new place evenings and weekends.
posted by bardophile at 6:53 AM on May 16, 2010

Hire movers! Think about how much time it will take you to pack and move and then figure out what your time is worth. Will movers cost more or less than this? For me, it's always less.
posted by TheBones at 7:25 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We are in Abu Dhabi (UAE), so a lot of resources that those of you who are in the US take for granted are simply not available.

Yeah, that's definitely important information. I was going to ask if you are in a college town, because if so, you can always find students willing to haul stuff for you super cheap, but they may not have trucks/equipment. I suspect this is actually very similar to your current situation -- plenty of labor but the equipment is harder to come by. I would first try and find a "man with a van" as they call them here in the States. This is just a guy with a truck who is willing to drive it for you. Then find (either separately or in a "Man with a van, do you have some burly friends who would like to make a few bucks?" kind of way) the labor.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:14 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Three out of the last four times I've moved, it was a distance of under 2 miles each time. I always hired movers - it was easier, and moving a 1br's worth of stuff such a short distance often takes only a couple hours and is fairly inexpensive. My tips:

-Pack early, and thoroughly. Start least two weeks in advance. If you can fit it in a box or a bin, pack it. Do the best you can to keep things sorted and labeled - one box for dishes, one box for bathroom stuff, etc. I know this sounds basic, but I've had to help friends move who just throw everything together in a box at the last minute, or have stacks of stuff that they just move unpacked, and it's chaos. And it will feel a lot nicer and cleaner to arrive at your new place with tidy boxes to unpack than to have a pile of crap to sort through.

-The last few days before the move should be devoted to cleaning the old place; you'll need the time. You might even want to arrange it so you get everything moved while you still have a few days left on the old lease, and then go back and clean.

-Consider the weight of your stuff. If you have a lot of books, pack them in multiple smaller boxes, because they get incredibly heavy. Clothing is light and a very good candidate for moving yourself in advance. I often shove my clothes in trash bags (double-bagged!) instead of packing them in boxes - it's not an ideal solution if you're letting the movers take them, because they could rip the bags or mistake them for garbage, but if you're moving them yourself it's great.

-I have no idea how busy movers are in Abu Dhabi, but in larger US cities spring and summer are crazy busy for moving, and it can be incredibly tough to book movers for the end of the month. If you think this might be the case, hire your movers at least three weeks in advance, and if you can, schedule the big move on a weekday that isn't the last or first day of the month. Your week of overlap gives you a lot more flexibility than people who have to be out of the old place on the last of the month and can't be in the new place till the first.

-Have a tote bag or two filled with necessities and things that will help you unpack: toothbrushes, soap, a roll of toilet paper, cell-phone charger, a trash bag or two, scissors or a box cutter, whatever you will need immediate access to. Keep this on you on moving day, don't let the movers grab it.

-Since you've got a small child, make sure he's got a blankie, stuffed animal, or something similar that's in your easy-access bag that will comfort him. You might want to get him a new toy to keep him entertained and distracted during/after the move. My family moved cross-country when I was four and I distinctly remember three things: even with everything else packed, they kept my nightlight out for my last night in the old house; I got a new book that I read about a hundred times on the plane; we got Care Bears drinking glasses when we arrived at the new house. The little things help a lot.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:43 AM on May 16, 2010

Best answer: I've done this twice. Here are my few tips:

-Try to clean up the new place completely before you move it. Also seconding the idea of going through it with a digital camera and documenting the state of the new apartment.

-One of the tricks in maximizing that week overlap is to pack and move the things that can go into pre-existing cabinets and closets first, like kitchen and bathroom cabinets and things that you usually keep and store in closets. Not only can you move these things that week, but you can unpack them as well and make the best use of that time.

I got a lot of smaller manageable boxes and Mon-Thur made several trips. If you can order out food or get by on sandwiches and paper plates, moving most of the kitchen first is easiest. I would pack up plates/dishes/etc (many things that are breakable too) and make a run each day, emptying the boxes into the kitchen cabinets - then I could reuse the boxes for the next day's run. I packed an overnight bag with the toiletries I used for the next few days and moved the bathroom cabinet and closet and anything else that can go in a closet as well. (Clothes, bath towels, etc.)

-Take anything valuable (my computer, breakables, jewelry, important papers) myself so if anything broke, I would be to blame and not a mover.

-Keep some wipes/Swiffer dusters handy to give dusty things a quick wipe down before you pack them.

-When packing clothes from a closet, grab about 10-20 hangers of clothes at once (whatever is manageable) and tie them together at the top of the hanger. Cut a hole in the middle of the bottom of a large trash bag and slide it over the top of the clothes like a garment bag. When you arrive, hang up the clothes on the rail in in the closet, snip the tie and rip off the bag - Ta-da! Again, this is something that can be done during that week.

Meanwhile, I'd still keep packing and have everything ready to go from the old apartment by Friday. I had a friend with a pick up truck and we moved all the big furniture and other boxes on Friday afternoon. Then I had Saturday to get things somewhat organized in the new apartment (having the kitchen and bathroom all set up was nice). Then I had Sunday to clean the old apartment, meet with the landlord and give him my keys, and get my security back.

The trick to doing this successfully is a good plan. Packing will take you much longer than you think.
Good luck!
posted by NoraCharles at 9:20 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't bother with packing everything in boxes for movers for such a short move, since you have use of a car -- by the time you track down the boxes and pack them, it seems like so much trouble.

You can carry your own dishes carefully placed loose in a box that doesn't even need to have a lid (do choose a sturdy box), but if you were readying them for movers you would need to wrap each dish individually in padding and carefully seal the box. If you are short on boxes, you unpack the box at the new place and bring it back to the old place.

Many other things don't have to be "packed". Dresser drawers -- pull them out and carry. Have the "guys with the truck" move the dresser base. Take the clothes from the closet, lay them on your fitted sheet, gather it up and put it in your car. Much faster than taking everything off hangers and putting it back, saves hunting down the boxes. Lamps and anything breakable -- move that in your car. Use your laundry baskets, luggage, tote bags, even clear trash bags to pack things.

Never pack something that will be moved by someone else in a trash bag. Be careful where you put them when you move in lest someone "help" you by taking it to the dumpster.
posted by yohko at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2010

Response by poster: @TheBones: When I was earning an income and didn't have a child, my math and yours would have come out exactly the same. My time was worth way more than what the movers would charge. With those variables having changed, however, there's a possibility that I charge less than the movers. :) We'll see.

@NoraCharles, @MetroidBaby: Thank you! That's exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. I've moved a lot in my life (maybe twenty times, three of those transAtlantic), but never had the luxury of this kind of overlap. So I have learned the hard way about making sure that I label boxes, etc.

If other posters have similarly useful advice about the use of overlap time i.e. having possession of both homes, I would continue to be most grateful.

The tips about moving in general are also welcome, just not quite as helpful. :)
posted by bardophile at 10:40 AM on May 16, 2010

Before you start moving into the new place, go through and make sure it's clean and everything works, etc. If you want to paint, do it then.

Make sure you leave a day at the end where you can go through and clean out your old place, make any minor repairs, etc., so you can get your security deposit back.

Make sure you have "essentials" at your new place before you move in. I always forget a shower curtain! Also plunger and toilet brush. I usually just buy all these new when I move, because the old stuff is too gross to move. Also get extra copies of keys made if they don't give you enough.

In terms of finding boxes, do you or anyone you know work somewhere that goes through a lot of supplies? I get tons of boxes from work because have them just stacked in the store-room waiting to be recycled. You could also ask some grocery stores for boxes.

Also now is a great time to do your "spring cleaning" and get rid of anything you don't need. If you have Craigslist or another way to sell anything of value, you have time to do that. Otherwise donate to your local charity organisation what you can, and toss the rest.

Obviously you know your child best, but I would imagine that showing him the new place ahead of time, showing him where his bed will be, etc, will help ease the transition. If you have a friend who can watch him during move day that may make things way easier. Same for pets.
posted by radioamy at 10:51 AM on May 16, 2010

Not sure if the labor there does this--I just recently found out the local one-person or family-owned maid services kinda specialize in apartment moving cleanups along with regular cleaning.
posted by Honkshu at 11:13 AM on May 16, 2010

Throw stuff away. Anything you toss out you won't have to move, saving you the effort.

Take the opportunity now to go through your book collection, think about tossing the furniture you don't like very much. So you can start with a nice clean empty appartment, before it inevitably fills up with clutter again.
posted by Coffer at 2:38 PM on May 16, 2010

I don't know what the standards are where you are, but rentals can be dirty here. I would take the opportunity having both flats to take a couple hours to clean the new place. Walls, baseboards, windows... all the things that will never get done once all your stuff is moved in.
posted by Gor-ella at 8:38 AM on May 17, 2010

If you're going in waves of stuff instead of one big move, you've got the problem that in general you want your furniture underneath the layer of boxes at both apartments - i.e., when everything's packed up, you've got a lot of boxes in the way of moving your furniture out, but if you move them to the new place first, you've got a lot of boxes in the way of setting the furniture up.

My solution to this is generally to identify the room that will have the least amount of furniture in it (for example, your new second bedroom? in my place, I've often used the dining room) If there's a key piece of furniture, move it in first, then pile boxes all around it. If you can get a couple of sheets of different colored paper, or a box of colored markers to color-code your box labeling by room, that is very handy. Then pile your target room full of boxes, sorted roughly by room. As the old apartment empties out, move the furniture over, and assemble it. Unpack the necessities in the new place. Go back to the old place and clean it up. (now you're thoroughly moved out) Then you've got plenty of time to unpack in the new place.

I totally second the idea of making sure you've got a survival package - a toolkit full of things you and your toddler are likely to want/need. I usually set up the new bathroom first, just to have a little island of calm in the sea of disorganized. And don't forget to (a) take time before sundown to make sure every room has lamps or overhead lighting, and (b) put sheets on the bed as soon as it's assembled, because by bedtime you will be too tired and impatient.
posted by aimedwander at 12:31 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

don't forget to (a) take time before sundown to make sure every room has lamps or overhead lighting

Oh, hell, yes. We once had to move into an apartment after dark (the movers showed up 4 hours late, and it was a two hour drive to the new place) by the light of the open microwave oven, a gooseneck desk lamp, and a three-foot tall novelty jack-o-lantern.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:06 PM on May 17, 2010

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