Moving into the place next door
July 24, 2012 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Strategies for moving ... to the building next door?

When my SO and I decided to move into a bigger apartment in the building next to ours, we thought it would be a cake walk, but as we are beginning to pack and prepare, we are realizing that this is somewhat of a strange situation.

The buildings are probably 10 yards at most apart and both apartments are basically ground level.

Does it really make sense to pack everything into boxes to carry across the yard only to unpack again? Is there benefit to doing it that way instead of just, say, sliding drawers out of dressers and carrying them, clothes and all, over to the new place -- or, say, throwing clothes from the closet over my shoulder, walking over and putting them directly into the new closet(s)?

Anyone have experience with this?

One complicating factor -- we are hiring movers to move some of the larger, heavier pieces of furniture.


posted by shotgunbooty to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've done this exact thing before. The difficulty with what you are suggesting is that you will need to make too many trips for the small objects.

My recommendation is to use garbage bags rather than boxes, and then do your unpacking immediately after each bag.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:47 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did this once. I decided to move whole dresser drawers, do minimal packing, etc. My conclusion was that moving is a pain no matter how you do it. The upside was that I got to avoid packing/unpacking. The downside was that it took me LONGER to get things sorted out in my new place because things were scattered everywhere. At least when you move long-distance you usually pack things in a box marked, for instance, "Glasses", and when you get to the new place you can set that box aside, know it all goes in a specific place in a cupboard, and put it there all at once. Because I decided to just move a box full of stuff - load it in a box, take it next door to the new place, and unload it all before going back and loading that same box with more stuff - it took me forever. If I had it to do over again, I would probably treat it like a regular move except maybe not worry about making the boxes so neat and stackable.
posted by eleslie at 6:50 AM on July 24, 2012

I went to a small college where everyone lived on campus. Once or twice a year I'd make essentially this same move.

Basically, it's a trade-off between time-spent-packing and time-spent-walking-back-and-forth. With a hand-dolly, you can carry 3-5 boxes worth of stuff. Or, you can move stuff half-a-box at a time. Return trips are wasted time because you're returning empty-handed.

You don't necessarily have to use boxes (which are stackable but don't hold that much stuff)- garbage bags and those grocery tote bags are great for non-breakable stuff. I liked to use those big plastic totes to carry large amounts of fragile stuff for short distances.
posted by muddgirl at 6:52 AM on July 24, 2012

Earlier this year, I moved from one side of a duplex to the other side. I thought I'd just carry things from one place to the other, but it gets exhausting, even when the other side is literally steps away.

Get a couple of fairly large containers that you can pile stuff into, and make a plan. Tackle the kitchen, for instance, by emptying the contents of drawers into the containers in order, then carry over all the containers at once, filling the corresponding drawers and cabinets on the other side. Repeat for each room.

Bureaus and filing cabinets can be left full, but closets and such should be emptied into containers as well. After the third time dropping an article of clothing on the ground, you'll be happier to take the extra minute or two to "pack," rather than carrying things individually.
posted by xingcat at 6:53 AM on July 24, 2012

Anyone have experience with this?

Yes. At my college we had to move completely out of our rooms between semesters and at the end of each year. So we'd empty out our rooms and put the stuff into two a locked common room dedicated to holding our stuff over Christmas break. This was an enormous pain in the ass. The college stopped making students do this the year after I graduated.

There is no good way of doing this. There's no good way of moving, generally. You can probably avoid the part of packing which is designed to protect your stuff in transit, but you're still going to need to get it in a condition that it's efficient to move. That means packing. It might not mean a surplus of packaging materials, e.g., wrapping every wine glass in newspaper like you would if you were loading it on a truck, but it still means boxing everything up.
posted by valkyryn at 6:57 AM on July 24, 2012

I did this and was able to borrow two canvas baskets/bins on wheels like you see in the back of a post office or in the garment center. Didn't have to pack stuff, just loaded it in and wheeled it over. Here is a link to the baskets. Could buy one for about $210.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:58 AM on July 24, 2012

We're moving to the apartment downstairs and my plan is boxes for groups of things that need to be kept together, like kitchen implements, along with plastic garbage bags and mesh hampers for less fragile things/clothing. Mesh hampers are extremely useful because they're easy to carry and to see through if you don't have time to label all the bags. I also have several of those plastic trunks for linens and desk supplies; if I were moving laterally instead of downstairs, I'd buy or borrow a handtruck with a long bed to haul four or five of those at once. If you have things organized the way you like them, take a photo and then pack the items together in a logical manner, like desk supplies or curios. Then you can unpack them directly without losing small objects and without too much extra fuss. The truck Johnny Gunn linked to looks perfect to maximize the volume without increasing the amount of actual trips or time it would take.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:00 AM on July 24, 2012

My neighbours did this. IIRC, they packed stuff into boxes then moved them across. The advantages of this are:

(a) you throw out the stuff you realise you don't need any more before lugging it across, and
(b) the boxes are easier to put on a wheeled dolly rather than carrying them.

Like you, they used a moving company to do the larger items.
posted by milkb0at at 7:01 AM on July 24, 2012

Oh, and IKEA bags (the ones with the handles made out of tarps) are a total lifesaver.
posted by xingcat at 7:01 AM on July 24, 2012

As many have said above, your goal should be minimizing trips. It doesn't take much more out of you to move a 20-pound box of stuff than to move a 2-pound thing. But ten trips back and forth will suck a lot more than packing those ten things into a box and making one trip back and forth. However, "packing" doesn't necessarily mean "putting into a specially designed box." Your idea of moving full drawers is just as sensible (providing it isn't raining), but I'd stay away from piling a bunch of stuff over your shoulder or in your arms, just because it increases the chance of dropping and/or scattering stuff in transit. Depending on how much time you have, getting a few boxes might be the way to go -- pack one, carry it over, SO unpacks while you go back, pack another box, carry it over, grab unpacked box from SO, repeat.
posted by Etrigan at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Proper packing allows you to take advantage of the weeding part of any move. That is, you have to make decisions about whether or not you want every item you own enough to transport it to your new place. This purge may or may not be necessary, but it is one of the big bonuses of moving house. I'd probably just get a bunch of free boxes from the grocery store and pack up my house to take advantage of this.
posted by k8lin at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can certainly use fewer boxes, but unless you live walking, you need to use some. Pack up the kitchen first - wrapping each glass in a sheet of newspaper and putting it in a box with the others is still faster than carry two glasses over at a time. Unpack the glasses box and reuse the paper for wrapping plates. Pots and bans and cookie sheets you can probably balance a few without a box, besides they're usually awkward to pack up. But don't stroll around with one cookie sheet.

As for clothes, if you have a hamper you can carry them that way. Shoes can go in the hamper for later trips, as can towels and bedding, and actually lots of things.

Cleaning supplies? Use a box.

Alternate method, tempt a dozen or more friends with promises of pizza and/or beer, and make a 'fireman line' where someone inside the apartment hands an item to someone by the door. Each person says which room The thing or box belongs in. So you get 12 people sayFing 'kitchen. kitchen. kitchen.' until the room changes. This way the final person, in the new apartment knows to put the thing in the kitchen. Bonus points if you out notebook paper on the cabinets with 'cookie sheets/skillets/loaf pans' and 'dinner plates/bowls/drinking glasses' on them. That way you have less unpacking to do.

Also, few people making decisions about where stuff goes. Ideally the people who live in the apartment are at each end, and the 'kitchen' reminder morphs into fun things.
posted by tulip-socks at 7:06 AM on July 24, 2012

You can reduce the amount of boxes somewhat (as compared to a 'regular' move) when it comes to loose kitchen items, pictures, odds and ends, and the likes, by trying to loose-pack them in reasonable smallish amounts using four or five boxes which you unpack right away, carry back and refill. This works up to a certain level... Books and easy-stacky stuff are actually best pre-packed, carried over, and unpacked again at a later moment.

For unwieldy items, free-form solutions are totally better than anything else. Carry as much at a time as you can handle and go as often as necessary. Of course, a chain of friends is most walk-effective. Each one carries each item only, say, ten meters to the next person, and so on.

(Well, however. After my split-up 12 years ago, the neighbors in this quiet rural (and steep) Swedish street had a gorgeous spectacle to watch. At the time I owned, among others, two full-size harpsichords, two early pianos and a dolly. I'd bought the house across the street from where my ex and my kids lived. So four times, a single panting dude was seen inch-easing some wing-shaped dinosaur on wobbly wheels down the gritty slope, trying not to slip (disaster scenario looming, everything downhill, broken limbs, splinters, you know) trying to dodge the on-and-off-rain of early March, trying not to overbalance one of the precious beasts on the last turn, and all the while signaling to the world that From Now On I'm Alone in this Other House...
The thing is: it must have looked utterly silly and pathetic, but it went much faster than I'd ever anticipated, and I didn't break a thing...)
posted by Namlit at 7:19 AM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I did this, essentially - when I decided at the last minute to move to the building across the street. We're talking a few yard apart and elevators, soI started out packing like you would for a longer-distance move... but started rushing and thinking it eventually devolved down to MANY MANY trips of carrying an handful of things. This is the stupidest thing I have ever done moving. I found using giant bins on a dolly to be somewhat more helpful, although I did end up boxing some things in the bins, but really, I've never found moving to be easy anyway.
posted by sm1tten at 7:20 AM on July 24, 2012

I thought I'd just carry things from one place to the other, but it gets exhausting, even when the other side is literally steps away.


My neighbours did this. IIRC, they packed stuff into boxes then moved them across. The advantages of this are:

(a) you throw out the stuff you realise you don't need any more before lugging it across, and
(b) the boxes are easier to put on a wheeled dolly rather than carrying them.


In March, I moved out of my apartment to the one across the hall, and then back to my apartment. I am 54, with no parental storage, so that was about a one-bedroom-with-den worth of a lot of stuff -- mostly small. (Both apartments are efficiencies.)

I agree that you should treat it like a regular move, because it will be even more exhausting if you do not!

Of course moving is a great opportunity to pare down, and in a super-close move with other stresses you might not do so, but I encourage it! I got rid of an incredible amount of stuff.
posted by jgirl at 7:23 AM on July 24, 2012

Seconding friends, pizza, beer.
posted by carter at 7:26 AM on July 24, 2012

For clothing, I would put it all on your bedspread, then bundle up your bedspread and carry them ALL over in one hit. Saw a friend do this once, it was genius.
posted by shazzam! at 7:36 AM on July 24, 2012

I did this once. We stole a shopping cart from the Aldi down the road.

If you don't have a grocery store nearby: I'll echo what the posters have said above. Use sheets to carry piles of clothes, linens, anything that can be smushed. Use the dolly that the movers bring. Why bother packing things in boxes? It's extra steps. Use dresser drawers to carry kitchen stuff, empty the stuff into the kitchen, go back for more. I have a small trunk I use as a coffeetable. Fill it with stuff, take it to home #2, empty it, go back for more.

Yeah, it's a lot of walking. But you'll get great exercise! And you don't have to worry about stairs, which is AWWWWWEEESOMMMMME.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:43 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you had one of those grocery carts with wheels, that would also decrease on your total number of trips. You could throw small appliances in here and wheel it across. Agree with above for laundry carts or hand trucks. You will get tired from all the walking and carrying. Save your strength for unpacking/reorganizing. Get some wheels!

When I was in college, we'd have to move buildings between semesters. They provided us with large rolling bins (like giant laundry carts) and it would usually take 5 or 6 trips to get everything moved. We didn't have to worry about furniture because there'd be matching furniture on the other side.

Nthing clothes in garbage bags! When I moved recently, I just dumped all my clothes in garbage bags, drove them over and hung them up right away.
posted by watch out for turtles at 7:45 AM on July 24, 2012

When I began cohabitating with my POSSLQ, I moved several hundred km while she moved across the parking lot. I was there for her moving day and I echo what others have said above -- yes, packing of some items is indeed required -- but with regard to the moving company coming for the furniture, confirm and reconfirm and re-reconfirm that you need more guys and more dollies and no truck. Despite several phone calls and e-mails, come moving day they turned up with the standard three guys and a 24' truck. The net effect was that it took longer than planned and as a bonus, a massive truck sat in the parking lot all day necessitating other tenants to gingerly edge around it to their parking spots.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:54 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I moved two blocks away, I defaulted to putting things in boxes, because I was going from an apartment to a room in a house where I'd have to store most of my things. In retrospect, it was a really good idea, because I did just walk everything over. However! This works best with a lot of people. I had about a dozen friends; it took us about an hour. (It usually takes this group three hours to move house across town -- we move our friends really, really well.) My favorite memory from that day is of seeing my mattress going down the middle of the street to my new house.

So, yes: use boxes, get lots of people.
posted by linettasky at 8:01 AM on July 24, 2012

but with regard to the moving company coming for the furniture, confirm and reconfirm and re-reconfirm that you need more guys and more dollies and no truck.

The company is not going to care. Because those three guys just did a job in the morning where they moved a family across town, or after you they have another family to pack up and move across town. There is also the chance that you aren't there or change your mind, which would free up the crew and their truck to relieve another crew whose truck broke down or actually needs two trucks because the family said "three bedroom apartment" but neglected to mention they are hoarders.

The truck will be parked somewhere while the movers help you.

I just realized you're paying movers to deal with furniture. And you usually pay something like $x per hour per guy, with usually a minimum. By me it's a 3 hour minimum for every company. Some companies will let you hire two guys, but usually it's 3. So if it's $50 per hour per guy and you have to pay 3 hours either way, let them move your stuff too!
posted by bilabial at 8:09 AM on July 24, 2012

Buy or rent a hand truck and get some large plastic boxes. Put your stuff in the boxes, stack the boxes. Wheel across the courtyard. Unpack the boxes.

Wash, rince, repeat.

Hopefully you'll have some overlap, so you can do this over a period of a few days. (It would be well worth the extra $$)

The kitchen will be the hardest.

Put your clothing on the hangers, with garbage bags over, like dry-cleaner bags. Hang in new place. (one of those rolling bellhop carts would be SO GREAT for this).
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:10 AM on July 24, 2012

Here's how to do this:
1. You get two or three furniture dollies like this.
2. You get two or three large, heavy duty open-top boxes. I mean BIG, like 4 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet.
3. You put these big boxes on the dolly, pile stuff in them and wheel them over to your new place.
4. Empty the boxes and repeat.

I don't know where you get a big box like that, but if you search around, my guess is you'll find something.

This has the advantage that the only thing you'll need to pack and tape are your breakables. You might want some smaller boxes for small loose items, like the food in the fridge (drop all of your food into a smaller box, drop that into the big box and wheel over). The fact that the big boxes have open tops allows you to drop bigger, not fragile items like floor lamps, fans, pillows, etc. in together, eliminating tons of back and forth trips. You can drop all of your clothes in these giant boxes, and then put them right back in the closet of the other place. Move the clothes first, while the boxes are still clean. You can stack your dresser drawers in the big boxes as well instead of moving them one at a time.

I've seen movers do this, and it obviously only works if there aren't stairs involved. But when it works, it works great.
posted by cnc at 10:16 AM on July 24, 2012

We just moved across the hall, and i realized around midnight as I caught myself carrying a single item to the new apartment that it would have gone much faster if we had packed normally. You either pre-organize stuff taht is in familiar places, or post-organize stuff that's been dumped all over. The second is less efficient.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:03 AM on July 24, 2012

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