how to move?!?
March 15, 2014 8:26 AM   Subscribe

After 17 years, I'm leaving my beloved Brooklyn apartment for my NEW beloved Brooklyn apartment. Hooray! Except - how on earth do you do this? Please share any advice, tips, motivational thoughts, etc for any and all aspects of how to undertake the process of moving.

Especially considering that it has been such a long time since I've done this, I really don't even know where to begin. Soup to nuts, people - don't be shy! Also, can anyone recommend good, dependable moving services?
posted by fingers_of_fire to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
You need a few big boxes or bags - mark them donate and trash. Make a pass through each room and get rid of as much as possible on the first run. Then what is left in each room is what you want to keep and actually move.

In each room first pack things you will not need right away and label them by room and contents. This way you can start way earlier than the move date. Do any out of season items first (clothes, decorations, dishes, etc).

And last pack all the things that are currently in use, label by room and contents.
Make sure to stack all of the most important and / or breakable things together so you can move them personally and not with the movers.

Make sure the movers are insured and reputable but I am not in the area so no recommendations. We have gone with very small companies who were more willing to bargain on their prices though.
posted by maxg94 at 8:41 AM on March 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've moved every year for years, here are some nitty gritty details to keep you organized.

-make a list of all the things that get sent to your address, start updating your address with these things (big things are your bank and any credit cards, bills/utilities, things people forget are doctor, magazines, stores that might have your address on file)
-see if the mail service offers change of address/mail forwarding, it's worth it to catch the mail you've forgotten about. Still update the big things manually on your own though to be safe.
-you'll need to call your bills (landline/internet/cable/utilities) and let them know you're moving and when so you can have your service disconnected and reconnected (if needed) at the new apartment. Do this asap so you don't get stuck for days with no internet or phone. Cell phone you just need to change your address on file and is not as urgent unless you get paper bills sent
-if you're in an apartment building, you'll need to let the super know when you're moving so you can reserve the elevator for a couple of hours to do the physical moving
-if you'll have a moving truck parked outside similarly you'll need to let the super know and get permission to be blocking the way potentially while stuff is moved
-hire movers if you can so that it can be done as fast as possible
-pack the broom/vacuum/toilet paper/cleaning supplies LAST, so that you can do a final clean and use the washroom on your way out
-you'll need the landlord to do a walk through and give back the keys, don't do this in the stressful middle of moving all the things
-try to use up all of the food in your fridge and pantry before moving because it's a pain to pack and it's nice to have a fresh start in the new place
-when you get to new place you'll want to have a bucket of cleaning supplies and a broom, toilet paper, bath towels (for a quick shower), and sheets/blankets easy to find so that you can get comfortable quickly. Set up the bed and couch first so you can eat and sleep comfortably.
-get a hold of the tools you need to take apart and put together your furniture, keep them close through the move
-I pack myself a big knapsack and duffle bag of my absolute essentials (change of clothes, keys, toothbrush, cell phone + charger, laptop/pen and paper, wallet, any medications I use regularly, a towel, a hammer, tools needed to put things together) so that I can keep that on my person through moving day. It makes it easy to deal with everything and you won't have a meltdown because you can't find your wallet and you need to order pizza or pay someone, and you can get settled in a lot more quickly
-take pictures of your old place on move out, and new place on move in to head off potential landlord disputes
posted by lafemma at 8:48 AM on March 15, 2014 [8 favorites]

Small boxes for heavy things. Big boxes for light things. Liquor and grocery stores are a good source of small boxes. Number all boxes and keep a detailed list of what's in each, so when you're half unpacked you'll be able to figure out which box has the corkscrew in it. The more detail the better; "bedroom stuff" is not detailed enough. Purge unneeded belongings before the move. Then do it again afterwards. If a box is labeled "miscellaneous" save yourself the trouble and throw it away now. Pack a suitcase with tomorrow's necessaries and bring it with you (not with the movers) so you don't need to unpack five boxes to find your toothbrush. Be around while the movers are picking up your stuff and while they're dropping things off at new place; they'll be a lot more careful about banging things around if you're there. Stake out a parking space for the moving truck near both apartments if at all possible.
posted by ook at 8:49 AM on March 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

My condolences. I too am in the process of moving cross town. The thing is this. Whether you are moving across the country, across town, or across the street - the amount of work is basically the same. Only the drive time is different.

1. Buy 50 sturdy moving boxes and as many large plastic trash bags.

2. Box up your valuables, things with sentimental value, photos, the stuff you know you will never part with. Get small boxes for heavy things like books, larger boxes for lighter things. Don't pack any heavy boxes if you can avoid it.

3. With extreme prejudice, throw away everything you have not touched in two years. If you have boxes in a storage space you have not opened in a long time, throw them away without opening them. You don't need what's inside. Touch everything only once. It either gets boxed or bagged. Don't put anything aside to decide later. Do not be sentimental. This is your chance to clean out your clutter.

4. Don't do laundry for 2 or 3 weeks and whatever is left hanging or in your drawers - toss it out. If you're not wearing it on a regular basis now you won't after you move so no reason to take it with you.

5. Call all of those friends who you have helped to move. The more the merrier. Move your best furniture first, when your arms aren't tired. IKEA-type furniture does not move well. Just get rid of it.

6. Cancel your homeowner's policy the day after you move and make sure to buy one for the new place to go in effect on the day you move. Transfer your phone, internet, cable, power, etc. all at the same time.

7. Hire a cleaning service to do the final clean. Everytime I have not done this I have regretted it. Your landlord will happily argue with you and try to screw you out of your deposit, but won't bother to complain to a cleaning service.

Good luck,
posted by three blind mice at 9:00 AM on March 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a rare opportunity to touch every single item you own, so it's also a rare opportunity to GET RID OF STUFF you no longer want/need. Have a pile/box/bag for trash, a pile/box/bag for give away to charity, and a pile/box/bag for things that need to be returned to the library, the person you borrowed them from, etc.
posted by wisekaren at 9:00 AM on March 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a good opportunity to get rid of all the stuff you don't need any more. So if you haven't needed or used it for a year, get rid of it - to the Goodwill or to the kerb.
posted by essexjan at 9:03 AM on March 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I moved recently and was really glad we had a bunch of rubbermaid tubs for breakable things, oblongs, etc. We have a storage space so can re-use them -- if you can't, you might consider rentabox services (green box, redibox - rates seemed similar). It seems pricey but it's a lot harder to find cardboard these days too. Gather smaller cardboard boxes from liquor/book stores if you can, those will always be necessary for books.

If you have even remotely nice furniture, keep an eye on the movers and go for the plastic-wrap roll if they offer it to you (I think we paid $60 for the roll and they wrapped just about everything not in a box. Nothing was nicked).
posted by bluedeans at 10:07 AM on March 15, 2014

I'm not sure how fancy your stuff is, but a moving company I have used several times and really like is Sven Moving. It's definitely budget, but the guys are really great. They're calm and quick and really nice. I don't have a lot of valuable stuff, so your situation might be different.
posted by the twistinside at 10:07 AM on March 15, 2014

If you can afford to get reputable hired help do it. Including final cleaning of the old place. This is money you will not regret spending because every aspect of moving sucks and is stressful so outsourcing is the way to go.

May or may not be relevant but I have moved a bunch of IKEA type furniture a few times and it is as good as new so I think your mileage may vary on this.

Assuming you're of an age where you have most everything you actually need in terms of furniture unless it is really falling apart do not be tempted to replace lots of stuff. I have moved a bunch of times in the last decade and I always ended up regretting these purchases made in anticipation of the move or just after the move. Wait a few weeks or even better six months or so. You'll have a much better idea of how the space works for you and what you actually do want/need/will work in the space.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:08 AM on March 15, 2014

One suggestion to add to the excellent ones above: pack a bar of soap, a couple of towels and a roll of toilet paper in a carry-on bag or some other tote that won't get lost among the boxes. Once all your furniture and the boxes are unloaded into your new apartment, you might not feel like beginning the unpacking process right away. But you probably will end up using the toilet and perhaps the shower that night before retiring, and it is preferable to have the bathroom necessities close at hand so that you can install them immediately.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:10 AM on March 15, 2014

In addition to the bar of soap etc, a shower curtain is a good thing to pack in the carry-on bag. You'd be surprised at how much water you can get on your bathroom floor without a shower curtain.

Also: have the number of the local pizza place already in your phone so you can get yourself dinner delivered at the end of the day. (this is general advice and not completely directed to moving within Brooklyn/NYC where there are magical things like Seamless etc).

For packing: get a lot of packing tape and a few sharpies. You'll need more than you expect and having leftover packing tape and sharpies is not a bad thing.

If you're taking apart furniture and you don't have a drill with a screwdriver bit, borrow one. It makes everything much much faster. If you're taking apart Ikea furniture, put the screws and other bits into ziploc bags and tape them to the boards of whatever you're taking apart. They do go back together and usually remain as stable as they were before. Obviously YMMV on this - some of it is the specific pieces and some is the specific person doing the taking apart and putting together.

Packing takes a long time. Longer than you think. Once you've packed the easy things, there are countless little things that take forever to get packed.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:24 AM on March 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have moved a lot, and one of my Advanced Packing Ninja techniques is, instead of boxing up everything separately, as much as possible packing things inside other things. This is especially good for kitchens, which tend to be full of containers; put your spices inside your tupperware, measuring spoons inside glasses before you wrap them up. Sharp knives should go inside metal containers to avoid accidental stabbings when unpacking. They should all be things that normally go together anyway, so kitchen with kitchen, bath with bath.

Anything that might leak needs to be double-bagged, and taped before being securely packed; so your shampoos, perfumes, etc.

Also, you can use soft items like sheets and towels as packing material for breakable things (not the ones you need immediately, but extras; the afghan that lives on your couch, spare pillows, etc.) You can even use off-season clothes for this purpose, or simply as additional cushion beside bubble wrap. This cuts down on boxes and gives you impetus to unpack everything.

Pictures and mirrors can be slid inside a box that is still flattened, like an envelope, and the open edges taped up (you can also add some padding first if you like).

I usually pack in this order, basically in order of things I need least--->most. During the process, you will obviously sort out things you don't want to keep. You can also do some cleaning, to make the final clean less traumatic, if you have time.

1. Books
2. Pictures/knicknacks
3. Anything in a closet, drawer or storage spot that I won't need till after the move. Things that I will need get pulled out into plain sight so I will remember not to leave them. Open and empty every cabinet and drawer.
4. Kitchen items (except for 1 plate, cup, and set of utensils, possibly ugly and/or disposable ones that I want to get rid of).
5. Extra lamps/light fixtures.
6. Technology: Computer, TV and peripherals (so, gaming systems, Roku box, stereo); I will rely on my laptop and phone till after the move.
7. Clothes and jewelry I won't need/am willing to do without till after the move.
8. The days right before; the rest of my clothes, shoes and unneeded toiletries. It can be handy to pack up your shampoo, etc. but have a travel bottle for the transition.
9. Day of: personal items, especially toilet paper, into my carry-along box/bag, plus a change of clothes.
10. Cleaning stuff I generally come back for after the move proper, on the assumption that I need to clean thoroughly once all the stuff is out of there. This includes vacuum, broom, mop, scubbers, soap, windex, paper towels, bucket for the mop water. I will have to take those things over to the new place when I finally turn in the keys/do the walkthrough.
posted by emjaybee at 12:33 PM on March 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

You'll never have a better excuse to de-clutter. Clutter feels like a subliminal weight as we live our lives, but it becomes a lot less subliminal in those rare instances when we move. Take advantage. BUT..... beware of getting so bogged down in examining possessions that your packing slows to a crawl. Every time the question "Do I need this?" arises, answer a solid "NO!" and toss the item. You will never, ever, ask yourself that question with items you actually need (your pets, your computer, your phone, frequently used reference books, etc), so the fact that you're asking tells you all you need to no!

Everyone will tell you to keep good notes about what's in each box. I can't possibly overstate the importance of this (I've moved eight times, not counting school). Whatever you're considering doing for organization, go deeper and do more. You will be doing your future self a seriously profound favor. I do NOT recommend any of the moving software out there. Unless something great has come out in the last year or so, they're all horrendously inflexible. Just take photos of each box's contents as you pack, and, once sealed, of the box itself, and its labels (you MUST label each box with an ID number - for you - and a destination label - for the mover). No need to be organized about this, so long as you keep to the same pattern.

Take an hour sometime between packing and unpacking to create a spreadsheet listing each box (by ID and also by size/shape, because it's a pain to have to go thru every box to find its ID tag), destination, and as specific a list as possible of its contents. You will shed tears of gratitude to yourself in the months which follow for having gone to this relatively modest bit of work. Please don't not do it. It speeds up your packing because you can toss unlike-things together (since you'll know what to do when unpacking).

Dust stuff off before you pack it. Generally, make this a transformative process of cleaning, culling, and organizing all your stuff....rather than just a disorienting upheaval.

Oh, and clean the absolute bejesus out of the new place before you move in. If there are wood floors, consider paying to have them sanded and resealed. It's not cheap, but it's one of the few luxuries absolutely and unquestionably worth it. I'm not some superficial Martha Stewart Liver, I don't care that much about material stuff, but you won't believe how much happier you'll feel in a place with nice floors. I've never seen that not be true, for me or for others. I can't tell you why, psychologically, but it's even better than painting.
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:43 PM on March 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Edit of first sentence in 3rd paragraph:

Take an hour sometime between packing and unpacking to pore over the photos in order to create a spreadsheet listing each box
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:49 PM on March 15, 2014

I just moved a month ago. 50 boxes was about right - we are a family of four with six book shelves and three closets.

1) don't pack a whole cardboard box full of books (unless it is small). It'll be too heavy. Half fill it with books and fill the rest with something light, like clothes or towels.

2) any clothes that are left over at the end you just throw into large trash's the fastest.

3) consider taping clothes hangers together in groups of five or ten. They're easier to pack that way.

4) At the very end take a bag and sweep anything that's still lying on the surfaces because you're using it (hair brush and other daily necessities) into it. Label it "important stuff".
posted by Omnomnom at 4:42 PM on March 15, 2014

5) Oh yeah, if your furniture needs to be dis- and reassembled, take pictures of it first! So you know which side the mirror belongs to etc. Perhaps even lable different parts.
posted by Omnomnom at 4:45 PM on March 15, 2014

I've moved waaaay too much... five times internationally, and probably twice that many domestically.

Make a "first night" box and a "first morning box". The last thing you want to do is end up shifting all the boxes - or unpacking everything - looking for a bath towel or something.

Apartment Therapy has a list, and Joy the Baker has a list. Both are equally practical.

Wander around your new neighborhood and collect a handful of take-out menus to have on hand, and make sure you know where to go for breakfast/good coffee and/or sandwiches (or ingredients for). Not in the city in general, but the closest decent place possible.

As you budget for the move, include extra for random stuff like take out, going to a movie, buying a new *ahem* bath towel, springing for beer & pizza for your friends that helped you...

When we took apart our Ikea bed I wrote instructions on the interior of the frame in black sharpie... you couldn't see it when put together and it was a HUGE help. Get a ziploc bag for each piece of furniture you take apart and put all the screws and pieces in it, label it (IKEA BED, etc), and keep all the bags in a small box - if possible with the requisite tools.

Moving services are a godsend. If you can afford it, use them. Best money spent EVER.

If you are getting really tired... STOP. This is when you are most likely to hurt yourself - to try to move that thing by yourself and put your back out, to hit your thumb with a hammer, to break something, etc. Make sure you sleep and eat enough. Go see a movie or something.
posted by jrobin276 at 5:09 PM on March 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you haven't used it in the last six months, with the exception of christmas ornaments and tools, you likely don't need it.

Take a HARD look at things - was it given to you by someone that you no longer associate with; is it such that every time you see that thing it gives you bad feelings by remembering that person? Get rid of it.

Sell stuff, give stuff to friends, donate stuff. Don't move stuff you don't need. Start fresh in your new place. (Congratulations!)
posted by vignettist at 8:53 PM on March 16, 2014

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