7 Tips for Moving on the Cheap in NYC
I recently made a big, and what I hope is my final for a while, move to a new apartment. We all know that moving is never easy, but in New York, it seems to be a particularly frustrating affair. As someone that's moved upwards of 15+ times in my life, I feel like I finally have a handle on how to do it cheaply, fast, and (somewhat) easy.
Firstly, everyone's situation is different, and I encourage you to do as much research as possible using our trusted friend Google to make sure you've found a process that works for you. My advice is based on the ability to get rid of things that are no longer necessary and reduced my material possessions, knowing that New York is not a friend to people with a lot of stuff.
That being said, here are the seven tips I live by for short distance moves.
Take a chance on craigslist movers
Almost every time I've made a short move I've used guys from Craigslist. I'm going to preface this by saying that you should absolutely have a backup plan (on the chance that they don't show up though I've never had that happen) and if you're a female make sure you have other people with you, so you're not alone with strangers.
That being said, I've never had a problem with hiring guys on Craigslist. They're almost always eager to a good job, they typically are people that really need the money, and I usually find that they hustle. In fact, with this most recent move, I was so impressed with my movers (even though they showed up 45 minutes late) that I gave their number to my best friend and she used them just a few months later.
Rather than hiring some big company that probably doesn't pay their movers a whole lot, take a chance on someone who is looking to work hard. Lastly, don't forget to tip them. Moving is not an easy thing to do, I've done it several times with just the help of friends and family, and it's exhausting.
Anticipate delays, issues, and accidents
Moving sucks. There's no getting around it. I always build in time for delays (such as the movers being late or hitting bad traffic). If you're on a tight deadline, give yourself some extra time in case something goes wrong.
I always separate my most valuable possessions from the rest and clearly mark the box they're in. That way, when I see the movers going for it, I can tell them to be extra careful with placement (and also stalk them until I know it's safe). I've had so many things broken in moves, I anticipate that it will happen, but I do my best to keep track of what matters most.
Shit happens. It's important to remember that, as much as we want these things, they're material possessions that don't matter in the grand scheme of things. Do what you can and let go of what doesn't work out.
Grab boxes on recycling days
New York is heaven for recycled boxes. Before making this move, I went around my block on recycling days and grabbed bags of broken down cardboard boxes from the sidewalk. Not only did this significantly cut down on the cost of buying new boxes or ordering plastic bins, but it was right outside my door.
If you don't live in New York, another option is to go around to grocery stores, hardware stores, or recycling stations to see if you can snag boxes. This is a trick I learned from my mother when I was young, and it's even easier to do these days.
Wrap valuables in towels
Wasteful bubble wrap and paper is something I don't like to spend my money on. Almost every time I've moved, I've wrapped my dishware, valuables, and other breakable items in my various towels. Chances are, this is something you already have lying around the house and need to pack anyway.
If you don't have towels, I've also done this with clothing that isn't that important. Like old t-shirts, sweatpants, over-sized sweaters, etc. Save money and save the earth from crappy bubble wrap at the same time.
Leave on box open for miscellaneous items
It happens every time. As the movers are taking boxes out, you start to discover things you haven't packed yet. Tools you were using to disassemble things, cleaning supplies, items that disappeared under furniture. Whatever it might be, leave a single medium sized box open so that you can toss those finally possessions in them as the move finally wraps up. Always keep a roll of tape handy should you need to add additional tape to a box or close your last box.
Move your boxes as close to the front door as possible
As I pack, I start to stack my taped up boxes as close to the front door as they can get without blocking my ability to move around. That way, once the furniture is loaded, they can do everything else from one central location.
I've found this makes my moves go much faster because there's less wandering around the house in search of boxes and they can see up front how much space they need to make for your possessions.
Clean as you go
We all want our deposit back (and don't want to look like slobs, hopefully), so cleaning is an essential part of moving. As soon as the movers start taking out the furniture, I start cleaning behind them. Sweeping, wiping things down, and generally making sure there's no trace of me left. That way, once the movers are done, so is the cleaning.
The night before I move, I usually clean the things that take longer like ovens, bathrooms, fridges, and any hole patching of walls that might need to be done. That way, all I have to do on moving day is sweep and mop the floor, wipe down counter tops, and make any last minute adjustments.
Moving is never easy, and even when you're incredibly prepared things can go wrong. The most important thing is to be as prepared as you can be and let fate take care of the rest. Hopefully, this was helpful for all you NYC movers out there.
Let me know if you have any moving tips or tricks that have helped you in the past!