Moving to New York is more than just a process; it’s an exercise in coping with trauma. If finding an apartment wasn’t hard enough—avoiding slumlords, no-show brokers, misrepresented ads, and just narrowly missing an apartment that got snatched up an hour before you got there—the physical act can be downright cruel. Moving will never be totally painless, but you can soften the blow by following these tried-and-true methods from current and former New Yorkers who have lived and learned.
Cross the T’s, Dot the I’s
As soon as you sign the papers and get the keys to your apartment, make a checklist of everywhere you’ll need to transfer your important information. Start with changing your address through the USPS, which comes with the bonus of much-needed moving coupons. The same goes for changing your address with credit card companies, phone service, loans, and any subscriptions you might have. Make sure to cancel and transfer/set-up new service with ConEd and internet providers, so that your Netflix is ready to go on day one.
Goldilocks Your Move
Before you box up anything, grab the tape measure. Figure out the specs of your new place (plus, the hallway for moving large pieces of furniture) and how big your current set-up is. Most likely, you’ll need to majorly downsize, especially if that armoire won’t fit through the door. Luckily your Burrow couch's modular design means you can break it down and move it easily. One less thing to worry about!
If it’s nice weather, try hosting a Saturday stoop sale to score extra cash and list furniture items on places like Craigslist and Freecycle. In the event no one is into your extremely well-loved couch, schedule a bulk item pick-up through the New York City sanitation department or donate to an organization like Housing Works or City Opera Thrift. And now that you need to re-up on a new sofa, get one that ships in compact boxes so your next move is smoother, like this one from— ahem—Burrow.
Shop Til You Drop
Secure as many quotes from movers as you can to make sure you get the best deal. “If you’re going with a moving company, you can send quote requests out to companies through Yelp,” says Danielle Kalamaras, a project manager living in Ridgewood who has moved between New Orleans and New York eight times over the past 10 years. “Just do a general search for ‘moving company NYC.’ They all accept Yelp messages.”
Don’t forget to check for promos, too, which can save you in the event of having to stash your items in storage last minute. “When my roof collapsed and we had to move out ASAP, we used a storage unit for just a month and only paid the $1.00 promotional rate for the first month and then just made sure to get our stuff out by the end of the month. It was nice to have some breathing room to find a new place,” says Caitlin Bergo, a government attorney currently living in New Orleans who has moved across state lines three times.
Skip the Shlep
Most New Yorkers will happily pay to have laundry picked up, groceries delivered and everything under the sun sent via Amazon Prime, so why not do the same with moving boxes? “I always buy boxes online. You can get like 50 boxes for $50 which is a good deal if you’re doing a bigger move. I buy mine from Cheap Cheap Moving Boxes,” says Kalamaras.
Another eco-friendly choice is Bin-It, which delivers durable, uniform-sized stackable plastic bins and picks them up a few weeks after your move. This option won’t save you money, but it will save you the hassle of lugging clumsy boxes through overcrowded trains, plus an extra 15 minutes of dragging them down the block to your walk-up.
No Shame in Being a Bag Lady
If you don’t have a full-sized move or want to save money on movers, use whatever you can find to vagabond to your new pad. Suitcases, backpacks, or the ultimate trusty carry-all: IKEA bags, are all viable options. “I have found immense value in using my stockpile of IKEA bags to move every single time,” says Larissa Greer, a creative consultant and former Manhattan resident currently living between San Francisco and Atlanta. “No boxes, no waste, and way easier to strap to your back and move things to a third floor walkup.”
Once you have everything packed, hire an Uber XL to pack as much as possible into one move. Or, if you’re really keeping things cheap, there’s always New York’s golden chariot, the MTA. “When I lived in New York, I moved anything I could carry on the bus,” says Caitlin Miller, an optometrist currently living in Phoenix who has moved seven times in the past five years. “It was the fastest and cheapest route between where I lived and where I was moving.”