Moving is never pleasant. We moved from the East Village to the Upper East Side and even though we had everything planned weeks in advance, we still left so much to do on the day. So take it from me: get yourself a good moving company.
Let me tell you a little story about our move… Or hop right down to where you can get 10% off.
The apartment moving process (before the moving company arrives)
The first thing I want to recommend is: Start earlier than you thought you would need to start… and even earlier than that.
- Getting rid of everything you don't need
In our case, we started a couple months out by going through one section of our apartment at a time. We went through the kitchen cupboards, the entrance closet, the bedroom cupboards, and our clothes closets, one at a time. We started especially early so we weren't getting too overloaded with work early on, but it meant that we give away (or throw away) everything we didn't need well in advance of our move. Most importantly, this meant that by the time we were ready to move, everything left in our apartment was coming with us.
Extra tip: Make strong use of the “Buy Nothing” groups on Facebook if you have things that might not be worth anything to you but would be appreciated by someone else. You can't charge money but they can go to a good home.
- Prep the packing boxes
Three weeks prior to the move, we got Gorilla Bins plastic moving boxes delivered to our apartment (more on that below) and we packed the heavy things into the small boxes, and the lighter things in to the bigger boxes (pro-tip because otherwise you'll be moving infinitely heavy boxes for weeks).
We collected newspapers from around the neighborhood for packing and lining in the lead-up as well as buying what seems in hindsight like the world's supply of bubble wrap. Importantly, newspaper is great to buffer between things, but you don't want to wrap things directly in it – because the ink comes off. So first do a wrap in blank paper or bubble wrap, then go around it again with the newspaper!
- Take a complete inventory
We went room by room taking inventory of everything we owned, everything that wouldn't fit into boxes, and working out what things we could group together. We measured everything to make sure we'd shared accurate information with the movers, and we took note of items that were special to us (e.g. special paintings) and things that weigh excessive amounts.
That all being said – it took THREE shots for me to include all the things in our apartment accurately. I forgot window AC units, I forgot the SONOS, I forgot the dog's crate, and a bunch of smaller frames around the apartment.
Be sure to go over everything a few times and loop the movers in well in advance of your move, because you don't want to have things left at your old apartment when you run out of room in a truck that was too small!
- Don't leave it to the last minute
The week of the move we decided to stop cooking and limited ourselves to one plate and glass each to reduce the amount of kitchen packing late in the game (kitchen stuff breaks the most – so take some care).
- Seal the boxes and wait for the movers
Then the night before moving day we sealed up all the boxes with zip ties and went to bed to await out moving company arriving in the morning!
The moving company we decided to use
For my move, I used Piece of Cake Moving company who were recommended to me by a whole array of community members. They. Were. Amazing.
We searched through a whole array of moving companies before deciding on them, and wanted to make sure we'd considered everything (you can see some questions we asked below) and wanted to find one that wasn't too expensive, but also sounded reasonably priced for the care we wanted them to take – Piece of Cake moving landed right in the middle.
Luka, Romero, and Bambino rolled up early in the morning, confirmed our inventory (which was now more-or-less correct) in our apartment, then started wrapping and packing.
They worked for HOURS to pack everything, but by 3pm they were in the truck headed North the 20 minute drive to our new place.
At the other end they patiently worked to unload the truck and drag everything upstairs, setting it up per our instructions and removed all the wrapping and insulation they'd used.
We'd exhausted them, but after unpacking everything – we didn't even have one glass with a break. Everything was in perfect order.
Plastic Bin Hire is a must in addition to a moving company
While you're at it, be sure to check out Gorilla Bins or look into Piece of Cake's plastic bin hire.
Instead of having endless boxes at the end of your move which inevitably get damaged along the way (or more importantly – which might break and damage your precious items inside). I can't recommend these plastic bins more.
You can request when you want them to arrive – in our case we opted for 3 weeks before our move – and start packing. They come stacked, so they don't take up too much room (even in an NYC apartment), and as you find time, you can open a new one and start filling it.
Be sure to label them comprehensively (not “Josh's Misc Stuff” like I did for one box) and sort them out of your way so you can still leave your life in between the packing.
Make sure you get more than one moving company quote!
That all being said, it's super important you get more than one moving company to give you a quote. There are plenty of them around and you should make sure that you know what you're getting.
Be sure to ask questions like:
- Am I charged by weight, by time, or by the move?
- What times do your teams start/finish and are there any limitations?
- What's included in the move (packing? unpacking? lifting? stairs?)
- If I'm in a walk-up or have stairs, what's the extra cost?
- If something changes throughout the move (e.g. the sofa doesn't fit in the elevator) how are costs changed and what are my options?
- What is protected/covered throughout the move?
- How many people will be on the moving team?
- Am I expected to do something throughout the move?
- What is the process throughout the day of the move?
- How are prices calculated differently for local moves or long distance moves?
- How are parking tickets handled if the truck gets any?
Their teams are there for you to answer every and any little question before you sign the agreement, so don't be afraid to put your mind at ease well in advance.
Piece of Cake moving company discount
Because I used them myself and told them about all you, they also very kindly gave me the promo code AMERICAJOSH to get you 10% off your next local move (or 5% off a move of more than 250mi). If you want to get a quote from them, you can click here.
They also offer a free service where they can come to your place and assess everything you’ve got to give you a locked in quote, which makes life very easy! From what you read above, you'll know that getting someone to properly go through your things is highly recommended or you end up like me – leaving almost everything I own off the list.
Frequently Asked Questions about Moving in NYC
There's limited space in NYC, so finding a spot for the truck is always going to be difficult. That being said – the teams are going to be good at knowing where they can find a tight available space, and they'll take care of that for you.
Due to the cramped apartment spaces, stair and elevator availability and traffic, New York is moving on hard mode. Be sure to allow extra time at every single turn.
Generally the 20% rule still applies. So take 20% of the all-in cost of your move, and divide that amongst all of the movers.
While you technically don't have to, it's greatly appreciated. Buy a pizza and some Cokes, as well as some extra bottles of water, and be a good human. They're lifting all of your heavy things onto a truck and you're probably just watching – it's the least you can do. This is in addition to the tip.
I want to note two things: I was given a discount on our move because I wrote this article, and I also get a kickback if you use the code AMERICAJOSH. It's completely up to you if you want to use the discount, and as I said above: Always do lots of your own research into the best options for you.