New York City NYC Moving Guide

Use These 5 Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes When Moving In NYC

Brooklyn Brownstone in New York

Image via Renato Grisa

My move from Atlanta to New York City was far from simple. Figuring out which belongings I should take, sell, and donate was no easy task. Finding a mover I could trust wasn't a no-brainer either –– one who would take great care of my personal items, especially since I would be traveling without the majority of my things. (My husband and I arrived in Manhattan a day before the moving truck.) Logistically, moving in NYC makes transporting a sofa, or even a box of books a difficult task. Believe it or not, after I left the Upper East Side and relocated to the Upper West is when I realized the precision and experience required to pull off a New York move without a hitch.

You probably wouldn't imagine this, but how could moving less than two miles away bring such an opportunity for disaster? Trust me –– distance doesn't play a role in how organized or successful a move is. Read on for my tips how to avoid your own moving horror story when relocating to the Big Apple or switching apartments within the city. To avoid making your next NYC move a horror story, use these five moving tips to get started.

1. Hire Movers with NYC Experience

First and foremost, hire a mover who's accustomed to moving within New York City. And specifically, if you're living in Manhattan, the company needs to have completed a fair amount of moves within the borough. I made the mistake of hiring an antique mover for my trek across town, and that was a huge mistake on my part. Pricey antiques are packed and moved with care, but not usually on a tight schedule. Since our team of guys (one guy did most of the work, but that's another story), exceeded the allotted time in our building's elevator, we had to finish moving to the Upper West Side in an SUV. Three or four trips later, my husband and I, along with a few friends, had finally cleared out our two-bedroom apartment. That was not a fun day.

A seasoned mover should understand the minutia of moving in New York City, so things like double parking and how to maneuver furniture through tight spaces should be second nature. The company you hire should also understand that for a successful move in NYC, a minimum of three people is needed –– one to stay with the vehicle so it doesn't get towed (this can really happen), and two to move the furnishings.

2. Select a Move-Out/Move-In Date When No One Else is Moving

Being a solo mover in your building isn't always an option, but if you reside in a building with few apartments, aim to be the only one moving out. You'll have to reserve the elevator for a block of time (as mentioned above), and it's not unlikely to run over into the next person's window.

In a similar vein, it's best if you're the only one in the building moving into a new apartment to avoid the same potential pile-up in an elevator or stairwell, if your home is a walk-up apartment. In large buildings, with say,100 or more apartments, being the only mover is virtually impossible since people move in and out every month. But in boutique residences, or if you own your apartment, there's a stronger chance you'll be the only one moving in or out of a building. If multiple people are moving in a single day, ask your super or building management for the schedule to avoid snafus.

3. Pack Every Single Item, Even Your Toothbrush, Before the Movers Arrive

NYC living room filled with packed boxes

Image via Becky Stern

As far as apartment moving tips go, this one is important. I learned this one the hard way, but be completely ready when the movers knock on your door. Don't assume that they can help you finish packing because there won't be time, and you might not want people you’ve just met packing your stuff, anyhow. What’s more, they'll have enough on their plates trying to organize the truck and deliver every item and box unscathed and in one piece to your new pad.

Loose items can easily get broken, crushed, or lost. Package every last thing as best you can, and be sure to secure all boxes with tape and not merely fold the tops since your belongings could shift during the start-and-stop traffic in Gotham.

4. Move Delicate or Sentimental Items Before Your Moving Day, If You Can

It's best to hand-carry valuables such as expensive electronics, jewelry, collectibles, photo albums, and other sentimental items. Don't let things that can't easily or ever be replaced in the hands of your movers. You'd be surprised how items go missing or end up damaged, and insurance can't replace some of our most treasured possessions. Think about the fact that everything you own will be sitting in an open truck on a New York City street for a period of time. Better to be safe, than sorry.

5. Try Not to Move During Winter Months, If Possible

Winter in NYC can be brutal, so if there's any way to stay put during January, February, and the early part of March, you'll thank yourself later. Understandably, there's no way to predict the moods of Mother Nature at any time of the year (I know someone who moved during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012). You can’t always control the timing of your move, but schlepping through the snow and ice makes for not only a taxing move, but a miserable one.

About the author

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. A former Atlantan, you can now find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

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