Best Tips for Moving Across Town

So we’re moving to a new apartment in a few weeks, and I’d love to hear from any of you who have done local, across-town moves before. While we did move out of Sarah’s dorm and into an apartment in Atlanta when we were first married, our main moves together have been from Atlanta to New Jersey, New Jersey to Oakland, and then Oakland to Livermore (but that was done by professional movers).

We’re lucky in that we have about two weeks to make the move from our current place to the new apartment, but we’d really love to hear from those of you who’ve experienced local moves, and any advice you might have us.

As you give me advice, I’ll be sure to include it in the post so that this really can be a list of “Best Tips for Moving Across Town.”


  1. Sarah E says

    You still need to pack, esp. breakables/kitchen stuff.

    Clothing on hangers – probably can move them by laying them across car seats/in the trunk.
    Ditto artwork/framed pieces -wrap in blankets/sheets/towels.

    Invest in a wardrobe box or couple of large boxes and reuse to move linen closet, clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.

    If your dresser drawers are too heavy (when filled with clothing) don’t unpack – carry them out, put them back in the dresser, move, repeat.

    Don’t move what you don’t want/use/need. Especially. Clothing – if you haven’t worn it in a year and its not a formal/classic piece – give it away. Seriously. Start this practice now.

    For more efficient moving – try to move as much using the rental truck (if you are using or borrowing) as you can. Extra trips=$$ for gas.

    Use/rent/borrow a handtruck and/or furniture dolley.

    Get good help. Esp. if stairs involved.

    Be patient.

    Keep beer in cooler with plenty of ice. And lots of ice water, too ;-)

  2. Dan says

    Moving a short distance means that you can try to cut out on a lot of the work that goes with packing and unpacking, particularly of things that you use regularly. Rest a broom or similar across the back seat of your car and take clothes (still on hangers) out of your closet and hang them on the broom. You can then transfer those clothes directly into the closet in the new place.

    Secondly, take advantage of the things that you have in the house which are already packing receptacles – things like laundry baskets, buckets etc. You are aiming for those things that you can effectively transfer straight from one house to the other and immediately unpack. So you might put your bathroom toiletries all in a bucket and unpack them straight into the bathroom cabinet in the new place.

  3. says

    My last two moves have been across town. Like you, with this last one we had a decent cushion of time with both properties, so our key idea was to plan a room by room departure.

    My husband and I work different hours and this suited the fact that we have different skill sets that we bring to the moving table… he’s the heavy lifter and I’m ridiculously spatial with boxes and such. So, I would pack the planned room in the mornings and he would move the items over in the afternoon.

    Since we owned a truck, he and a different buddy moved items over by room each afternoon. First the guest room, then the kitchen dining, then the living room, then the bedroom and bathroom. We didn’t take one item out of the old place that we weren’t sure we would use in the new place, so our last trip was to make a donation run.

  4. says

    I’ve moved 20 times, and as ridiculous as this sounds, it doesn’t feel like a big deal until I see the number written down.

    Some good advice above (like getting rid of things you don’t need instead of packing them). A few things that have helped me:

    -I skip the step of getting packing paper, etc. for breakables. I wrap dishes and other breakables in tea towels, towels, sheets, etc. It all needs to get moved anyway. And this way I don’t have to deal with as much waste on the other end.

    -I always pack a box of things I seem to want right away when I’m unpacking: scissors, hammer, screwdrivers, aspirin, a roll of toilet paper, cleaner, a few rags, a roll of paper towels, a few disposable cups, plates and cutlery, and a can opener. I clearly mark this box ‘essentials’, and keep it with me in the car so it doesn’t get mixed up with all the other boxes. It then gets moved into a safe spot in the new place. Saves a ton of hassle!

    -plan to have food for breakfast at the new place the morning after moving day. It sucks waking up to a ton of work to be done and no food in the house.

    -if you can afford it, hire a cleaning service to clean the old place before you hand the keys in. Because it’s empty, it takes relatively little time (so it’s not very expensive), and you can focus your energy on the new place.

    -as I unpack, I collapse the boxes and start a stash. When I’m through, I post on freecycle that I’ve got moving boxes. That way, someone else gets to use them before they get recycled.

    -lastly… lift with your knees ;)

  5. says

    We recently moved and I said to Megan many times in the process, “I’m so glad I ordered these boxes.” I got a few sets at They came right to the door via UPS. I never had to waste time buying boxes, and the packing paper was a huge help.

    Negative: the tape was really cheap so I did buy some stickier stuff. Otherwise, I totally recommend them or a similar company so you don’t have to buy major expensive boxes from a local guy and never have enough.

  6. Jillie says

    Your local newspaper will sell you end-rolls of newsprint for next-to-nothing versus buying packing paper from a mover. Smartest thing we did for our cross-town move.

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