Lifestyle | 12 Things to Know when Moving To or From a NYC Apartment

Posted on 6 min read

Lifestyle | 12 Things to Know when Moving To or From a NYC Apartment

Moving … So much excitement, so much dread, so much overwhelm… it’s a thing.  I always forget how unsettling it is and how much time it takes!  I’m THRILLED to be in my new apartment, and three weeks out, I feel mostly sane and settled, but it’s definitely taken a sec and kept me super busy juggling settling in with work!  This being my 4th apartment and 2nd in NYC, I’ve learned some things, most of which would have been helpful to know before, but thankfully most I was told in time, and a the few I learned the hard way… well, I survived and it wasn’t that bad.

That being said, I think the following 12 things I’ve learned are incredibly helpful, especially to know while planning a move!  I’d love to hear any addition tips you more experienced movers out there might have!  For the rest of you, I hope these are helpful:

1) Decide if you want a Fee or No-Fee Apartment

In NYC, there is always a broker/realtor fee involved unless you’re renting directly from a landlord/property owner.  The fee can range from 1 months rent to 15% of 1 year of rent, so for a $2500/month apartment, expect to pay $2,500 to $4,500.  However, if you don’t want to pay that on top of your first month’s rent and security deposit you can opt for a ‘no-fee’ apartment, which just means that the fee is already baked into the monthly rent price you see.  I tend to prefer no-fee since there’s already quite a lot of money needed upfront and if you only plan to stay in your apartment for one year, it’s cheaper.  If you plan to stay 2 or more, it can be cheaper to pay a one-time fee when you first sign, just make sure it’s a case where you won’t be charged a fee every time you resign.

2) Check what is included and have a Price Range

It’s easy to set a budget for rent and forget that there can be other factors!  My last apartment in Washington Heights was $250/month over ‘budget’, but because the rent there actually  included all utilities & electricity, it ended up being about the same as the cheaper than apartments I was looking at that were under/in my budget, and it happened to be much nicer!

3) Spend a lot of time on Street Easy

Street Easy is a great app for finding homes and rentals in the NYC area!  You can filter + search so many different ways and view apartments by price on a map.  It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with what to expect to get and where for your budget.

4) Use a Realtor

I didn’t think I’d need a realtor to rent in NYC, but I’m so glad I had one looking back!  My realtor last year was referred to us by a friend and he was such a blessing through the process!  He not only offered great advice that was helpful, but he found the apartment I ended up living in till this fall.  I sent him dozens of listings from Street Easy, which helped him know exactly what I were looking for, but he (as do most realtors) had access to buildings exclusively available to his real estate agency.  I got an apartment that was much nicer and bigger than most of what I looked at while being the same price.  My current apartment I also found through a realtor I got in touch with for another property… he ended up getting us an extra month free and a later move in date than the building was wanting.  Both realtors I’ve used were  a fantastic help with the property and acted as a go-between for anything I needed in the beginning.

5) Negotiate!

Especially with the current time we’re living in, you can most likely get a drop in price, a few months free, or both!  It’s worth at least trying!

6) Have Application Materials Ready

And make sure one of them is you Social Security Card!  Expect to have pay stubs, bank statements, IDs, contracts for new jobs, etc., otherwise you might experience delays and possibly not get accepted.

7) De-Clutter First

I always spend time (and usually wish I had spent more) going through my apartment and bringing things to charities, recycling, and the trash.  It’s less for you to pack or pay your movers to pack and is just a great thing to do when you move!  It’s nice to start fresh in a new place without needless trash & junk.

8) Check Building Rules & Requirements

My last apartment, like a lot of NYC high-rises, didn’t allow weekend move-ins, but I didn’t find out till I’d already booked my moving company… I wish I had checked before booking! Luckily Roadway is incredibly accommodating; they ended up holding my furniture for a few days because it was over LDW, but I probably could have avoided that had I known.  Also, some buildings require proof of insurance from your movers before the move date, so ask both where you’re moving to and from!  Your moving company should be able to easily send.

9) Hire Movers for Full Service

Speaking of Roadway, holy cow were they amazing and was it wonderful to have a full-service move both last and this year!  If you can afford it, definitely go for it!  I believe it was around $1k for how much I had to be packed.  I’ve moved myself many times and it’s such an exhausting and laborious endeavor.  I personally felt both times that my energy & time were better spent working the weeks leading up to the move than packing.  They provide all the packing materials, the van & gas, and are so much faster & more efficient because they literally do this for a living. Moving materials also aren’t cheap, and based on my research online, I would have paid $400+ anyway for the 50ish boxes + materials they packed for me.  If you want to use Rodayway Moving (which I highly reccomend!) you can use Laurelle10 as a coupon code to take 10% off of local and 5% off of long distance moves.

10) Tip Correctly

I looked into this to make sure I did it correctly, and unless you know your movers will be the same on pick up & delivery day, it’s best to split the tips between the two days.  Standard tip is 5%-10% of your total cost.  So if you have 3 packers and your total was $3k, tipping $35-50 per packer on both pickup and delivery days would be a good tip totaling $120-$300.

11) Have Snacks Prepared and Out

While you don’t have to provide snacks, it really is a nice gesture.  The job is labor intensive and honestly if you’re friendly and fueling your movers well, they’ll likely do a great job and be friendly right back.  While I don’t give to get, I do believe there’s a lot to be said for treating others the way you want to be treated and how you end up getting treated back!  My movers from Roadway both times were so sweet, and incredibly helpful.  They went above and beyond in so many ways, helping clean messes, unpack and cut down some boxes to help start the move in, and texting me on exact arrival times every time.  You’ll also likely get hungry, and since all your kitchen is being packed and you have a million other things on your mind most likely, planning something to have out during the day is a life saver!

12) Expect Unpacking and Settling in to Take Time

I don’t know where I got the crazy idea in my head that I’d be unpacked and settled 3-4 days after moving into the new apartment from, but I certainly had quite the reality check the  last couple of weeks!  It’s a huge undertaking, and even the smallest of tasks can take 20 minutes when you’re bumping into things  or can’t find what you need.  Give yourself a lot of extra time, rest, and grace, because you’ll need it!

What do you think?

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  • Geoff
    November 5, 2020

    These are such great tips- So detailed! I love the decluttering part – That definitely helps me feel much better about my living environment by getting rid of the clutter! Proud of you, keep the posts coming 🙂

    • bellebylaurelle
      November 19, 2020

      Aww, thank you!! Glad you like them!