Bringing up the topic of moving usually elicits groans and horror stories from all. It’s stressful, nobody likes it and since Brooklyn has been decreed the “Most Unaffordable Place to Live in America,” you’re probably pushing your luck anyway. But if the apartment you had once fallen in love with is now mouse ridden, and your current landlord has been ignoring your calls, and you’re nowhere near any good bars to make this all worth it, then it’s time to be movin’ out.
For something that sucks so much, we all keep doing it. But it doesn’t have to be completely unbearable. Brokelyn here, ready to share some insightful wisdom, reminders of the little things, and tips and hook-ups so you don’t have to go through these trying times of pre-move anguish alone. We’ve all been there, and we’re ready to help you pack up and move on to bigger, better places— ideally with a working toilet.
– Once you’ve concluded that you won’t be keeping your currently lease, hit up the landlord ASAP. Though they will likely contact you (they should be, anyway), standard leases stipulate at least one month’s notice if you’re not going to renew, so make sure you know when you officially have to be out. This conversation can also expedite the process of setting up a final walk-through of the apartment for the hopeful return of that sweet sweet security deposit (which, as slumlord expert Zach Liszka once told us, is rightfully yours if you kept the place neat.)
– Get all the roommates together and have a chat. Before you begin the arduous hunt for a new apartment, you want a basic outline of what you’ll be looking for. Compile a list and rank what’s most important to everyone so you’re all on the same page about budget, amenities, neighborhoods. Now’s the time to be honest before you get stuck with a place you hate.
– Gather as much of the paperwork together that you’ll need for applications: recent bank statements, tax returns, proof of employment letters, licenses and guarantor info (especially if your guarantor lives out of state and isn’t technologically savvy) beforehand. Scan everything. Have the most trustworthy of the roommates put together an electronic file, just so you have it on hand at a moment’s notice. While some realtors will accept physical copies, a nifty big PDF file of everyone’s paperwork in one place is sure to put you at the front of the renting line.
Note: An electronic file is ideal for if you’re applying to multiple locations at once!
– Start searching at least three weeks in advance. Most apartment rentals pop up around two weeks before their intended move in date, but having that extra week will give you a feel for what’s out there and it’s helped me beat out others for apartments.
– Sign up online for websites like StreetEasy, Trulia, NakedApartments, Nooklyn, and Urban Edge for current rental listings. This will give you access to thousands of rental listings narrowed down by location, price range, and whether it requires a broker’s fee or nah. You’ll also be able to contact the agent about listings, be able to save listings to view later, and all will give you a general idea of what the neighborhood is like.
– Breathe. It’s all about the timing when it comes to getting apartments in NYC and Brooklyn apartments. You may have been super stoked on an open house, only for it to be canceled an hour beforehand because someone got to it first. It sucks, but you’ll find something better if you stay vigilant.
– Be wary of photo angles showing the apartment. Always assume that the rooms are going to be smaller than they appear. Also, research the real estate group/realtor you’ll be meeting with; it’s usually better to work with an established group that’s been around the block a few times than an up and coming agency who are new to the game (and list their rental prices incorrectly, I see you).
The Viewing of the Prospective Apartment
– Don’t feel self-conscious when it comes to taking photos. They’ll be great for comparison if you’re looking at multiple locations, and for showing your roommate if they couldn’t attend.
– Did you know there’s a grading system for apartments and landlords now? Learn it. Know it. Live it.
– Ask all of the questions, be as nosy as possible. This is your potential home! Look at all the cabinets, closets, light fixtures, cracks and crevices. Ask about any history of bugs, theft, and other need-to-knows that would determine whether or not you’d want to live there.
– Run into someone who lives in the building? Strike up a conversation. They’ll give you firsthand realness of what it’s like to live in the building and what the neighborhood is like.
– Be weary if the apartment isn’t done by “viewing.” There’s a big difference between “finishing up some loose ends” and “we still have to install the stove and refrigerator and change the locks” amongst a long order list of to do’s. If you want hold out, you can. File your paperwork and all, but don’t sign the lease until a final walk-through.
– More checks: Check the drains. Do they drain? How many outlets are there in each room? Do they work? What cable company is the building already set up for? Will the internet work in your apartment? Is there a buzzer system in the building? Does it actually work? What’s the lock situation? Does the super live in the building? Do the windows open? Do they stay open? What’s the vibe of the building? Is there roof access? Laundry? What about my three cats?
Ask ask ask.
The Packing Plan
– What a perfect time to get rid of half of your belongings! Think of life right now as TLC’s Hoarders: Buried Alive. You have a keep pile, a sell pile, and a throw out pile. GO.
– Packing is tedious, but it’s not so bad when you’re not rushing the night before. Miscellaneous items like books, trinkets and wall art can be packed early on. Hell, get the roommates together and start cleaning out things in the common area as well, like old cupboard food and empty products in the bathroom. This will all be one less thing you have to worry about when it gets closer to the move date.
– Label every single bag and container with what room it belongs to at the new place.
– Clean as you pack. This will make the final sweep once the place is empty that much more manageable.
Leading up to the Move
– As soon as you have a move-in date, set up appointments with NationalGrid/Con-Ed/Internet provider ASAP. Due to high demand they book up fast, so get ahead of the game and change your address to get these essentials set up in those first few days.
– Assess how much stuff you have, and book the U-Haul at LEAST a few days in advance. Send out the call for friends to assist you and bribe them with beer, pizza, your first born child, etc. Good enough friends will help you regardless, because you’ve probably helped them move at some point.
– If you’ve a little dough to shell out for movers, moving companies Movers, Not Shakers (they also provide you with plastic re-usable moving containers!), Sweet Lou Move You, and Get There Moving are all local to Brooklyn and known for their smooth moves.
– Don’t pay for boxes. Pick them up from broken down bundles outside shops, or ask your neighborhood coffee shop for some they might keep in their back room. I’ve never paid for boxes because I usually get mine from bundles outside of bodegas. All I ever have to pay for is packing tape.
The Physical Move
– Check the weather and make moves accordingly. The earlier you get started, the earlier you’ll get done.
– Stretch. Be kind to one another.
– Park the U-Haul in a spot that’s accessible but doesn’t take up too many spots.
– Move the big stuff first. Don’t cry.
– Drive carefully (those U-Haul mirrors still scare me every time).
– Unload the truck. Take turns for who gets to wait and watch the truck.
– Remind everyone how much you love them for being helpful. Leave boxes and furniture in their correct rooms from the get-go.
– Call and order the pizza 20 minutes before while you’re finishing up.
– Clear out the truck, give it some gas, and return it on time.
– Get home. Unpack your bed. Sleep forever.
Oh yeah, and be sure to change your address.
For more moving resources, check out our friends over at Brownstoner.
And for more words of wisdom from her swamp, follow @HavingHope14 on Twitter.