An Everyman’s Guide To Moving To A New City

Use these tips to enjoy the most stress-free move ever 😎
01/31/2017 05:19pm ET

Congratulations! You got the job offer you’ve been working toward since you graduated college. There’s just one hitch ― you live in Brooklyn, and they’re in Chicago. Looks like you’ll need to plan a big move, stat.

In partnership with the first-ever Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback, we’ve created a guide to help you tackle moving day with ease and efficiency ― because you’ve got this, and whatever else comes after, as you gear up for your next big life adventure.

THREE MONTHS BEFORE

Ship Out During The Off-Season

Slash moving costs before you lay a finger on a single box by simply picking a time to move that falls outside of the popular spring and summer months. That’s the busiest time for movers. Parents are relocating their families to new school districts and 20-year-olds are heading home after college, so you’ll want to skip the headache. You may not be able to avoid moving during this period, particularly if you’re also relocating for school-related reasons yourself; but if you can, your wallet will thank you.

Take Time To Scope Out Your New Digs

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Renting an apartment sight-unseen is a gambling man’s game. Do you really want to lock yourself into a lease on a studio where the supposed view of downtown Chicago is actually one of your neighbor’s bedroom?

Text your favorite Chi-town pals to see if they’re willing to let you crash with them for a weekend, which allows you to check out housing options in your new city. Prepare before you arrive by perusing tried-and-true Craigslist and Padmapper, cross-referencing what you see with Google Street View. And once you’re in town, set out on your search with a good amount of cash idling in your savings account, ready to draw upon as needed. Although conventional wisdom says your rent shouldn’t be more than a third of your monthly income, there are a number of upfront costs associated with moving into a new place. In many cases, you’ll need to fork over a rental application fee, credit and background check fee, the first month’s rent and a security deposit, which is usually the equivalent of another month’s rent.

No time, energy or resources for a house hunt? No problem. Toss your stuff in storage for a month and crash in short-term apartment rentals by using services like Airbnb. By the time you commit to a lease, you’ll know for a fact that you’re in a great neighborhood.

Set Your Moving Budget

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Now that you’ve got an idea of what your new digs might look like, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. What kind of a move fits best with your lifestyle and budget? The DIY approach, which consists of you, your car, a trailer and your reluctant best friend, is cheapest but potentially stressful, because you’ll be coordinating everything yourself. Hiring professionals to take the reins (some can even pack for you) means you get to put up your feet on moving day, and should be covered by the mover’s insurance. The tradeoff? You may pay top dollar for the privilege.

Consider what it is you’ll be shuttling to your new destination. Cheap, heavy furniture should be given to friends or donated right before you skip town, since it’ll cost more to ship than it’s worth. For the rest, deciding whether to ship or to buy new upon arrival will come down to the distance you’re covering. USPS Media Mail could be a great option for moving your books and DVDs to your new home ― it’ll take up to 10 days, according to the site, but the slower shipping time means you pay less, while freeing up room in your car to take other items.

Just make sure you’re aware of hidden costs that can derail your budget, says Manuela Irwin, a moving expert at MyMovingReviews.com. “Money for tolls and road emergency cases,” as well as “parking fees” are among what you’ll have to watch out for in a DIY move, she says; it also makes sense to set aside funds for “urgent repairs at the new place” regardless of if you’re moving on your own or with the help of professionals.

TWO MONTHS BEFORE

Gather Supplies

Start hoarding all the moving essentials ― tools, packing tape, measuring tape, a dolly, bubble wrap, old newspapers (that timeless bubble wrap substitute) and, of course, boxes. But avoid paying too much for your cardboard. As the site Apartment Therapy advises, hitting up businesses that receive lots of weekly shipments, like dollar stores and liquor stores, may help you secure boxes for the unbeatable price of Free. And don’t forget to check out the free section of Craigslist for packing solutions, too.

KonMari Your Life

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That souvenir rubber trout your dad got you from his Great Fishing Expedition of 2009 has been gathering dust on top of your dresser for years. And Ol’ Fish Eyes is just the tip of the junk iceberg. A relocation represents the perfect opportunity to cleanse yourself of excess belongings and save big on moving fees. Enter Marie Kondo: nobody declutters more effectively than the bestselling author and Japanese organizational guru. Her “KonMari” approach, which focuses on grouping items by category instead of room, is all about keeping only those things that “spark joy” (goodbye Mr. Trout). Be honest about what you really use and which items actually make you happy, and you’ll find yourself shedding boxes’ worth of bric-a-brac.

Dump Junk Via eBay And Goodwill

Praise be to Marie Kondo for the clutter-free Nirvana you’ve been able to achieve. Well, almost clutter-free ― you still have to figure out how to actually dispose of your extraneous stuff. Take a two-pronged approach in doing so by setting up garage and eBay sales and donating to Goodwill and similar charities. Reserve online sales for high-value specialty items, like that vintage Chanel purse you picked up during your semester abroad in Paris. The garage sale can be for everything else that might fetch a price but isn’t worth shipping ― your old TV, for example. Just avoid the temptation to throw things out, especially those old clothes. Donating to Goodwill is a much better option than the landfill.

ONE MONTH BEFORE

Pack And Label Like A Boss

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The more careful your approach to packing, the more it’ll pay off when you’re setting up your new home. After reserving the overhead carriers and trailers for your DIY move or booking professionals if you’re choosing the full-service option, take a photo of how your place is set up if it’s likely to stay the same. Focus on details like electronics and how the wires connect to avoid headaches when you reconnect.

Once you have those snapshots, you’re ready to pack away. Eschew unyielding and clunky suitcases in favor of heavy-duty plastic bags, especially if you’ll be using your car. “Bags may be a better option here, because they can fit into small spaces, Irwin says. “You can vacuum [seal] bags to optimize space even better.”

Put plastic wrap under your toiletry bottle caps to avoid a potential soul-destroying spill onto your Bluetooth speaker. And try to leave items that you’ll need access to over the month in open, labeled boxes, placing key items ― the things you’ll be using during the first few days in your new place ― in a clear plastic bin.

WEEK/DAY OF MOVE

Budget Time To Cut The Cords And Clean The Apartment

Your goal is to arrive at M-Day blessedly free of the stomach-churning sensation that there are very important things you forgot to do ― like returning your cable box to your service provider, for example. Create a final to-do list the week of and schedule out all those little odds and ends ― canceling cable, changing your address, returning the keys to the landlord, and buffing the apartment to a security deposit-worthy shine ― and you’ll keep your mind and stomach calm.

Load The Car, Trailer And Moving Truck The Right Way

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As you’re actually placing your belongings in the car, remember: It’s the little details that will save time, space and money in the long run. “When loading your car, it is important to properly distribute heavy items,” Irwin advises. “Spread out all the heavy stuff on each side of the car. That will help you drive smoothly and save on your gas bill.”

Overpacking the car could actually cause damage, which is the last thing you want to deal with on Day One in your new city. But that doesn’t mean you should leave empty spaces; quite the contrary. Get creative ― wrap your blankets and towels around awkwardly shaped items like TVs, and stuff additional belongings in your handbags. “You might also consider purchasing an overhead luggage carrier for transporting more items,” Irwin suggests.

Check to make sure you can clearly see the rearview and side mirrors, and then put your car in drive ― you’re ready to go!

The first-ever Cruze Hatch is a car that lets you take life in any direction you want ― including a brand new city. Check out how it can help guide you through your big move here.

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