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The Ins and Outs of Moving in NYC

A couple sitting in the middle of packing boxes ready to move

As we get closer to real estate’s busiest time of year, we can also expect to see more moving trucks throughout the streets of New York. Let’s face it … moving can be stressful for many, but it doesn’t have to be. If you properly coordinate and prepare, you can take some serious weight off your shoulders (for the most part).

I personally just moved earlier this month from an apartment in Chelsea to the Upper East Side, so what I’m sharing with you is fresh off my experience as well as what I’ve learned over the past decade working with movers on behalf of my clients from time to time.

Moving Requirements

First and foremost, request moving requirements from your current building and the one you're moving into. Most buildings have set days and hours they allow for moving, typically between 9am to 4pm, excluding weekends and holidays. Make sure to double check all the rules and restrictions between both buildings before coordinating with your movers.

Almost every building in NYC requires a certificate of insurance (COI) from the movers— specifications will vary. Contact your building management or the superintendent for a sample COI and forward it to the moving company. The moving company has to provide a COI exactly as specified by the building prior to the moving date; otherwise the Super or Concierge will not allow them to enter the premises.

99% of the time, movers that operate in the NYC area are familiar with building rules and restrictions, but it’s best to ask beforehand to avoid any surprises especially if you’re moving into a building in Manhattan.

Reserve Elevators

Once the Building Manager and/or Super receives the proper COI from your movers, you can book the elevators. Ask the Super or Doorman, if there is one, to check for availability. Some of the newer buildings will allow you to reserve the elevator online (usually a designated service elevator) using the building’s resident portal.

If you happen to be moving at the end or beginning of the month, you should try to reserve ASAP to ensure you get your desired date and time. This can sometimes be an issue for some when trying to reserve elevators between two buildings (e.g., their current and the one they’re moving into) for specific windows of time, assuming the building isn’t a walk-up.

Keep in mind that many buildings are very strict about enforcing their rules and there is no way to bypass them. The last thing you want to do is give off a bad first impression by creating problems for yourself and the building your first day living there.

For those of you who need board approval, you may not be able to reserve the elevator until the board approves your application. Approvals can take several days so be sure to account for this scenario when planning ahead by creating backup plans and notifying all impacted parties in advance.

Find a Reputable Moving Company

I’ll start with the obvious—“you get what you pay for”. I tend to watch my spending, but when it comes to movers, you don’t want to skimp especially those of you that may have expensive furniture and fragile/irreplaceable items. In fact, if you have precious artwork, oversized and/or extremely expensive furnishings, e.g. baby grand piano, large sculptures, you will need to find moving companies that specialize in handling these types of items.

While most people’s first instinct is to go to Google to search for movers, I suggest you begin with asking friends, family, and co-workers for referrals, along with your trusted real estate broker who most likely can recommend reliable and trustworthy movers.

If you do have to resort to Google or Yelp, pay close attention to the written reviews. While they may vary, you can usually get a general consensus as to how good the moving company is by reading through several of them. I also advise you to be leery of inexpensive movers. It’s usually too good to be true. I’ve seen many clients and friends try to cut corners and hire the least expensive movers, and regret it in the end. Do your homework and shop around. You’ll be glad you did.

Moving Costs

Most moving companies charge a flat fee which can be based on the time it takes to move or the number of items/rooms you’re moving. You will find it varies among the moving companies, so it may require some Excel calculations to do an apples-to-apples comparison.

You can count on moving cost estimates to be higher on the last and first days of the month. If you have flexibility around the dates you can move, you may be able to save some money by booking the moving company mid-month, which also gives you better options for reserving the elevator as there are not as many moves happening during that time.


For those of you who don’t have time to pack yourselves, most moving companies offer packing services for an added cost, which also typically includes the boxes. If you happen to do your own packing, be sure to properly and safely pack any fragile items with bubble wrap and/or padding and clearly mark each box as “Fragile”. Movers know to carefully handle and place the fragile boxes on top of the others to avoid any damages.

Box Inventory

Count your boxes before and after the move to make sure every box is accounted for and has been moved. Most movers will take inventory with you at the start of the move, and some will also perform a count with you before they leave your premises. It also helps you and the movers, if you pack each room in separate boxes and label them accordingly, e.g. bedroom, kitchen, etc. Movers will then be able to unload each box in the respective rooms at the final destination. If possible, inspect all the boxes after arriving for possible damages. And most importantly, be present and/or have someone assisting you in supervising the movers on moving day.

Unpacking and Settling In

Be sure to give yourself time to unpack and settle in. It usually takes about two weeks to organize everything for 1-2 bedrooms. Most likely, you will find yourself moving things around a few times until you find the right spot for everything.

Try to tackle one area of the room each day and take proper breaks, making sure to eat and hydrate. This is something I somehow always forget to do and I end up losing 5 to 10 pounds in the first two weeks! FYI: this is not healthy, So, don't do it.

If you need moving company recommendations, I'm happy to share information on trusted and reliable moving companies that I or my clients have worked with in the past.

Happy Moving!


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