Two years ago I left my home in Orlando, Florida and began my journey to Chicago. Now, we’re getting settled into our third Chicago apartment and I’m getting ready for my third and final year in the MFA program.
In my experience, moving in the city is much different than moving anywhere else thanks to some unique challenges of urban life. Here are some of the things I’ve learned in the past two years (and three moves) in Chicago.
The best advice I give everyone is to have a plan for how you’re going to do everything. Where I used to live in Florida, we didn’t put too much thought into our moves. We’d get boxes, pack them, throw them in the truck, and unpack.
If you’re like many city dwellers, you might not have a car, which means you’ll have to think about how you’re going to get all your moving boxes into your current dwelling. There’s uber, lyft, and taxis of course that can help you get between points, but you might also consider having a pack of boxes delivered to your door or start saving packing boxes if you order items through the mail frequently. My personal favorite box acquisition method is asking around from friends who have similar lease dates to your own and snagging their leftover boxes. Reduce, reuse, recycle!
Aside from just getting the boxes together you’ll need to think in advance how/where you’re going to stash them in your current place as you pack. If your apartment is small, you’ll probably want to wait to pack since maneuvering a pile of boxes in a studio is a nightmare (trust me, I’ve been there).
Then of course you’ll have to think about moving day logistics. Is there an alley behind your current building where you can load? Do you have to park on the street? Where can you park safely without getting a ticket?
Everywhere I’ve lived has had multiple entrances, so think about not only which one is the most convenient for reaching your truck but also which one will allow you to maneuver your boxes and furniture most easily–some back entrances in older buildings have narrow halls or tight corners.
Getting up There
Elevator or stairs? This one is super important! If you’re lucky enough to live in an elevator building, moving is much easier in my experience, BUT it can become a disappointing nightmare if your couch or any other piece of larger furniture doesn’t fit in the elevator. Be realistic, plan ahead, and if you don’t think something’s going to fit, psych yourself up for a possible multiple-flight trek while holding it aloft.
Partners in Crime
Pick good friends, pick strong friends, pick friends that are cool with doing manual labor for food and beer and who will laugh at you while you unpack as they lounge on the couch they helped you carry up all those flights of stairs.
If you have the funds and lack the energy, patience, strength, or partners in crime, hire movers! We hired movers this time around since I have a back injury that doesn’t mix well with moving lots of heavy things. They made our lives so much easier! They packed the truck quicker than we ever could, unloaded at lightening speed, and even carried my couch up five flights of stairs. It was a little pricey but completely worth it for us.
Veterans: Do you have any city moving tips?
Newbs: What else might you want to know about moving in the city?