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Piece of Cake


NYC's #1 MOVER Piece of Cake Moving shares expert moving NYC tips

It may be known as the city that never sleeps — and when it comes to real estate, the people in NYC are always on the move, literally. Because it’s like no other city, moving in and out of NYC is not like making a move anywhere else. No matter if you’re moving into a 1 bedroom in the quaint Forest Hills neighborhood in Queens or moving out of your townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, there’s a whole different world to navigate when it comes to moving in NYC.

Take it from NYC’s highest rated and most loved mover: Piece of Cake Moving and Storage. With a fleet of 200+ local moving trucks in the city, this iconic NYC mover has seen it all and has a few tips to share to inform your NYC relocation.

Set your NYC real estate expectations

Be choosy with your neighborhood. NYC can be anything and everything… if you pick the best neighborhood for you. Finding the right fit location-wise within the five boroughs of the city can really enhance your experience of major metropolitan living. While Manhattan may be what people think of when they think of the city, residents of Queens and Brooklyn certainly consider themselves New Yorkers just the same. NYC dwellers of the Bronx and Staten Island may be a little farther out, but will argue that their corner of the city is the best.

Also, considering your commute in this context is wise — for instance, if Manhattan’s the borough for you, it’s easier to travel north to south than it is across Central Park from east to west. Knowing your typical destinations (work, school, favorite restaurants) can help you determine the best or easiest route from your desired home base.

The apartment search. Part of finding an NYC apartment to call your own is specific timing and part of it is a pretty aggressive hustle. The peak rental season in NYC is over the summer and housing inventory drops off in the winter time. The city has many protections in place for tenants, including a cap on application fees and a requirement for landlords to hold your security deposit in an interest keeping account — and return it to you with interest after you vacate. No matter when you sign the lease though, they always expire at the end of the month in NYC (as a rule). This means that the last few days of a given month are a busy time for movers. When moving, you’ll want to ensure that you coordinate with the building management team to secure a date and time to move in. Once you have that info, you can get a certificate of insurance (COI) yourself or in coordination with your moving company. However, it’s up to you to ensure that you connect your building manager with your moving company.

Renting with all the necessary paperwork. Because apartments are snatched up quickly in the city, it’s advised that you prepare all the necessary paperwork to demonstrate that you are a desirable tennant ahead of time. The types of documents you’ll want to have on hand include payments slips, employment letters, tax returns, bank statements, and previous landlord referrals.

Typically, renters must make around 40 times the rent to be able to sign for a lease or may be required to supply a guarantor who can meet the minimum threshold. Working with a broker, or an apartment that charges a broker’s fee, may also add to the move in expenses. However, some apartments are listed as “no fee” and can save you in the thousands when signing a lease. Application processes for apartments will vary, but co-op buildings tend to take longer.

Getting ready for the NYC move

Save the date. The end of the month in NYC can be rife with moving activity across the city. Coordinating your move ahead of time with your current and future landlords is wise. If there’s any flexibility in the move in/out dates, it may save you some money in moving costs (and it may be beneficial for your landlords, too!). You’ll also want to check the calendar to see whether your moving dates are the same as major cultural events in the city (like the West Village during the Pride Parade or Midtown East during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations). If so, you may want to see about alternative relocation plans so that you don’t run into city street closures or throngs of tourists.

Confirm your time slot for moving. Once you’ve gotten a date, nailing down the time of day for your move with your building management is key. They’ll want to ensure that several moves aren’t booked at the same time or that the service elevator (if your building has one) isn’t double booked. Whatever time is agreed upon, it’s a good idea to get it in writing — an email will suffice. Repeat this with the location you’re moving to as well so that you can coordinate with your moving company about the timing of move in and move out.

All things legal. Every mover supporting the move of a New Yorker must have a COI (Certificate of Insurance). It’s a must have to protect buildings from expensive accidents and they’re valued in the millions. Generated by your mover’s insurer, every COI must be tailored to each building and addressed to the right individual at the right location. You’ll be responsible for ensuring that everyone on both ends of your move has a copy of the COI beforehand (which can be done by connecting via email with your moving company and your building(s)).

Beware of parking restrictions. Heeding the parking signs on NYC’s streets is no small feat. There are landmarks, bus and bike lanes, and other special zones one must keep in mind to park lawfully in the city. It’s wise to be asking building management ahead of time if there are any parking challenges around your building(s). NYC movers are familiar with parking restrictions, but knowing about these challenges prior to your move can help them navigate them with more time and avoid delays (and extra charges) in your move.

Clear out the clutter and unwanted items from your household. Real estate is at a premium in NYC, so every square inch counts. This means that a move can be a perfect time to get rid of unwanted or unused items so they don’t take up precious space in your new pad. Plus, there are rules and restrictions around disposing of certain types of items (such as appliances and electronics), so you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got enough time to dispose of them properly. Definitely check out the NYC Department of Sanitation’s website to ensure you’re on the up and up when it comes to throwing things out.

Save yourself time, money, and stress by hiring experts. Working with professional movers familiar with the ins and outs of relocating in NYC is your best bet to avoid surprises, damages, and even injury when moving in the city. It may seem like you’d be saving a few hundred bucks by doing it yourself or hiring cheap movers, but it’s possible that the costs will rack up if you run into unexpected issues or need specialized support (moving a heavy, oversized couch down a 5th floor stairwell, anyone?). Being honest about the type of support you need up front will help you save more than just money at the outset.

The average cost of an NYC move

Small spaces may equal savings. Many NYC apartments are about 700 square feet or less. While living in what some might deem a shoebox does have its downsides, the upside is that you just won’t have the space to accumulate a bunch of furniture or stuff. This translates into lower moving costs! For modestly-sized apartments, you may be looking at hiring 2 movers at the average cost between $450-$750 if you’re only moving locally. You may have an upcharge for special circumstances like moving items using stairs or any oversized furniture that needs to be moved. For a one-bedroom with a sizable amount of furniture, you may see a small increase on average between $600-$1200 to move your items. While you may see movers or moving help listed at much cheaper rates, be sure to read the fine print on what they are offering. They may not be outlining any additional fees for fuel, tolls, and insurance that may be necessary for you to cover for your move. All in all, you may run into surprise charges you didn’t anticipate with cheaper movers.

Moving items from more than a few rooms. If you’re moving from an apartment with 2 or more bedrooms, you’ll most likely have more items in general to move… and that’ll add to the overall cost of your relocation. Apartments this large will typically need 3 or more movers to assist and may charge anywhere between $1000 to $3500 depending on the furniture and building structure. With more specialized needs and equipment necessary for the move, the longer it will take. Other factors may impact cost and time needed to make your move, including what day of the week or month you’re moving, packing support, the distance between the locations, the need to use stairs, among others.

Packing supplies. No matter what size place you’re moving from, you’re going to need some sturdy containers to pack your items in. Even in a studio apartment, you may need to budget for upwards of $200-$250 worth of clean cardboard moving boxes to transport all your belongings safely and securely. Your moving company may offer moving supplies. For an eco- and budget-friendly option, you may also opt for renting plastic moving bins. These are typically rented for 1 week at a time at a rate of $50-$100 per 20 bins. Plus, they stack well and are waterproof, which may impact your choice of moving materials as well.

Beyond the security deposit and first month’s rent. Applying for an apartment in NYC is just different from other places in the country. Not only will you be responsible for typical security deposit and first month’s rent up front, there may be other charges involved. There may be an application fee, a fee for a credit check, and even a screening fee if you’re applying to live in a co-op. These can be in the hundreds of dollars and likely aren’t refundable. If you are going the co-op route, you may also want to factor in other accommodations while you wait an average of 2-6 weeks for the application process. So, you may be adding the cost of a hotel stay (on average $235/night) on top of that, unless you have some friends in the city that don’t mind you staying on their couch for a while.

Your time costs. With experienced movers, you may be able to get a local move done within a day, meaning you only need to spend a single day away from your typical activities (job, caretaking) to help manage a move. Taking time off of work may be necessary and ideal, especially if you plan to unpack after your belongings are moved. However, if you aren’t able to take a day off work, you may need to grin and bear it by booking a move on the busiest moving day of the week — Saturday. Whether you can plan for a lower demand day or not, paying for professional movers to help you with your move will likely save you both in time and money in the long run.

Opting for a do-it-yourself move. Of course, there’s always the option to rent a truck and manage your move on your own. If you go this route, you’ll want to be clear on the fine print. Ask if you’re able to have unlimited mileage on local trips or opt for one-way rentals to reduce your mileage cost by dropping off the truck closer to your final destination. Often, truck rentals can have a lower daily rate, but you’ll want to factor in any additional cost and know that you’ll be fully responsible for your move. Average bookings for truck rentals will range from $1,000 to $1,500 on the higher end, but could be as low as $90 for a one day local move. Before choosing this option, do your research and be clear on the pros and cons of going DIY.

Everything about NYC is unique, including moving in and around the city. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s wise to partner with seasoned moving professionals, like Piece of Cake Moving and Storage to assist you with making your grand debut into the city. We’ve moved thousands of New Yorkers — couples, families, professionals, and students — to and from all corners of the city. Our expert movers can provide moving supplies, pack and unpack your belongings, reassemble furniture, move pianos, assist you with secure storage options, and more — all with a flat fee that won’t leave you with surprise charges on your final bill. Living in NYC is not always a cake walk, so let us make your major metropolitan move… well, a Piece of Cake.