Essays & Confessions

How To Make The First Few Days Moving In To Your New Place Feel Less Stressful

By | Saturday, September 05, 2015


This past week I moved out and into an apartment in NYC. I moved in with my SO, and we were both coming from the NJ suburbs (where we both still lived at home), so obviously this move was incredibly exciting and long awaited. We had roughly two weeks to plan for the move, which allowed us a decent enough amount of time to prepare for it, but we knew that if we wanted it to go smoothly it would require a ton of research and planning.

In the few weeks leading up to the move, I spent a significant chunk of time looking around at sleeper sofas (that weren’t expensive but still comfortable, stylish, and no longer than 70 inches….DIFFICULT parameters to say the least) and learning how to properly pack a box. I learned that one does not simply pack 100 books into a box and expect the bottom not to fall out. Double wrapping the bottom of the box with duct tape helps immensely. It’s also a good idea to have things like basic cleaning products, underwear, and a few outfits packed at the top of a box where they can easily be found.

There were things that I learned from doing my due diligence research online before the move, that I would never have considered if left to my own hair-brained devices. While packing and planning had to be done relatively quickly (because life doesn’t stop), it was still worth while to take enough time to pack the right way, as opposed to throwing a bunch of shit into my two-door Honda a la college dorm room days. *Special shout out to my mom for helping me through this process or else I would’ve been on the sidewalk with a shattered dish set because I stuffed the box too heavily*

Now, to be clear this was just our first time moving, out of what I’m sure will be many moves over my lifetime. I have a lot more to learn as far as learning how to optimize those first couple of days in a new place, but the tips below can help anyone looking to move feel less stressed. Below are just a few pieces of advice, suggestions, and tips I learned along the way. Check it out!

Give yourself enough time to prepare for the move.


It’s essential to set a few days aside to plan on how you’ll pack, how many boxes you’ll need to purchase, what you can purge from your current possessions, etc. The worst thing you can do (as I learned the hard way) is procrastinate and leave things until the last minute. If you don’t take the time to properly declutter your space, you’ll find yourself wasting time packing up stuff you don’t need.

Make a list of the essentials you’ll need, and pack them all into one box.


Since we didn’t hire movers, we were limited with what we could fit into our cars and drive into the city in one trip. While this won’t be the case for everyone (since a lot of people hire movers), if you do have limited space and need to make multiple trips, prioritizing what you need for your first couple nights or weeks in your new place is essential. For me, I packed a box up with cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and papers towels, a few changes of clothes, a towel to shower with, and some basic toiletries.

Label everything clearly so you know what’s inside what box.


This goes without saying, but you should label EVERYTHING IN GREAT DETAIL. Believe me, unloading a box and having absolutely no idea what lays inside is the worst. Especially because boxes get packed in layers, so it’s useful to know what box the hairbrush you *know you packed* is at the bottom of.

Prioritize a few key to-dos for the first day there.


Instead of scrambling to get everything done all at once, it’s helpful to prioritize a few things you want to do straight away. For us, it was setting up our kitchen table and chairs so we had a surface to eat and work on while the rest of the apartment was in shambles. It helps you feel like you’re making real progress toward specific goals during a time where everything else feels overwhelming and out of control. Even something as small as putting on a set of clean sheets, pillows, and a comforter on your bed to get a good nights sleep can be the difference between a place that feels homey, and a place that feels soulless.

Avoid the temptation to fill up your new digs with shit straight away.


Speaking from a place where we had very little in terms of furniture, decorations, and lighting, it’s extremely tempting to want to jump online and go into a shopping frenzy to stock up on everything you ever dreamed of having in your new place. However, I think it’s extremely useful to hit the brakes, and take your time to decorate more slowly — accumulating things you truly love and fit the size of you new home correctly. For example, I was within an inch of ordering a couch online before we had a chance to take extremely detailed measurements of our living room, because I wanted something to sit on the day we moved in. However, I used my better judgement and waited to order it. It turns out that the couch would not have fit in our living room, and we would’ve had to practically jump over the arm of the sofa if we wanted to get from the kitchen to the living room. Lesson learned, don’t rush. Take your time to actually live in your new place for a few days before you order decorations and furniture. You want to give yourself the flexibility of purchasing items you know will work, not things you think might work just because they’re pretty.

Don’t allow yourself to feel overwhelmed — know it takes time to get things right.


We have a bunch of friends with beautiful apartments that we know took time to put together the right way. It can feel disheartening when you compare your place to those of your friends, but it’s helpful to remember that everyone is in a different place financially, and your apartment is no less special because you can’t (or should) furnish it with a $3,000 heather gray soda from Restoration Hardware. Learn to love your home for what it is, and don’t see minor shortcomings as “problem areas.” Instead, think of them as creative challenges for decorating and furnishing.

Below are more resources that helped me and my SO move without losing our minds:

Images 1,2,3,4 via Pexels. 5th image via Flickr

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