A little less than six weeks ago, I was offered an awesome writing position in NYC. I took the job without hesitation but immediately consulted my learned buddy Nikki about relocating, which intimidated me greatly. In many ways, I play it safe (I am a picky eater, refuse to stay out past 1:30 a.m., become nervous fairly often), so the idea of leaving behind my cushy life in DC seemed impossible. Where would I reside? With whom would I live? Would I have to ship my entire life up to NYC via UPS (by the way, the Arlington UPS employee has gotten SO SICK OF ME).
“Laura, don’t worry about the little things. You just made the best choice of your life, so focus on that and understand that the logistics will be nothing more than a memory by the end of the year,” she said.
She was correct, but boy, was my to-do list long. Nearly everything has been checked off, so I’m almost at the point where I can breathe easy and swap my moving gripes with weather complaints (with me, there’s always something!). Now that I’m almost done with the moving process, I suppose it’s safe to share everything I’ve learned from the experience. As my colleague Matt Lewis said when I was overwhelmed with all I had to do to get out of DC: “The best way to guarantee a stress-free existence is to take zero risks. Do nothing and you won’t fret about anything.” In other words, no pain, no gain! Here is what the quick move taught me:
Broker’s fees aren’t worth it
Many Manhattanites shell out thousands of dollars for a broker. With a full-time job and so much to take care of besides locking down a new residence, I mulled over hiring a broker until I heard that they charge around 20 percent of a person’s annual rent. Though I was all for simplifying and expediting the moving process, which I liked about as much as gum surgery, I felt compelled to find an apartment myself and ditch the fee. This ended up being a good call on my part. A former Daily Caller intern recently forwarded me a helpful blog entry on moving to NYC that advises against throwing down money for a broker’s fee. Not worth it. I may be irresponsible every once in a while, but I won’t screw myself financially for an apartment.
Bucket showers aren’t nearly as bad as you’d think
Before I flesh out the details of the story below, I have a somewhat embarrassing confession to make. Several weeks ago, I got so busy that I put off showering for two days. When I finally hopped into the tub at 1 a.m., the shower handle had broken. At the time, I was staying at my friend’s amazing apartment in the west side, so I chose not to mess around with her things. Tired and clammy, I went to sleep, hoping to have better luck in the morning. Of course, the handle didn’t magically work seven hours later. I awoke to the same issue and decided to wash my hair the way my buddy Angela, who hails from Guam, did during epic storms that wiped out the power in her village. Angela dumped buckets of water on her head and body until the community’s electricity had been restored. I channeled my inner Angela that morning and was surprised by how fresh I felt after the bucket shower. Sure it was odd and made me feel like a hobo who uses Starbucks sinks for bathing purposes, but when there’s a will, there’s a way. Because my friend lives in efficient Manhattan, the problem was resolved immediately and I was able to clean up as soon as I got home from work. Still, I never take for granted a quality shower or underestimate the power of a hot bowl of water.
Sometimes things just don’t go your way
Two weeks ago, I told coworkers about my shower malfunction, which surprised no one. A northern California transplant like me, Amanda laughed and said, “Welcome to New York City. It’s old. Nothing works here. You’re going to have plenty of days in which you’re going to feel like nothing is going in your favor. You’re going to stand in the rain crying as you unsuccessfully try to flag down a cab. Things will break, but if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” She’s so right! I haven’t run into too many bad situations yet, but will laugh once they pass.
It pays to have next to nothing and no furniture
When I graduated college last year, my grandmother provided me with temporary furniture. Because I knew I’d eventually move from DC to NYC, I chose to rent the bed, kitchen table, and couch rather than commit to something forever. That was an excellent choice on my part. Though it’s been annoying to ship my clothes and books up to my Brooklyn apartment, I’m grateful I didn’t have to invest in a U-Haul to cart a mattress or futon up to the northeast. I was wise to wait on purchasing furniture.
I only need 20 percent of my wardrobe
For the past few weeks, I’ve only been able to keep a duffel bag’s worth of clothes with me. I know I’m supposed to be own a Carrie Bradshaw-style closet full of designer products now that I’m on the east coast, but I’ve been totally fine having just a few shirts, pants, and sweaters to choose from on any given day. I ran into one issue over the weekend when family members asked me to wear something fancy to dinner and I only had jeans, but aside from that, I’ve had no outfit crises. It’s actually been quite liberating to have less on hand. I’ve never been much of a fashion person anyway, and this saves me a lot of time selecting ensembles.
Moving is a fast way to lose weight or get toned
Lugging around large, heavy boxes will make you sore for a few days. Your abs may even hurt. This happened to me when I started my move several weeks ago. With so much to do, you don’t have time to consume three full meals a day, especially as you attempt to clear out your cupboards and pack all your cooking appliances. If you want to get skinny, sign a new lease and lift all your boxes yourself.
Crying isn’t the way to go anymore
As the youngest of four siblings, I’m kind of a crybaby by nature. There is an emotional, dramatic side to me, but those parts of my personality haven’t really surfaced during my move. Sure I have been stressed out and wept once or twice (more on that further down the page), but I’m actually a lot more rational about the move than I anticipated. If something backfires, I find a solution and don’t waste time moping, calling family members in tears, or feeling sorry for myself. In the past, I would have choked up, but that’s just not really what I do anymore. I just don’t have time to get upset over failure or disasters.
Don’t use the subway for moving your things
With narrow entryways and turnstiles and overcrowded trains, the metro isn’t ideal for moving your stuff. You have just a few seconds to pass through the turnstile before it locks, and with multiple bags in hand, your chances of getting stuck or leaving something behind increase. When I transferred bags and bags of clothes from my Manhattan apartment to Brooklyn residence, I made the egregious error of bringing all my stuff on the subway. Not only did I take up too much space on the train, but nearly lost some of my belongings. Your best bet is to hail a taxi, but as we all know, my palms start to sweat around cabbies, especially having read many stories like these. Even so, the subway simply isn’t designed to cater to movers, so cabs are the way to go.
People are friendly if you are
It’s no secret that New Yorkers are viewed as rude and unfriendly, but such attributes don’t always hold up. During my six-week moving process, I did some very annoying things in public. I was a living, breathing faux pas 24/7. On my first day in NYC, I brought two overflowing purses, a large duffel bag, and laptop bag into a crowded Starbucks on the lower west side. I had so much attached to me that I couldn’t even squeeze through the aisle to grab a table. By smiling at everyone, saying “excuse me,” and making jokes about my disheveled state, I was much better received than I would have been had I pushed my way through the store and groaned about the coffee shop having too many people. On countless occasions, I threw large boxes into cabs and explained that I had so many things because I was moving. Because I chatted up the drivers and explained what was going on, they were helpful and understanding and even asked if I needed them to carry the boxes to my apartment building. I said no, but was glad that they didn’t hate me for being “that girl.” If you’re kind to those around you, they’re less likely to give you a hard time about your pain-in-the-ass ways.
Not all cabs are creepy
As you know from one of the previous paragraphs, I’m not a fan of cabs. More than anything, I just like being in control of my own transportation. That’s a big reason why I moved to NYC, which has a 24-hour rail service. I also dislike being alone in the car with strange men. Still, I feel safer in an NYC cab than a taxi in DC, which has too many woodsy areas for comfort. I feel like an NYC cabbie would be nuts to try to harm a passenger in the middle of the city, which is constantly flooded with people. NYC taxis have TVs in the backseat, so it’s kind of relaxing to have that extra voice in the vehicle to give you something to pay attention to.
Almost all Craigslist inquiries go unanswered
Even if you contact somebody immediately after they’ve posted an apartment opening, you’ll probably never hear from this individual. Reach out to as many users as possible and don’t put your eggs in one basket. I was lucky to move in with my sister’s buddy, but had I not had that option, I would have dealt with the perpetual letdown that is Craiglist.
You’re going to lose money. It’s inevitable
Whenever I move, I flip out about expenses. Even if you have everything you need for your next apartment, moving is going to cost more than you anticipate. You’ll need a car or van to transport your things. A friend can do that for free, but you’ll need boxes in which to store your belongings. Depending on the apartment, you may have to pay for a security deposit, amenities charge, or broker’s fee (in NYC, at least). Unless you’re moving over the weekend, you’ll have to take a day off work to relocate. A grocery store trip is a must, and because you won’t have any perishables upon move-in, you’ll have to get those immediately. Your bank account will suffer. Recognize that this is unavoidable and get on with your life.
Air mattresses are surprisingly comfy
I’ve never slept better in my life than on my Aerobed. From time to time, it deflates and my back grazes my chilly bedroom floor, but I’m pretty content. The blow-up mattress and I are going to be together until I move to Manhattan in January, so hopefully my love won’t fizzle before then. All jokes aside, sleeping on an air mattress is fine by me…Until I want a sleepover.
You feel like you’ll never get back to a routine again
Saturday is 72 hours away, but I feel like it’s never going to get here. I eagerly await that day because it marks the end of the DC chapter in my life. I’ll officially turn in my keys and celebrate closure on the Amtrak ride up to the concrete jungle. Since early October, I’ve been worried that I’ll never know what it’s like to feel settled in New York City. I had a breakdown about it as I waited for my delayed train to depart Penn Station over Halloween weekend, and trust me, you do not want to be the girl who sobs into her cell phone at Penn Station on a Friday night! It’s important to remember that everything will normalize eventually. Once you get too comfortable, you’ll be ready to spices things up again.
If I ever become rich, I will hire a personal assistant to manage every aspect of my moving process