Dos and Don'ts of Moving into a New Apartment
Lift with your legs.
Because I am a masochist, I decided to live in a basement when I first arrived in Capitol Hill. For the same reason, I chose to move out in the middle of a sweltering June afternoon — the kind of day that makes people believe in climate change.
I’m sweating just thinking about it.
As I hustled back to the almost-empty truck, I motioned to one of the movers for help and lifted one end of my mattress. He looked at me with the same disbelief as every man who has ever underestimated me, and said, “you’re stronger than you look.” It’s a GD mattress — what do I look like?
I locked eyes with my boyfriend, who was hauling a stack of boxes and immediately clarified, “she’s also stronger than she appears even now.” Insert mental note to buy Trevor dinner later.
“It must be that North Carolina blood in you,” I heard from the other end of my mattress. Because of course — I couldn’t be credited for my own strength, nor the past six summers of moving from one apartment to the next. Of course.
So now I feel like I have something to prove, which is that I’m a real adult who hires other real adults to move my crap from one Zip code to the next. Here’s what I learned along the way:
Do: Hire movers.
This might seem contradictory to the above statements, but movers are worth the cost. The alternative is to be forever indebted to your friends or family members, who will complain about the number of boxes you have, and will expect you to help when they move next summer. Buying beer and dinner for all the pals who come to help is just as expensive, and they aren’t financially bound to replace anything they break. This is not rude; it is self-preservation, and a kindness to your relationships.
Don’t: Hoard things you don’t need.
As a lifelong maximalist, I have inundated my bedroom with trinkets from my travels, hand-me-down clothes from my gal pals, and, of course, those few pairs of jeans that will fit if I would just go to the gym more than once a week. I have packed and unpacked this same clutter for six years in a row. Until, that is, moving to D.C. Living in a glorified storage pod with a 2’x1’ closet, I learned to only keep the things that I actually use each week, and I don’t miss it. You won’t either.
Do: Bring a homeowner on the first tour.
People who own homes ask better questions. As a renter, I would never think to ask about the age of the wires in an apartment, but a homeowner who’s had to hire an electrician definitely would. Some other questions I learned to ask: will the landlord raise rent when I renew the lease? Am I responsible for yard work and repairs? Do I need to open my own utility accounts or are they managed by the landlord? Ask a homeowner to look over the lease before you sign.
Don’t: Expect a new space to fix your problems.
Yes, my mental health improved by leaps and bounds once I emerged from the depths of my basement apartment. It was a literal breath of fresh air, measured by the prompt disappearance of the wet cough I’ve been harboring since early November. My houseplants and I are much happier now that neither of us are bound by the column of dusty light that cut through the single-square-foot window of my old room, but we all still need to be watered every day. A new space always feels so idyllic at first, but it’s not going to fix the things in your life that make you unhappy. A pretty view and hardwood floors won’t cure your depression or make long-distance friendships any easier. Only you can do that.
Some thoughts that don’t deserve their own paragraphs, but, you know, still matter:
Meet the neighbors before you sign the lease. Buy U-haul insurance. Take pictures of every room before you move in. Be kind to the people who are carrying your belongings. Be honest about your pet peeves with your roommates, as soon as possible. Pack toilet paper last, and unpack it first. Learn how to fix your own toilet. Plants cannot survive in a basement. Neither can people.