If you are reading this post, that means you were probably accepted into a grad program. Congratulations! This next step is one that is not only time-consuming, but often stressful. And that is…MOVING. For those of you who are getting ready to move in the near future, I have a list of 14 tips and things to keep in mind below to hopefully make your moving experience less terrible. I moved almost a year ago so these are still relatively fresh in my mind!
- Walk through your current living space and take note of everything you have that you would want in your new space (taking pictures is a plus!). I did this and found it really helpful. It is very easy to forgot all the things you will need in your new place so making a list of what you have currently and what you may want to purchase in the future is a good first step.
- You can’t move in on Sundays because leasing offices are not open. This may very well be common knowledge, but I had no idea until I had to delay my move-in date by a day because I was originally planning on moving in on a Sunday. Double check with your leasing agent to clarify that this is the case. Also, be sure to ask the agent any questions you may have in regards to moving (hopefully they are kind and willing to help).
- See packing boxes in person rather than ordering them online (unless you know the exact dimensions of the boxes you want and have the space for them). I made the mistake of ordering boxes online from Home Depot and when they arrived to my house, they were HUGE and I was unable to pack them properly. I ended up returning these boxes and went to FedEx in-person to see their selection of boxes (and the ones I found were much better in terms of what I was looking for).
- If you don’t have furniture to move, consider shipping your belongings through FedEx Home Delivery (or a similar service). When I moved to Michigan, I mostly had clothes and books so I decided to ship everything through FedEx. Once I packed my boxes, I brought them all in-person to a FedEx Ship Center to be sent off. I also looked into movers, but because I didn’t have any furniture, I thought looking for an alternative would be a good option. I can’t remember the exact number of boxes I shipped, but I think it was 13-18 and it cost $562.22 (going from NYC to Michigan). Although this is quite a bit of money for sure, I was expecting the price to be much worse. So, if you are looking for a more affordable shipping arrangement, this could be one!
- Figure out what you are going to sleep on before you get your furniture. If you are moving with a mattress and everything you need for your bed, then you’re good to go! However, if you are planning on getting furniture when you get to your destination and won’t get a bed for a while, using an air mattress may work well (this is what I did).
- Be aware of the long wait times for furniture if you order them online! Getting furniture delivered to me was a huge pain. I’m STILL waiting for my bookcase and desk to arrive even though I ordered them last August (note: I don’t get charged until the items get delivered but waiting this long isn’t fun). Be aware of items potentially being on backorder and taking a longer time to get to you! A few friends of mine also recommended looking for furniture and other items on Facebook Marketplace so that’s also an option (of course, be safe when doing this and check out the person you are buying from to make sure everything is legit).
- If people offer to help you move…LET THEM! My independent nature often stops me from reaching out to people to ask for help because I don’t want to be a bother. However, when it comes to moving, if people are willing to help you move, please allow them to do so! It can be very difficult to navigate moving on your own, especially when moving out-of-state. One of my cohortmates (hi Alexis!) took me grocery shopping the first few times while in Michigan and offered to drive me other places I needed to go and I’m forever appreciative of her kindness. Also, if you can have someone come with you to help for a week or more, that would be great. My best friend came with me to Michigan for the first week to help me start getting settled and having her support meant everything (you’re the best Stephanie!).
- Utilize same-day delivery if you need to. As you are getting settled, if you are unable to, for example, go to the supermarket to get groceries and household items, look into using the same-day delivery service at Target or other stores. This tip is especially for those of you who don’t drive, as it can be difficult to get a large amount of items when taking public transportation. This way, you can get as many items as you need delivered to your house.
- Ask your program’s grad director or coordinator about relocation fees. If you couldn’t already tell, moving is VERY expensive. As a low-income student, having to spend so much money to move was quite the task. If it is not already made clear on the department website, ask the director or coordinator of your program whether there are any relocation funds available. Oftentimes the amount is not a lot, but anything helps. Also, this can be easier said than done, but save up as much money as you can. One of the reasons why I stayed in NYC for the first year of my PhD was to save money so that moving wouldn’t be as financially burdensome.
- Move as early as possible! I moved in on August 2nd and the semester started August 30th. Looking back, I feel like I should have moved in sooner, even if it was just a week earlier. Not only do you have to prepare for the move, but you also have to prepare for the semester. I moved last summer, which was also the summer before my second-year of grad school and my first in-person semester since the COVID pandemic began. Having another week to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for what was to come would have been nice.
- Don’t forget to change the address when you start ordering items for your new home! I was ordering office supplies and forgot to change the address for my package. Thankfully, I was able to cancel it before it accidentally made its way to NYC!
- Make a “packages I’m expecting” list to keep track of all the items you have coming. I started doing this years prior to me moving as my memory is not great and I need reminders lol.
- Enjoy your new home! I grew up in a small one-bedroom apartment with my mom and never had my own room, so being able to have my own space now has been really nice. When you are able to, make your place feel like home by adding things such as wall art, posters, plants, anything that fits your vibe!
- It’s okay to feel out of place. Once I moved to Michigan, feelings of not belonging in grad school immediately resurfaced. I completed the first year of my PhD fully virtual in my hometown, so when I was in my current apartment for the first time, it *really* hit me that I’m actually doing this. Change can often bring about big emotions, so it is totally okay if you find yourself feeling this way.
I realize that this blog post is mainly focused on moving with the idea that you already have a place in mind that you will be moving to and not if you are still looking for a place. My main tip for looking for places is to ask more senior grad students in your department about good places to live in the area. Students in my communication program had a housing Word doc available for new grad students; check to see if students in your department have something similar.
Moving is a very overwhelming process, but you can do it! Take it one day at a time and be kind to yourself.