Service of Moving

April 19th, 2012

Categories: Moving, Thanks

Deborah Brown is a newly retired [ha] award-winning marketing and communications professional whose focus ranges from retail and home furnishings to publishing. She’s been a buyer, sales promotion director, retail merchandising editor at House & Garden, director of home furnishings, ad and marketing director at House Beautiful. She’s sat on countless prestigious boards and committees and is currently a mentor in Baruch College’s Executives on Campus.

Debby wrote “Service of Responsibility”  about a retail experience for this blog in December 2009.

She learned so much from her recent move that she kindly shared highlights with us:

After Walking up four flights (78 stairs) many times a day for over 40 years, opportunity knocked when a ground floor apartment opened up in my NYC upper west side brownstone.  Newly renovated into a duplex (note the small’d’) with a garden in back, I decided to approach the landlord about the possibility of relocating.  How hard could it be, moving within my building, just downstairs, I thought!  Once the final lease was vetted by attorneys, I had a two week window to prepare for, and actually complete the move. Here are 10 things I did or wish I had done.  And yes, it was worth it after settling in one month later!

1.  Talk to everyone you know and tell them what you’re doing.

Everyone knows someone who can help, offer resources, information or shared stories of their own moving experiences.  From my network of dog friends, one introduced me to a top real estate attorney who helped me negotiate the lease.  Another offered to call a friend who had recently undergone a renovation and expansion with issues similar to my new space.  The information that came back was invaluable in knowing what to ask my landlord. Who knew I should ask where the boiler was located to ensure that there would be no issues that might affect my ground floor apartment; if there was a drain in the basement in the event of flood and if permits had been properly filed and inspections passed so that there would be no surprise digging through my freshly painted walls?

2.  Keep a notebook with you at all times dedicated exclusively to the move.

Document every phone conversation with each company involved in your move.   Include phone numbers, account information, confirmation codes; time, date and name of person spoken to.  In the event you have a problem or questions down the road, you can document who told you what and when.

I also included in this notebook room dimensions and measurements of furniture I expected to fit into the new apartment.

3.  Line up your phone/cable/Internet/gas and electric services ahead of your move date.

My phone provider at the time, (rhymes with “Horizon”) managed to turn off my landline the morning of the move, promising to have everything up and running by 5:00 PM.  After three days of excuses why it was not reconnected, and being stonewalled, they promised to send a technician between 8:00 AM and 5:00PM.  No one showed.  After being given the run-around again, I finally got to a supervisor who insisted nothing in their records indicated a problem with the line, and there existed no paperwork in the system to send a live person to search the problem!  I am now with another provider but wish I had arranged this crucial connection before the move date.

4. Get written estimates or Email confirmations from everyone providing you a service.

In actuality, the moving company part was the easiest.  I ended up using a Russian-owned firm with professional and efficient movers who delivered both services and fee as quoted on the phone and in a follow up Email.

5. Don’t move “stuff” you don’t need or want.

Get a shredder; donate, toss or recycle the rest.  It’s true.  If you haven’t used it, worn it or looked at it in more than five years, out it goes!  This can be clothing, china, Tschokies, etc.  I surprised myself with countless king size garbage bags of shredded materials I had held on to, “in case I needed them,”  including decades-old tax returns, letters home from camp lovingly saved by my parents and of course, passed on to me; outdated files and lists of “stuff” I’d never use again.

6.  Create a punch list for your landlord and do a walk through before you sign anything.

If needed, take a digital camera along to document the issues.  It was here I had to point out unfinished electrical work with exposed wires in an unfinished wall, a recycled toilet seat, missing light bulbs, intercom system not connected; then making sure all appliances were in working order.    Look in every cabinet with a flash light for open holes that need to be plugged, evidence of roaches or worse to come.

7. Best money spent: a custom closet that accommodates clothing, linens, china and other possessions.

I also decided to pay for lights on dimmers and a screen door to the garden that would allow fresh air and additional security.

8. Next best investment:

Signature TJMaax shopping bags at .99 each in which I toted everything from dishes and books to last minute “stuff” that just kept cropping up.

9.  Biggest mistake: not following my instincts.

I was talked out of a Murphy Bed in lieu of a day bed. I bowed to a furniture placement design recommended by a professional that ultimately didn’t work and I had to change it back to my original vision for the space a couple of weeks later. The day bed went back to the store, I switched the furniture arrangement and I now sleep on a Murphy Bed.

10.  Thank your neighbors, friends, family and everyone else who helped, gave advice or actually schlepped your stuff. 

Gift cards to Star Bucks, Pain Quotidian and Fairway as well as wine is always appreciated.

Do you have any questions for Debby such as whether she feels the slightest twinge about the things she tossed? What if she needs the camp letters for her memoir? Did she consider selling any of her belongings on eBay or through an eBay drop-off? Do you have moving tips to add to Debby’s?

13 Responses to “Service of Moving”

  1. Deborah Brown Said:

    Yes, I actually did put stuff on eBay with the help of a neighbor in the country that had the set up. Among other things I sold a Cuisinart that I never used, some framed etchings, and a traditional camera, i.e. not digital. I also sold lots of inherited silver flatware and hollowware pieces I never used at the hotels that advertise in the papers. How many candelabra and sterling silver sandwich trays does one need?

  2. Lucrezia Said:

    At the risk of being called a know it all, given my druthers, I would call the best and fastest moving company and make a bee line for the West Coast, earthquakes and all. I’ve moved before, and if I want advice, I’ll ask for it. It’s as simple as that!

  3. Nancy Farrell Said:

    This was very helpful! RE; #3…During one move, I was able to discover that the people selling their house to me were not ready for the early closing date they’d insisted upon. I knew this because they hadn’t notified the utility companies (you can’t turn service on unless it gets shut off first!) I notified my broker who in turn notified the sellers’ broker who then assured me that my fears were unfounded. When I showed up at the closing, the sellers were not there. They were not ready. Since the bank had already wired the money to an escrow account, I got to move my things in anyway and got reimbursed for the interest I was paying on a place I didn’t own yet. A week later, the deal finally went through.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    When doing something as onerous as a move–especially after 40 years–I don’t think you can have enough information! The essence and highlights of a recent move will be helpful to many.

    Debby’s post proved to me that whether around the corner, to the west coast or down the stairs, there are many things to consider and that can go wrong.

    I moved from one apartment to another in the same building once but there was an elevator so I borrowed a marketing cart from a grocery store and moved a ton of stuff from the old to the new apartment using that! Saved on packing. When I moved two blocks away, I again borrowed the marketing cart for linens and pillows and other soft goods.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You were SO LUCKY. I had visions of your moving van at the door and the former owners still home with no intention of budging!

    I know of a family that moved out of their apartment–every stick of furniture in storage–and the buyers never showed up at the closing which didn’t happen. Back went the furniture. A place doesn’t sell as well when there is no furniture.

  6. Frank Paine Said:

    As someone who is also moving, in this case from Stamford, CT to New Hampshire, I have to second all these recommendations. I had my first experience with Craig’s List. Veddy, veddy intristink! And the difference between an interstate and an intrastate move, also intristink, and mui expensivo. Packers are essential (my wife is an antique collector)for any long distance or large move. BTW, the packers (not the Russians) are coming on Monday! And the closing on this end is next Friday. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!And then we get the pleasure of reversing the whole process up there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!We’re doubling our usual inventory of vodka…which, come to think of it, was the only essential thing NOT on this list…

  7. JBS Said:

    Stop in at a local liquor store and ask for as many liquor boxes as possible. You’ll find you can fit even the best crystal into a section where a bottle once rested and it’s safe until you get it moved. No need to carefully wrap each glass in paper.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Great JBS,

    I would imagine those wine and liquor sections would also be handy to hold a lot of stuff from a bathroom such as shampoo, conditioner, even stacked bottles of meds and perfume bottles and you could use them to hold knives and silverware as well–maybe these wrapped in a paper towel to keep them clean.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    GOOD LUCK. Congrats on selling your house. Vodka or liquor of choice always a good idea.

    May the movers guard your antiques and other precious cargo as though they belonged to them, may you have zero anxiety, flawless closing, perfect weather and find a welcoming community in New Hampshire. In fact, I’ll drink to that!

  10. KF Said:

    Great news about Debby’s move. I’m so glad she was able to stay in her building.

    I, too, moved, but I had been gradually moving things out of my apt., so the move was not as much as a crunch as Debby’s.

    One thing that did work for me was checking the moving companies on the Better Business Bureau’s website. I found Morris Movers in Mt. Vernon, who had a stellar rating. They were terrific. They don’t really advertise, claiming that word of mouth and their impeccable rating serves them well. So my advice would be to use the BBB to double check your choice.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Excellent suggestion! Word of mouth and BBB–can’t beat that combo for moving or other important vendor choices. We often forget the smartest way is the simplest.

  12. Jeremiah Said:

    Having moved over 50 times in my short life, I can with authority confirm that that is one great list!

    I’d like to suggest another tip, “If you are moving into an apartment builiding, make ‘friends’ with the super before you move.

    We needed to do some renovating and painting at our current apartment after we bought it. Thanks to the advice of an architect friend, we had as much of the demolition and work, like installing new faucets, done by the super before we moved in. He was happy; we paid less, and the hastle was minimal.

    But the real benefit came on moving day. The move was a disaster, and the moving van arrived at our new building less than an hour before the shut off time for move-ins. The super was on the spot throughout the move, bending the house rules in all sorts of ways, and got us in late but at least that afternoon. He was heroic, and his friendship is still paying off.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Excellent addition: I’ve known people both in office buildings and homes who cut out the super from jobs that would normally add to this person’s livelihood. How shortsighted! In each and every case lack of money was not the reason. They were either clueless or most likely stingy. And a good super knows when to call in an electrician or plumber or when an easy fix–new washer in a dripping faucet–is all you need.

    Anyone who lives in an apartment, from rental and condo to co-op, knows that a good super is as important as the configuration of the space. Befriend and keep the super happy is a top tip.

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