Finding the Perfect Time to Move in NYC

Moving to NYC is not for the faint of heart. Not only do you have to deal with the highly competitive rental market, there’s the physical moving aspect as well. While moving anywhere isn’t a walk in the park, moving in NYC adds an extra layer of difficulty. However, there’s no reason to make things harder on yourself. While you might not be able to control the weather or even the circumstances of your move, there are a few things you can do to make your NYC move easier.

Determine the Best Month

Between 1820 to 1945 NYC, NYC had a mandated moving day. All leases would expire simultaneously at 9:00 am on May 1, which meant everyone had to change their homes at the same time. While that tradition no longer exists, the busiest rental and moving period in NYC tends to start in May and lasts until September. After all, a number of life changes tend to happen during this time period. High school students are leaving for work or college. College grads are looking for real estate near their place of employment. For families, these four months are between school years so there isn’t as much disruption to the kids’ schooling. Plus, the weather tends to make moving a lot easier since you’re not dealing with snow.

Since so many people are moving, there’s a wider selection of options to choose from. At the same time, demand is also high during these months, which also leads to higher rents and more fees. Even if there are more apartments on the market, they’ll get snatched up quickly so you’ll also have more pressure to sign for an apartment that you might not love. You’ll have little opportunity to negotiate fees and prices since there are dozens more in-line for the same apartment. On top of all that, it can be harder to find an NYC moving company since most will be fully booked during peak moving season.

For better deals and less competition, winter months are your best bet. Most people don’t want to move during this time since school is in session and the weather is often bad. As such, you can find the best rental prices. So how much do prices differ? For a one-bedroom apartment, you might end up paying 5.4 percent more if you sign the lease in July versus February. Considering the average one bedroom apartment rent is around $3,000, you’re saving around $162 per month or $1,944 a year! Since there aren’t as many renters in the market, you can also negotiate other things such as a lower (or zero) broker’s fee or potentially getting a month of free rent! This is especially effective if the apartment has been on the market for longer than a month.

Of course, you might not always have the flexibility to move when you want. After all, your move date is affected by your current lease, family needs, and your own job requirements. However, it’s up to you to figure out what is more important to you: saving money or having more apartment options.

Choose Your Move Date

In NYC, most leases finish up at the end of the month and you are required to provide a 30 days notice before you move out. As you might suspect, the last and first few days of each month are peak moving days. Even during the slower months, you might still have problems finding movers who can help, especially if you’re planning a last-minute move. Short term storage can also be a challenge since many renters might want to put their items in storage before they move into their new place. If possible, consider moving during the middle of the month as there’s less demand. That way, you’ll have more leverage to negotiate better rates with movers.

Moving in the middle of the month comes with its own challenges. While it might be easier to find movers, most landlords and management companies want to start leases on the first of the month. There are a few options you could consider:

  1. Ask your landlord if you can keep your belongings in your old apartment until your new lease starts. They might be willing to help you out, especially if there isn’t another tenant lined up. Of course, it won’t be free. They will either charge you a prorated amount for the time you need or for a full month.
  2. Try to negotiate with your new landlords to start the lease earlier. If they still want to start the lease at the first of the month, then see if they are willing to retroactively start it at the start of the month when you are moving in. If you’re moving in during off peak season, you might even be able to get that month for free
  3. Put your items in storage for the remaining month. If all else fails, find a place that offers short-term storage. Many NYC movers offer this service and will move your stuff in and out of storage. All you have to do is give them the dates.

Of course, the other issue when moving is choosing the right day to move. If you work a typical office job, chances are you want to move on the weekends so as not to disrupt your job. After all, paid time off is precious and most people want to spend it on more exciting things like vacation. Fridays tend to be the busiest day of the week for moves as it allows people to only take a single day off from work and spend the weekend unpacking. Plus, not all buildings allow people to move in on a weekend as they don’t want to disturb their residents on their day off. So before you book your movers for a Saturday or Sunday, make sure you know the rules beforehand!

If you can afford to take a day off, Monday through Wednesday tends to be less busy, which allows more flexibility when it comes to choosing the perfect time to move. There’s also less people using the stairs and/or elevators so you can move in and out that much faster.

Find the Best Time of Day

It should come as no surprise that mornings tend to be the most in demand time to move. After all, when you get an early start to moving day you can get everything packed up and moved and still have the afternoon left to settle in and unpack your essentials. Mornings are especially busy during the summer as people want to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Similarly, people move earlier in the day in the winter to take advantage of whatever sunlight they can get during the shorter days.

If you’ve ever driven during rush hour in NYC, you’ll know how difficult it can be to get through all that congestion. While getting an early start might seem like a good idea, it might end up taking the movers a long time due to traffic jams. To avoid as much stress as possible, book your movers for midday. Not only do you avoid the worst of the morning traffic, it will still give you plenty of time to reach your new place before evening rush hour. Afternoon moves can also cost less since the movers won’t take as much time getting your belongings from point A to point B.

Of course, you can always move during the evening, but it’s not ideal. Many elevator buildings don’t let people move in after 5pm so make sure to keep that in mind before booking. You should also ask the movers if they charge an extra fee for late night moves. Not all of them do, but you don’t want any surprises when you get the final bill.

Get Ready to Move

Finding your perfect date and time to move requires you to make a few compromises when it comes to time, cost, or your preferences. It’s up to you to figure out what matters the most to you. Naturally, you also have to take into account things like your own lease, your current and new building regulations, and so forth. Whatever you do though, make sure to call up multiple NYC moving companies for quotes and available dates.


Do movers charge extra when moving during peak season?

Legitimate moving companies will not charge you more for the season you move. However, you might be able to negotiate lower rates if you move during the off peak season.

What happens if I need to make a last minute move?

Find a moving company as soon as you know when you need to move. Some moving companies might charge an extra fee, but many don’t so you should still contact multiple movers not only for a quote but to make sure they have available crew and trucks on the day you need to move. If no one is available, you should put your items in short-term storage until the movers are available.

I need to reschedule my move. How do I do that?

Life happens. Most moving companies get it. With that said, if you don’t want to get charged a fee, you should call the movers as soon as possible. In most cases, if you let them know at least two days in advance you won’t be charged a fee.