Being prepared for something doesn’t mean you’re prepared for everything. I learned that one the hard way when we moved to our new apartment a few weeks back.

Instead of boring you with all the horrible details, I figured I’d share some of the (false) assumptions I made prior to the move and what I’ve learned to be true since. Hopefully, you’ll be able to avoid some of the problems we experienced!

False Assumption #1: There is a single definition for “Move-In Ready”.

Lesson Learned: Discuss in fine detail with the landlord/owner/manager what condition you expect the apartment to be in – and get the agreed upon terms in writing. We had a lot of disputes with our landlord over what was considered “move in ready” – to me it means spic and span, freshly painted and unsightly repairs made. To our new landlord it simply meant  “empty apartment”. Ultimately it came down to a decision, did we want to spend some money upfront to get the place how we wanted it or did we want to walk away in the hopes of finding another new apartment?

Because we really did love the new place – and knew we could manage the extra work – we decided to spend some money to make it our version of livable. One of the upsides of this snafu was it prompting us to find a new handyman. We used TaskRabbit and they helped us find the savior of our lives –George! He ended up doing a ton for us like painting, grouting, hanging TVs, repairs, and my favorite: putting up an adhesive vinyl on our kitchen cabinets to transform them from dark wood to white He was significantly less expensive than hiring more corporate vendors and turned out to be a great guy. I definitely recommend this app if you need handyman services.

False Assumption #2: The cheapest movers get the gig!

Lesson Learned: Know the vendor requirements of your apartment building/complex. Turns out there are these things called “Certificates of Insurance” and our building requires that all vendors who perform major deliveries (ie: all your worldly possessions) have one. While I initially found this COI business to be a bit stifling – we couldn’t just hire the cheapest crew we could find on Craigslist – after our movers accidentally hit a light pole with their truck, we realized how much that would have cost US to fix had our movers not had the requisite insurance. Now we won’t even consider vendors without one.

False Assumption #3: We are grownups and don’t need our parents’ help.

Lesson Learned: If you need help – ASK. Hotels are expensive. New couches are expensive. I put my money on the new couch. We ended up having to live at my parents’ place for a week during our setbacks – and it was annoying for all involved – but thank goodness we have family nearby. Asking mom and dad for help is not a sign of failure, it’s a sign of strength (believe me – it takes a lot of strength to move back in with mom and dad, even if just for a week). Thanks again Mom and Dad – I love you guys.

False Assumption #4: The apartment will be decorated and fully furnished by move-in.

Lesson Learned: Be patient and design as you go. Even more important – learn how you really live in the new space. Moving is difficult enough without the added pressure of completely decorating and fully furnishing a place to your liking. Sure, you have some ideas on where your hangouts will be and where the couch will go, but maybe you’ll have annoying neighbors or a glare coming in through the window you hadn’t noticed before. Set nothing in stone for at least a few weeks. As much as I want all of my furniture and art and knick-knacks all purchased and placed, I not only need to allow for them to be delivered on the vendors’ timeline (the couch I purchased won’t be here for another month), I’ll need to see how they really fit in the space. This is tough for a person like me who hates anything that’s unfinished!

False Assumption #5: I’ve budgeted for EVERYTHING.

Lesson Learned: No matter how much you plan, how many corners you cut and how many sale pieces you choose, there are always unforeseen expenses and it all adds up – fast! I knew this going in, but still wasn’t prepared to see our set-aside funds deplete so quickly. Fortunately, I have a promotional credit card offer for 0% financing for 12 months that I was able to take advantage of – but I’m being very cautious and vigilant with that as well. If you’re looking for a credit card for your upcoming moving expenses, check out NerdWallet. They compare tons of different credit card offers to help you find the card that’s right for you!

In retrospect, this really wasn’t a total nightmare move but in the moment it always feels like the end of the world. On the bright side, if our landlord had the same definition of “move-in ready” as we did, we wouldn’t have been able to make some of the design choices we did – like grout and paint colors. So for that – I am grateful!

What about you – any epic move stories? Share your crazy moving experiences and what you’ve learned in the comments section below.

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