Well, I’ve officially been living in Chicago for three months now, and so far, no one has died. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the move here, I thought I should pass on some tips to you about the moving process (you know, in case you want to move here someday too). So here we go:

ALICIA’S TOP SIX BIG MOVE TIPS

  1. In big cities, use apartment finder services (HUGE help!): This is how my roommate and I ended up finding our place. With big cities like Chicago, you can check on Craig’s List and Domu.com (a Chicago-only apartment listing site), but it starts to get tricky when you’re shopping for a space and you’re not already in the city. We came across several housing scams through phone numbers and emails we found on these sites. Then when Apartment Finders (that was the real name of the company) did the footwork for us, we found our space within a few weeks. It does help to familiarize yourself with what spaces these companies already have a relationship with (you can find information like this on their websites), but I can promise you, you’re not alone in using their services—they’re becoming more and more popular in big cities.
  2. Find reliable help as soon as possible. Schedule out the packing and unpacking: One of the worst parts of adulting is trying to coordinate schedules. So the earlier you can commit to both a packing and moving date, the better. I had three or four amazing friends who helped with both for me, and it just made the day that much more beautiful.
  3. Get boxes with lids (don’t skimp out): I don’t know how many times I heard my friends who were helping me move grumble because I had made things look cute and fit in a box…but they had fallen out of said box after being in a U-Haul for a three-hour drive. Seriously. Lids. I mooched a whole bunch of paper boxes from the school where I used to teach, which were great while they lasted. And did you know U-Haul has a money-back guarantee with the boxes you buy from them?
  4. If you have a cat, get the sedatives: I can’t begin to imagine what the drive to Chicago and the first few nights would have been like without these pills! Imagine a furry toddler whose whine is right at headache pitch and who wiggles all over the car and tries to jump out of the window whenever you stop to pay a toll—that was Gus for the first hour of the drive before the sedative kicked in. And I’m not talking full gun sedatives. For about $20, the vet gave me a pill I could break up and give Gus just enough to make him comfortably stoned for about 8 hours. This means his stress levels were lower as I introduced him to a new environment, and he was more willing to sleep and relax, instead of trying to bolt out the door every time someone came in with a new box.
  5. Change your forwarding address as late as possible: Because I was still being paid to be a teacher with a summer vacation for the month of June, I tried to get ahead of some of the paperwork that comes with moving. Unfortunately, this led to confusion with the post office about where they should send my mail until I moved, and several important letters were lost in the process from birthday checks to notes from friends overseas. I’m not laying any blame here, but I unfortunately understand now how this could have been avoided.
  6. Save the change of address form you get from the post office: You’re going to need printed proof of address to get a library card and to change your driver’s license, among other things. So why not hold on to a government-issued proof of your new address? This paper, along with a bill I received within my first week of moving, allowed me to check out a book at a Chicago Public Library with just the swift filling out of a form. So worth it! Then again, I’m a bit of a library junkie…

I think that’s all the sage advice I’ve got for today. Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

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