Housing Guide 2011: Get A Move On

So, you’ve finally landed that dream apartment: acres of square footage, smiling landlords, dazzling Lake Michigan sunrises that just seem to shout, “Good morning, savvy apartment hunter. You’ve made the right choice. Now pour yourself a bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch and get on with your undoubtedly terrific day!” Or, you haven’t. Maybe you’ve finally settled for the inexpensive convenience of a “cozy” (read: cramped) studio. Or, maybe you’ve decided that all you really need is running water and a clean spot of floor on which to lay your blow-up mattress. Let’s face it–after navigating the dizzying array of contracts, quotes, rights, and regulations that comprises any apartment search, the simple knowledge that you have acquired a bona fide residence is a beautiful feeling.

But what about all that stuff? The ghosts of yard-sales past. The heavy stacks of books you never read. Your pet Siamese fighting fish, Julio. Your beloved Ikea-made bjursta. Packing it all up and moving it out can seem like an insurmountable task, especially if you’ve let move-in day creep up on you without a plan. Thankfully, the moving process need not be painful. A little bit of quality information can stave off a last-minute disaster.

First off, while there’s no shame in begging a few brawny friends to assist in hauling a stubborn couch around town, there are movers and storage facilities aplenty on the South Side. For UofC students, the Marketplace lists a number of advertisements for moving services. Pricing and logistics vary, and posters often present an assortment of packages that cater to different needs and budgets. One ad (listing #: 200154) offers a man with a van for $30 per hour; adding another mover bumps up the hourly rate to $55, while stripping down to just one laborer, sans vehicle, is $25 per hour. Shoot an email to experiencedmover@yahoo.com (very reassuring), or call (773)668-7381 if you’re interested.

If trust is an issue for the wary UofC student, ‘07 alum Josh Jones fronts HP Moving, which boasts a staff of “all UofC students and alumni” (listing #: 200317) and offers furniture pick-up in addition to straightforward moving jobs. They provide their own pickup truck and charge minimum flat-rate fees of $40 for one mover and $125 for two. For a quote, head over to sites.google.com/site/hpmoving/, where you can fill out a survey about where you live, what you’re moving, and where you’re going. Otherwise, give Josh a call at (773)603-3833.

For those who’d prefer to leave their valuables out of the hands of former classmates, U-Haul is always an option, and vehicle rentals ranging in size from pick-ups and vans to 26-foot trucks are available from their office at 1650 E. 71st Street, right off Stony Island Ave. They charge flat rates for a set rental period, which varies with your choice of vehicle, plus additional fees charged per mile, so give them a call at (773)493-1206 to find out about the exact pricing.

The “labor/moving” section of Craigslist’s South Chicagoland portal has more junk-haulers and demolition services than it does movers, so you might find yourself scrolling for a while before stumbling upon the odd gem. Admittedly, the posts vary in their seeming trustworthiness, with one particularly touching entreaty coming from a self-described “COLLEGE STUDENT IN NEED OF WORK…HONEST, RELIABLE AND VERY STRONG AND FIT (6’3” 175LBS)…NO DRUGS OR ALCOHOL” (posting ID: 2236412709). Still, there are more “legitimate” offerings. One ad, posted by agency called AExpress (Posting ID: 2236051779), boasts a license from the Illinois Commerce Commission. Still, their advertised rates–$65 per hour for two movers and $80 per hour for three–date back to June 21, 2008, with “actual rates governed by applicable tarrifs [sic].” Shifty.

In a disclaimer at the top of the page, Craigslist itself offers a few cautionary pearls of wisdom about “entrusting your possessions to a stranger,” including a recommendation that patrons consult their state (i.e. the ICC) and federal agencies. A list of licensed movers and storage facilities can be found at the ICC’s web site, icc.illinois.gov/, under “Consumers/Household Goods Movers.”

Self-storage can be a boon or a bust, and it all comes down to one thing: planning. “Figure out how long you have to store it for and pay for it all in advance,” says UofC second-year Armand Levy, who last year moved off campus and relied on a self-storage unit for a month. “These people are really just trying to take your money–they’re not trying to help you out,” he said, explaining how only after extensive haggling was his bill brought down to reflect the accurate price. Of course, anecdotal evidence is hardly absolute, and some people might have a grand old time dealing with their storage facilities, but the point stands: Plan, people, and gird yourself for the possibility of serious negotiation. One last item: take inventory. In. Advance. Speaking from personal experience, you want to avoid the terrible sinking feeling, akin to pulling out that last sheet of toilet paper in a public bathroom stall, when you realize that the truckload of stuff you’ve brought to the self-storage facility simply cannot, will not, fit into that little 5’x5’ cell.

Moving doesn’t have to be the stuff of campfire horror stories. A little bit of forethought can go a long way, whether you’re sifting through the junk in your closet or picking out the right mover to haul it away. Just make sure you’ve determined before the Big Day whether you really need all those “Now That’s What I Call Music” CDs.