If you live in a big city, you've probably got several moves under your belt. Whether you're changing neighborhoods or living with different roommates, moving is equal parts stressful, frustrating, and exciting. Added to that is the fundamental rule of moving math: Any emotions you experience will increase in direct proportion to the number of additional people involved. Ahead, we've put together a list of emotional stages you'll go through while moving to a new place. These messages are taken from group texts and conversations between my husband Steve, myself, and our friend and current roommate, Isaac. From the day in April when we decided to move in together to our mid-August move date, we've shared hundreds of texts and images, looked at dozens of online listings, and fought about everything from our lease-signing to pest control. If you’re moving this year, you'll recognize some of these struggles. And if you're lucky enough to be staying put, you can still feel like our fourth roommate — minus the U-Haul struggles.
1. The Excitement Before You Actually Start Touring ApartmentsWe decided to live together on April 20. Until our wedding, I lived in New York, and Steve lived in Boston. Isaac was in North Carolina but was moving to New York. The decision was simple: We'd be able to afford a much nicer apartment if we split the rent of a two-bedroom three ways. Of course, we weren't going to move until August, so looking at listings months in advance wouldn’t do much good. But with the thought of a shiny new apartment ahead, you don't always listen to reason. During this time, we started sharing photos of too-good-to-be-true listings, "just for fun." This was also the time when we looked up more about our new neighborhood, Morningside Heights, and its restaurant scene and transit options.
2. The Anticipation Of Memories You'll Make With Your RoommatesBefore you have to nail down the specifics (and start driving each other crazy), it's all one long slumber party in your head. Watching TV in pajamas, while eating pizza — roommate life! At least, that's how you thought of it before you got into a week-long argument about window screens.
3. The Nervousness About Actually Finding A Good ApartmentOnce you start touring places, you'll get a sense about what your budget will (and won't) get you. And, at least in New York, listings move fast — so there's not a lot of time to deliberate. After looking at a handful of places, Steve and I were pretty sure we had found our future home. I was skeptical, since it was on the ground floor of a building, but we hadn't seen anything else that had come close to being a contender. Since Isaac was occupied with family obligations, he told us to make the decision on our own. Which was stressful. What if we ended up choosing somewhere horrible? Luckily, Isaac had access to a Columbia-approved housing website, where brokers posted listings for off-campus apartments in the area. Using the website made me (a little) more confident that we wouldn't be ripped off.
4. The Stress Of Getting The Documents For Your Application TogetherSteve was heading back to Boston for one last month, so we really rushed to get everything together. The rental company required a lot of documents — tax forms, pay stubs, bank statements, and ID scans, just to name a few. It's also Isaac's first time living in New York City, so we scrambled to get all of the documents together in time. And because our individual incomes were below a certain amount, the three of us needed guarantors, which meant our North Carolina-dwelling parents had to be on call to sign forms remotely at a moment's notice.
5. The Joy When Your Application Is ApprovedSince our building is rent-stabilized, we had to go to an additional interview with the building management. Isaac and Steve are both students, so our combined income qualified us for the stabilized unit. We had to go through a few extra steps in the process, including an interview with the realty company that owns the building. They asked a few questions about our finances, although they said the interview was "to get to know us." Even if you don't have that extra step, it's still incredibly nerve-racking when you're waiting to hear whether or not you got your top-choice apartment — and totally thrilling when you do.
6. The "Excitement" (Read: Fighting) Over DecoratingYou have a place to live! Woohoo! And you have ideas for shower curtains, paint colors, tablecloths, and everything in between. But, wait, you have two other people's opinions to deal with. For us, one drawn-out discussion involved the appearance and cost of area rugs. Our lease stipulates that 80% of the hardwood floor has to be carpeted, so we set out to order three rugs online. The exciting possibility quickly turned into a nightmare, with email chains including dozens of retailer links, and hours of research. Once Steve and I decided which rugs to order for the living room and our bedroom, our three-way group text reached the next contentious discussion — whether or not to paint the apartment. Even though we're renting, we're allowed to paint the walls, as long as they're white when (and if) we move out. This is an abridged version of a thread (and a three-way phone call) that took up an entire evening.
7. The Shock Of Figuring Out The Cost Of Moving All Your Current StuffThere's a reason Refinery29's "offtopic" email listserv is constantly flooded with listings from staffers selling their couches and dressers. Not only is moving furniture across the city a massive pain, it's extremely expensive. Which is why we ended up driving a U-Haul to move the majority of my stuff (although we did pay two movers to load and unload the truck). I definitely would have worried less if professionals had packed my stuff up, too — particularly my glass tabletop, which we wrapped in a pile of blankets — but sometimes, you've got to live on the edge.
8. The Thrill Of Finally Settling Into Your New Place