(This piece was originally published Sept. 2, 2013 and appeared on

There are so many unanticipated roadblocks to moving in the city.

We all know about the traffic, and the garbage, and the stress, but we don’t think about some of the smaller pieces. For instance, we don’t consider the people who will be moving into our vacated apartments, or those who are vacating our new homes. We complain about the state of things when we get to a new place, but have short-term memory loss when it comes to how we left things, our own heaps of garbage and abandoned furniture.

Before you even have a chance to think about moving out of your house or into your new one, you’re almost always faced with someone trying to move on top of you. Or worse, your landlord sends in a hoard of cleaners who will just get it to be slightly less terrible and then leave with some of your small appliances that they swear were abandoned. If we could be trusted to clean the place ourselves, we would save everyone a lot of trouble.

There is always the fear that you won’t have somewhere to stay once you’ve moved.

What if you arrive at your new apartment and it’s full of people sleeping and beer cans everywhere and no one has packed yet?

What are you supposed to do, call your landlord? I’m sure that will make them not think of you as spoiled and pampered. No one knows where to sleep on August 31.

In many other cities landlords are required a day in which to clean and repair as much as they can between tenants. Because of the immediacy of the turnover and the innumerable swaths of incoming tenants, there isn’t time for that here. Despite this, we are almost assured to be paying a month’s rent toward a security deposit.

What does that security deposit secure if we are moving into homes where the floorboards have rotted away from flooding, there is cat piss on the walls, and someone has left garbage and graffiti all over?

I know that not everyone’s experience is a nightmare, but so many of ours are. Moving is hard, but we make it so much harder on each other by not understanding that the place we are moving into was just someone’s home, and the place we just left may not be our home anymore, but it is going to be someone else’s. Cleaning after carrying stuff all day may seem like the worst idea anyone has ever had, but if we don’t do it, we have no right to complain about moving into a home complete with mice and mold and misery.

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