Quarantining with a partner during the pandemic has proven to make—or break—relationships. This is particularly true in New York City where rents are high, apartments are small, and nobody moves here to stay inside.
NYC shut down in March because of COVID-19. Broadway, restaurants, gyms, venues—everything that drove the pulse of the city suddenly became shuttered. I was all for staying home to save lives, but when I rented my 400-square-foot apartment in July of 2016, I never imagined that I would actually be there 24/7 for days—or even weeks—on end.
My partner, Lon, invited me to stay with him in his Midtown 2-bed, 2-bath in Sutton Place. Given the unprecedented situation, I was eager to take him up on his offer. Weeks extended into months, and as July 31st hit, I made the huge decision to opt out of my lease renewal and move in officially.
The hard part wasn't the emotional toll of making such a big decision. The part that scared me most was actually the physical act of moving in. Where would I put my furniture?
How committed would he be to that chair?
And perhaps most importantly…
Can I keep all of my shoes?
Luckily for me, Lon was happy to welcome me and my things with open arms, but it would take a lot of planning and work. Our two biggest tasks centered around a) converting the second bedroom from a man's storage space into a she-shed, and b) disposing of old, mismatched furniture to make room for my pieces.
Our strategy looked like this:
Take a deep breath.
Moving stinks. Before one fork is packed, have a glass or two of wine and talk to each other about this important point. Acknowledge that this is a stressful act in general and coupling it with a new point in a relationship can result in anything but a smooth move-in…in theory. If you both know and acknowledge the possibility of high stress associated with this act over these next few days, it will all go fine!
Make some tough cuts.
We knew that both of us would have to be OK with saying goodbye to things, moving things into a second location (i.e.: storage locker, a parent’s attic, a summer home, etc.), gifting items to friends, or making a donation. No one person will be able to keep everything; compromise and necessity will be key.
Remove everything before moving in anything new.
Before moving anything in, we worked hard to remove absolutely everything that we didn’t want. For us, this included nine large pieces of furniture, six bags of clothing, and seven boxes of home goods. Based on the heft of this list, we started two weeks in advance to ensure that we’d have enough time to physically get everything out.
Look to smart storage.
Even if you strongly adhere to the previous steps, it’s normal to run into issues with something that can’t easily be condensed. My shoes and jackets were the persistent problem we needed to solve. The closet in my she-shed is smaller than most.
While it was hard for me, I abandoned my thinking that everything needs to be on hangers. Clothing like tee shirts, tank tops, and pants were given a home in drawers.
When placing my dressers, I left one wall open to outfit storage for my shoes. I selected a singular shelf that was stackable, placing two towers of ten shelves along my wall. To secure them in place, Lon drilled them in with mounting head zip ties to keep everything in place.
We replaced the desk in our entryway—which was nothing more than a place to dump mail, change, and pens—with a rolling clothing bar for my jackets.
One person’s junk can be another’s treasure, but it’s very important not to force it. While recycling my move-in boxes, I noticed an end table in the recycle room that happened to be a piece to my actual bedroom set. With a little tightening, silver Sharpie ink, and cleaning, it’s as good as new.
Don’t force everything at once.
Finalizing your apartment isn’t a race. We aimed to get all of the major components in place first. Our last step will include finishing touches like hanging our pictures, curtains, and mirrors. And buying a wine fridge! It’s important for us to find exactly what we want, not what we see first.
It’s hard to move, but a solid strategy can help to make it a little easier. But with that said, I hope that it’s a long time before we have to do that again.