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The Dartmouth
February 25, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Moving out tips: Scale down, pack up, get out

Moving out is hard to do.

I'm not talking about the emotional difficulty of letting go of a meaningful space. The physical act of getting packed up and shipping out is tough stuff.

I've moved out of four dorm rooms, one off-campus apartment and one host French household in my college career, and I've made enough mistakes to amass a decently long list of what (not) to do to make those last few days of term less traumatizing.

1.Don't get attached.

Remember that soccer jersey you've kept since your team was victorious in third grade? What about those pants that you're keeping around just in case every other pair is so dirt-stained that you can't possibly don them outside? Donate them. Your notes from your 11th grade geography class that just might come in handy down the road? Recycle them. The collection of liquor bottles you've amassed since college started? No one cares.

Scour your room for everything you haven't used much throughout the term and dispose of it. If you're desperate for a memento, take a picture -- the space on your hard drive is going to be a lot lighter than the weight of another box. And you won't have to make an appointment with the Office of Residential Life to retrieve it.

2.Investigate your storage options.

True Value is a fantastic (albeit pricey) fix if you're in a time crunch at the end of term, since they'll pick up your boxes right from your dorm room. Unfortunately, when it comes to drop-off, they'll only go so far as your building, so if you decided the Northfay Sextet was your accommodation of choice, start practicing on the StairMaster.

Controlled storage is less expensive, but the best locations tend to fill up pretty quickly before terms when the campus population plummets, so make sure you're not waiting until the end of finals to get boxing.

3.Make the right connections.

After befriending his custodian, a friend of mine managed to store all of his belongings for free in the trunk room of his dorm during his Winter off-term. Friends with spacious vehicles and large upper-body muscles can be equally valuable resources.

4.Size counts.

Since controlled storage charges on a per-item basis, the most cost-effective way to store your belongings is in big boxes or containers. True Value recently stopped stocking the spacious 24" x 18" x 16" boxes I'd come to rely on, so finding the best alternative is all about creativity.

For a reusable and spacious option, try oversized garbage cans -- available at True Value for $10 each -- or plastic containers from Wal-Mart. Be sure to mix clothes with heavier items, though, or else your well-packed textbook-filled garbage can is going to be too heavy to transport from your dorm room.

5.It's not too close to drive.

In theory, moving from the Midfay to Rip-Wood-Smith should be a breeze considering their relative proximity. In practice, however, carrying box after box, one at a time, up and down numerous sets of stairs, was more strenuous and time consuming than I'd anticipated.

My roommates were equally unimpressed when I jetted off to catch the Dartmouth Coach and left them with the final few loads to carry. Needless to say, they received some stellar Christmas presents that year.

6.Find a reason for interim housing.

If you'll be back at Dartmouth but happen to be changing dorms, interim housing can save you the hassle of moving your stuff home and back again.

A quick glance at the interim application form reveals a multitude of options that warrant housing, from living far away from Hanover to employment or college-related activities.

If you can't make a convincing case as to why Connecticut is really that far away and you're reluctant to join the rugby team, an interim court date in New Hampshire is a less-advertised but equally effective way to guarantee that you get housing between terms.

7.Don't pack up (too) early.

I slept on my sheet-less bed in a campfire-scented sleeping bag for the final two weeks of freshman year after storing my bedding.

On more than one occasion, I had the joy of waking up with my face pressed against my questionably clean and potentially archaic mattress. So much for planning ahead.

  1. Watch out for baggage fees.

If you're planning to fly home, know your airline's restrictions. In general, oversized baggage is anything over 50 pounds and costs a $50 to $100 fee -- depending on whether your bag is merely overweight or categorically obese. A quick glance at the policies of Delta, United and American Airlines revealed the price of an extra bag to range from $75 to $85. The price increases with the number of bags, so if you decide that seven is your lucky number, that seventh bag could cost you a cool $200.

Finally, certain items have their own special fees, with bicycles (or antlers, for that matter) tallying in at an additional $80. If you went for the $49.73 Roadmaster Mt. Fury Mountain Bike currently featured at Wal-Mart, paying the $160 it will take to ship the bike to and from home probably isn't the most cost-effective choice.

Sophomores and juniors may be comfortably settled into college life without the jaded-ness or what-are-you-doing-next-year pressure of senior year, but the nomad-like existence that accompanies the D-Plan means that moving is a fact of life.

With limited belongings, large storage containers and able-bodied friends, end-of-term stress can remain focused around finals. If you truly master the art of moving, you might even be able to fit seeing friends and sleeping back into your calendar.