Posted Jun 9, 2015

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco

You’re ready to make the big move, but where do you start? San Francisco might be a bustling metropolis, but moving to, from or within the city isn’t as daunting as it sounds.

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco

But with a little planning, you’ll find moving to the area quite easy. Your move in this beautiful city will go smoothly as long as you give yourself at least a few months to fully prepare.

Ensure Your New Place Is Ready

The last thing you want to do is get all your boxes packed only to discover that your new place isn’t ready. Maybe you haven’t looked for a new place yet. Make this a priority. Find a new apartment and ensure all the utilities will be turned on the day before you arrive.

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Ensure Your New Place is Ready

If you haven’t found a new place yet, know that every San Francisco neighborhood has its own unique personality and it’ll be easy to find one that fits you. Just make sure you’re prepared for the high rental rates that San Francisco is famous for.

Choose How You’ll Move

You only have two real options. If you have some good friends and family, ask them to help, especially if you’re not moving too far away from them. If they can’t help, make arrangements with a professional moving company. You can haul the items yourself or have the moving company take care of everything. Some will even take care of the packing too!

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Choose How You'll Move

If you’re using a moving company, ask for references. It also pays to buy moving insurance. While you hope nothing will happen, it’s better not to risk it. You should always pack your most personal belonging, such as pictures and irreplaceable documents, in your own car. Given the many hills in the area, you will want to make sure you choose a company with a state-of-the-art fleet. If you are using your own vehicle, make sure the tires are properly inflated and that you have a full tank of gas.

 Go Through Your Belongings

Don’t just pack every little thing. It’ll take you forever to unpack and settle in to your new place. Instead, use your move as a chance to get rid of some clutter. Do you really need 11 different salt and pepper shaker sets? What about those heavy winter sweaters from 7 years ago?

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Go Through Your Belongings

Go through every room and clean out anything you don’t want to take with you. Either sell it or donate it to charity. You’d be surprised at how much you’ve accumulated that you no longer want or need. San Francisco has a huge heart. Be sure to see if any of these local charities can use your unwanted stuff.

Organize Your Packing 

Which rooms can you pack first? Which should be last? There are some things, such as your TV or bed that you might want to wait until the last few days to pack.

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Organize Your Packing

Other things can be packed and ready weeks in advance, such as extra dishes and towels. Make a detailed checklist of which rooms and items should be packed and when.

Gather Your Supplies

Most moving companies are happy to provide you with packing materials. You can also buy them yourself or even see if local businesses have empty boxes that they give to customers for free. It’s hard to know how many boxes you’ll need, but estimate at least 5-10 average sized cardboard boxes per room.

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Gather Your Supplies

You can always get more if you see you need them. Don’t forget you’ll also need the following:

  • Bubble wrap for fragile items
  • Several rolls of packing tape
  • Markers (to label boxes)

When labeling your boxes, write down the room name and a general description of items. This will help you find what you need quickly when you move in to your new home.

If possible, try to find a green moving company. They often provide plastic bins that you can return to them. They hold up better and you won’t have a massive stack of cardboard boxes to deal with when you’re done unpacking. The city and county of San Francisco have some of the most refreshing green policies and standards in the nation.

Start Packing 

To avoid the last minute rush, pack everything you can at least a few weeks before you move.

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Start Packing

If your new place is ready early, consider taking over non-perishable items, such as clothing, dishes, and even furniture before your scheduled move date. Follow your packing checklist to ensure nothing gets left behind.

Use Furniture for Packing

If you’re taking your furniture with you, you can use it as a packing tool. For instance, bedding, towels and clothing for your first week in your new home can all be packed in a chest of drawers. Only place non-breakables in furniture.

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Use Furniture for Packing

Pack a Necessities Box 

You’ll need certain things on your first day in your new San Francisco apartment such as toilet paper, toiletries, snacks, paper plates, paper towels, general cleaning supplies, and a flashlight. Pack all these small things in a few boxes to be unloaded first. This will make your first few days much easier.

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Pack a Necessities Box

Do a Final Check

Don’t lock up your home as soon as the last box is out. Go back in and search every single room thoroughly. Is there anything you might have missed? Look in closets, behind remaining furniture and in cabinets. Have someone help you. You don’t want to move only to discover you left something important in your old place.

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Do a Final Check

Set Aside an Unpacking Week

If possible, take a week off from work to give yourself time to unpack and get used to your new home. Start unpacking with the rooms you need most, such as your bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. Begin with the big items such as furniture and appliances. Once they’re arranged, it’ll be easier to place all your smaller items.

A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco - Set Aside an Unpacking Week

Follow your original checklist backwards so you unpack what you need most first. Your boxes should be labeled, making it easier to figure out what goes where.

If possible, invite some friends or family over to help. They can at least help by taking items out of the boxes and passing them to you or taking boxes into the appropriate rooms. Remember, every little bit of help is useful. If you’re using a moving company, they may do all of this for you.

Moving in a city with nearly 17,000 people per square mile might seem difficult, but it’s not. Plan accordingly, take your time and you might just enjoy the move after all.

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A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco

This article was prepared by FlatRate Moving, a moving and storage company with over 20 years of industry experience.

Lovely Editor


Lovely is proud to team up with industry experts to bring our readers useful and interesting guest blog posts covering everything from apartment life, moving, city living, and everything in between.

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One response to “A Quick Guide to Moving to San Francisco”

  1. Grace Butler says:

    A friend of mine is moving to San Francisco next month and this post will be of great help for her.I’m definitely showing this post to her. Thank you for sharing!

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