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How I Moved to Ann Arbor

This is Part 2 of a series for graduate students who will begin their studies at U-M this fall. See Part 1: Navigating the Ann Arbor Housing Market and Part 3: Furnishing Your Apartment or Room on a Grad Student Budget.

So you’ve accepted your offer to join a graduate program at U-M. Congrats and welcome!

I remember the excitement after accepting my offer to join the Program in Biomedical Sciences at U-M, but I also remember the apprehension about moving across the country started setting in almost immediately. Luckily, I had a few months to figure out my moving plan.

First, I wanted to figure out housing. I reached out to a fellow incoming student I had met during interviews and we decided to rent an apartment together to save on rent. Both of us were comfortable and familiar with looking for rentals on Craigslist so that was our main source of apartment postings; I find Hotpads and Padmapper to have a more curated selection of listings and a nicer map function, but fewer listings than Craigslist. Most of the graduate students I know had housing figured out before arriving in the area, but I also know a handful of people who stayed in a hotel for a few days while apartment searching in Ann Arbor. The larger rental companies are likely to always have at least a few apartments open so they’re a good backup option if you find yourself in a crunch. For additional information and housing tips, see Elina’s post about housing.

Once we had housing figured out, we wanted to get all of our utilities set up. We made sure to find out what utilities were included in the rent and what utilities we were responsible for. I’ve mainly stuck to independently-owned apartment buildings and for the last three years I’ve rented in Ann Arbor, electricity and internet have not been included in rent, but heat/gas, water and trash have. Parking may or may not be included in the rent. Never be afraid to ask the landlord or rental company what’s included in your rent so you’re not surprised later on! The little extra things can add up. For electricity and/or gas service, we set up an account with DTE Energy which is the utility company that pretty much covers any area within commuting distance to campus and had electricity set up under our names before we arrived and internet set up within the first few days of moving in. For internet, it helps to do research beforehand. New customers can often get a promotional deal and supplying your own modem can cut back on costs in the long run.

As for how I moved all of my stuff, I had moved home after undergrad and was only staying at home for a few months so I kept most of my stuff packed and only planned to bring clothing and any notes and books to Michigan. I planned to buy everything else like furniture in Michigan. I mailed books via USPS Media Mail and my lighter items like clothing through USPS Standard Post (now Retail Ground). I packed the rest of my heavier items (e.g., shoes and random knick-knacks) into checked bags.

I was lucky that my parents were willing and able to fly to Michigan with me to help me move because that also meant I could use their checked bag to haul some of my stuff over. Back when I moved, each person’s first checked bag cost $25, and by maxing out the weight limit on our checked bags, it ended up being cheaper flying some of my heavier items over instead of mailing them via USPS. Because I didn’t want three suitcases in our apartment with limited storage, we just packed the smaller suitcases into the bigger ones and my parents flew them home.

Because my moving situation won’t apply to everyone, I’ll also briefly describe how some fellow graduate students, who were in different situations and moving from different locations, moved to Ann Arbor.

Most graduate students who moved from either the East Coast or the Mid to Eastern South packed most of their stuff in cars and drove over to Michigan. Some brought clothing and small furniture items in their cars and bought larger furniture items once they got to Ann Arbor. Others (especially those with significant others or families) with more furniture drove over with a rented trailer attached to their cars or made multiple trips to move everything over.

Another graduate student from the West Coast packed up her home and drove across the country with her cat and fiancé with a rented U-Haul cargo trailer in tow; one-way U-Haul rentals are possible. For long distance moving with less hassle, PODS are another option.

I hope this brief overview of my moving story was at least interesting if not helpful. Happy moving and good luck!