How to Move Out After a Breakup, According to Movers


Moving out of the home you shared with a partner can bring up a lot of emotions. It can be empowering, heartbreaking, frustrating, exciting, or maybe a mix of all of that and more. You have an unknown future ahead of you, which is both cool and scary—but also, in the present moment, you have to gather up all your stuff and get it out of there. This can be super weird when your ex is, like, right there. It may be a new experience for you, but professional movers see it all the time.

Let your movers know in advance that you’re leaving a shared space

When you’re booking your movers, give them a quick heads-up about the situation, especially if some items (yours) will go and some (your ex’s) will stay. Ashley Graber, co-owner of Cool Hand Movers, says some clients will disclose the situation in advance “so the teams understands that divvying items at the pickup may be a charged situation.”

Anthony Collazo, CEO of Rabbit Moving and Storage, says it’s “not necessary” to tell his team what’s going on before their arrival, but “most clients do.” In that case, Rabbit workers add the info to the client’s file so any responding movers can be “extra sensitive.”

Zak Solomon, founder and CEO of Solidarity Movers, says clients give his team a heads-up about all kinds of situations, from breakups to pests or nasty landlords, but “if it’s something that’s a little more casual, it’s not necessary. If there’s potential it’s a little more combustible, then it’s always valuable to let the movers know.” He points out that movers are always entering a sensitive situation, since they’re strangers showing up at people’s homes during times of major transition, so this is a time when over-communicating about circumstances is just fine.

Try to work this out with your ex before the moving starts

The period between breaking up and moving out is a strange, horrible limbo. I’ve been there and all of my friends have been there. You’re trying to spend as much time out of the place as you can while still being there often enough to box everything up, but if you don’t have a friend’s couch to crash on, you more than likely end up there at night. Whether you argue, sit in absolute silence, drag out relationship grievances, or make weird last-minute plays to get each other back, it’s not a fun time to be around your recent ex. Still, you should try to find a time to go over what this is going to look like with them before movers (or helpful friends) arrive and your stuff starts disappearing from the space. 

“Communication is very key, even if you’re breaking up,” says Collazo. “Make sure your partner understands you’re leaving because movers just showing up randomly leaves it a very awkward situation.”

He also adds that you should be sure you’re serious before going through with this. Listen, I trust you’re making the decision that’s right for you, but for what it’s worth, Collazo’s movers have experienced multiple situations where someone books a move only to cancel last-minute because of a makeup. It goes without saying, but don’t use a breakup as a threat, let alone drag innocent workers into it and screw them over. 

When chatting with your ex, whether you think the relationship can be salvaged or not, keep an open mind, but be very firm about what’s going to happen. Explain what day the moving will happen and which items you will be taking. Work out, in advance, how you’re divvying up shared items. Don’t let this wait until moving day, which is stressful enough as it is. Solomon suggests putting your items in one room, the ex’s items in another, and making it clear to movers which room contains “stay” items and which contains “go.” If you’re low on time or that’s not an option in your space, he has a great tip: Use painter’s tape, which doesn’t leave residue behind, to mark anything that is going to go on the truck. This will make it easy for your movers to quickly identify which items are yours, which aren’t, and where everything should go.

Prioritize your safety

The circumstances of a breakup are always unique. You may feel amicable and friendly toward your ex or you may feel more negative emotions, from resentment to fear. In any case, understand the safety concerns here. 

“Once in a while, you do get an ex trying to find out where the other ex is moving,” says Collazo. He adds that his team is trained never to share information about a customer with anyone who isn’t the customer, but you should keep in mind that if your ex is around when you’re moving, they could try to find a way to figure out where you’re headed. Solomon says that his team is prepared for this sort of thing and, if you want, won’t even mention your new address until you’re on the way, plus won’t speak about the move to anyone, from your ex to people who pass by with questions on the street. 

Collazo even says his team will totally ignore your ex if you ask them to, but you need to ask your individual movers (or friends) if they’ll honor your wishes in a case like that. In a contentious situation, it’s advisable to go straight to movers instead of asking friends to help you move, but you should still consider having a pal or two around as emotional support, says Solomon. (Note, however, that a friend may see this final goodbye as their big chance to finally let your ex have it, so talk to them in advance about your preferences and, if applicable, ask them not to bring the drama.)

Graber advises that you should really think through whether both former partners should be around on moving day. She and her team work to prioritize client privacy and don’t pry or get too involved, she says, but in some cases, the remaining partner may have concerns about the property or certain items. In that case, they may need to communicate. 

Ultimately, if there aren’t safety concerns about the volatility or intentions of your ex and if you feel it can stay civil, it might be best to have them there, even though it’s going to be super awkward. Divvying items, maintaining elements of the property, and jointly communicating needs with the movers are all important. Just let the mover know in advance what the deal is. Solomon adds that you should also consider the implications of different sizes of moving teams. Smaller teams of two or so people are more personable and overwhelm your space less, but take longer to move items than bigger teams of four to five people, who bring a lot of energy to an already fraught situation, but also go fast. If you’re doing this while your ex is gone, consider the big team. If you’re doing it while they’re around, a smaller team might help keep the vibes more peaceful.

Things to keep in mind

This is going to be kind of awkward and even if the breakup is a great thing, don’t be surprised if you feel a little sad. It’s the end of an era. Research your moving company and try to find one that’s locally owned, communicative, and personable. 

Also keep in mind that though you might feel like you’re alone, you’re really not. Solomon says that he estimates 10 to 15% of the moves his company assists with are breakups. Collazo estimates that half of his moves are couples, either moving in together or moving apart. This is nothing your pros haven’t seen before and their job is to help you get to the new chapter of your life quickly and efficiently. Be communicative, be as organized as possible, and just power through one awkward day to get to your new chapter. 

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