Skip to content

Do's and Dont's for Moving Day in Boston

boston people moving from a house with a uhaul

If you’re new to Boston and Cambridge, you might not yet be familiar with the phenomenon of moving day, but ask any seasoned resident and they’ll grimace knowingly. Moving day refers to the September 1 lease flip common to the vast majority of  apartments in the Greater Boston area, forcing renters to clear out by midnight on August 31, and rendering many homeless for the night until they can move into their new digs the next day.

Before you panic, there is an upside to this mass relocation (pun intended): free stuff. Affectionately known as Allston Christmas, late August and early September are marked not just by a fresh wave of college youths sporting lanyards and toting campus maps, but also by the plethora of stuff left out on the curbs of Boston’s most student-friendly neighborhoods. If you play your cards right, it’s a golden opportunity to flesh out some of your own home furnishings, especially that home office you’ve been dragging your feet about setting up. Here’s a quick list of do’s and dont's  for hunting the treasures to be gleaned from this annual free-for-all.


  • Use Boston Magazine’s “heat map,” which pinpoints moving hot spots across the city based on permit data for moving trucks. This handy tool serves a double purpose: it shows you the most congested parts of the city so you can avoid the Uhaul traffic; it also shows the most promising areas for finding the good stuff.
  • Look for a desk. The streets are guaranteed to be chock-full of abandoned tables. If you’re not particular about what your desk looks like, it’s the perfect time to hand-select a charmingly worn-in kitchen or buffet table, or one of those Ikea desks without the trouble of going all the way to Stoughton.
  • Look for office storage. Filing cabinets and shelving will be a dime a dozen. Take your pick.
  • Look for the small things. Allston Christmas is especially ideal for lamps, side tables, and chairs of all varieties. Save yourself the trip to Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
  • Keep an eye out for paint. I know you were planning to leave the walls in your office that bland shade of off-white, but color does have an impact on your productivity. It can soothe and relax, encourage creativity, and boost optimism.  Another tip is to visit your local hardware store and ask to look at their collection of mis-tints. Incorrectly mixed or returned shades of paint are sold at deep discounts, and you can go browse what they have at your leisure.


  • Bother will upholstered items. Couches, armchairs, ottomans carry the threat of mysterious stains, bed bugs, weird smells…they’re better left alone.
  • Bother with artwork. Wall art discarded by college students will likely be cheap and mass produced- the home equivalent of an office motivational poster featuring a cat hanging from a tree branch.
  • Go scavenging without a gameplan. Make a prioritized list of items you’re looking for, estimate what you’ll be able to fit in your vehicle, and map out where in the city you intend to go looking. Leave room in your plan for that once-in-a-lifetime amazing find. With all the craziness of moving week, you’ll be glad you planned ahead.

Happy hunting, Bostonians! Be brave, and don’t give up. Like thrift shopping, moving day curb-hunting requires patience, diligence, a good eye, and can reap great rewards.

Top photo Credit: Boston Herald

About the Author:  Ann Holland  is a Space & Community Manager at Workbar Cambridge. You may also address her as Potroast. Catch her on Instagram and Twitter under the handle  @SamuelEnderby


About Workbar:

Workbar operates coworking locations throughout greater Boston (Boston Back Bay, Boston South Station, Burlington, Cambridge, Arlington, Brighton, Danvers, Norwood, Salem) and several other partner locations throughout the state. Want to keep up with the world of Workbar? Subscribe to our mailing list for the most up-to-date information about our upcoming events and community news. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.