Moving into an Apartment Building with no Elevator

Full article 14 min read
Moving From An Apartment To A House

When you’ve locked into an apartment that suits your needs, is in the neighborhood you want, and fits your budget, you thank your stars you landed the deal! It’s rare to find housing that matches all your requirements and is bound to excite you. But you also find out that the apartment building has no elevator and the apartment you’ve chosen is higher up. Typically, apartment buildings with three floors do not have elevators, so you are in a bit of a soup if you’ve got your apartment on the second or third floor. Don’t let this discourage you. There are ways to work around this slight inconvenience.

Check out the best ways to move into your dream apartment in a building with no elevator.

Move only what’s essential

One of the things you can do to make your life easier is pack and take as little as possible. Don’t carry items that are not essential or useful anymore. The more you pack, the more you have to carry upstairs either yourself or with some friends. You could have a garage sale of the things you plan to leave behind and earn some extra cash to help you move in! Even if there is an elevator out of commission, you will always have to make arrangements for such an eventuality if it is your moving day and you have to move your things into your home.


Avoid moving any furniture

Moving furniture is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome in this situation. So the quick and easy solution is not to move any furniture at all! The chances are that your apartment is semi or fully furnished. And if it isn’t, you can always rent furniture (that will be delivered to your apartment by the furniture rental company, which is an effort you don’t have to make).

Dismantle furniture and large appliance before moving

Now, if you absolutely must take some of your furniture to your new apartment, then make the process easier for yourself and your helpers by disassembling the furniture pieces as much as possible to facilitate easier carrying and moving of furniture parts.

The exact techniques to dismantle different furniture pieces depend on what they are in the first place. You may need professional help with this. Once the pieces have come apart, make sure they are well wrapped and prepared to be moved.

See Also: Tips for Moving Large Furniture to a New Home

Wrap the items in furniture blankets

Wrap all the furniture pieces fully and securely. This is so that they have protection in two parts: direct and indirect.

1. Direct protection means that the soft padding layer will protect the furniture item from damage during the move.

2. Indirect protection refers to ensuring that by wrapping the items, you are also protecting the walls, stairways, and doorways from getting damaged in case of a collision with the item during the move.

Rent an appliance dolly

The stairways are your best bet for getting your things transferred to your new apartment. While the lightboxes are easy to carry up a few flights, the heavier items will be a challenge in a DIY situation. So you will need to invest in some rented equipment to make your life easier. Rent an appliance dolly to carry your heavier items. The 2-wheel L-shaped lever can be easily rolled up the stairways with a little assistance from friends. 


Consider using a shoulder dolly for the stairs

Another way to haul your things up is by using a shoulder dolly. The shoulder dolly uses your shoulder and upper body and leg muscles, which are essential for heavier lifting. This lifting system enables two people to use one moving strap and one harness. Once these are in place, you can lift and carry heavier items up the stairs with much ease.

Here’s how you use the shoulder dolly:

1. Have your friend secure the harness around your shoulders and do the same for them

2. Keep your knees bent and your back straight

3. Loop straps under the heavy item

4. Attach one strap end to your harness and the other to your friend’s harness

5. Lift the item together using your leg muscles

6. Remember to keep your back straight and move together

Practice safe lifting techniques

No matter the load and how much you work out (or don’t), always practice safe lifting techniques so that your body suffers minimal trauma or exhaustion and avoids any injuries or accidents.

While you may feel confident because you can carry the lighter boxes, this feeling will change rapidly once you reach the heavier boxes and items. And you will be doing this for hours, so you will need to pace yourself out to avoid exhaustion.

Follow these safety lifting practices:

1. Make sure your feet are planted firmly to the ground, creating a stable base.

2. Keep your back straight, shoulders back, and eyes looking forward at all times.

3. Bend your knees before lifting to use your leg muscles.

4. Always ensure you have a firm grip on the items before lifting and carrying them. Use strong anti-slip gloves, if necessary. Check with your friend for the same.

5. Always hold the heavier items close to your body, mostly in the center.

6. Take your time and be patient. Rushing these tasks will cause accidents and injuries.

Wear proper footwear and clothing

Moving up and down stairs can be exhausting but also tricky. All it takes is one misstep, and not only are you injured but also your move will be halted indefinitely, which will cost money, time, and more energy. You need to maintain your balance, especially if the apartment building is old and the stairs are not even. This is why it is so important to wear proper footwear. This will keep your feet from tiring out, losing balance, or spraining and cramping.


Consider these points before buying shoes:

1. Good shoes provide excellent traction while moving your things up the stairs. So invest in anti-slip rubber soles when looking for proper footwear.

2. The shoes should be closed so that your toes are protected. If you accidentally drop any items, your toes are well protected from impact and won’t have any chance to be crushed under the weight of the items.

3. Choose shoes that also provide sufficient ankle protection. We often take our ankles for granted and don’t realize how essential they are to our lives as we balance them and walk everywhere.

4. Proper footwear for moving items is sports shoes, running shoes, or hiking shoes.

Get help from able-bodies friends

Don’t underestimate the strain of this moving job, even if it’s just one flight up or up to the third floor. There will be plenty of steps that you will be navigating up and down multiple times through the entire process. So ask friends, relatives, or volunteers to help you. The people you ask for help should be physically capable of carrying things and not add to your problems. Even so, here are some things to consider before you ask anyone for help in your move to your new apartment:

1. Ask them as early as possible to increase your chances of them agreeing to help you

2. Make sure they know exactly what they are needed for, without omitting any details. Tell them that there is no elevator.

3. Do not get upset or resentful if they decline to help. Moving furniture without an elevator is no joke, and they are entitled to choose their comfort first. Also, they might not be available to help you on the day you need them

4. Be flexible with your days and times, if you can, so your friends can make themselves available to you. Most working professionals are free on the weekends.

Hire a professional moving company

If nothing else works and you cannot manage this move by yourself, thanks to the absence of a convenient elevator, consider hiring professional help. Inform them in advance that there is no elevator so that they can make arrangements for equipment that can move the items up to your apartment without an elevator.

Some bigger moving companies offer hoisting services, which would be ideal if you have a balcony or large window. The professional movers can efficiently and speedily transfer your things. 



An apartment building without an elevator may seem like an impossible task and make you wonder why you agreed to move there in the first place. But remember that this is very doable with some adjustments and planning. Plus, low-rise apartment buildings without elevators usually mean that the rent is cheaper. So you do end up benefiting in the long run!


How can I move without a lift?

If you are not sure about how to move into a building that has no lift, here are some tips:

1. Try not to move with any of your furniture

2. If you must take your furniture, then dismantle it before moving

3. Make sure your furniture items are sufficiently padded

4. Rent an appliance or furniture dolly

5. Dress appropriately and comfortably for the move (including sturdy footwear)

6. Ask your friends to help you wherever and however they can

7. Invest in a professional moving company to help you with the process

How many floors does a building need to have an elevator?

Typically, facilities that are under three stories or have fewer than 3000 square feet per floor do not require the installation of an elevator. This is in the case of apartment buildings. Elevators may be required in the case of shopping centers, malls, office buildings or healthcare facilities, public transit stations, or airport passenger terminals.

Can movers move without an elevator?

The great thing about professional moving companies is that they will handle your move with no trouble, whether local or long-distance because they are trained and equipped to move your things under any circumstances. Moving companies move items across countries into living facilities, including apartment buildings without elevators. While this may involve extra carrying, lifting, and labor costs, they are well worth the investment if it means hauling up all your things to your new apartment without breaking a sweat and risking any injuries to your body.


How can I make moving upstairs easier?

To make your move upstairs easier, you could:

1. Use a hand truck

2. Get a 4-wheel dolly

3. Rent an appliance or furniture dolly

4. Sufficient packing and fastening materials like straps and ropes

How can I raise my couch to the second floor?

You may be in a situation where you have rented out an apartment in a building with no elevator. This does not mean you cannot move all your things to your new apartment on the second floor. Sure, it will be a little more difficult and require more than one pair of helping hands, but it is doable with a little planning. Here are some tips on how to raise your couch to the second floor via the balcony:

• Dismantle the legs and remove any cushions or pillows

• Protect the couch with a cover to avoid any damage to the upholstery

• Secure coverings and create loops with the help of packing straps and cords

• Attach a rope to each of the loops

• Then, you can lift with couch using the attached ropes, with the help of sufficient staffing

• Once it has been lifted to the second floor, you can roll the couch into your apartment through the balcony.

Written by

Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.