Moving: 6 American English vocabulary words

Teacher Amanda is back after a brief hiatus (hī-AY-tes, meaning a pause or gap in a series)! The hiatus inspired today’s blog post: 6 American English vocabulary words/concepts related to moving.

1. movers vs. U-Haul

“Did you hire movers or get a U-Haul?”

When moving, you decide to either hire people (movers) to move your belongings for you with their truck or rent a truck and move your belongings yourself, which is many times referred to as renting or getting a U-Haul. “U-Haul” is simply a brand name of a popular company that rents moving trucks nationwide.

2. pack and unpack

“I don’t mind packing, but unpacking boxes after moving is the worst!”

Probably the most self-explanatory words in this list: putting your things into boxes and taking them out before and after a move. Note that “unpack” officially stresses the first syllable – UN-pack – but it is not uncommon to hear the second syllable stressed.

3. apartment vs. condo

The difference between an apartment and a condo is generally ownership: apartments are rented and condos are owned. Both are generally located in buildings with other units.

4. mail forwarding

Telling the post office about your new address – or “mail forwarding” – is a phrase that may be slightly different in other English-speaking countries outside the U.S.

5. utilities

A service such a water, electricity, gas, garbage pick-up, etc. Home owners must pay all of these themselves. Renters, however, may have to pay all, some, or none, depending on the landlord.

6. moving vs. relocating

Technically, moving is relocating…and relocating is moving, but they are used differently.

a) We’re moving next month!
b) We’re relocating next month!

Statement “a” is more general and implies “We are moving out of our current home and into a different home next month.” How far they are moving isn’t indicated, although it likely is not a move extremely far from their current location.

Statement “b”, however, implies “We are moving out of our current home in this city/country and moving into a different area far away.” “Relocating” indicates the speaker is moving far – generally out of the state or even out of the country.

Note that it is perfectly fine to use “moving” for large distances: “I’m moving to Russia next month! I got a job teaching in Moscow!”


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