UPDATED! Moving: 6 American English vocabulary words

Last year, I made a post about English vocabulary words related to moving because I had just moved. And I just moved again! So I am re-posting the lesson, but I have updated it by adding more information and example sentences.

1. to hire movers vs. get/rent a U-Haul

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

When moving from one place to another, you either hire people (movers) to move your belongings for you with their truck, or you 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, but people use “U-Haul” many times to mean any company that rents moving trucks.

2. pack and unpack

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

Probably the most self-explanatory word in this list, “pack” and “unpack” means 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, or even to have both equally stressed.

3. apartment vs. condo

“How many units are in your apartment building?”
“Is your condo on the first floor or the second?”

The difference between an apartment and a condo is usually ownership: apartments are rented and condos are owned.

“Condo” is short for “condominium.” Both are usually located in larger buildings with other units.

4. mail forwarding; to forward [your] mail; to have mail forwarded

“Did you forward your mail to your new house yet?”

Telling the post office about your new address so that they can send mail to your new home, or mail forwarding, is a phrase that may be slightly different in other English-speaking countries outside the U.S.

5. utilities

“What utilities are included in the rent?”
“Rent is $1000 per month, all utilities included.”

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

6. moving vs. relocating

Technically, any type of 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 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. You can also use “relocating” if your job is transferring you to a new area far from where you currently live: “My job relocated me to the West Coast from Chicago.”

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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