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How busy will Boston roads be around moving day?

Many people are preparing to move in Boston, but some days or neighborhoods may be busier than others.
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Emerson College orientation leaders helped more than 900 students move in to their dorms. Photo: Derek Palmer

Move-in day in Boston is quickly approaching. You’ve been packing boxes, donating things not worth schlepping to your new place and preparing to navigate a moving truck around the city.

But even with all that prep work, can you ever really be ready for the madness that is moving on Sept. 1 in Boston?

To help you visualize the chaos ahead of time — and hopefully plan your moves around the city so that everything goes smoothly — real estate site RentHop has created heat maps of all the move-in traffic.

In a recent report, RentHop looked at what exactly happens to Boston’s roadways as people move into and around the city, as well as data tidbits like the busiest neighborhoods, times and dates for moving and, of course, some survival tips.

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Using data from the city on what moving truck permits have been issued, RentHop was able to compile the dates, times and locations that are expected to be particularly busy.

Unsurprisingly, August has historically been the busiest month for the amount of permits issued. For August 2016, the city issued 3,160 moving truck permits. This year may be a bit less busy as the city has issued 2,912 as of the publication of the study, according to RentHop.

Which areas in Boston will be the busiest?

People are moving all across the city on Sept. 1, but some neighborhoods are set to have more moving trucks clogging the streets than others.

Brighton will be the busiest, according to RentHop, with 418 moving truck permits issued in that neighborhood. The West End is second, with 436 permits for that neighborhood, which borders Beacon Hill and the North End.

South Boston is close behind with 429 permits issued there, followed by Back Bay, with 417. The South End rounds out the top five busiest Boston neighborhoods with 342 moving truck permits.

The neighborhood that will see the least moving trucks (at least according to permits)? Jamaica Plain, where there are only 178 assigned permits.

What does moving day traffic look like?

If you’ve never experienced Sept. 1 in Boston before, you might be wondering how different it will be from any day where driving in Boston isn’t that easy or fun. RentHop created two heat maps so you can see for yourself.

The weekly heat map shows the number of moving permits issued per week. Aug. 28 to Sept. 4 is expected to be the most congested week, especially in the areas around the city closer to colleges, the map shows.

The data for this map spans the whole year, so if you’re trying to avoid this stressful week next time you have to move, it’s worth scrolling through the data and seeing how other times of the year compare (though as most of the leases turn over in September, there may be less rental options at other times).

Other times when more moving truck permits are issued are around May 22 to June 5 and June 36 to July 3, according to RentHop.

The daily heat map shows the number of issued moving permits per day, between Aug. 1 and Sept. 16. Breaking this information down by date also shows when permits will expire. On Sept. 1, 865 permits are due to expire around Boston. Aug. 31 follows with 478 permits set to expire then.

“This map will be a great tool for those looking to check out if their neighborhood will be particularly affected by students and all of their ‘baggage’ during certain dates,” according to RentHop.

Survival Tips

Now that you’ve seen just how hectic Boston will be with everyone moving, RentHop has a few tips to help you avoid that madness as much as possible.

First, the site advices, know when colleges near you have their move-in days so you can avoid those filing into dorms. Though some schools have a wide window for moving that may be impossible to avoid (Boston University lists its moving dates as Aug. 30 to Sept. 4), other schools have a narrower window.

Some students should already be all moved into their schools, like at Boston College, for which the move-in dates are listed as Aug. 23 to 25. Berklee College of Music students only had one day to settle in: Aug. 26. Emerson College moved in Aug. 28 and 29 — but lucky for them, the more than 900 students who moved into the downtown school got help from their orientation leaders, who greeted them with signing, dancing and assistance in unloading their cars. Suffolk students may be lucky enough to avoid most of the stress as they’re set to move in Sept. 3 and 4. 

RentHop also advises that you use their heat maps to plan alternate routes. Even if you’re not moving, your days will be affected, so you might want to find another way to get to work or to the grocery store.

Finally, take advantage of “Allston Christmas,” RentHop says. This unofficial holiday marks when movers leave discarded furniture and other trash that becomes someone’s treasure out on the curb. It’s also a chaotic time, but you can treat it as an “opportunity,” RentHop says, noting that “There is a good chance you can find some pretty cool things simply laying on the sidewalk or in the street.”

 
 
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