Student Life

Moving Day

moveout day

Photo: Bryce Richter

What do you do when the lease is up on one apartment, but your new lease does not start until the next day?

Every August 14, thousands of UW students face this dilemma, joining other downtown Madison apartment dwellers in a twenty-four-hour bout of homelessness, rather than choosing to renew their leases and stay put (as many parents no doubt wish they would).

Some handle this juggling act by filling up cars or renting moving trucks, and then settling in with their belongings for the night. Nearby Bethel Lutheran Church offers students free parking and a place to sleep indoors overnight, along with breakfast and access to its air hockey and foosball tables.

Other renters stuck in this limbo leave town altogether, heading to family homes for the night with furniture, clothing, and cooking pots in tow. And some brave souls strike deals with landlords, having their new homes go without much-needed cleaning so they can move in early.

For Steve Veloff ’98, MFA’04, moving day always fell on his birthday, but he says he didn’t mind too much. “We’d rent a U-Haul and fill it up, then park it somewhere safe, and head to the Nitty [Gritty] before visiting several establishments on State Street,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Though it was tough to move in the next day … it was worth it.”

A lot of possessions don’t make it past the curb when people move out. The avalanche of stuff spills onto sidewalks and out of Dumpsters, prompting a free yard sale for those who refer to the two-day event as “Hippie Christmas.”

In recent years, student groups and local charities have focused on reducing the waste generated by the big move. In 2010, some UW students launched Dumpster Diving Revolution, inspired by “all the good stuff lying about,” from computers to couches. The group sets up collection stations at apartment buildings near campus and roams the area in trucks to gather unwanted clothing and furniture to donate.

Their haul last year? More than five tons.

Published in the Fall 2012 issue


  • Steve Veloff September 17, 2012

    Sweet! I’m in print!

  • David Van Riper September 20, 2012

    I lived in that house from 1997-2000. Lots of great memories!

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