Dumpster at La Buena Vida Condominiums Dropping off a fresh Dumpster

Moving Day in Davis is always August 31... the day that nearly every lease in this town expires. Roughly half the student population moves to a new home. Many people are stuck with not having a place to move in to until their new lease starts sometimes up to 4 or 5 days later. Every U-Haul is spoken for months in advance (get on the will-call lease) by people wanting to move in one trip or simply need a place to store their possessions overnight. The roads fill with stuffed automobiles. Sometimes mattresses fall off cars. Apartment complexes place giant dumpsters in the parking lot, which are summarily filled by moving students, desperate to lighten their loads. Others in houses abandon goods in over-flowing garbage cans, on sidewalks and neighbors lawns. In short a HUGE amount of trash, dejected valuables and stress is created.

Moving day can be a real nightmare. Residents commonly spend two or three days packing, cleaning, and lightening their loads before they even start to move. Great quantities of stress are added to the equation for those who wish to recover their security deposit. Cleaning commonly occurs until the last minute they have to vacate their residence (often midnight 8/31). Requirements for professional carpet cleaning complicate logistics further.

To ease the packing process, a lot of people simply throw stuff out instead of bringing it with them. One day they'll leave a couch on the side of the road only to go searching for a couch for their new house in a few days. It is not just big items that are wantonly discarded. Many people will throw out things like tea pots and brooms that they will soon have to replace. Added to the nightmare are all of the uncertainties found in moving to a new place. Is that mold toxic?

To dumpster divers, of course, it's like Christmas. August 30 is Moving Day Eve. As one diver put it, "that's when Santa Claus comes around and fills the dumpsters with candy." Class attendance drops by about one-third during Moving Day week which usually happens during the close of Summer Session II.

  • Although dumpster diving can be highly successful in Davis, during move-out time a lot of good, usable material is still ending up in the landfill. To prevent this waste, please donate your unwanted items to a thrift store or local charity instead of throwing them away. Not sure where to take your stuff? See the Recycling and Donation Directory, or the City of Davis recycling website to find out how to reuse, donate and recycle items.
  • If you live in an apartment complex, consider asking your apartment managers to set up a donation station next to the large dumpsters and encourage residents to leave their good, usable items outside the dumpster instead of throwing everything away. That way, more stuff gets reused and less stuff gets trashed. If your managers would like some assistance with setting up a donation station, they can call the City of Davis Public Works Department (757-5686) and the Recycling Program would be happy to give them a hand.

How to Move

  • Get something to put your stuff in. Check out the boxes entry for tips on where to get them, but also consider packing up less fragile goods (like clothes and shoes, linens, towels, etc) into large trashbags,
  • Pack up your stuff into the boxes or trashbags
  • Move your stuff
    • if you're lucky enough to have a new place in the same apartment complex, you can probably carry it there in small trips
    • for the rest of us we need vehicles to move our stuff:
  • When you run out of room to take the stuff with you, it falls into the following categories for others:

see also Moving In/Out

The Spoils

Check the giant dumpsters for finds like: Not everyone rents a U-Haul

  • Lawn Chairs or wooden chairs
  • Cheap bike parts that you can fit onto your bike
  • Furniture
  • Computers
  • Small appliances
  • Televisions
  • Couches/stuffed chairs/dining tables
  • Clothing
  • Wall Art
  • Bed Frames
  • Dishes (wash them first!)
  • Food
  • Beer

Those last two, of course, should be closely examined, and only kept if they're sealed and safe-looking.

Beware of sticky things or things with questionable stains!! Don't be ghetto, you don't want that. Try for college-student-poor-chic-style rather than hobo-that-licks-rocks-style. Do take second looks at things.

Do not take the term dumpster diving literally. Look before you leap, and all that. If it smells bad and there doesn't seem to be anything good, move on.

Paying for furniture is lame. Taking advantage of Moving Day to its fullest potential is a good way to live cheaply. It's also a good place to find "sports equipment" for a reincarnation of Office Furniture Olympics.


  • RohiniJasavala's apartment has no paid-for furniture. The couch was off of somebody's porch (taken with permission), the chair was found at the dumpster, the entertainment center was donated by a friend that was moving.
  • KarlMogel Once found an awesome locked cedar chest, which after pushing the lock open, contained a matching set of towels and a knit blanket. The only flaw it had was a 1 inch chip on the bottom corner.
  • JessicaLuedtke found a working faucet hookup washing machine, perfect for her home with no w/d hookups, along with much other less interesting stuff.
  • EricLambden and his roommates found 4 couches, a futon-fold-out bed, several padded chairs, several recliners, 3 TV's, a roll of carpet, a boombox, a speakerless stereo, a big oscillating fan, 2 small fans, a BBQ, 2 stools, a coin-operated gumball/candy machine, an empty keg shell, and a park bench; all in good, working condition.
  • CarlMcCabe saw a discarded pool table, but sadly didn't have room for it at home and had to leave it... He was, however, able to take home several desks, a Trek mountain bike (score!), some bookshelves, and 32 volumes from The Harvard Classics book series (some copyrighted 1937 and others 1969). Hello Chaucer.
  • BrentLaabs et al. have already found a cherrywood dresser, a rather decent couch, two televisions, a set of weights, and various materials that I'm planning to use for the next Friends Urging Campus Kindness campaign. Diving is a perfect way to get around campaign expenditure limits.
  • CraigBrozinsky found a box of books 100 feet away from Off-Campus Books and promptly sold them for $15, an entertainment center, an office chair, 2 desks, a silverware set, a stock pot, a make-up kit, and a samsonite computer bag.
  • JaredTrace found a foosball table in perfect condition; it was only missing the ball.
  • JeffreyNonken has found items too numerous to mention (or remember) but some of those he kept include: 3 floor lamps (one of which he repaired with parts from a 4th), 2 rather nice computer desks (one of which he gave to Tarzxf,) a GF3 video card, an external USB drive case missing only a bracket, a DVD-ROM drive to put into it, swivelly chairs, books, book bag, backpack, a nearly full case of microwave popcorn, more computer parts...
  • AlexKou found over 100 restaurant spoons
  • JeffTolentino found two lanterns, a camp stove, a scanner, some Mad Magazines and a sweet hat. He also saw two giant TVs, a lazy boy couch, and some mannequin legs, but left them all as presents for the next picker-upper.
  • Flynn found the Holy Grail of Dumpstering some thirty-odd years ago, when he was twelve: A foot-tall stack of assorted PORN magazines. There may have even been an angelic choir singing at the time.

* What's the best time and day to find stuff?


If you are looking to lighten your load, but some of the stuff is in good condition, consider bringing it to R4 Recycling if you're on campus and maybe none of it will have to be thrown away. If you live off-campus, try donating the stuff you don't want. There are several local places that will take your donations. Check out the City of Davis webpage for places to bring your stuff for reuse and recycling. There is also DavisFreecycle; although you must become a member in order to post items, it is a handy and orderly way to allow others to reuse your items and, perhaps, for you to pick up an item or two in the future. Reuse—it's good for the couch, it's good for the chair.

As always, instituting a Free Box on your driveway can be one of the easiest ways to get rid of stuff you don't want.

Reduce the amount of waste you produce when you move Be a good neighbor and help us reduce waste: Reuse and recycle your unwanted packing materials.

Moving Boxes Recycle: Flatten and stack next to recycling carts at your community’s recycling area

Polystyrene Peanuts Reuse: Bag them securely and bring to: UPS Store (The Marketplace) 1411 W. Covell, 756-0311 UPS Store (Downtown) 140 B Street, 747-0500 Parcel Dispatch PDQ 216 F Street, 756-7084 Please do not place polystyrene packing peanuts in the recycle bins.

Bubble wrap Reuse: Bring bubble wrap to: Reuse: Bag them securely and bring to: UPS Store (The Marketplace) 1411 W. Covell, 756-0311 UPS Store (Downtown) 140 B Street, 747-0500 Parcel Dispatch PDQ 216 F Street, 756-7084

Newspaper and Packing Paper Recycle: Take to your community’s recycling area

Getting back your security deposit

For renters, getting back your security deposit is a big issue. See the security deposit survey to see how others have dealt with this issue, and consult the housing guide for tips on getting it back.