An Inside Look at Moving Day at the White House

An Inside Look at Moving Day at the White House

For the last 225 years, the regal house that sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been home to a string of first families. Each time an inauguration day rolls around, the White House staff frantically packs up the belongings of the outgoing family and hastily unpacks the personal effects of the newly sworn-in president and his family. The entire moving process is completed in a well-orchestrated but lightning-fast six hours, the time it takes for the swearing-in ceremony and afternoon parade. Most people can’t even get half their belongings packed in just six hours, much less pull off the entire move. So just how does the White House staff do it? Here’s a glimpse at what goes into coordinating a presidential move:

The Plans Commence Well in Advance

While we advise most customers to plan their move at least two months in advance, the White House staff starts planning for moving day as early as a year and a half before the incumbent president moves out. Well before the election is over, the staff members in charge of coordinating the move put together a book for the incoming President detailing the staff members and house rules on redecorating.

It’s Tradition to Get a Sneak Peek

After the November election is over, the new president-elect and his wife are typically invited to tour the first family’s private residence to get a sneak peek of where they’ll be living the next four or eight years. One snapshot from the White House archives shows Lady Bird Johnson sitting on the couch eagerly going over floor plans with the incoming First Lady Pat Nixon. This preview gives the new first lady a couple of months to mull over how she wants to redecorate when she moves into the 132-room mansion in January.

Remodeling? There’s a Budget for That

Every four years, Congress allots money for the first family to revamp their presidential digs. The Bushes were reportedly given around $100,000 towards redecorating and remodeling the second go-around. Presidents are encouraged to make 2nd and 3rd floors of the palatial residence feel like home, which means different things to different presidents. For Clinton, this meant installing a 7-person hot tub, while Obama requested a new showerhead and outdoor basketball court. Other remodels over the years have included adding a bowling alley, solar panels, and a swimming pool.

The New Pres Pays for His Own Moving Expenses

Just because you get elected to the presidency doesn’t mean you get a free move. A week prior to inauguration day, the incoming president must arrange to have his household belongings delivered to a White House storage facility. From there, the rest of the move is supervised by the Secret Service, which inspects every box and piece of furniture that goes into or out of the White House.

The Move Takes Less Than Six Hours

White House staffers have just a short six-hour timeframe to completely flip the White House for its new residents. As soon as the outgoing president and his motorcade leave for the swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill, the White House staff gets busy packing and loading up the moving trucks waiting to whisk away the former first family’s belongings. Then, they must repaint, recarpet, and rearrange furniture to the liking of the new president. Before the paint dries, the new president’s household furnishings are unloaded and his boxes unpacked. By the time the first family arrives home from the inaugural parade, their closets and drawers are already organized.

It Takes a Small Army

While most residential moves only require a small squad of 2-3 guys, a move of this magnitude requires a small army of highly competent, extremely organized people. For the first family’s safety and privacy, the entire move is executed by the 95-or-so White House staff, with no assistance from third-party moving companies. No matter what their normal household position, every hand is on deck this day to ensure a successful and seamless transition.

Even if you’re not a president, at Imperial Moving, we believe you deserve to move like one. Our team of movers is trained and ready to tackle your move with professionalism and expertise, even if you don’t call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home. For affordable pricing on local and cross country moves, give the best NYC moving company a call!