Courtesy of AMA - Let’s be honest: nobody looks forward to packing everything he or she owns into boxes. Start early to ensure it goes smoothly, packing up lesser-used items (like books and pictures) until you’re closer to the move date. As you go, number each box and keep a written inventory of the items that go into it. Clearly note, on all four sides, which room it should be delivered to.
For fragile items, fill any hollow spots (the inside of a teacup, for instance) with a wad of packing paper. Then wrap it in several layers of bubble wrap. Label the box you place it in “fragile,” and make sure any gaps between items are filled in with packing paper.
Try to fill every box to capacity, but don’t overload with heavy items (you’ll need to pick them up at some point). Mixing in some blankets, towels and other soft stuff can offer extra cushion for the rest of the contents. You can save some money on boxes by using your own luggage to pack up clothes and toiletries.
Of course, you can also leave all of this to the movers - many offer packing services in addition to transport. In that case, you’ll just need to comb through the house before they arrive, putting any valued items into boxes you’ve labelled “do not move.” That includes things like jewellery, medication, photo albums, personal documents and delicate electronics, all of which you’re better off transporting yourself to prevent loss or damage.
Also remember to set aside one box of items that you’ll need right away and will move yourself. That could include Band-Aids, toiletries, toothbrushes, floss, toilet paper, your shower curtain, your kettle and coffee pot, a hammer, a screwdriver, landline phones, a few plates, mugs and utensils, pet food, sheets and towels. And perhaps a bottle of wine, to toast your new digs.
Find a Trustworthy Mover
Another way to keep moving headaches to a minimum? Entrust your possessions to the right people. Before committing to any moving company, ask for a business address and drive by to take a look at the operation. Then it’s time for a closer inspection.
“You definitely want to go and look at their warehouse,” says Doug Jasper, general manager of moving company AMJ Campbell’s Calgary branch. “You want to make sure it’s clean, neat, organized, it’s got 24-hour security, a gated parking area for their trailer. You want to confirm the basics - a sprinkler system is in place, alarm system is in place, they do regular inspections for mice and things like that. . ..”
Ensuring that they’re affiliated with a major van line (like Atlas or Allied), and asking for references from clients, are prudent measures as well.
Whomever you end up choosing, ask for a binding quote, with a guaranteed date of delivery, upfront in writing. This will ensure that the price you agreed upon doesn’t mysteriously creep up over the course of the move. And don’t forget to ask about any hidden fees that could be tacked on for things like transporting appliances, long-haul journeys or stairs.
Finally, don’t be in a rush to hire. Interview two or three companies to make certain you’re getting the best deal. Be wary of any mover who only deals in cash and, as with any transaction, don’t be tempted by an offer that’s too good to be true.
Decluttering Before the Big Move
Leaving a home behind brings out the nostalgic side in all of us, but if you can resist that impulse and say goodbye to some lesser-used items, the process will be much easier (and cheaper).
“The first thing we like to tell people is make sure they purge,” offers Doug Jasper of AMJ Campbell. “Make sure you’re only moving the items that you need to move, because obviously it will have an effect on the price.” The best advice is to start early and small. Pick one room and, as honestly as you can, take stock of every single item within. Ask yourself, will I use this at my new home or will it just collect dust?
Some people find it helpful to approach the process with a firm decluttering goal in mind - dumping one of every four items in each room, for instance. An easy place to begin is with clothing and books - two items we tend to keep far beyond their usefulness. For long-distance hauls, consider donating all of your food (even the non-perishables) as well as your houseplants.
Once you’ve identified the dead weight, hold a garage sale; or, for a better deal on the more valuable stuff, consider selling on Craigslist and eBay. Finally, if you want to go the philanthropic route, non-profit groups such as the Alberta Association for Community Living accept donations of clothing and household items.
Keys to a Successful Garage Sale
1. Check local bylaws and consult your homeowner’s association, if you have one, for any rules governing garage sales.
2. Hold the sale on a Saturday early in the month; avoid long weekends.
3. Paper the neighbourhood with eye-catching flyers and post details on Facebook, Craigslist and any community association websites.
4. Make your sale area presentable, ensuring your goods are as clean as possible and organized by category.
5. Be sure to price every item - typically around 20 to 30 per cent of what you originally paid (less if it’s noticeably worn).
6. Be aware that items such as cribs, cosmetics and helmets must adhere to modern safety regulations and may not be legally possible to resell.
7. Offer or sell refreshments and play some tunes.
8. Be prepared to haggle. Garage-sale junkies love a bargain.