Category Archive: Moving Tips

  1. Zen and the Art of Packing

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    There is something spiritually uplifting about moving: a new home is a new beginning and packing becomes a purifying ritual, a time to decide what you will take and what you will leave. Packing for a move is the packrat’s only true redemption. When else are they likely to discard, recycle or donate the mountains of clothes, unread magazines, and knickknacks? Packrat or not it can seem like a daunting task. Take a deep breath and mediate on this phrase: packing can be pleasant. All you need to know are a few tricks from the masters.

    Whether you are moving across town or across the country, it’s a good idea to pack a box of basic necessities and if possible transport the box with you to your new home rather than putting it in the moving truck. In case of any unforeseen delays in the arrival of your belongings, you won’t be completely inconvenienced. Keeping the box with you also means you won’t have to dig through stacks of boxes when you get to your new house. Some ‘must-haves’ are shampoo, soap, coffee mugs, tea or instant coffee, pens, paper, a small box of laundry detergent, scissors, a few washcloths and towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, plastic utensils and paper plates. (If you have not mastered the Zen of unpacking you may also want to add aspirin to your box of essentials!)

    Packing breakables can be the most time consuming part of preparing for your move. Each glass, cup, plate, and bowl must be wrapped. Most of us use old newspaper but the ink can become messy. Try wrapping your plates in tablecloths, dishtowels, clothes or bath towels. Using fabric items as the actual wrapping material saves space and weight-you would have had to pack them up regardless but this way you do not transport unneeded newspaper which will just end up in a crumpled pile in your new kitchen.

    You may be surprised at how expensive boxes can be if you decide to buy them from your movers or other packing suppliers. Veteran movers are in the know on the best places to find free, sturdy boxes: grocery, furniture, and liquor stores receive most of their inventory in boxes which must be disposed of. These merchants are usually happy to give these away but try to ask for boxes in the first two weeks of any month; lots of other people have the same idea and there may be none left if you wait until the end of the month. If you work in a large office which frequently updates its computer equipment, ask for these particularly strong boxes in anticipation of your move. If you have storage space and plan to move again within a few years, hold onto the coveted computer boxes.

    A great way to save time is to use a system of coloured labels. Even if you don’t consider yourself ultra-organised, it’s a simple time-saver. Buy large office labels in four or five colours and use different colours to denote different parts of the house (ex. yellow for the kitchen, blue for the bathroom etc.) Colour coding can be a quick visual reference.

    No self-respecting mover would ever admit to it but sometimes boxes get left in the rain just a little too long. The result is wet belongings and occasionally clothes get ruined when colours bleed from dark to light fabrics. It’s a good idea to place any moisture-sensitive items in clean plastic bags before packing in boxes.

    A few reminders:

    Always pack the heaviest objects on the bottom and work up to those which are light and breakable.
    Chemical cleaners should never share a box with food even those items which are canned or unopened.
    Criss-cross tape across the bottom of boxes then up the sides to prevent boxes from breaking open.

    Hopefully, by keeping these tips in mind, you will manage to avoid any moving mishaps and make the first days in your new home as special as they should be.

  2. Man’s Best Friend! Moving With Pets

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    Making your ‘old friend’ comfortable in your new home. You may not know this, but dogs and cats can encounter many of the same problems people have, in moving into a new home.

    They must become used to a new house, neighborhood, unfamiliar sounds, strange postal carriers and other service people. They may need to get used to different water, that does not agree with them, and even colder or warmer climates. But with a little help from a friend, your pet will soon settle down and enjoy their new surroundings!

    Although it may seem wrong, or even cruel, it is advisable to keep your pets confined for a few days – even a few weeks, until they realize that this is their new home, and that the family is going to stay. Otherwise your pet may wander off and try to return to their old home. This is especially true of cats – they should be confined for several weeks.

    To speed up that “at home” feeling, use familiar food and water dishes, your pet’s bed, blanket and toys etc. Also, try to put things in the same sort of location, as they were in your old house – like putting their water dish in the kitchen, or at the back door. As for birds, keep them in a quiet room, where they will be undisturbed until they become used to their new surroundings.

    Other small pets, like gerbils and rabbits, usually have few or no adjustment problems other than becoming used to a change in their water supply. This is also true of tropical fish. To avoid harming them, test the water for similarity to that of the water in your old home, and adjust it to the particular requirements of your fish.

    With a little bit of care, and some ‘TLC’, your pets will soon enjoy their new home as much as you!

  3. Moving with Houseplants

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    Moving your houseplants can be hazardous to their health – even fatal!

    If you’ve got houseplants and are planning to move homes, you’ve got only 3 options. You can give them away – be generous, throw them out – somewhat cruel, or take them with you – now that’s daring!

    If you happen to be one of us that can’t bear the thought of abandoning your precious plants, you’re in luck. The National Gardening Association has some great advice:

    Going airborne? If your belongings will be shipped by plane, your first step should be to contact the airline. Most airlines have strict regulations when it comes to transporting plant life. They will tell you what you can and can’t take, and how they should be packaged. Another worthwhile phone call would be to the Department of Agriculture, in the area that you are moving to. Some provinces and states forbid the importation of plants, to prevent the spread of pests (harmful insects) and agricultural diseases.

    Hitting the highway? If your belongings will be shipped by car (truck), you should check the containers in which you are planning to transport them in. Terra cotta pots for example are very fragile and may break. It would be wiser to transplant them into plastic pots. But be careful when transplanting. Make sure you do not cut or tear the roots, and always sterilize the pots before replanting. Some pots, especially used ones, may still have bugs or bacteria in them, thriving on old soil.

    Regardless of your mode of transportation however, the most important thing to do is keep your plants moist throughout their journey. Aside from giving them a good watering, you can try wrapping the soil tops with sphagnum moss soaked overnight. Also, wrap your pots in newspaper and then burlap. Leaves and stems can also be wrapped (loosely) in burlap, to avoid breakage.

    An alternative to transporting the entire plant, would be to take only ‘cuttings’ of your favorites. Cuttings (small clippings of your plants) can be wrapped in wet moss and again in newspaper. Then place the wrapped cuttings in unsealed ziploc bags and put them into cardboard boxes ready for transportation.

    With a little special attention, your plants will soon continue to grow and flourish in their new home – assuming they’ve survived the journey!

  4. Moving in Early or Staying Late? Be Cautious…

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    Scenario one – you’ve just bought a new home, the old owners are moving out before the closing date, and you want to start moving in early – proceed with caution! Scenario two, you’ve just sold your home, but can not move out until after the closing date, so you’re going to rent it back from the new owners – be equally as cautious!

    A purchase contract usually dictates that ‘occupancy’ (the day the old owners must be out, and the new owners may move in) is to be given at the time of settlement, on the day when the money and the house-keys change hands. While it may sometimes be necessary for you to move in early or stay on longer, most real estate agents, and lawyers alike, would strongly advise against doing so!

    Too many things can go wrong. When moving in early, buyers have plenty of time to discover every little problem that may be wrong with the property. Or maybe they don’t ever obtain their financing. What then? Costly legal bills, that’s what. And who will pay for the window that breaks in the meantime? Whose insurance covers the house and their belongings? And a rare case, but a possible one – what if they never do close on the house and then take their time moving out? Would normal eviction regulations apply?

    Now let’s look at the other side too. There are on occasion times when the seller may need to close, but can not immediately move out. Often in these situations a clause would need to be added to the sales contract, and the seller would rent back the property from the new owner. Again, many of the same issues, as noted above, would apply.

    Keeping all these potentially disastrous situations in mind, when planning to move in ahead of time, or stay on when you no longer own the house, your best bet would be to get a good attorney and a good contract. And read the ‘fine print’, BEFORE you sign it!

  5. Planning A Move

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    It can take years to accumulate a home full of treasured belongings but only a matter of days to pack it all into boxes for a move. Packing up and moving require organization and planning. In fact, it can be the greatest test for a procrastinator – what seems like few belongings can take far longer and use more boxes than expected. The following tips can help keep your breakables intact, your pets safe, and make the whole process as efficient as possible.

    Most people have at least a month’s notice before a move. During that time, there are a number of preparations that will make the move easier including the following:

    • If you have a pet and plan to take a flight to your new home, be sure to contact the airline early for information about vaccination requirements, tranquilizers and acceptable cages. Airlines have strict rules regarding pets and it is essential to be prepared in order to avoid delays.
    • Reserve a rental truck or make arrangements with a professional moving company. Remember to check out the company with the Better Business Bureau and get all quotes in writing.
    • Check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to ensure your belongings are covered during the move.
    • If applicable, make travel arrangements with airlines, bus companies or car rental agencies.
    • Have a yard sale or give unneeded items to charity. Some charities will pick-up bagged or boxed items and may issue a donation receipt for tax purposes.
    • Ask your doctor and dentist for records, x-rays and prescription histories. Also be sure to get your prescriptions refilled before moving day.
    • Make a list of the companies that send you mail on a regular basis and provide them with a change of address. Arrange with the post office to have mail forwarded to your new address.
    • Take inventory of your belongings before they’re packed in the event you need to file an insurance claim later. Take pictures or videotape your belongings. Record the serial numbers of electronics and cameras.
    • Cut back on grocery shopping and start using up food items you already have so there will be less to pack.
    • Notify your cable, telephone, power and water companies of your move. They can arrange to have your final bill prorated to the end of the month in order to close or transfer your account.
    • Update the address on your magazine subscriptions with your new address.
    • Start collecting boxes from grocery stores early – at the end of the month stores are usually flooded with requests for boxes.
    • If you are moving into an apartment building, be sure to reserve the elevator a few weeks in advance. The building manager will arrange a time with you when one elevator will be locked off for your use.
    • And the number one rule is…start packing early! Assign one room or corner of a room as the spot to pile boxes. Pack one or two boxes a day and pile them in the designated spot to avoid clutter and simplify moving day.

    Packing Made Simple

    • It seems that no matter how hard we may try to pack them neatly, clothes always come out of boxes wrinkled. This can be a liberating phenomenon for most of us! If however, you strive for wrinkle-free clothing, try layering several items then gently roll up the pile. Rolling the clothes means there are fewer straight edges and wrinkles.
    • The best way to move computers, televisions, DVD players and other electronics is in the original boxes and packing material. The foam and plastic that came in the boxes are specifically shaped to protect items from impact.
    • When possible, pack heavy items in smaller boxes for easier carrying.
    • Use colour-coded labels to denote the contents e.g. red labels for kitchen items, blue for bathroom supplies etc. Use a permanent marker to write the contents of the box on the label.
    • Have the following items on hand: a roll of packing tape, a pair of scissors, and a permanent marker for every person participating in the move. Also have more boxes than you anticipate needing in a variety of sizes.
    • Carry all valuables with you.
    • Instead of newspaper, use clothing, towels or bedding to wrap up breakables. This way you won’t waste energy and money transporting newspaper.
    • Use strong boxes such as those from the liquor store to pack dishes and pans.
    • Empty drawers in dressers and tape the drawers closed.
    • Professional moving companies can usually supply wide plastic wrap for couches and chairs prior to the move. Another alternative is to use old sheets taped in place.
    • Label boxes as fragile on all sides of the box and indicate which side is up.

    Moving Day

    Hopefully, if all has gone according to plan, you’ve completed and checked off all the items from the previous list. Theoretically, moving day should not be a packing day but it’s a good idea to have an extra box handy along with tape and scissors. The following are a few other important tips:

    • If you are using professional movers, be there to watch the loading and unloading. If anything does get dropped or knocked you will know which items to inspect.
    • Examine furniture and loose items carefully before paying for the move.
    • Return keys to the landlord or arrange to provide the keys to the new owner.
    • Find out what type of payment is acceptable to the movers i.e. cash, credit or cheques.
    • Bottles of juice and water along with packaged snack foods can keep energy levels high.
    • If you plan to drive a rented moving truck, keep these tips in mind: a truck requires more time to stop than a car so never tailgate and start braking early. If you need to back into a driveway have someone direct you from behind the truck. Know the height of the truck before hitting the road – it can be hard to estimate the height when approaching an overpass at 80 km an hour.

    A well-organized and planned move can greatly reduce the stress involved in packing up and transporting a lifetime of belongings. A successful move can also be a wonderful way to start life in your new home.