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Moving Day: What To Remember

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When it's time to move, it always feels like there's a million things to do and not enough time to keep track of them, much less get them done. But if you start the process early enough, keep yourself organized, and have a checklist of items to follow, the process becomes much less overwhelming.

Here is a list of important items to cover before and during a move, including links to change of address forms and tips on how to pack. If you have any questions, or would like a printable version of the checklist to use at home, just drop me a line and I'd be happy to help.

2 Months Before Moving

  • Start a "moving binder" to keep track of all of your important documents and information: estimates, receipts, and lists of what you'll be moving.
  • If changing cities or districts, make sure you have information about the area you'll be moving to. Look up the municipal website and determine what kind of companies are available in the area for heat, cable, and other services.
  • Begin to look at different moving companies. Ask for an on-site estimate, and get a copy in writing from each company. Find out if they have any special requirements — some companies might only accept items packed in boxes, for example. Once you've decided on a moving company, start making arrangements with them for your moving day.
    • If you plan on moving yourself, make arrangements now with any truck or trailer rental companies you might need.
  • If you have children, go to their school and start arrangements for their records to be moved to their new school district.
  • Go through each room in your house, including the attic, basement, garage, and shed, and start getting rid of any items that you want to throw out or donate. If it's spring or summer, try collecting them into a yard sale to get some extra cash. Otherwise, you can list them on UsedVictoria, Craigslist, or Kijiji, or donate them to local charities like WIN.
  • While going through your home, make a list of any fragile items that will need special packing, such as computers, china, televisions, and so on. Note their value.

6 Weeks Before Moving

  • Contact Revenue Canada or your accountant to see which moving expenses might be tax-deductible.
  • Get personal records from your doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, schools, veterinarian, etc., and ask for referrals in your new area. You may be able to ask your doctor to simply forward your records to your new doctor.
  • If you're relocating as an employee, find out what expenses you are responsible for vs your employer.
  • Determine whether you need insurance, storage in transit, or permanent storage for your move, and start making arrangements.
  • Gather or buy packing supplies that you'll need such as boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, newspaper, and permanent markers. (Coloured tape is great for labelling boxes from different rooms.) Keep them together in a basket so that it's easy to move them from room to room.
  • Start using up anything you don't want to move, like frozen foods or cleaning supplies.
  • If you don't want to live off fast food while you're packing and moving, try prepping some crockpot meals for the freezer. Just make sure to pack your crockpot last, and you can use it to thaw and cook your meals during the move. If you don't have a crockpot, pre-cooked microwavable meals can work as well.
  • Put together an essentials box of items (use a clear plastic box if you have one) that you'll need up until and on moving day:
    • Toilet paper
    • Snacks and coffee
    • Scissors or an exacto knife
    • Garbage bags
    • Change of clothes
    • Dish soap and towel
    • Flashlight
    • Towels and paper towels
    • Toiletries
    • Personal handheld electronics
    • Important documents
    • Pet food and dish
    • Paper plates and cutlery
    • Garbage bags
    • Power bars
  • Drain outdoor tools such as hoses, lawn mowers, propane tanks, etc.
  • Compare the sizes of your larger pieces of furniture to the dimensions of your new home to make sure they'll fit through doorways.

One Month Before Moving

  • Contact your moving company and confirm your moving date, costs, and other important details.
  • Make any travel arrangements necessary for your move, like plane reservations, or special transportation for pets and plants.
  • Go to the post office and fill out a change of address form, or do it online on the Canada Post website. If you can, ask a neighbour to check your old mailbox for four weeks after you've moved in case any mail is missed.
  • Submit your new address to your:
    • Bank
    • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
    • Credit card companies
    • Insurance companies
    • ICBC (or your local drivers license distributor)
    • BC Services (or your local health services provider)
    • the CRA
    • BC Hydro (or your local electricity provider)
    • Cable and phone providers
    • Employer (if you're staying at your current job)
    • Doctor
    • Dentist
    • Local memberships
    • Family and friends
  • Arrange for phone service, internet, cable, and other utilities at your new home.
  • Contact your current utility suppliers to set a cut-off date for your landline, electricity, water, gas, cable, internet, and garbage. Make sure to set the date for landline, water, electricity, and internet to after the day of your move.
  • Safely dispose of any toxic or flammable substances in your home such as paint, aerosol cans, and caustic cleaners by taking them to your local toxic waste centre.
  • Time to pack! Start with the items you use least often, and make sure each box only contains items for a single room. Label each box on the side with a number and the room it's meant for, and make a note of its contents in your moving binder so you can keep track if anything goes missing.

    Other packing tips:
    • Pack plates vertically instead of stacked on top of each other. They'll be less likely to break.
    • Use Ziploc bags to keep small items from drawers and furniture together. Make sure to label any bags of screws so you know where they came from.
    • Stop bottles from leaking by unscrewing the lid, putting plastic wrap over the opening, then screwing the lid back on. Tie any excess plastic wrap up over the lid.
    • Wrap silverware trays in plastic wrap or in paper and tape to keep them together.
    • Instead of taking clothes off their hangers just to hang them up again later, group them together on their hangers and place them inside a large garbage or kitchen bag.
    • Use comforter bags to pack old or seasonal clothes.
    • Protect artwork and other wall hangings by putting them in flat priority mail boxes and sliding them into a larger box.
    • Place painter's tape in an X across any mirrors to keep the glass in place in case of cracking or shattering.
    • Take a picture of the back of any electronics before unplugging them so you'll know how to set them up at your new home. If you know what each cord is used for, you can also label them with some masking tape.
    • Expensive jewelry, passports, and important files can be stored in a safe box for you to personally transport. It's a good idea to keep the mover's estimate here as well.

2 Weeks Before Moving

  • Reconfirm details with your moving company.
  • Let your employer know your moving day and that you won't be in for work.
  • Take your car to a garage for a check-up. If you're moving to a new climate, ask what kind of additional services you might need.
  • Return any items you've borrowed (library books, etc.) and retrieve any items you've loaned out.
  • Have a service technician prepare any major appliances for shipping.
  • Take your rugs and draperies to be cleaned, and leave them wrapped when you pick them up.
  • Make your last grocery trip.

1 Week Before Moving

  • Aim to have most of your packing finished by now.
  • Stock up on any medical prescriptions you'll need for the next few weeks.
  • Settle any outstanding bills.
  • Pack suitcases with enough clothes to cover you up to and during the move. Mark these and your essentials box as "Do Not Move".
  • If you have children, schedule a babysitter for all of moving day to keep the kids occupied and out of the way.
  • Take any pets to the vet to ensure they're up to date on their immunizations.
  • Check furniture and other large items for scratches and dents and document them with your phone or on paper.
  • Disassemble any "installed" items you want to bring with you, like antennas or shelves.
  • Prepare specific directions to your new home for your moving company, plus contact information that you can be reached at on the day of the move.

A Few Days Before Moving

  • Return your cable equipment.
  • Prepare your payment for the moving company. If you aren't paying with credit card, have a money order, cashier's check, or cash ready. Don't forget to factor in tips: 10-15% of the total is usually a good tip, or higher if the move is a difficult one.
  • Reconfirm the arrival time of the moving company. If you're moving yourself, reconfirm reservations with any truck or trailer rental companies you're using.
  • Put a fitted sheet over each side of your mattresses to protect them from getting dirty. You can also use sheets and pillow cases to protect dining sets if you're worried about them getting scratched.
  • If you're moving yourself, start to dismantle beds and other large furniture.
  • Empty, clean, and defrost your fridge and freezer at least 24 hours before moving day.
  • Go to your new home and pre-clean the bathroom and kitchen if you can. Stock some towels and toilet paper there.

Moving Day

  • Take photos of your cleaned-out old home, and your new home before moving in (especially if you're renting).
  • Note all of the utility metre readings in both your old and new home.
  • Collect all keys and keep them in a safe place.
  • Make sure the moving truck that arrives is from the company you hired. Moving scams have happened.
  • Walk around with the moving supervisor and sign any inventory forms. You'll also want to be available in case the movers have any questions.
  • Do a final walk-through at your old home once everything is packed: check all closets and cabinets to make sure nothing was missed.
  • Set carpet protection down in your new home to guard it against all the dirt that will be coming in and out.
  • Keep a case of water bottles on hand for yourself and the movers — they'll be grateful.
  • If you colour-coded your boxes, mark each room in your new home with a bit of the corresponding colour so that movers know where to deposit boxes.
  • Start unpacking by room to make things more manageable. If you have children, try to start with their rooms
  • Before the movers leave, check your belongings for any damage and note it on the inventory paper. Make sure you read and understand your bill of lading and inventory before signing them, and keep a copy in a safe location until all moving charges have been paid and any claims have been settled.
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