Life Hacks for Moving

Annalise Schamuhn - Kingston real estate

Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, here’s a collection of Life Hacks for Moving I’ve collected from friends, colleagues, and personal experience!

For military postings, I’ve written separately about decoding the new BGRS (Brookfield) rules and relocard, so these tips are more generic tips that have been submitted by readers (thanks guys!)

House-Hunting and House-Hunting Trips (HHTs)

If possible, book schools and daycare on your HHT.

Book your hookups (cable, internet, hydro) as soon as you have a closing date (and firm offer)

Measure the house to make sure you furniture will fit. Especially that big sectional couch that’s going in the basement!

Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off – after about the 10th house you’ll wish you hadn’t worn those lace-intensive boots! Same goes for kids.

Speaking of kids, be nice to them. House hunting is super hard for them. They are really, really trying to be good, but this is soooooooo boring. It’s exciting for 10 seconds, and then it’s the most boring thing ever. “How many more houses are we going to see?” “I want this bedroom!” If you don’t want to hear these things, don’t bring your kids. If you bring them, be patient with them, they’re being real little troopers.

Cancel old hookups at least a month in advance (otherwise you get charged for time you’re not using it as most providers want 30 days notice)

Forward mail to new home.

Packing Strategies

Packing starts before you list your home. You’re already de-cluttering and de-personalizing, might as well put those items in boxes! Better yet, purge! Sell stuff online, or give it away.

Inventory your home. Ambitious, right? I know. But there are programs and websites to make this easier. Even apps. Also, nothing motivates you to purge like making an inventory!

You may even wish to…yes…template your furniture. You know, to make sure it fits in the new place, and so you have an idea of where the main items will go, so you can have that heavy dresser in the right spot from the get-go. Or, just get rid of it!

Stock up on little zip-lock bags. And sharpies. And masking tape. Collect little things. Put them in the bags. Label them. Tape them onto something big (like the furniture they belong to).

(Apparently if your masking tape has dried out you can microwave it for a few seconds to loosen it up. If you’ve tried this, leave me a comment below!)

Make your last grocery trip 2 weeks before you move. The more you use up before you go, the less you’ll have to throw out.

Take “before” photos of your furniture, and especially breakables.

Gather and safeguard your documents. Get some page protectors (or large zip-lock bags) for documents. Also, download a scanning app on your phone and keep electronic copies handy. This will save you a bunch of times, guaranteed.

If you pack yourself or can keep up with the packers, label the outside of boxes for each room and if you’re really keen, a general list of what’s in each box. Nothing like digging through 6 kitchen boxes to find a spoon.

A lot of time the packers will establish a “set-up” box with all the hardware for putting things like bedframes together. MAKE SURE THIS HAPPENS!

Feed the moving crew. Possibly the best money you’ll spend on this move.

Also consider “open first” boxes for bedding and the basic kitchen utensils. Consider using clear plastic bins for this.

Take a photo of how your electronics are plugged in so they are easier to reconnect in the new place! (and/or label or colour code the end of the wires with tape so they’re easy to match up)

I’ve heard you can fill small nail holes using soap. Like, a bar of soap. Rub it across the hole. Probably works best if the wall is painted a light colour! I’ve also heard toothpaste.

DIY Packing Tips

Liquor store boxes are a great size for heavy items like books, and for small knick-knacks.

For liquids, take off the lid, put plastic across the opening, and screw the lid back on to prevent leaking.

For powdered makeup (blush etc) pack a cotton pad or cotton ball in the compact to keep them from breaking.

Pack plates vertically (like records, or like they are in the drying rack) to make them less likely to break.

Pack disposable foam plates between dishes rather than wrapping them in newspaper.

Pack drinking glasses in socks.

Just plastic-wrap the bejeepers out of your cutlery tray so it’s ready to go at the other end.

Pack electrical cords inside empty paper towel (or TP) rolls.

Put jewelry in egg cartons.

Separate rooms get separate boxes. No exceptions. You’ll thank yourself later.

Leave clothes on hangers. While they’re still hanging, put a garbage bag around them, nice and tight. That way you can just hang them straight up again (in the same order, even) at your destination.

Label, label, label. Label boxes. Label boxes that go in boxes. Label bags that go into the boxes that go into boxes. Use coloured tape. There are even QR code apps for this! And smart move tape.

Things to keep with you (you’ll have to pare this down if you’re not driving!)

  • contact info for the driver of your moving van (exchange cell numbers!)
  • all remotes and batteries
  • chargers
  • snacks
  • router (if applicable to your ISP) so you can get wifi going and look up pizza places and/or keep the kids busy
  • bathroom essentials: TP, hand soap, towels, meds
  • more chargers
  • more snacks
  • cleaning supplies
  • special stuffed animals and blankets – familiar feelings for new places can be very reassuring
  • tools, especially hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, and some picture- and curtain-hanging hardware

For the kiddos

Set up the kids’ rooms first, especially for little kids, and some make the new room as similar as possible to old room to help the child feel secure in the new place.

One family began a pen pal relationship with a family in their new city so that when they moved the kids already had friends.

Involve the kids as much as you can: skip school, answer questions, ask questions, role play, talk through everything, let them pack their own boxes (you can repack them later ) and give them their own small “set-up” box to fill that can come in the car with them.

Stock up on snacks, favourite breakfast cereals and other comfort foods so you don’t run into problems when the blood sugar levels dip dangerously low!

There are some great articles online for parents of kids of all ages that cover in much more detail than I can do here!

Relationship Insurance

If you’re in a relationship, give each other executive power and forgive all mistakes so that you don’t get bogged down in minor details.

If you have friends helping with the move, give them first dibs on anything you’re giving away. And, obviously give them free food and drinks.

Unpacking and Setting Up

Pre-clean. Of course the last people cleaned, but it’s not the same. There’s something so reassuring about doing it yourself. Try and get there before the movers and pre-clean the bathrooms and kitchen.

Unpack in order. Start with bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms.

Feed the moving crew. Feed them well.

Don’t subject yourself to living in a sea of boxes. Unless a box is getting unpacked right away, it stays in the garage, or basement or designated area. Keep the chaos to a minimum by bringing in one box at a time, dealing with it, flattening it out, and putting it in the recycle pile before going on to the next one.

Label the bedroom doors so you can direct the moving crew accordingly. Label them “master”, “guest room” and “office” or the names of the kids. If you have a living room AND a great room AND a rec room, consider labeling those, too! It’ll save you moving a whole bunch of stuff twice (after the moving crew has left).

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