Sunday, April 01, 2007


I helped a good friend move across the city yesterday. Her home is no longer a tiny basement apartment in a bungalow, but a beautiful two-bedroom second-storey apartment in a heritage building with not one, but (count 'em) TWO balconies! I'm excited for her, although I can only imagine how tired she is this morning.

The move went very smoothly, even though she hadn't been able to rent a truck to transport everything. Instead she depended on a handful of friends with vans and cars. In the end, that was probably the best choice, since her new street is a very narrow one-way, where street parking is at a premium. Finding a spot to unload a big truck would have been a headache.

As the day went on I found myself reflecting on the subject of moving. I've compiled a grab-bag of tips which, while not exhaustive, will hopefully point people in the direction of a less-stressful move.

Book your truck early.
My friend waited until moving week to make her call, and by that time everything was already taken. When I moved last September, I called the truck rental company four weeks in advance, and had my choice of trucks and dates.

Don't book a U-Haul for a self-move. I hate to say it, but anyone I've ever known who has tried to rent from U-Haul has had problems with this company. Read more frustrated consumer stories at Don't Use UHaul (a site I just discovered as I was writing this post).

A friend of mine booked a U-Haul for a move a couple of years ago, and when he showed up the morning of the move to pick up his truck, they had nothing for him. They didn't even help him find a location where he COULD rent a U-Haul. He ended up driving clear across the city, scrambling at the last minute to find a truck, leaving his helpers cooling their heels amongst the piles of boxes at his old apartment.

Go with a local, established truck rental company. When I moved from London, Ontario I was very pleased with my choice, Bennett Truck Rentals. They don't overbook their trucks, they're very strict about return times, and they bent over backwards to address all my questions and concerns. Renting their beautifully-maintained vehicles cost more than U-Haul, but I considered that a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Their experienced staff were also able to recommend the best size of truck for me to take, based on the kind of move I was making.

Purge early.
I promise you that on moving day, you don't want to be transporting anything superfluous. Each unnecessary box you have to pack, carry, and unpack is a supreme waste of your time, energy and money.

Not everyone is as lucky as a client of mine who moved after a divorce. For several months she and her son stayed with her parents while her new house was being built. Luckily the parents had ample storage in their basement for all her things, because she decided to wait and purge after she moved into her new house, when she knew how much space she really had. She hosted a yard sale after the final move.

All I can think about is the stuff she moved TWICE before she finally got rid of it. I know how difficult it is to purge. If your mind is already swimming with a million details, trying to make well-thought-out decisions about your possessions can seem like a ticket to insanity. Do try, though. The friends who help you move will thank you for it.

Pack early.
If you have the time, pack as much as possible, as soon as possible. If you're like most of us, you have a LOT of stuff. It's going to take a long time to pack - probably two or three times longer than you think. Save yourself the headache of doing it all at the last minute. The mind balks and becomes fatigued after three or four hours, so don't plan on doing all your packing the day before you move, when I can guarantee you'll be up for twenty-four hours straight, brain-fried.

There's going to be some stuff you can't pack until the last minute - your regular dishes and cooking supplies, your toiletries, the things you use every day. Keep those aside, and pack everything else. Your necessities are good candidates for storage totes or bankers boxes, which have lids and can be reopened as needed.

Pack your suitcase.
Pretend the last few days before the move are a "vacation." Pack a suitcase with everything you would need for a trip, and then the morning of the move you won't have to scramble to pack your last-minute toiletries and clothes. Just pop everything in the suitcase and you're good to go - plus you'll know exactly where to find these important things at the other end.


Patia said...

Thanks for the great advice. I'm planning a move and this is most helpful.

Anonymous said...

thank you for your advice. We have a lot to pack it is a small house with a lot of stuff.We are rebuilding on our property so we are using lots of totes etc.Also a kid leaving for college next year trying to consolidate.Thank you