Seven steps to a successful move

The busybodies who keep track of such things say that moving is one of life’s most stressful events. It can sure seem that way on the day itself and the weeks leading up to it. And we’re heading into prime time.

“Peak moving season is in late June or early July, though typically the cycle varies from year to year,” says George O’Neill, local real estate broker and CEO of O’Neill Real Estate.

So if you’re house-shopping, now’s also a good time to pull together some ideas for your upcoming move. Here’s some of what I’ve learned in years of short, long, cross-border and often rushed moves:

1. Pay special attention to safety, especially on moving day. That’s my number-one piece of advice. There’s stuff all over everywhere, people rushing around with large and heavy loads and plenty of opportunity to trip, slip, fall, cut yourself, bang your head and do other bodily harm. You’re probably nervous and stressed out already, so please, people, move safely.

2. Try to give yourself lots of time – five or so years should be enough. (OK, that’s a joke.) But do start early, and begin by tossing out as much STUFF as you can. In our throw-away society, it’s surprisingly difficult to give lightly-used things away. A friend with a pick-up truck can be a big help toting old clothes, etc., to drop bins or charitable agencies. The Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy picks up usable old clothes and household items in our area about every two weeks, if you phone them to get on their list (416-244-0899).

3. Stockpile moving materials. Liquor boxes are classic (strong and not too large to lift easily). You’ll also need duct tape, packing tape, felt markers, box cutters/pocket knives (good because pocket knives often include corkscrews, always good to have on hand), plastic bags of various sizes, newspaper, bubble wrap and old sheets/towels/blankets.

If you’re using a moving company, it will often provide you with boxes and packing materials – at a cost, of course. If you can handle it, you’ll save $ by doing that part yourself. One exception: the wardrobe cartons they supply for clothing are wonderful. No folding and fussing. Just hang your clothes in them and you’re done.

4. Pack as much as you can ahead of time and corral the boxes in an unused room or corner of your house. The dining room is good. After all, how many dinner parties are you going to hold right before you move?

5. Tips on packing fragile things: Fill the box so the contents don’t shift and bang into each other. Begin with LOTS of padding on the top, bottom and sides (crumpled – not folded – paper or sheets/blankets/towels). Put each item in a clean plastic bag (look, ma, no dirty smudges), then wrap tightly with several sheets of paper or bubble wrap. Tuck them in the box closely together like eggs in a carton. Fill empty gaps with more crumpled paper.

6. Now, my secret for getting boxes in the right place (invented by husband Barry): Get several sheets of paper in different colours. Choose a colour for each level of your house (e.g., pink for first floor, blue for second). Then assign a number for each room on each level (bedroom 1, bedroom 2, kitchen = 2, living room = 1).

For every box, write the room number on the appropriate colour paper and tape it to at least two sides of the box. Using the examples above, if you have two bedrooms on the second floor, all the bedroom contents will be in boxes with blue paper and a 1 or a 2 on them. Even the furniture can be colour-keyed this way. IMPORTANT – label the doorway to each room in the new house with coloured paper and a number, too.

7. And finally, pack a ‘travel’ bag for every family member and put the bags safely out of the way – in the car, perhaps. Include a change of clothes, toiletries, a towel, first-aid kit, pen and paper, tape, important documents, favourite toys for the kids.

Moving is an expedition – equip yourself for a successful one!

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