Imagine this moving-day scenario: the baby is howling but you can’t find the diapers and worse still, the contents of his bottle and a broken bottle of spaghetti sauce just mixed together in a poorly-packed box and leaked all over the front seat of your rented pick-up truck.
Frantically, you rip through 20 boxes, all of which are marked “kitchen” but you can’t find baby formula, clean baby clothes, toilet paper or a cloth to try to soak up the mess in the truck. You can’t even find the scissors so you juggle the kid on one hip as you rip off tape with your teeth.
Variations of this scenario are not new to professional movers, who say moving can be much easier with a little planning.
“The best move we had was for a lady who had all her stuff packed in boxes in the garage so we could just pull up the truck and load it. Two guys were done in four hours,” said Gail Labine, office manager for Davis/Fort Moving.
“The worst was a hoarder that took two days of packing,” she continued, “but there was also one lady who hadn’t even done her dishes. I had to do her dishes for her and she was paying me, by the hour, to move her belongings.”
Paying a mover can cost upwards of $69 per hour, so being organized saves money, even for those who are moving their own goods.
Pack your belongings into uniformly shaped, sturdy boxes so they can be easily stacked inside a truck. Make sure you close and seal the box.
“Don’t use a variety of paper boxes because then it’s like a puzzle trying to fit them all in the truck. It takes longer if you have 10 different sized boxes,” said Darek Wojtalik, owner of Action Moving.
Boxes may be rented from storage companies or from most moving companies, which will charge an upfront fee, but then return a portion of the cost when the boxes are returned.
An alternative is to rent plastic containers from Frog Box. These containers nest together in a truck and using them eliminates the need for recycling cardboard or using plastic tape.
“We deliver the Frog Boxes to you and rent them by the day. We pick them up at the time specified by you and at the location, anywhere across Canada,” said franchise owner Darren Weber.
Whatever container you use, pack it full and pack things together tightly.
“Stand your plates on edge – don’t lie them down flat – and fill the box,” said Labine. “It’s the same principle as an egg. If you lay the egg on its side, it will break more easily. Stand it on its edge and it will not break.”
Wrap dishes in paper and fill the empty spaces with glasses or bowls. Put saucers on top of stacked plates and perhaps a few tea towels so no corner of the box can be squished.
Wine glasses and mugs should be wrapped in paper and stacked standing up so the stems and handles don’t break.
Before the movers arrive, disconnect all wires and draw a simple colour-coded diagram of the wires for computer and television hook-ups. Pack loose things such as remote controls or CDs in a box by themselves and label.
Save money and time by taking pictures off the wall. Wrap them and put them near the door with other boxes that are ready for the movers. Taking your bed apart also saves time.
Big fragile items such as televisions or mirrors can be wrapped in blankets and packed on the truck between mattresses.
Leave your clothes in the drawers but take valuable items such as jewelry with you.
Labine uses a paper-dot system to identify boxes and the location where they should go in the new home.
“Say you need stuff in the baby’s room. You put a blue dot on those boxes and put a blue dot on the baby’s door. Maybe you have a gold dot for the kitchen stuff. Use a big red star for anything you may need urgently in the new house. That urgent box is packed last and loaded on the truck last,” she said.
Consider packing a personal suitcase with immediately needed toiletry items, underwear, towels, toothbrushes and toilet paper. You might also put the bedding you will need immediately in that suitcase.
Sarah Conklin, office manager for the family-owned company Sturgeon Moving and Storage, says she herself has moved multiple times and the biggest advice she has for anyone is to not drag out the move for days on end. Get your packing organized but don’t be so far ahead of yourself that you are constantly without essentials in the old house before you move.
“One time I spent a whole month moving and it was so stressful and by the time I moved I was sick of it,” Conklin said. “Instead, I found it’s a lot less stressful if you set aside a few days and then bang it off and it’s over. And don’t try to stress too much before you move, trying to figure out where every single thing goes in the new house because when you get there it will be all different anyway.”