As soon as you know you're moving

Once you've decided to move, there's another decision to be made: do you get your friends to help, use a moving company, or opt for a mixture of the two? Each option has its pros and cons.

Get your friends to help

  • You never know how many of your friends will actually show up, and the more people you invite, the easier it is for people to drop out. Aim for quality over quantity.       
  • Not everyone is capable of lifting a fridge. You don't want anyone to injure themselves!    
  • There's a lot of satisfaction in pulling together as a team—and in celebrating when it's all over!
  • You'll need to find a truck and someone who can drive it.
  • Your friends aren't professional movers, and they don't have insurance to cover any breakages. If anything is damaged or goes missing, you'll have to make a claim on your home insurance, and not every policy offers all risks coverage.
  • It's the cheapest option.

Professional movers

  • All you need to do is sit back and watch them do the work (and try not to panic as they manhandle your heavy furniture down that winding staircase). 
  • The bill can easily run to several hundred dollars.
  • Making a claim can be difficult.

The hybrid solution: Do most of the move yourself with your friends' help and hire movers for the big items, like large appliances.

  • The cost is somewhere in between the first two options.
  • Some of the same pros and cons of the other options apply.

Once you've made your choice, you'll have to hire a truck, book a moving company, or reserve your friends. If you've decided to ask your friends, why not get creative? Throw a moving party and send invitations via social media.

If you've decided to go with a moving company:

Three months before moving day

Three months before is a little early to start packing, but it's the perfect time to do some decluttering and decide what will make the trip to your new home with you and what won't.

Don't just throw everything in the garbage. Do a good deed by passing on your unwanted items to someone who needs them.

Clothing  

  • Tackle any duplicates first. Do you have several coats, jackets and pairs of shoes? Do you need all of them?
  • Apply the "one-year rule." If you haven't worn something in the last year, ask yourself how likely you are to wear it next year.
  • Be realistic. If you're keeping clothes that don't fit in case you lose or gain weight someday, consider giving them to someone who could use them right now.
  • You can donate your old clothes.

Books, movies and CDs

  • If you won't re-read it, if you've never watched it, if you don't love it or if it's not a reference—it's time to get rid of it.
  • If you have two copies of something (more common than you might think), you can certainly bring yourself to part with one of them.
  • Instead of leaving them to gather dust, donate books, movies or CDs you've never managed to finish to a thrift shop or sell them to a specialist store.

In the kitchen

  • You know that gadget that was going to revolutionize your cooking forever? The one you used once, maybe twice, before it was consigned to the back of the closet? You know what you need to do...    
  • Do you need all your pots, pans and utensils? Remember that the one-year rule applies in the kitchen as well as in your closet.
  • Yes, we know: it's rude to throw away a gift. But do you really need that Max Pro Power Turbo Juicinator 2000©? We thought not.

And the rest

Go through the rest of your belongings: tools, plastic containers, reusable bags (though these can be useful for moving some things), accent furniture, knick-knacks and picture frames (when was the last time you looked at them?), towels, sheets, and so on.

Three months before the move is a good time to start gathering cardboard boxes. If you don't want to pay for them, try visiting stores the day before recycling collection. They'll be happy to let you have them. Be aware, though, that as July 1 approaches, some businesses become more reluctant to give out boxes and end up saying no, worried that they will be inundated with requests.

Put any useful boxes you come across to one side. Remember that big boxes are often too heavy once filled, so it's better to use smaller boxes that are easier to carry. Large garbage bags are fine for moving quilts, pillows and throws. Stock up on newspaper, tissue paper and bubble wrap to protect fragile items.

If you don't like the thought of rooting through recycling bins, many truck rental companies also sell moving supplies, like sturdy boxes, packing materials and blankets.

Two months before moving day

After all that decluttering, there shouldn't be much left to pack, but you still need to get started. For a rough idea of how long it will take to pack everything, allow one week per room. If your apartment is only a 4½, it might seem excessive to start packing two months before the move, but at least you'll be sure to avoid a last-minute panic.

  • Start by boxing up objects that survived the decluttering but which you're not likely to need before the big day. Off-season clothing is usually a good place to start, along with dishes for special occasions. You can also start packing away some books and CDs.
  • Come up with a system for labelling your boxes. Include a list of contents (this can be as detailed as you like), the room they came from or the room they're going to, and whether or not they're fragile.

Spread the word that you're moving

To make sure that you continue to receive services and that your mail doesn't go astray, you should start updating your address details now. Here's our list of suggestions:

  • Use the government of Quebec's address change service to update your address with six government departments and agencies (the Directeur général des élections du Québec; the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale; the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec; Retraite Québec; Revenu Québec; and the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec). 
  • The Canada Revenue Agency  
  • Hydro-Québec (or another electricity supplier)
  • Your newspaper delivery person
  • Your accountant    
  • Your insurance companies (auto, home, life, group insurance, etc.) 
  • Your internet service provider
  • Your phone company   
  • Your propane/oil/natural gas supplier
  • Your cable company 
  • Your banks    
  • Your employer    
  • Your friends    
  • Your family

One month before moving day

It's starting to feel real now. In a month's time you'll be in your new home, unpacking boxes and decorating your new pad. But let's not get ahead of ourselves—there are still a few things left to do.

Carry on packing your belongings, working your way from infrequently used items up to essentials. As moving day draws near, you probably won't have much time for playing board games, so this might be a good time to pack them up.

Start making arrangements for your pets. Will you have someone take care of them? Will they join you at the new house later? Check out our tips
for moving with your pets.

Remind your friends about your move! They may have said yes two months ago, but are they still available? They might have made plans since then. They might have forgotten and started making arrangements for that sunny summer weekend. In any event, whether your friends are extraordinary or just like the rest of us, it's a good idea to refresh their memory to make sure they turn up on the big day.

Make a list of odd jobs you need to do before leaving, like patching up the walls. Where once there was a frame, there's now a hole. Do you have to repair it, or are the new occupants expected to do it? If you are renting, it's usually your responsibility to do these little jobs, so make sure you have enough time for them, and perhaps a lick of paint, too.

Two weeks before moving day

At this stage, you should be living with the bare minimum of belongings. It should feel like you're living in a warehouse where you occasionally need to open up a box to find something. If this doesn't ring a bell, it probably means you're behind on your packing!

One week before moving day

There's a week to go until the big day, and you should be starting to feel excited. If you're not, it's probably because you're too busy racing to finish the things you should have done before.

If you're on track, now is the time to check the weather forecast, so you can make a plan in case of rain. If it rains, are the stairs likely to be slippery? Will you need tarps to protect your belongings? Should you unpack your raincoat?

You should also start gathering together everything you will need for the day before the move.

The day before moving day

So it's the day before, and you've packed so efficiently that the only option is to go to a restaurant or eat off paper plates. But it's not time to put your feet up just yet. You still need to pack your ultimate moving survival kit:

  • Scissors or a utility knife for opening boxes
  • Towels for drying off if it rains (or mopping your brow if it's hot)
  • Toilet paper  
  • Soap    
  • First-aid kit
  • Cleaning essentials (broom,
    dustpan, mop, bucket, cloths, cleaning products, gloves, brushes)
  • Tools (screwdriver, hammer and
    pliers at the very least)
  • Garbage bags
  • Tape measure
  • Cooler 
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks
  • The number of the local pizza delivery place

And finally - just to be on the safe side - give your friends one last reminder. If you've booked professional movers, contact them to confirm they will be there at the agreed time.

Moving day

Your survival kit is packed and ready to go. Inspect your furniture and think about taking photos if you're using movers. Make a note of any existing damage to avoid disputes if anything is broken during the move. Count the number of boxes to make sure everything arrives safely.

Take a walk around your old home to make sure that everything has been packed and sweep the floor one last time.

Take good care of your helpers! Provide food and drink and, most importantly, make sure everyone takes breaks. There are always a few people who get carried away and burn out too soon.

Divide your friends into teams and give everyone a job: cleaning, unpacking, making sure that boxes and furniture end up in the right rooms, and taking care of food, drinks and music!

With the right planning, moving doesn't have to be a drag.