Contacting different moving companies is one of the first steps in moving to a new house. You will find a variety of service options and price ranges from which to choose, whether you are moving across town or across the country.
Call several companies for estimates. Ask each company exactly how their charges are calculated and what is included. How much insurance is included in the estimate? What is the cost for additional coverage? Are there special provisions for fragile or unusually valuable items? Is the delivery date guaranteed? If economizing is important to you, ask if there are ways to cut down on the cost by providing your own boxes and packing your household goods yourself. Household movers are competitive, and comparison shopping can help you get the best value for your moving dollars.
Inspect the property including the garage, patio and any storage sheds. Decide what to move and what to discard. Remember the cost of moving an item may be greater than the cost of replacing it. Have the moving company conduct a household goods survey in order to furnish you with a written estimate. Decide whether you want to do any of the packing or have it done by the moving company's experienced personnel. List everything that is to be moved specifying articles the moving company are going to pack so the estimate will include packing charges. Any items that are added later to the shipment will add to the cost estimate.
If you are able to move at any time of the year, don't wait until summer, the peak-moving season. The end of June and first part of July is the busiest moving time of the year. Also the first and last few days of the month are extra busy.
Take Inventory and Keep Records
Keep a record of all expenses related to the move, some of which may be tax deductible. Fill out a Personal Household Inventory for each room. This is important for establishing the value for the shipment and as a permanent inventory for insurance purposes. List, as nearly as possible, the year of purchase and original cost of each item. Attach any invoices or records of purchase to the completed inventory. Prepare a separate high-value inventory if the shipment will contain articles of "extraordinary" value.
The following list includes items that might fall into this category:
- Art Collections
- China Collections
- Oriental Rugs
- Stones or Gems
- TVs and/or Stereos
Mechanical and Electrical Equipment
If you are moving your mechanical or electrical equipment such as stove, fridge, washer, dryer, stereo or TV equipment it is the owner's responsibility to see that they are disconnected and properly serviced for shipping prior to the arrival of the moving van. For safe moving, have these items prepared by a licensed or properly trained technician. This service may be performed by a technician of your choice or by qualified personnel of the moving company. If the owner has failed to have an item serviced, the van operator may load and haul it, but will mark the inventory sheet, "Not Serviced-Loaded at Owner's Risk".
Transfer of Personal Records
Arrange for closing or transfer of charge accounts. Check personal insurance policies to see whether moving is covered. Transfer fire, theft and other personal property insurance to ensure coverage at the new home.
Obtain transcripts of the children's school records and credentials from school authorities or secure transcripts of school records if you prefer to take them along. Gather medical and dental records including vaccination data, medical prescriptions, dates of last examinations, history of past illnesses and so on. Ask your doctor and dentist to recommend colleagues in the new city. Be sure to check current telephone numbers and addresses of physicians, dentist and hospital, which will help when transferring your records.
Obtain letters of introduction from your church, organization, club, and business associations. Transfer, sell or resign memberships in clubs or associations. Be sure to report your move to all lending institutions with which you do business. A lender's permission may be required to move personal property in which the lender has an interest.
Planning Your Packing
If you plan to do the packing yourself collect suitable containers well ahead of moving day. You can purchase specialized containers from most moving companies, such as:
- Small cartons for heavy items (books, record albums, and tools).
- Wardrobe containers.
- Large cartons for bulky items (pillows, blankets, and stuffed toys).
- Medium-sized cartons for bulkier but not so heavy items (towels, linens, and small appliances).
Collect other packing materials such as:
- White paper
- Tissue paper
- Paper towels
- Non-printed paper
- Packing tape or strong twine for sealing containers
- Scissors or sharp knife (keep out of children's reach)
- Felt marker to mark containers
- Notebook and pencil for listing contents
- Labels or stickers (available from moving companies)
Set goals and deadlines to ensure that all packing is complete by your moving day. You may want to pack one room per week. Attach a list of contents to each carton. Separate and mark goods that will go into storage. Consider having a garage sale to dispose of unwanted items. If you donate clothing or household goods to charitable organizations, get receipts showing their approximate value for tax deductions. Remember that the cost of moving an item may be greater than replacing it. Begin to use up large supplies of canned goods and frozen foods.
Places to Notify of Impending Move and Date
- Cable TV
- Heating Fuel
- Trash removal
- Professional Services
- Real Estate Agent
- Stock Broker
- Insurance Agents
- Recreational Vehicles
- Established Business Accounts
- Motor Vehicle Department
- Finance companies
- Department stores
- Government & Public Offices
- Social Security Administration
- Federal & Provincial tax offices
- Credit Card Companies
- Bank Cards
- Relatives & friends
- Business associates
- Book & record clubs
- Schools & colleges
- Landlords, if tenant
- Tenants, if landlord
Let the post office know your moving date and new address. If you do not have a permanent address by the time you move, the post office will hold your mail and forward it upon written instructions from you. Phone the local business office of the Telephone Company. They can make arrangements for service in your new home and, on request, give out your new number when your present number is called.
If possible, arrange to have utilities connected at the new home before your arrival. Make family travel plans. Reserve air or rail transportation and hotel accommodations as needed. Have your cars prepared for the trip – tires, brakes, lubrication, oil change, and tune-up-as needed.
Dispose of flammables such as gasoline, opened oil cans, cleaning fluids, matches, acids, pressure cans, paint or paint thinner. Drain oil and fuel from your power mower and other machinery. Discard partly used containers of any substance that may leak. Have rugs cleaned that are to be moved. Leave them rolled and wrapped when they are returned from the cleaners. If draperies are to be moved, have them cleaned and ready for alterations that might be needed in your new home.
Collect items that are being cleaned, stored or repaired (clothing, shoes, clocks).
Empty your locker at any club you are a member of. Return library books and anything borrowed from friends or neighbours. Also collect things you may have loaned. Decide what to do with your houseplants.
Set a date with a reliable service person to prepare your appliances for shipment, preferably the day before the move. Depending on the appliance, service may be needed for refrigerator, freezer, range, washer, dryer and others. For more information, request a free booklet, generally provided by most moving companies.
Make arrangements to have utilities disconnected on moving day:
- Cable or Satellite TV
Plan to keep your telephone in service through moving day in case last minute calls are necessary.
Easy Access Box
Pack a box for instant needs on arrival. Mark the box "To be loaded last and unloaded first". Package each group of items separately in labeled paper bags. Here are some suggestions.
- Powdered detergent
- Paper towels
- Dish towels
- Dish cloth
- Kitchen cleanser
- Window cleaner
- Scouring pads
- Paper plates & cups
- Plastic cutlery
- Small saucepan
- Serving spoons
- Aluminum foil
- Pudding cups
- Dry soup mix
- Sandwich spreads
- Jars of cheese
- Package of crackers
- Boxes of dry cereals
- Instant coffee & tea
- Instant creamer & sugar
- Towels and face cloths
- Toilet tissue
- Facial tissue
- Hand soap
- Hand lotion
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Reading materials
- Last Minute Packing
- Light bulbs
- Shelf paper
- Trash bags & ties
- Assorted nails & screws
- Colouring books & crayons
- A favourite toy or two
Check Contents of Drawers
Remove anything that can spill or break such as cologne, aftershave, hand lotion, perfume, mouthwash, or spray cans.
Soft goods such as blankets, pillows, blouses, shirts and lingerie may be left in drawers. Pin clothing to hangers if it is to be moved in wardrobe cartons to keep it from slipping off. Remove items left in the attic or other storage areas. Empty the refrigerator and freezer so they can dry at least 24 hours before moving. Be careful not to overlook the defrost water pan. Failure to have the appliances completely dry can lead to mildew and unpleasant odour. Be sure the water is emptied from your steam iron. Launder all soiled clothing prior to the day the appliance service technician is expected. Take the telephone directory with you for contacting former doctors, dentists, suppliers, etc., and for preparing holiday card lists. Pack suitcases for the trip to the new home. Put in extra clothing for emergencies.
Nutrition for Moving Day
Consider packing a picnic lunch to eat while traveling. Take along snacks such as fruit and cookies for the children. Include towels for a quick cleanup. Arrange for a baby-sitter for moving day, or have older children look after the younger ones.
Loading Your Belongings
Be on hand when the movers arrive. Otherwise, it is important to let the moving company know to whom you have given authority to take your place. Be sure this person knows exactly what to do. Remember the person may be asked to sign documents obligating you to charges.
Accompany the van operator through the house inspecting and tagging each piece of furniture with an identifying number. These numbers, along with a description of your goods and their condition at the time of loading, will appear on the inventory.
Be sure the condition of each item is recorded and the van operator has a clear understanding about what is to be loaded last. It is your responsibility to see that all of your goods are loaded, so remain on the premises until loading is completed. After making a final tour of the house to be sure no items have been overlooked, check and sign the inventory. Get your copy and keep it in a safe place.
Check to see the van operator has the exact destination address. Be specific as to where and how you can be reached pending the arrival of your household goods. Leave the phone connected throughout the moving day. Either clean your house or arrange to have a maid service clean it after you are all packed and ready to go. You will appreciate having your new house clean and ready to move into. So will the new owners of your house appreciate moving into a clean house. Leave a note listing your new address in a conspicuous place in the house so the new occupants will be able to forward any of your mail inadvertently delivered to them.
Take a last look around:
- Is the house clean?
- Have you taken out/removed all the garbage?
- Is the water shut off?
- Is the gas shut off?
- Is the air conditioning shut off?
- Have you turned off all the lights throughout the house/garage?
- Have you cancelled utilities or transferred them to the new owner(s)?
- Are all the windows and doors shut and locked?
- Have you left anything behind?
Lock the house and leave the keys with your real estate agent or in a prearranged location.
At Your Destination
Make sure the new house is ready for occupancy before the van arrives. If you have not already done so, contact the utility companies and make necessary arrangements for service. Ask if any of them provides free appliance connection service.
Be on hand to accept delivery of your household goods. Otherwise authorize an adult as your representative to accept delivery and pay the charges for you. Inform the Moving Company of the person so authorized. If no one appears to accept the shipment within the free waiting time, the goods will be placed in storage at the owner's expense.
Check your household goods, as they are unloaded. If there is a change in the condition of the property from that noted on the inventory at the time of loading or if any items are missing, note any damage and/or missing items on the van operator's copy of the inventory sheet. By signing the inventory sheet, you are acknowledging receipt of all items listed. Personally report any lost or damaged goods to the moving company’s agent at destination immediately. (You must file the claim yourself; the van operator cannot do it for you).
To save time and confusion, place a floor plan of your new home at the entrance the movers will use, indicating where each piece of furniture should go. When unloading, each piece of furniture will be placed as you direct, including the laying of rugs and setting up of bed frames, box springs and mattresses. However, appliances and fixtures may not be installed.
If you have paid for unpacking, you are entitled to unpacking service and removal of the cartons.
Make arrangements for reinstallation of appliances. If your move is during the winter months television sets, other electronic equipment and certain major appliances should not be used for 24 hours after delivery, allowing them time to adjust to room temperature to prevent possible damage.
Keep all documents pertaining to your move in a safe place. You will need them for verification of moving expenses and for filing your income tax returns. For more information on tax-deductible moving expenses, consult an Accountant or Tax specialist.
Check with the post office for any mail being held and ask for delivery to start.
Have your medical and dental records transferred after selecting a family physician and dentist. If you are moving to another province you may want to select a lawyer at your destination to discuss such matters as wills, transfers of property and investments, insurance regulations, health insurance, inheritance laws, taxes and the like. Most laws affect a family as soon as residence in the new province is established.
Locate tour selected schools and take the children to the new school to register them, introduce yourself and your children to the principal and if possible to their homeroom teacher.
Appendix A: Moving House Plants
Following are tips for moving your house plants to their new home.
2 – 3 Weeks Prior to Moving
Prune plants to facilitate packing. Consult a florist or a plant book for instructions.
1 Week Prior to Moving
Place your plants in a black plastic bag, along with a bug/pest strip, conventional flea collar or bug powder. Close the bag and place in a cool area overnight to kill any pests on the plant or in the soil.
The Day Before Moving
Place the plants in cardboard containers. Hold them in place with dampened newspaper or packing paper. Use paper to cushion the leaves and place a final layer of wet paper on top to keep them moist. If you must leave your plants behind, then take cuttings. Put them in a plastic bag with wet paper towels around them.
On Moving Day
Set the boxes aside and mark "DO NOT LOAD" so they won't be taken on the moving van. Close the boxes and punch air holes in the top before loading into your car. Make sure you park your car in shaded areas in the summer and a sunny spot in the winter.
Unpack the plants as soon as possible after arrival. Remove plants through the bottom of the box to avoid breaking the stems. Do not expose the plants to much sunlight at first. Let them get gradually accustomed to more light.
Appendix B: Moving Pets
Following are tips for moving your pets to their new home.
Cats and Dogs
Cats and dogs can be taken in your car. If so, remember to take along the following items:
- Food & water
- A leash for letting your pet out of the car
- Newspaper or sheets to keep your car clean
Animals can get car-sick and will require frequent stops along the way. Also, when you make arrangements for a hotel make sure they allow pets. Depending on the animal's temperament and size, it might be better to have it shipped by air. Be sure to check if your destination has any local requirements or restrictions on animals.
To have your pet shipped by air, make sure someone can meet your pet at the destination airport and take care of it until you arrive. A kennel can do this for you and keep your pet until you have completed your move, if necessary.
If you are flying to your new destination, your cat or dog can ride in the baggage compartment. You may need the following items:
Health certificate. Obtain this from your veterinarian.
Pet container. The airline might have a special container available or you can use your own as long as it complies with airline regulations.
Tranquilizers. Your vet can provide tranquilizers to be given to your pet immediately before going to the airport.
Your scent. Your pet can be comforted by having a piece of cloth with your scent on it.
Hamsters, birds and other small animals can easily be transported in your car. To help keep the animals calm and quiet, cover cages with a cloth. Also, make sure they have food and water available.
It can be very impractical and risky to move fish. Check with your local pet store for recommendations on moving your specific type of fish.