Photo: James Bombales
As Canadians know best, wintery weather can hit at any point during the late months of the year and stick around until early April, but we’ve learned to work around it — we trick-or-treat in the snow, barbecue in the slush and often we even move houses in the cold.
If you are one of the many buyers who purchased a home during the fall, your closing date is likely scheduled for sometime during the winter. This means facing the daunting possibility of pivoting your living room couch in snow boots. Unpredictable weather, poor driving conditions and unpleasant temperatures are all understandable reasons why winter is a less-than-popular season to move.
“Weather is the most unreliable factor in the winter and that is the biggest challenge for people,” says Teya Dunphy, a partner success manager at MoveSnap. “We always recommend to plan for snow.”
Despite the cold, if planned correctly, opting to pack up during the winter season can be as successful as moving in summer or spring. To stay warm and sane during your winter move, here’s a few tips from the organizational moving professionals at MoveSnap.
There’s a plan for that
The night before the big move, Dunphy received a call from her client’s real estate agent. The large, rural Manitoba property where the client lived had received a large dumping of snow and the driveway was blocked. There was no way a moving truck could travel up the lane to load their belongings. With a few well-timed calls, she was able to hire a professional snow plow to dig the client out.
MoveSnap is an online concierge service that assists new homeowners transition to their new residence. After an initial consultation to assess the individual needs of each client, the concierge team provides research, planning and organization support to new homeowners during and after their move. It’s not uncommon for the concierge to troubleshoot last-minute problems, like snow. Surprise snowstorms and other weather-related issues are why Dunphy always makes a contingency plan, especially for winter moves.
“You can never really know if those factors are going to come up,” she says.
Especially during the winter, Dunphy advises allowing for more time and resources when moving, as well as a back-up plan in the event of a mishap. As winter moves tend to be unpredictable, Dunphy says that MoveSnap provides clients with multiple options to combat any unscheduled events, such as a backup moving company if the first one gets snowed in. Moving in the winter provides homeowners with more choice when it comes to replacement vendors compared to the warmer seasons when vendors are competitively sought after.
Hands off, dad! Keep the thermostat going
It’s easy to forget the important things in the chaos of moving. Setting up utilities and updating your address, Dunphy says, are the most common things new homeowners tend to accidentally skip over.
“When I first started [at MoveSnap], I had a realtor call me the night before saying, ‘My client closes tomorrow morning and they haven’t set up their utilities,’” she says. “Those are the gaps that we’re really trying to stay on top of.”
In the summer, turning on the furnace is not a priority, but during a winter move, having a house without heat can quickly make for an uncomfortable situation.
“It’s especially important to have your gas and electricity in the house before you move in because you don’t want to go into a freezing cold house in the middle of the winter,” says Dunphy.
If you’re concerned about letting heat out as doors open and close, perhaps opt for a space heater in the bathroom and break spaces. Then, as the move comes to an end, flip the thermostat on.
Extra protection, extra precaution
When moving, it’s natural to simply cover your things in plastic wrap and pack them into boxes. However, Dunphy says that the addition of ice and snow makes your belongings more susceptible to damage. Electronics are especially prone to damage in frosty temperatures. It’s important to keep these items out of the cold for long periods of time and protect them with extra packaging.
Your new home also deserves some extra preparation in the winter.
“In spring and summer, everything’s dry,” says Dunphy. “It’s one thing to have someone going in and out of your house all day, but in the slush and the snow, rainy conditions even, your floors can get ruined and really dirty.”
Using old carpets, padding and rugs can help to prevent salt and slush from scratching up hardwood and ruining carpet.
Put the kettle on
If you’re using a professional moving company, make safety and comfort a priority. Prevent slipping accidents by ensuring the front entryway is cleared and salted the night before so movers can get through easily.
It also never goes amiss to show appreciation for the work movers do. Offering hats and gloves, or keeping some coffee or tea on hand is a nice gesture and helps to keep workers warm, says Dunphy.
“The happier your movers are, the better job they’re going to do for you,” she says.