Leading up to the end of university, some of my good friends took jobs out of the province and moved away. One girlfriend relocated to New Brunswick, the other, Manitoba. Another friend parted ways with his beloved overstuffed sofa and made the trek out west to Alberta.
While I was posing awkwardly for graduation photos, my school colleagues were frantically trying to navigate the logistical challenges that everyone faces when it comes to moving long-distance — how to get you and your cherished IKEA futon thousands of kilometers across the country.
Moving long-distance involves more than just the physical and operational challenges. Of course, there’s the overwhelming task of packing your worldly possessions, re-registering a lifetime’s worth of IDs, and then transporting your belongings to a distant destination, but there are emotions at play too.
“It may be exciting to move to a new province for work or family or just a fresh start, but you’re essentially uprooting your life with its routines and preferences and all the people you love and starting fresh,” says Anna Brooke, senior manager of Partner Success at MoveSnap.
Whether you’re moving for a new job or a new beginning, don’t stress too much about your upcoming cross-country migration. With some advice from MoveSnap, Canada’s digital moving concierge service, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to make your far, far away move a breeze.
Prevent sticker shock — research, research, research
Start your moving process by researching a little about your new community to get an idea of what life will be like when you arrive.
The beauty of Canada is the uniqueness of each province, the diverse cultures, customs and history that exists within each one. Adjusting to new norms will be easier for some than others, hence why it’s important to do some digging ahead of time to prepare as much as you can. Exploring the cultural features of each province, and looking around for community groups or local events can help to familiarize yourself with the area.
“If you’re on social media, look for any local cultural or activities groups that may be open to the public interested in learning more about their province or town,” says Brooke. “Many of them will be happy you’re interested and give you some tips on how to make the best transition, and who knows, there could be a ready-made community of people you can meet once you arrive.”
Research is also crucial for adjusting expectations to the cost of living. Brooke explains that each province has its own tax structure and costs — those moving to expensive cities like Toronto and Vancouver from other provinces may experience sticker shock when they arrive. Manage budgets and expectations ahead of time by comparing home prices with those in your new city, such as babysitting fees, restaurants prices, home repairs and other services.
Before you leave, be sure to let important services know of your relocation, including utility providers, subscriptions, doctors, cell phone carriers and others. As part of their services, the MoveSnap concierge team puts together a list of service providers for their clients who they should notify of their updated address. Following an introductory consultation to assess the distinct needs of each client they work with, MoveSnap also provides research, planning and organizational support services to new homeowners during and after their move.
Lighten the load before you hit the road
Paring down your belongings prior to moving day helps to cut down on packing and unwanted goods. When moving long-distance, however, you should increase that decluttering willpower by tenfold.
“This is going to be one of those hand-forcing opportunities to finally deal with your worldly acquisitions,” says Brooke. “Moving long distance is very different from changing neighbourhoods and if you can bear to downsize, this is the time.”
The more things you choose to take with you, the more you’ll be required to pack, ship and offload — time and money that would be better invested elsewhere. So, Brooke recommends that if you’re moving long-distance, consider selling, donating, or tossing unwanted items.
Start by cutting down on belongings that are underused or just plain clutter — old books, magazines, clothing and electronics can find a new home on Craigslist or at your local donation centre. Are your friends in the market for bedside table lamps? Let them take yours. Your neighbour loves collecting DVDs and second-hand decorative pillows? You’ve got just the thing to give them. Reserve your moving boxes and precious shipping container space for sentimental items and things that you can’t replace.
For furniture and other items that you can part with, Brooke says to consider selling them and putting the profits towards moving costs and replacement furniture. One MoveSnap client did this so well, Brooke says that she downsized her life into three boxes, and boarded her plane with just one suitcase that held the rest of her belongings. IKEA exists in most major cities, as do a ton of online retailers who can ship new furniture right to your door — sometimes it’s not worth the hassle and expense of transporting your BALKARP if you can deliver a brand new one right to your next residence.
Get your shipping container ready to set sail
If you’ve finished decluttering and still have a lot of leftover items to move, renting a shipping container may be your best option. The upfront cost of renting a container is higher, but there’s less work involved than a DIY move. Plus, it tends to be a less strenuous option for those who lack experience driving a moving truck over long periods of time.
“Sometimes it’s one of those things you have to leave to the pros,” says Brooke.
Finding a reputable shipping container company or any professional moving experts requires through research. There are numerous mover scams out there that will take advantage of vulnerable people, so do more than a cursory Google search. Use the Canadian Association of Movers or the Better Business Bureau, and suss out online reviews or recommendations from family or friends whose judgment you trust to hire a reliable moving company. Also beware of online ads with skeptically low rates — more often than not, it’s too good to be true.
Unlike a DIY move where you have control over the time and condition that your items arrive in, sending your stuff via container can open up more variables — things can get delayed or damaged without warning. If you’re packing your shipping container yourself, it’s fine to use proper cardboard moving boxes or rentable containers. Reusable plastic boxes stack nicely, don’t create waste, and will better protect your items against unpredictable shipping conditions. Just be sure that the bin company has locations in both provinces so you can return them easily.
“Also, if you’re shipping things in a container, they may not be climate controlled and the company can’t guarantee from the weather that may occur during the long journey,” says Brooke. “In this case, big plastic bins would definitely be your safest bet.”
There’s always the possibility that your shipping container could arrive after you do. Brooke says to approach this potential dilemma like packing for traveling — bring all of your essentials with you, like toiletries, medications, towels and electronics, and pack the less-crucial items into your ‘checked baggage.’
Prevent hangry driving
For those who prefer to DIY their cross-country move, more power to you — if you make safety and comfort a priority, the journey can make for a memorable road trip.
When driving long-distance, checking the weather is the most important order of business, according to Brooke.
“Your driving conditions are key,” she says. “If you’re moving in winter or during some heavy rains, make sure you have windshield wiper fluid, defroster, all-wheel drive tires and the whole shebang. This is one area you can’t overlook.”
No one likes to be bored or hangry on a long car ride either — there’s only so many rounds of I Spy you can play. Stock up on snacks, download your favourite music or podcasts, and make sure your driving route includes enough pit stops to refresh and stretch. If you’re traveling with a co-pilot, trust that they’re up for the long trek too.
“Finally, and most importantly, make sure you’re moving with someone you can actually sit in the car with for long periods of time — you’d be surprised,” says Brooke.