Moving Cross Country on a Budget

Moving Day (1) copyA new moving adventure, as cheaply as possible
Written by: Amelia

For the past 10 years, I have moved home to and from 5 locations. In my case, these were not “I’ve got a new apartment across town” where you can call your siblings and friends for help. No, I’m one of those “I am ready to completely change my situation and move across the country or to another continent”. I did that last one twice!

In 2010, I moved back to Vancouver from London, England. At the time, I was a student in London, so I only had books and clothes. Shipping was just three boxes by shipping container across the Atlantic. In 2013, I moved to Melbourne, Australia and then back to Vancouver in 2014. Again, a few boxes and a suitcase. In 2015, I was at it again, this time moving from Vancouver to Toronto, Ontario.

I had a great 4 years in Toronto, but winters are hard and long. My mom called gushing that all the spring flowers were out in BC and it was so lovely and warm. That was in February and I had 4 more months of winter…..

This winter, I made the decision to move back to Vancouver. The difference this time was that I had established a home in Toronto so I had a whole load of things to ship including furniture and kitchen appliances. It was a big move, and I hadn’t ever moved that amount of stuff before.

The initial research looked like it was going to cost me thousands of dollars. Luckily, I was able to find ways to bring that cost way down. If you’re looking to do the same move, here are a few tips:

Tip 1) Are your things worth less than the cost of shipping? If they are, I would recommend selling as much as you can to help buy new things. Donate anything you can’t sell. Shipping costs are often by weight, so have a complete Marie Kondo inspired journey and donated anything that doesn’t “spark joy”. Try to avoid throwing things in the garbage, but there are some things that just can’t be donated or recycled.

Tip 2) When I say spark joy, I seriously mean it. Any ragged clothes, random kitchen items or things pawned off to you by friends and family, moving is a great excuse to offload these things. Why bring dull things with you?

Tip 3) Research what your municipality will recycle. Larger cities have larger facilities that can do more random things; you will be surprised at what can be recycled.

Tip 4) Ask around! Friends, colleagues, family, someone knows someone who has done what you are about to do. That advice will be worth its weight in gold! Luckily, I have a colleague who is a logistics manager. When I asked him for advice, it turned out he once lived in Victoria, BC, and shipped everything to Ontario. He was able to recommend a service that was a fraction of the cost of some of the other companies. Plus, they would come to my home and wrap my furniture when everyone else wanted me to bring my things to them.

Tip 5) When dismantling furniture, make sure you bag the nuts and bolts in separate bags. One bag for each piece of furniture, don’t throw everything in one bag, or you’ll have ‘fun’ trying to sort it all out weeks later at the other end.

Tip 6) Don’t ship food unless it is shelf-stable and sealed. Temperatures can fluctuate during shipping, as well as the environment. Also, you do not want to attract rodents.

Tip 7) The boxes will be tossed around, it’s inevitable, so make sure to wrap all the things you don’t want to break. Use bedding and towels rather than paper because they were ready at hand and also needed to be moved without adding extra weight.

Moving Day (As Stress-less as possible)

I am one of those people that like to have everything ready and packed a few days in advance so everything is ready when whoever is helping me arrives. I have helped too many friends move in which I show up the day of moving and nothing is packed. I will help out whenever I can, but it would be nice if things we a little organized beforehand. I don’t like doing that to others so I like being prepared to make sure it’s a fun experience for everyone (beer also helps).

Try to avoid doing things at the last moment, you will be surprised at how much stuff needs to be gotten rid of.

If you are in an apartment building, check your contract on cleaning requirements. Sometimes, they will do it for free, but try and avoid any unexpected costs.

Send off

The move was a few days before I was scheduled to leave so that if anything came up, I wouldn’t be stuck missing a flight. So, I decided to splurge a little and spent the last night of my time in Toronto at a hotel. While a pricey decision, it really was a nice way to end my time there, in a plush bed with no responsibilities (for a few hours at least).

It doesn’t need to be a hotel, maybe it’s a beautiful meal at a nice restaurant. Whatever you do, it’s a nice way to mark the occasion. Big moments shouldn’t be just another day of your life.

Now in Vancouver, my things have all arrived safely and I am very thankful. Although I am glad about tip 7, my boxes were a little banged up but unharmed.

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