Family life

Getting ready to move

Soon, you will have a new home. Get ready now so you won’t run at the last minute. Here is a checklist to guide you.

Start with… dynamite!

Don’t worry, we are not really recommending to blow everything up but we suggest to be as thorough in sorting your thing as if you did. This idea comes from Sophie Legault, residential organizer and author of the practical guide Vaincre le désordre (which means overcoming the mess). “My philosophy is blasting. I only keep what I really love. I get rid of the rest! ”If you hesitate and don’t know what to keep and what to sell, Sophie Legault suggests this exercise. “Imagine that you have an object in your hand and I try to take it. What do you do? Do you let me have it or do you hold on to it? Is it because you really like it or is it because you are insecure? This exercise helps understanding our attachment to objects and the reasons of this attachment.”


What I find truly important is to invest in good boxes. If financially possible, it is really worth it” says Mrs. Legault. A place like la Cartonnerie in Montreal sells solid boxes of all sizes, such as the ones that are good for books and other heavy objects.

  • Count about ten same and medium boxes per room.
  • Avoid big boxes that are bulky and heavy to move.
  • For bedding, use garbage bags that you will reuse later.
  • Put heavy objects in small boxes. Plus, same sized boxes are easier to stack in the truck and in the rooms where you will put them. 

Don’t wait until the week before you move to start packing up! Of course, you must keep several items around until the last minute but you can put anything that will not be used before you move in boxes.

  • Sport gear
  • Seasonal items (winter clothes and boots, Christmas and Halloween decorations, etc.)
  • Extra bedding (only keep what you need until you move)
  • Books
  • Music
  • Decorative items
  • Photos
  • Glassware for special occasions

As for books, it is the perfect opportunity to clean up your collection. Because it is very heavy and takes up a lot of space, only keep the books that you like, that you want to read again, the others will be given to a public library or a second hand bookstore.

Garage sale

When you have accumulated the objects that you will not keep, give them to a friend, to charity or have a garage sale. “I prefer “garage gifts” to garage sales because it is a bit inconceivable to ask people to pay for our junk, says Sophie Legault. Ultimately, get your items out with a pot of voluntary donations and let people decide what they want to pay for what they take. It’s nice!”

Movers or friends and family?

Sophie Legault tells people to check if they truly save money when inviting friends to help them move rather than hiring movers. With the truck rental, the time needed to move with inexperienced people, the insurance you don’t have in case of material loss or injury, meals and drinks, it may be cheaper to hire competent people who know what they are doing, who are insured and who work quickly and well.

Moreover, check in advance to find and book a moving truck or movers. There are times of high demand!

What to do when you did not sort everything beforehand?

When you move in and did not sort everything before, you have to do it as you arrive. When you do, you get the feeling that the boxes will remain there for months and you will never find the time to unpack and put everything away, which is somewhat true. “I am going to help a client clean boxes that she did not touch since she moved four years ago. It is to avoid this kind of situation that it is important to sort out gradually… beforehand!” says Sophie Legault. After, with so much to do, we are soon overwhelmed.

But if you get stuck under mountains of inessentials piled up in the basement after you moved, Sophie Legault suggests to set a goal of opening one box per week. It is not a lot, one box per week, but you will feel like you are progressing. You just have to remember the boxes that you have in the house because after a while, they blend in! I call that: hippos in the living room. Hippos are things that you push aside without seeing them, that lie in various places in the house and that we abandon out of weariness or by habit.”

Tips to succeed in moving

Color codes
Theoretically, it is a good idea but in practice, it rarely works and it gives you extra stress, both as you pack and when you move. The yellow box ends up in the living room and the blue box ends up in the basement when it should have been in the bedroom and you get all wound up because the movers did not respect your super technique. Instead, use a good marker and write “Glassware, kitchen”, you will save time unpacking.

Instead of using newspapers (that will leave your things and your hands dirty) or wrapping paper (not to environmentally friendly), use towels, tea towels and bedding to wrap your fragile items. You will save time packing.

Screws, bolts, fasteners, etc.
Use Ziploc bags for screws and other small objects that will be needed to rebuild furniture. Add a sheet of paper in every bag to identify the piece of furniture. You can also tape the plastic bag to it.

Items hard to pack
Hockey sticks, curtain poles and similar objects can be wrapped in a rug. Small items can go in a suitcase or stay in a drawer in a plastic bag that you fit back in the cupboard.

A list
Remember to prepare a list of things to do for the family and friends who will come to help. It will make it easier for them to know what to do. For example, cover windows, make the beds, place bedding in cupboards, build bookshelves and place books in them, organize bathroom products, kids toys, etc. You can always go around and pace things as you like them later. What counts is that boxes are emptied instead of staying there.

Your boxes may be useful for a friend who will also move soon. Tell him to come pick them up to avoid piling up. If you can’t pass them on to someone, bring them to the nearest eco-center instead of waiting to recycle them in front of your house.

Learn about your new schedule of waste collection, composting, recycling services so you will be ready for any eventuality.

Did you know…

… moving is the second most important source of stress after the death of a loved one? (Source : Vaincre votre désordre, Sophie Legault)
What to have on moving day
  • Cash to pay for small expenses, meals, drinks…
  • Vacuum cleaner, broom and dustpan, mop…
  • Water bottles and ice
  • String, elastics, tie-wraps, etc.
  • Markers, notepad
  • Gloves: one pair per helper, to avoid sore hands
  • Flash light
  • Tools: wrench, hammer, screwdriver, Swiss knife, pliers, tape measure
  • Toilet paper roll, paper towels
  • Scotch tape
  • Bag to store paper keys and other essentials
  • Garbage bags
  • First Aid Kit
Useful websites

Thank you Sophie Legault for the precious tips!

Image de Sonia Cosentino

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