Cheryl Alleyne
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It can take years to accumulate a home full of treasured belongings but only a matter of days to pack it all into boxes for a move. Packing up and moving require organization and planning. In fact, it can be the greatest test for a procrastinator - what seems like few belongings can take far longer and use more boxes than expected. The following tips can help keep your breakables intact, your pets safe, and make the whole process as efficient as possible.

Most people have at least a month's notice before a move. During that time, there are a number of preparations that will make the move easier including the following:

  • If you have a pet and plan to take a flight to your new home, be sure to contact the airline early for information about vaccination requirements, tranquilizers and acceptable cages. Airlines have strict rules regarding pets and it is essential to be prepared in order to avoid delays.
  • Reserve a rental truck or make arrangements with a professional moving company. Remember to check out the company with the Better Business Bureau and get all quotes in writing.
  • Check your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy to ensure your belongings are covered during the move.
  • If applicable, make travel arrangements with airlines, bus companies or car rental agencies.
  • Have a yard sale or give unneeded items to charity. Some charities will pick-up bagged or boxed items and may issue a donation receipt for tax purposes.
  • Ask your doctor and dentist for records, x-rays and prescription histories. Also be sure to get your prescriptions refilled before moving day.
  • Make a list of the companies that send you mail on a regular basis and provide them with a change of address. Arrange with the post office to have mail forwarded to your new address.
  • Take inventory of your belongings before they're packed in the event you need to file an insurance claim later. Take pictures or videotape your belongings. Record the serial numbers of electronics and cameras.
  • Cut back on grocery shopping and start using up food items you already have so there will be less to pack.
  • Notify your cable, telephone, power and water companies of your move. They can arrange to have your final bill prorated to the end of the month in order to close or transfer your account.
  • Update the address on your magazine subscriptions with your new address.
  • Start collecting boxes from grocery stores early - at the end of the month stores are usually flooded with requests for boxes.
  • If you are moving into an apartment building, be sure to reserve the elevator a few weeks in advance. The building manager will arrange a time with you when one elevator will be locked off for your use.
  • And the number one rule is…start packing early! Assign one room or corner of a room as the spot to pile boxes. Pack one or two boxes a day and pile them in the designated spot to avoid clutter and simplify moving day.
Packing Made Simple
  • It seems that no matter how hard we may try to pack them neatly, clothes always come out of boxes wrinkled. This can be a liberating phenomenon for most of us! If however, you strive for wrinkle-free clothing, try layering several items then gently roll up the pile. Rolling the clothes means there are fewer straight edges and wrinkles.
  • The best way to move computers, televisions, DVD players and other electronics is in the original boxes and packing material. The foam and plastic that came in the boxes are specifically shaped to protect items from impact.
  • When possible, pack heavy items in smaller boxes for easier carrying.
  • Use colour-coded labels to denote the contents e.g. red labels for kitchen items, blue for bathroom supplies etc. Use a permanent marker to write the contents of the box on the label.
  • Have the following items on hand: a roll of packing tape, a pair of scissors, and a permanent marker for every person participating in the move. Also have more boxes than you anticipate needing in a variety of sizes.
  • Carry all valuables with you.
  • Instead of newspaper, use clothing, towels or bedding to wrap up breakables. This way you won't waste energy and money transporting newspaper.
  • Use strong boxes such as those from the liquor store to pack dishes and pans.
  • Empty drawers in dressers and tape the drawers closed.
  • Professional moving companies can usually supply wide plastic wrap for couches and chairs prior to the move. Another alternative is to use old sheets taped in place.
  • Label boxes as fragile on all sides of the box and indicate which side is up.
Moving Day

Hopefully, if all has gone according to plan, you've completed and checked off all the items from the previous list. Theoretically, moving day should not be a packing day but it's a good idea to have an extra box handy along with tape and scissors. The following are a few other important tips:

  • If you are using professional movers, be there to watch the loading and unloading. If anything does get dropped or knocked you will know which items to inspect.
  • Examine furniture and loose items carefully before paying for the move.
  • Return keys to the landlord or arrange to provide the keys to the new owner.
  • Find out what type of payment is acceptable to the movers i.e. cash, credit or cheques.
  • Bottles of juice and water along with packaged snack foods can keep energy levels high.
  • If you plan to drive a rented moving truck, keep these tips in mind: a truck requires more time to stop than a car so never tailgate and start braking early. If you need to back into a driveway have someone direct you from behind the truck. Know the height of the truck before hitting the road - it can be hard to estimate the height when approaching an overpass at 80 km an hour.

A well-organized and planned move can greatly reduce the stress involved in packing up and transporting a lifetime of belongings. A successful move can also be a wonderful way to start life in your new home.

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