It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since we made the big move from Quebec to Alberta. I had almost a year to pre-plan the big move before our home finally sold. When it did sell everything seemed to hit a fever pitch as we raced to line everything up. From movers to mail nothing could be finalized until I had that closing date. Luckily everything worked out, even though we hit a few bumps along the way.
These are my tips for minimizing the stress that comes along with any big relocation.
Find the Right Moving Company: Do your research, and get quotes ahead of time. You won’t always know in advance about a relocation, but if you do have some lead time it pays to check this off your to do list early in the game. Take advantage of free estimates, research various DIY options, and look up company ratings online. Ask your friends, and coworkers for recommendations and listen to your gut feelings too. Finding a moving company that offered good rates, comprehensive insurance, and that didn’t leave me feeling pressured or uneasy was a lot harder than I expected. It took a few tries to find one that offered all the things I was looking for.
Get to Know Your New Town: If you aren’t able to visit your new home before moving sit down with the family and Google it. Things you may want to look up are:
Festivals and annual events
- Recreation centers
- Shopping centers
- Bus Routes
- Crime rates in potential Neighborhoods
Knowing a little about the neighborhoods, their amenities, and travel times to and from work/school will help you choose the best spot to relocate within the city.
Rent or Buy? We seriously considered renting for the first year that we were in our new city. We figured it would give us time to get to know the feel of different neighborhoods, and find the right home. There are pluses and negatives to this though – sure we would have more time to look for a home, but it would have meant moving a second time, and possibly having to change the kid’s school as well. With such a big move we wanted to make it as easy on the kids, and ourselves, as possible. Take the time to discuss these issues as a family.
If You are Buying, Find a Realtor: The right realtor will know their city and be able to find a home with the features you are looking for in a neighborhood that fits your family. They will also help you get all the paperwork in order and in most cases will give you a list of services and utility companies that you will need to line up before possession date. My realtor proved invaluable as I tried to find a home in 5 days in Edmonton, while my husband stayed behind with the kids in Quebec.
Talk to a Mortgage Specialist: This one is a given if you are planning to buy, but an inter-provincial, or intercontinental move has some unique challenges. A mortgage specialist will be able to outline those challenges and tell you how to solve any issues that may come up with financing your new home.
Pack it all In: Packing is probably the most time-consuming of all the challenges and is best done as early as possible.
- Relocating is expensive so only move what needs to go. Some larger items cost more to move than they would to re-buy on the other end, especially if you buy used.
- Separate your items into piles of keep, sell and donate. Once you’ve done that pack up the items that you won’t need, like books, nick-nacks and seasonal items right away.
- You can also pack up your kitchen earlier than you think. Keep aside a few key things so you can still cook, but items that only get pulled out once in a while can be packed away. Keep one or two boxes labeled Kitchen essentials and pack those the last day or two. Then you have everything you need on the other end ready to go as well.
- Have a central bag or box for important papers and documents. If you are selling your current home you will need things like utility bills, land surveys, and receipts for recent renovations. You will also need your kids most recent report card, medical history (if there are ongoing conditions), vaccination records for you and your pets, birth certificates, passports, and a book of blank cheques.
- Decide what needs to go with you, and what can go on the moving truck. If you are driving to your new home you have a little more leeway with this one. Plants, and pets can go with you. If you are flying then you will need to re-home any plants and book transportation for your pet.
- Pack one or two boxes or suitcases with those items that you can’t be without. Typically it’s a one to two-week wait for your movers to get everything to you.
- Once you are on the other side plan to stay with someone, or rent a hotel suite until everything arrives. We didn’t want to put family out any longer than necessary, so we pre-purchased new mattresses, and appliances in Quebec, and had them delivered to our new home in Alberta the day after we arrived. This meant that we could live in our house, albeit sparsely, until the rest of our possessions arrived.
Moving is challenging emotionally as well as physically. Take time to talk everything out and make sure that all parties involved, especially kids, feel like they have some say in what happens. It will be a big change, but an exciting one. I’d love to hear your tips for making a big move.
Join me tomorrow, October 27th, at 8:30 PM EST as I chat along with @RBC_Canada during the #RBCFirstHome Twitter party. Submit your home-buying questions using the hashtag #RBCFirstHome to get your questions answered by one of the many RBC experts on hand during the hour. RBC has invited a lawyer, realtor, designer, home builders, and home mortgage experts to participate as well. Just by chatting with you will have a chance to win 1 of 5 $100 gift cards. There is no RSVP, just hop onto the chat between 8:30 and 9:30.
You can also be entered to win $100 in their pre-chat promotion by visiting this link – RBC First Home October Chat.