the hidden cost of moving

It’s no secret that moving costs a lot of money- between coughing up first and last rent, renting a truck and re-decorating your new digs, it seems like your landlord should be the one that’s paying you to live there.

Unfortunately I’ve found (after having a million moves underneath my belt) that there are all sorts of other hidden costs associated with moving that you might not be aware of…or forget about until it’s too late. I’ve listed them here so they don’t end up sneaking up on you.

1) Boxes. We all need them right? But if you don’t pack smartly, or you’re doing things at the last minute, it can be easy to fork out a hundred dollars or so to find some way to move all of your stuff. Instead, solicit donations from friends, neighbors and family members who have moved recently. Lots of people will also free cycle their old boxes on sites like Craigslist or Kijiji. Moving companies such as uHaul offer cheap box recycling programs. Clean, sturdy boxes can also be found on recycling day in front of businesses such as clothing boutiques, stationary stores or pharmacies. Liquor and beer store boxes are sturdy as well and are often easy to carry.

2) Change of address services. Unless you are the most organized person in the world and you remember every single person you’ve ever given your address to ever, you may want to buy Canada Post’s address forwarding services that will forward all stray mail to your new address. If this seems necessary, then make sure the cost is part of your moving budget. Remember to allot some money to change of address cards if you’d like to send those out as well. A cheap way alternative to these is to send out an email blast. Check for any services that allow you to schedule a change in address ahead of time to relieve some of the stress of changing it everywhere. Remember that it sometimes takes a couple of business days to take full effect and magazine subscriptions can take 6-8 weeks.

3) Installations. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in all the details of planning all your new services without remembering that installation fees are often required. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do about these changes, so make sure you speak with your cable, phone and Internet providers to schedule these service changes ahead of time and find out how much the change of address is going to cost you.

4) Food. This seems like an odd one but I can’t believe the number of building managers and landlords that have told me that they had to throw out all of the food a rushed tenant has left behind. Things that aren’t used often such as pantry staples and condiments can often be forgotten when concentrating on moving all the perishables. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to leave them for the next person to deal with, but it can end up costing you hundreds of dollars to replace. Same goes for opting to throw out all the food in your fridge rather then bring it along with you. Avoid this by eating as many perishables and using up as many pantry staples as possible to avoid large amounts of grocery shopping right before your move. It may result on some “creative” meals or many nights of take-out but it’s worth it for the hundreds of dollars you’ll prevent from being tossed in the compost.

5) Damages. If you’re moving out of a rental place it’s always a good idea to deal with any small repairs before you leave to avoid your old landlords hunting you down for money to paint over that black living room you left for the next tenant, or replacing the screen on your balcony door. Double-check your lease to see exactly what they will hold you responsible for. Conversely, make sure you fill out a damage sport within 48 hours of moving into a rental to make sure any necessary repairs are reported to the landlord so they can take care of them instead of paying out of your own pocket.

Remember to watch out too for those nasty small costs that can creep up and blow a tight budget such as fast food, gas money and packing supplies such as packing tape, permanent markers and bubble wrap. And of course, don’t forget to set aside some money for that two-four for all of your good friends that helped you out!

Did you end up emptying your pockets for a surprise problem when you were moving? Share the love and warn us beforehand at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com!

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so you’re moving…now what?

Doesn’t that sound like some sort of bad eighties self-help movies? Or one of those outdated ones you used to watch in health class?

I would love to make a really bad eighties-themed movie about learning how to move considering I’ve moved so many times over the past few years. I have heard (and experienced) too many moving horror stories to hold back any of my advice any longer. So now I’m imparting that knowledge onto you, dear Twenties Project readers because even though you’ve made the decision to move, and it seems like the actual day is far-off, it’s still going to come sooner than you think it is. Here are my tips for getting prepared:

1) Look for boxes now. I know you think you’re going to be able to magically find them when you do the majority of your packing but unless you work at a box factory, you may not. Search Craiglist or Kijiji for people looking to free-cycle their old moving boxes or post an ad on there yourself. Ask at local stores to take a few boxes to alleviate their work on recycling day. (Clothing stores and liquor stores have sturdy clean boxes; just remember to go on a weekday and not on the weekend, when it’s usually busier.) Remember, it’s always better to have more boxes than you think you need. Moving companies and  professional storage facilities also usually carry a selection of moving supplies if you’re willing to shell out more money.

2) Pay attention to your mail. But you always do that, right? Pay closer attention now and start making a list of all the mailing addresses you’re going to need to change. Keep in mind that some changes will take longer to process than others. A change of address at a bank may go through more or less right away. A magazine subscription will usually take 4-6 weeks.

3) Stop thinking about the where, and think about the HOW. It’s better to realize that you need to rent a truck now than on moving day when you realize your desk isn’t going to fit into your cousin’s van. Make sure you take note of rates, times and distances. Be realistic on the size of the vehicle you’re going to need and the time the move is going to take. I know the urge is to skimp and save your pennies, but you’ll end up regretting it if the van is too small or your move takes three hours instead of one.

4) Start cleaning! “Why would I clean when I should be packing?” you say. I always recommend doing a clean and purge of your stuff before moving simply because when you do start packing, you’re going to realize how much stuff you actually own. And unless all your possessions fit into a piece of cloth that can be tied onto the end of a stick, you’re probably going to want to go through some of these things now instead of moving them and realizing when you unpack that you don’t want them anymore. Don’t know where to start? Check out my post here on how to clean out your closet.

5) It’s not just about the boxes. Start thinking about the other packing supplies you’re going to need and get them now before you realize in the middle of packing that your only Sharpie is dryer than the Sahara. My list of supplies always includes: packing tape (duh), Sharpies (get more than one; you’ll find they have a way of migrating around your house), newspapers, bubble wrap, Ziploc bags or containers (good for corralling small items) and masking tape or painter’s tape (to hold together things like larger vases, glass tabletops, mirrors, etc.)

Am I anal retentive? Oh yeah. But will you thank me later? Yes. It may seem like pointless organization now, but when it comes to crunch time, you’ll be grateful that you planned these things ahead of time so you can be more concerned with figuring out how to pack that lamp instead of figuring out how to get your sofa into your Dad’s sedan.

It is my honor to impart this knowledge on you. Because knowing is half the battle.

(And if you don’t get that eighties reference, then I am totally dating myself as mid-twenties.  Ooops!)

Love, B (the G.I. Joe of moving)

Think you’ve moved more times than B in the past few years? (Bet you haven’t!) Prove her wrong by contacting us at thetwentiesproject@gmail.com and share your moving wisdom.