What to expect when you’re expecting to move – my moving survival tips

What to expect when you’re expecting to move – my moving survival tips

According to multiple studies over the years, moving is “right up there” with life’s major stress events.

I can certainly attest to that based on our recent move.

To help cope with the stress, like most things in life, there are some benefits to planning ahead.

At their core, plans will help you identify:

  • What you expect to happen,
  • What you think might happen,
  • What you don’t know about (and build-in contingencies to deal with the unknowns).

To help you plan, to help you prepare with what to expect when you’re expecting to move, read on below for my survival guide based on my recent experiences.

Pack well, hire a moving company

I’m no longer in my mid-20s and my friends don’t have backs that can hold up like they used to in their mid-20s.

So, my advice to you is consider hiring a moving company for any major move – including from a single-family home to a condo like we recently did.


Home June 8, 2019



Image of condo building – image courtesy of Domicile.

Our budget (to pay for moving costs, for roughly a 2-bedroom home in Ottawa (to a downtown, 1,200 sq. ft. condo)) was $1,500.  We came in under budget.  Here some tips to help you stay within your moving budget:

  • Get a detailed quote before you sign any contract. This way, you know what you’re dealing with!  Ask about number of movers, time commitment and weight of move.
  • Compare at least 2-3 moving companies before signing on the dotted line. All moving companies are not created equal!
  • Ask your insurance company if your home insurance covers loss or damage while moving. This way, you don’t have to pay for any moving insurance coverage.  (Ours had this coverage.)
  • Hire a moving company that offers free or included boxes. This includes any mirror boxes or wardrobe boxes to help facilitate the move of goods and valuables.  It will avoid you buying totes or other containers as supplies.
  • Use wrapping paper to pack your valuables in said boxes. It’s better than plastic; better than bubble wrap, you can recycle it (like the boxes) and it weighs next to nothing.  Get your wrapping paper at the dollar store – it’s super cheap there!
  • Label all your boxes with your valuables. Put “Fragile – dishes – kitchen” or other labels on them with green painters’ tape.  This way, if you change your mind with the contents, you can easily update the label!
  • Use multiple smaller boxes vs. many larger boxes to the extent possible. They are easier to pack, easier to lift, can be stacked in the moving truck with ease to be strapped in, and in doing all the above, you’ll limit the chances something may break during your move (since items in smaller boxes are typically packed more closely together).

Make a list and check it twice (or more)!

Thanks to my wife’s efforts – we were organized!

Here is a screenshot from one of our pre-move checklists:

Moving Checklist

Not a fan of Excel or cloud-based spreadsheets?  No problem.

Write out your checklist items with an old-school pen and paper or use one of the gazillion list-apps to help you with your lists.  Any good list will do.

Lower your expectations

Buying a new home or condo has it’s perks for sure.  You can pick out your flooring, wall colour, kitchen cabinets, and much more.

The downside?

Things can and will be installed wrong; things may not be done yet when you move in; things may be damaged during installation and re-work may ensue.

For example, one of our windows was cracked at the time of our new condo Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI). That was over 6 weeks ago now.  $hit happens…

To help your mindset, consider setting modest expectations.  I should have done that more!

Sure, you want things to be perfect (and so did I when we took possession of the condo unit in June this year) but we don’t live or work in a perfect world. Expect things to happen and roll with it.

Save some money (and double it)!

New home or condo costs are not cheap.  There are things you probably didn’t think of and need; things you might want to part with and start anew.  In our case, some older furniture would not fit (in your new place).  Some items you won’t use in your new space.  Downsizing has benefits.  It really forces you to consider what’s important.  The reality is:  you don’t need that much stuff…

Use Kijiji to sell used goods.  This way, you make some money back AND reduce your environmental waste.

Donate clothing and other gently used goods to folks in need, including shelters. I must have made at least 3 full carload trips to the Ottawa Mission this spring (a men’s shelter here in Ottawa).

Gift any used goods or supplies to family and friends who might use them.

Pretty much do anything to avoid throwing out “stuff” at all costs. Our environment will thank you.

When all that’s done – when in doubt, double the time (it takes to get new stuff ordered for your new place) and double the cost.

Here is a short-list of items we’ve purchased or will be purchasing for our new condo:

  • New sectional sofa (the old sectional wouldn’t fit here so we sold the other one)
  • New light fixtures (beyond LED pot lights installed in condo unit)
  • New gas BBQ for terrace (old one stayed with the house we sold)
  • New window treatments (new condo doesn’t come with those)
  • Bar stools (we sold the old bar stools on Kijiji)
  • And more and more…

New wants add up.  In hindsight we should have budgeted better, especially for the window treatments.  Alas, live and learn.


You should expect moving and getting settled in any new place will likely take more time and money than you thought. You should expect some things to go amiss with any move.  Finally, you should probably try and plan ahead as much as you can to help you deal with your know-knowns and some of the unknowns that will probably come your way.  This way, you can have better expectations in mind about expecting to move – and survive it all!

What are your thoughts on moving?  How do you cope?  Do you enjoy it?  What did you do to budget for any needs or wants? 

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

18 Responses to "What to expect when you’re expecting to move – my moving survival tips"

  1. Great check list and moving review. This information could help those having to go through a move. You’re always learning and debriefing on this forum for the benefit of readers. Well done. We did the same – cleaning after leaving our last homes. They were immaculate for the new owners.

    We’ve been through 5 moves as a couple. 4 of those times we were moving to a home that wasn’t ready or to a temporary apartment, or house sitting for a couple of months, and this added many complications and stress. For our next move maybe the 2.5 x 8 cozy box will be it.

    My biggest concern is with my folks and a potential massive move that I suspect I may need to largely ochestrate at some future point.

    1. Always learning for sure! I enjoy that and the blog is a good outlet and forum for me to express my thoughts and also learn from others.

      Yes, parents moving is a big deal too! Hope this post might help someday?!

  2. Hi Mark, We used to move every 3-4 years so we got pretty good at moving. I would only add two things to your list. One is to do an inventory of your house contents as boxes do get lost. We also got a recommended, very reasonable cleaning company from the movers that come in right after everything is moved out. They made a hugh difference as your focus is on the new place.

    1. Good points and additions. I suppose we could have cleaned our former house after movers finished, but we went back and spent a solid 3-4 hours cleaning up after that. I hope the new owners appreciated that since I know what it’s like to move and not enter a dirty home 🙂

      All the best.

  3. I considered downsizing last year but I would have to deal with all of the stuff in my house so I decided to stay. Adult children need to start taking their stuff with them so I have less to deal with. Every time I see them I am going to give them a box.

    1. I hear ya Beth. My parents basically said many years ago “here you go” with lots of boxes. I still have some mementos but I’ve purges many of them.

  4. I moved 5 times in 6 years and vowed that I would die in this house, lol. These were moves across Canada and overseas, with 3 kids. So very substantial moves each time. Prior to that, not counting apartment moves, because those are easy, I had done a couple of long distance moves. Gosh, I envied people whose employers paid for the moves and packing, we never received any compensation.

    After the 5 times I was extremely good at packing! It is a lot of work when you are also taking care of 3 young ones, one of the earlier moves I was pregnant and that was very tiring. The cost of packing paper varies a lot according to the market price, but it is worth it to not use newsprint which is so dirty. Boxes are extremely expensive as well, so best to ask for used ones from a company if possible. We kept all the used ones in our attic space, the ones from overseas were especially good quality and we just pulled some of them out to send items to our son in university.

    Yes, window coverings are extremely expensive. I have always made my own drapes and was shocked one time watching a late night commercial which advertised the cost of something similar to what I had made. Nowadays fabric stores are almost non existent and you have to purchase online.

    Although we got rid of so much stuff when we moved across Canada into this area, the kids were still kids, so had to keep most kid stuff, but not toddler and baby stuff. But things just pile up.

    1. Can’t imagine moving with 3 kids – I’d go bonkers. 🙂

      Our condo windows are massive (good problem to have) so we’ll need lots of fabric for roller shades. Five of those will cost thousands but it should look amazing and be very functional. Ah well, it’s just money.

      1. Mark, the windows in our current home are massive. The first thing we did when we moved in was to have installed the window film that blocks UV and some heat on the largest ones. It was expensive, but well worth it because UV can damage hardwood floors and furniture very quickly. Cutting the heat also meant less need for air conditioning.

        Yes, there are so many beautiful blinds and such available, if you haven’t priced them before it can be shocking. The windows in my open plan living and dining room (2 of them) are each 10 feet high and about 8.5 feet wide. Figuring out the coverings wasn’t easy due to their placement and size. A normal drapery pole couldn’t work as the span was too long. I had to use metal pipe and give it a treatment to make it look like wood. I am still happy with my choice, so it worked out well

        1. Thanks Barbara. We went with roller shades for each of the 7′ x 8′ windows in the unit (x4 of them). We have a nice view of the city so we didn’t want to block that. Direct sunlight is really only an issue for us from May – September given we face north-west. Otherwise, lots of light to the unit and it will be largely indirect from September – early May.

          They are expensive though!

  5. All my moves in the past have been organized, coordinated and paid for by my employer. Our move from Thompson in ’94 took a complete moving trailer! As a result, I still have boxes of *stuff* from 1985 in the hayloft/attic of the garage/barn. I know there is a Tandy 1000SX complete computer, an RCA disc player complete with a couple of dozen discs and hundreds of other good *stuff* things. My next move is likely going to be to a cozy little 2.5 X 8. There is going to be one heck of a garage sale. 😉

    1. Sounds like you still have places to store stuff! We definitely don’t so we needed to be ruthless with old goods and things.

      Hopefully you have a very long time ahead before your next “move”!

      Best wishes,

  6. Great checklist! We have never hired a moving company… for the past few times we had to move, we just asked friends to help and give them beer and pizza at end of the move. 🙂

  7. Another place to donate cloths is your local hospital. The better half works in a city hospital, and they always require clothing. Check with your health authority in advance.


  8. Nice checklist Mark.
    We’ve moved several times over the years and it’s only been the last one which was very different. That was moving into a condo. At our age we assumed it was time to downsize and really cleaned house. We gave away or sold probably half of what we owned. Here is is 4 years later and our two storage bins are still full and probably only 10% of the items are things we wanted. It’s still hard to think about getting rid of the rest but, at some point I’ll have to just do it.
    Then there are about 50 things I wish I’d kept. I’ve had to buy replacements or borrow from others.
    In the end we don’t regret the move or downsizing. Life has been easier and the minor complaints about condo life are to be expected.

    1. Yes, we figured a condo would be right for us longer-term given how we want to live in the coming years. We still have more to purge, more to donate, more to giveaway but that will occur over time!

      Complaints and issues in a condo are to be expected and I need to acclimatize for that.

      Thanks for your comment,


Post Comment