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If you think about it, moving is a lot like going to the dentist. You want to do it as little as possible, and when you have to do it, you want it done quickly, cheaply, and with as little disturbance or additional work as possible. Fortunately for most homeowners in Canada, there is a sea of moving companies to choose from that are just a phone call away. Unfortunately, a lot of these companies don’t always have their customer’s best interests in mind. Many are simply after earning a quick profit, without much regard for the consequences or quality of the moving services they provide. What’s worse, a lot of these moving companies keep doing business and preying on unsuspecting homeowners over and over again, for years.
It is no wonder then, that the moving industry makes the Top 10 complained-about services on the Better Business Bureau every year. That’s why in our blogs we want to highlight the useful information you should know and expose the icebergs you should steer clear from when it comes to moving from one home to another. Look out for future posts that will go deeper into the finer points of residential moving, but if you read nothing else, familiarize yourself with these main ideas and facts you should know about moving in Canada.
Check out this Industry Canada checklist for preparing your move.
Should you hire a mover?
Before thinking of anything else after deciding to move, consider whether you actually need to hire a moving company. This will determine how much time, money, and resources you need to contribute to your move.
The amount and size of your furniture and personal belongings will usually determine your decision. But make sure you are realistic in your planning. For example, it is often possible to move a small one-bedroom apartment with just two people in a couple of hours, but the time to pack and organize everything for the move may require an additional day or two of preparation. In this case you may find it faster to just pay someone to do it for you without taking time away from work.
Another reason you may want to hire a professional mover is if any of your furniture or personal assets require extra care and attention when handled. Most people can package fragile china and dinnerware securely, but things like pianos, sculptures, or artwork often require special know-how to get it from point A to point B safely, so work like that is best left to the professionals. Professional movers will also bring plenty of tarps and packaging material and ensure everything is wrapped securely, meaning you don’t have to spend time or money scavenging for moving supplies. Another obvious benefit of a moving company is that they have their own truck and handle the driving and all the insurance associated with transporting your stuff; something you would be paying for out of pocket if you are to move yourself.
If you have a lot of spare time, energy, and possibly a few friends or family members that can help, you can pull off a move into a new place. But even moving yourself requires expenses that can quickly add up. Depending on the size of your new home and the amount of stuff you need moved, hiring a moving company may be well worth the time and effort you can instead put into doing something else.
How much does moving cost?
Of course, the cost of moving is a big deciding factor in whether to hire a moving company at all and which one to go with in the end.
When it comes to charges, long-distance moves (beyond 50km, depending on the company) are based on weight and distance, while local moves are priced on an hourly rate. If you have a lot of stuff, your local move may also require additional movers, which adds to the overall cost.
A good hourly rate for two movers and a truck in Canada is between $89 and $149, depending on the city you live in. For example, in Toronto the hourly rates range between $89 and $119, while a moving company in Calgary costs between $109 and $149 for the same service.
An additional helper usually costs $45-$60 an hour
When it comes to long distance moves, a good rate is between $0.5 and $0.7 per pound.
Always be sure to clarify how much the company charges for a residential move, and what exactly it considers as “local” and “long-distance” moves. As with anything else, when picking a moving company don’t make the price the only deciding factor. You usually get what you pay for and if it seems too cheap to be good, then it probably isn’t right.
Beware of extremely low quotes as they are often used to seal the deal only for the mover to come back and jack the price up, or worse, hold your stuff hostage until you agree to pay more.
The final price for your move, just like the quote for it, should be provided to you in written form, so there are no disputes on the day of the move and the company doesn’t start changing their mind and your price.
As a good practice, don’t pay everything upfront. Most moving companies in Canada charge around a 10% deposit, or full invoiced amount upon the truck’s arrival at the new place. The key here is that the invoice is provided to you in written form prior to the move. No verbal agreements!
Check out this handy interactive checklist to prepare you for your move.
When is the cheapest time to move?
Homeowners rarely get a lot of flexibility when it comes to moving dates. Just like in any other industry, peak times exist in the moving business as well. Statistically, majority of the moves happen between May and September. First and last day of the month, weekends, and holidays are also very busy for moving companies and rates can increase by as much as 20%.
Don’t leave booking a mover until the last minute or even the week of. Many websites recommend booking a moving company at least 4-6 weeks prior to the move. Depending when you find out your move-in date you should already have done some research and have a rough idea of a couple local companies.
How to pick a moving company?
The efficiency and cost of your move will depend almost entirely on the company you decide to go with. And like we mentioned above, moving is one of the top ten complained about businesses in the Better Business Bureau registry. Why is that? This is partially because, in Canada, no specific government agency exists to regulate the industry and set quality standards for moving businesses. This is why there are still many fly by night moving companies doing pretty much whatever they want.
Check out this Global News video to avoid getting scammed by moving companies:
So how do you avoid picking a bad moving company? One of the biggest mistakes homeowners in Canada make is not taking the time to check out or do research on the prospective moving company. Here are some absolute must-haves for the companies you consider:
- Make sure the company meets the criteria under the Good Practice Guidelines for Canadian Movers. The guidelines are the closest thing to an official document in Canada that governs how a moving business should operate.
- Does the moving company belong to the Canadian Association of Movers? The association represents many top-rated moving companies. But keep in mind, membership in the CAM is not mandatory, and doesn’t necessary mean a company is good or bad.
- Is the company registered with the provincial Workers Compensation Board? This is almost a standard for any trades or laborers in Canada today. Being in good standing with the WCB means the company’s employees are covered and protected while working at your home. Many shady moving companies will not go the length to register their business with the WCB.
- Does the company offer Replacement Value Protection, and for how much? The RVP often adds to the cost of the move but offers much higher reimbursement on your personal belonging if something goes wrong during the move. Even if you don’t opt in for the Replacement Value Protection it’s a good sign if a company offers this option.
- Does the moving company subcontract any of its services? This doesn’t necessarily mean the company is bad, as long as they are honest about what they do and exactly which business will handle your stuff when you move.
Remember, even bad companies will move your stuff. The question is: how carefully? The benefit of a good moving company is that you won’t be left hanging on the day of. A good moving company will provide you with a written quote and will stick to the price on the page and not increase it once the truck is loaded. Most websites recommend checking in with your moving company several times before the move, but the best companies will follow up with you and make sure you know that they haven’t forgotten about the scheduled appointment.
Traditionally, online reviews were a good indicator of how a company is doing, but more and more today businesses are stuffing their ratings with fake or assisted reviews. Most people are likely to say nothing if a job is well done because that’s what is expected. But if something wasn’t to a customer’s liking they are a lot more likely to leave a negative review. Beware companies that have perfect ratings with no negative reviews.
Consider going the old-school way and ask a couple of friends or coworkers if they can recommend someone. There is a good chance several people will recommend the same company and you can start narrowing down the selection process. After all, you should only need 3-4 good quotes before you are ready to decide on a moving company.
Check out this article from the Better Business Bureau: Seven Steps To Avoid Moving Mishaps
Getting a Moving Quote: What You Need To Know
Just like getting the right company is crucial to success of your move, getting the correct quote is crucial to which mover to go with, and how much you will spend. The quote may also act as a binding document and together with the contract act as a reference if any disputes between you and the company arise.
The first main rule of getting a good precise quote is to make sure the moving company actually visits your home. Try to stay away from companies who try to calculate numbers over the phone or tell you the exact size or weight of your stuff doesn’t matter.
The in-home quote appointment is a good time not only for you to get the right price, it is also an opportunity to ask some questions and try to get a better understanding of what the company is about and how they compare to or differ from the competitors.
The second main rule of getting a good quote is to get it in writing. Make sure you show the estimators all the things that need to be moved in all the rooms. Don’t forget closets, bathrooms, garages, and attics. If it’s coming to the new place, make sure you show it at the time of the quote. This will ensure you are getting one price for everything and don’t have to renegotiate with the moving company on the day of the move.
Moving Insurance: What Happens If Stuff Breaks
Hopefully, your upcoming move goes smoothly with no damages or breaks. But what if something does happen? Depending on what point in the move the damage occurred, who packed the item, and how it got damaged matters in who is ultimately responsible for the damage.
By provincial law, the company is responsible to pay out up to 60 cents per pound on all the damaged items, regardless of the type of the item, be it a high-definition TV or an IKEA chair. If you packed an item yourself, the mover may also not be responsible if it gets damaged.
This is where Replacement Value Protection offered by most moving companies can prove useful. It ensures that in the event of theft or damage you are paid a much higher premium on your replacement. For local moves, damage claims should usually be made within 30 days, and 60 days for long distance moves.
Make sure to discuss this with all the companies you get a quote from. The difference in protection policy may be the deciding factor in choosing one moving company over another.
How To Properly Pack Just About EVERYTHING In Your House
Appliances – wrap small appliances in old towels or blankets and place in boxes as much as possible.
Books – pack in small cartons. Try not to overload the box.
Canned Goods – pack upright with not too many per box. Wrap glass containers as needed.
China and/or Glassware – In boxes clearly marked “FRAGILE.” Wrap glasses and china with tissues. Pad between glasses and plates as much as possible.
Clocks – trust experts with antique clocks. Remove or secure the pendulum in regular large clocks when moving.
Clothes – make sure clothes are packed in clean containers to avoid a lot of laundry.
Drapes and Curtains – remove curtains or drapes from the rods. Fold and pack in dresser drawers.
Flammables and Combustibles – do not pack these items away to avoid unforeseen temperature changes.
Furniture – Keep furniture in the existing rooms. Don’t move all furniture into one room prior to the move.
Lamps and Lampshades – remove bulbs, and shades off the lamp. Roll up and secure the cord. Try to place lamps upright in cardboard boxes.
Medicine – keep together in small box. Take any meds with you as needed.
Microwaves – remove and wrap all loose articles inside the microwave. Tape the door shut with an X pattern to protect the glass. Label the box if necessary.
Mirrors and Paintings – make sure your mover knows about speciality items. As much as possible try to keep mirrors and paintings upright and if possible inside a box. Wrap these items individually and secure large mirrors with a strip of diagonal tape.
Plants – if possible keep plants with you, or in your personal car.
Silverware – wrap each piece in cloth or paper towel as necessary.
Stereo – Stereos can be wrapped in an old blanket and stored in a box.
TV/Video Equipment – try to pack in original boxes if possible. Wrap and pad with fabrics or Styrofoam as much as you can if using own boxes.
How To Be Ready On Moving Day
- If the moving company is charging you by the hour, you want to be as prepared as possible on the day.
- Make sure your old home AND your new home are both ready.
- Notify property managers or superintendents at any of the properties as necessary. Book elevator and parking as needed.
- Take down any pictures or frames before the movers get there.
- Throw out everything and anything that won’t be making the trip to the new place. The less stuff you have, the less there is to move.
- Label all boxes on the top and the sides for easy identification.
- Try not to over pack cardboard boxes as they can break under the weight.
- Defrost your freezer prior to the day.
- Try to finish up as much of the existing food as you can in the days prior to the move.
- When the movers arrive at your residence take a couple of minutes to walk around with them and point out things that require special attention. Make sure you communicate as much as you can and leave nothing to chance or a guess.
- For long distance moves, the Good Practice Guidelines require the mover to tag, list, and provide you with a copy of the inventory. Keep the inventory and go through it at your destination to make sure nothing changed.
- If you are moving locally, make a list of all your stuff and try to label or tag any and all boxes.
- Try to be present or have someone responsible be there for the entire move process or at the very least the loading and unloading. It’s always good to have a familiar face to negotiate with the building management or neighbours.
- If anything is not according to the inventory or you have noticed something is missing or damaged, let the mover know immediately.
- Make sure the movers have the address and know how to get to the new place, where to park, and where to load in through.
- When the truck has been loaded check all the rooms, closets, garages, attics, or storage spaces to make sure nothing has been left behind. If you can, try to cross reference your inventory and the original quote to make sure everything on both lists made it onto the truck.
- Turn off any electronics and lights before you leave your old place unless otherwise specified.
- Make sure you have returned or made arrangements to turn over any keys, parking fobs, or access cards.
- Keep all your documents, paperwork, money, and valuables as close to you at all times as you can. Same goes for personal laptops.
- Try to get to your new place before the movers arrive so you can talk to anyone from building management if necessary and supervise the unloading process.
- When you arrive and unload at your new place check both your belongings as well as the walls and floor for signs of damage. If you can, cross reference your inventory and quote again and visually check all the items that made it in the move.
- Enjoy your new home!
That last point is especially significant. After all, moving into a new place shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth. You often have enough to worry besides the move, when really all you want to do is kick back and enjoy your new space. After all, isn’t that the whole point of hiring a moving company in the first place? As you can see, if you do a little research, and know what to look for in a moving company you should have no problems picking a good one and getting your money’s worth.