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Some questions and answers about moving

Driving across the country, should I book hotels in advance?

In general, it is hard to know precisely how far you will travel in a day. If you drive in the winter, for example, a potential snowstorm on the second day could delay your whole itinerary. On the other hand, you might realize along the way that on the Prairies the sun is up past 11pm during the summer and you can drive a lot longer than you expected. If you are on a tight schedule or are simply not interested in sightseeing, my advice is to benchmark some hotels/motels, but it is not necessary, maybe even better not to book anything in advance. Generally, you will find accommodations in every little town on the way, although not every town may have choices to match your exact taste. That said, you should plan an approximate itinerary before you leave; have an idea of which towns you will be staying in. If moving during the high season, contact a few accommodations while planning and ask how busy they are; it’s an easy way to avoid surprises.

How long can I drive in a day?

This really depends on you. Some people draw the line after 5 hours on the road. But I think that anywhere between 10 to 14 hours is reasonable. This will also vary on the driving conditions. Plan for less and drive longer.

What’s the best way to navigate?

Do NOT rely on your 3G smartphone! Get a map or an offline GPS. Between major towns, it is more than probable that your cellular service will be down, especially when you most need it!

Can I break my lease?

Yes, but it has to be a mutual agreement between the tenant and landlord. That said, in most cases, if you want or need to move early, you can choose to find a new tenant for your apartment and sub-let it until the end of your lease. Basically, you will be posting an ad on Kijiji or similar classified service and conducting the interviews on behalf of your landlord. By the way, your landlord also needs to agree to the new tenant.

How cold is it really in Alberta during the winter?

Lake Louise
Lake Louise, Alberta

So this might be a little off topic but I wanted to share a personal experience related to moving.

I lived in Edmonton during the 2014/2015 winter season. I had heard the worst; every Albertan was pleased to brag about how cold and dry it gets during the winter. They mentioned time after time that I would be missing my easy “Quebec” cold and that I would avoid leaving my apartment at all costs. For my part, I thought I was prepared. I had sharpened my skates and brought my -30 Celsius winter jacket with me. I was ready to get my beard frozen and wear a second pair of socks to go to work.

Ironically, my problem was that I did not own a mild weather jacket. Following a rough week in early September and a relatively substantial snowstorm, the winter averaged around 0 Celsius, reaching +10 Celsius for a full week in February. Not to mention that the driving ranges opened in March. Alberta, you’re getting soft, I guess!

As a student, should I change my address every time I move?

As a student, you have the right to keep your address at your parents’ residence even if you live in an apartment or college/university residence. If you have this opportunity, it is a great temporary solution. However, if you study far away from the family nest, you might find it annoying when important mail such as replacement credit cards, insurance and registration papers, voting documents and paper bills (if you still use those) are mailed to your parents rather than directly to you.

Alternatively, you can change your address each time you move, but there are a few things you need to know. First, make a list. After a little while in your new apartment, you will notice that you receive lots of mail intended for previous tenants. To avoid this happening with your own mail, it is important that you keep track of all the new accounts you open and which address you link them to. This can get out of hand pretty quickly if you do not pay attention.

Moving across the country, is it faster to drive through the United States?

In general, the speed limit will be more permissive in the United States. The distance will also be longer. Your best bet is to google it (yes, google takes the speed limit into consideration). Add a few hours for the time – and possible inconvenience – you spend at the borders and the traffic if you pass through larger metropolitan areas. If you do cross the border, be sure to bring documents that explain why you are moving such as a lease, a work contract, etc. Also, check if the specific border crossing you will go through is open at night. In the end, why not? Make a few vacation stops on the way and profit from cheaper gas!

Map of a roadtrip
Google Map

What are the most popular moving scams?

If you are planning to work with a moving company to load, transport and unload your belongings, you should read this one. There have been a number of moving scams in the past – so many that full websites have been dedicated to helping prevent people from getting scammed. (Read movingscams.com.) If you are using a moving company, beware of online and over-the-phone estimates. These estimates are not final and are usually lower than what will appear on your bill.

In the worst case scenario, the fraudulent company will load the truck and take to the road. Before showing up at your new residence, they will contact you to inform you that the weight of the goods was heavier than expected and increase the price, sometimes double it. The scammers will then hold your boxes and furniture hostage until you agree to pay the difference.

Beware of companies who have surprisingly low estimates. Look into a company before you accept their bid – there are tons of reviews online. Visit the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) and check the moving company’s record. If you can, get recommendations from friends and family.

Should I tip the moving crew?

As with anything, a tip should be earned. That said, tipping does apply to movers. I have found that people often wonder how much to tip. A good tip averages $5 per hour per mover. If you have four guys moving boxes and furniture, respectfully and without any damage for four hours, an $80 tip to split between the guys is appropriate.

Don’ts: Never give alcohol to workers. You are liable if an accident happens, even if it is later the same day.

Dos: Prepare water bottles, Gatorade and light snacks for the workers, especially if the move is expected to be a few hours. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and it will help your move go extra well.

À bientôt!