• Ali

Big Lessons I Have Learned From Three Big Moves.


We move a lot. I moved to Guelph, Ontario from my hometown when I was 18. I finished my undergrad and moved to BC with my boyfriend. It was a simpler time back then. We packed up a u-haul trailer and drove our two cars across a large part of our large country stopping at night to sleep in one of our cars. It was an exciting and sometimes creepy experience. We spent some nights in beautiful landscapes and others in isolated parking lots.


I lived on the land on the left side of this picture near the shore, aka downtown. BC is pretty.

We met with friends when we got there and our apartment became available about 10 days later. We signed a lease and paid a damage deposit before even seeing the place. We were lucky it was nice and not a dive or a scam (NEVER pay anything for a place that you cannot prove is owned by the landlord ahead of time).

Lessons from my first big move:

  • Look at a place before you pay/sign anything. I got lucky this time but there are so many scams out there.

  • If you book with uhaul, bring a copy of your quote with you to pick up the trailer. They quoted us one price and the price was much higher when we went to pick it up. I think uhaul paid us some money to compensate after but I don't remember. They changed the pick up location on us first which was also a pain.

A year later we moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia so my husband could go to school. We drove both cars completely across the country but this time we hired movers to move our stuff. We choose the wrong movers. They didn't show up on the day we had booked to move out. They showed up the next day at 5:00 pm, the day our lease ended at 12:00 pm. We had to move our possessions into the hallway as the unit needed to be vacated. It was a headache but we got our stuff loaded and we drove out. 3 months later we got our stuff delivered. Not sure why it took so long but I was starting to think they had lost all of our possessions.


Walked by a scene like this everyday.

Lessons from my second big move:

  • It's a damn good thing we packed all our boxes instead of relying on them to do so. There was no time for that.

  • Never go with the cheap guys. Big names from now on. I will never deal with Qwest again. Some smaller companies have been known to demand more money on the move day or the delivery day. Ours did not but it could be a few hundred or a few thousand more.

  • Move things a few days before the end of the lease, not one day before, just in case.

  • Complain to the company about their bad service, they gave us a discount after the fact. The really shady companies wont do this however.

After Halifax, we moved to Toronto so I could go to school. My boyfriend had become my husband and we had a 3 month old. A baby to consider means we had to be more careful so we did things a little differently. We actually flew to Toronto and looked at rental places. My husband did most of the work as I came down with food poisoning. The units were all way more expensive and so much crappier than what we had in Halifax. Just so, so much crappier. We learned quickly that downtown was not an option for us price wise so we ended up in the North York area. After seeing a lot of places we settled on a very nice apartment in what appeared to be a pretty classy building... Nope.

It was a slum. We did not get to see our finished unit because they were working on it so we saw the staged show suite. The two were not the same. When we got to our suite we found it very dirty. We had to take the cupboard doors down to clean them. The floors were scratched, the walls were lumpy, the electrical was faulty, the landlords were trying to pin damage on us before we got there.

Over the 2 years we were there we came home to water damage trice. One time, the landlords put a large hole in the wall to investigate the damage and they left it there ... for several months. No matter what we did we could not convince these people to fix the hole. Cockroaches came in through the hole and our place was infested. We moved, because, gross, that's why. I didn't feel safe letting my child play in that apartment so it was time to go.

The process of moving to this apartment was easy. We hired a moving company subcontracted through either Atlas or Allied, not sure which. They gave us free used boxes to pack and they broke nothing.

Lessons from my third big move

  • Don't look at the show suite. Just don't even bother. If they can't show you the real deal it's time to run. Even if they offer to show you both, show suites play with your emotions giving you a weird hope of what might be. They are used to emotionally manipulate you.

  • Did you know if the landlord refuses to fix things, there are fancy legal things you can do to hold the rent ransom or have them charged. I don't know the deet's (I'm no lawyer, I'm just married to one), but the tenancy board can help anyone navigate this stuff. DON'T SUFFER! YOU HAVE RIGHTS BABY!

  • Sometimes all the prep work in the world will still leave you swindled. People prey on young couples.

  • Big name or bust. The big name movers were great, professional, organized and they got our stuff to us fast.

I moved down the street to a townhouse that cost pretty much the same as the slumpartment. It was bigger, beautiful, maintained, had staff that cared. It's been great. My favorite part is the neighbors. We share a backyard, socialize, our kids play together, its perfect. A real community. Its easier to find an amazing place when you are living in the area.

Our current house is great but our lifestyles are hampered by Toronto. My husband spends over 2 hours a day commuting which he can't keep up. We feel like there is not much for families to do here unless you are happy to pay a whole lot of money for a few hours entertainment + $20 in parking. My profession has a greater scope of practice in BC and typically makes more money. My respiratory issues are bad here and my son and husband are starting to show signs of trouble as well. There is a stress culture here that is expressed in some capacity almost everywhere we go. This lifestyle just doesn't match the lifestyle that we want long term.


I predict I will be taking a lot of pictures when I'm in Kelowna. Took this one hiking. There is a waterfall in the bottom of the canyon.

So we are high tailing it out of here back to BC. We already have a lease (after seeing the place first of course) and we are in the process of obtaining quotes from the top 4 large scale moving companies. I hope I don't make a bunch of mistakes to learn from this time around :)



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Kelowna, British Columbia |  Allison.e.mcmillan@gmail.com

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