Moving Hacks 101: What to Bring, Buy and Not to Forget

Moving Hacks 101: What to Bring When Moving to a New House | AMJ Campbell

When the time comes that you finally get to move into your new house, you don’t want to be rushing back and forth to the store running errands when you could be focused on unpacking and setting-up, or simply putting your feet up to relax and enjoy your new space. Help prevent that from happening by preparing yourself with our list of things to buy and what not to forget when moving into a new home. Depending on your current living situation, or what life stage you’re in, you may already have some of the items on this list. In that case, use it as a reminder for what to have accessible when you first arrive at your new house.

Chances are you’ll be bringing a lot of stuff with you when you move. A lifetime of stuff, you might say! Still, there will inevitably be some things you need to buy to ease the transition during the first few days at your new house.

  • A moveable curtain rod & curtains (for privacy) – this might sound odd, but if your home doesn’t have blinds or curtains installed, having a backup with a plunger-style rod can be a lifesaver for those first few mornings (facing the sun!) or for bathrooms (facing neighbours).
  • Shower curtains – speaking of bathrooms, in most cases shower curtains aren’t left behind, so if you want to take a warm shower after a long day of moving you’ll need to have these!
  • New locks – you never know how many sets of keys may be floating around, so when you buy a new house it’s a smart idea to replace or re-key the locks to ensure you have full control over who has access.
  • Different types of sorting bags – bring a few types and colours of garbage bags for sorting. Before your bins are set-up and you are accustomed to your disposal systems, it is helpful to at least have some sorting options in order to easily identify disposal amongst the array of boxes, bins and bags already coming into your new home.
  • Post It Notes – Carrying a yellow sticky pad and pen will prove more valuable than you may think. They will prove their worth helping to sort, give directions, provide reminders, flag small issues and the like as you go about your moving days.
  • Baby wipes – unscented, hypoallergenic wipes can be quick assistance for littles and bugs alike. These are often safe on other surfaces in a pinch (always read ingredients).
  • Hand sanitizer – before your soap dispensers are unpacked, keep hand sanitizer around your home and in bathrooms to keep germs away.
  • Batteries & extension cords – this will ensure that you can get everything from your smoke detectors to televisions set-up and operational right away so that you don’t have to circle back to do it later.
  • Band-Aids & a First Aid Kit – always know where these are and/or keep them in a vehicle.
  • Food & drinks – whether you want to stock your new house full of food right away is up to you, but it’s a good idea to at least have drinks (such as bottled water, coffee or tea) and snacks available to help keep hangry moods at bay. If you’re a tea or coffee drinker, don’t forget to bring the necessities you’ll need (such as a coffee press or microwave safe mug) so you can kick off your day with a warm morning hug in a mug.
  • Pack a Moving Day Bag – having essentials on hand, like you would for a day-trip, will save you rummaging through suitcases and boxes for dental floss and a razor.
  • Take photos of things! What do you need to remember about your old place? Where did you put something? Are there new street parking codes, times or signs? Having photos on-hand is an easy way to recall info and share it with friends and family who will be helping or visiting.
  • Outfit your keychain with handy on-the-go tools – mini flashlights? A Swiss army knife or fold-away mini-scissors? Tiny little best friends for weeks, we promise!

From your own experience, do you think there’s something that should be added to the list? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and let us know what you recommend people buy or bring so they’re prepared for the first few days in their new home.

 

Moving with Kids: 4 Tips to Make it Easier

moving with kids

Transition is hard for all of us, but when your child is faced with moving, it can feel like their entire world is unravelling. We’ve collected some helpful tips you can use to ease the disruption of relocation that aim to relieve anxiety for both parents and kids.

 

Give Them Ownership

Involve them in the move while maintaining a routine. Try to maintain your regular schedule for meals and bedtime to give kids a sense of familiarity. Have them take part in the planning as much as possible. This will make them feel like participants in the house-hunting process or the search for a new school and can make the change feel less like it’s being forced on them.

 

Make it Fun

Use a story to explain the move, or use toy trucks and furniture to act it out. Don’t forget to explain that good things can come from change. While travelling to the new location, get your kids to help create a road trip playlist that can be shuffled in with feel-good tunes to keep the mood positive.

 

When it comes time to unpack, get the kids to help decorate and set up the house. If arts and crafts are a favourite pastime, dig those supplies out first so each child can create a new name sign for their bedroom door. Don’t forget that kids are experts in making good use of empty boxes!

 

Be Open

Relieve anxiety by giving as much information about the move as early on as possible. Answer any questions truthfully, and be receptive to both positive and negative reactions. Even when a move means good things for the family, kids have the tendency to focus on the frightening aspects of change. Keep in mind that adjustment takes time, and be patient.

 

Create Consistency

After the move, get your child’s room set up before turning your attention to the rest of the house. This will reinforce a sense of familiarity. Also, try to maintain regularly scheduled meals and bedtime to get back into the routine.

 

A move can present many challenges, but good things also come from this type of change. Your family can grow closer and learn more about each other by going through it together.

 

If you’re seeking more tips on how to make moving simpler, make sure to check out our 5 Moving Tips That Will Make Your Life Easier blog. For more helpful homeowner and moving information, read our AMJ Campbell blog.

Using a Shipping Container Can Make Your Out-Of-Province Move Easy

shipping container

Moving is a big job, and the greater the distance you move the more challenging (and expensive) the logistics of the move can get. So much so that sometimes people decide it’s not worth the hassle to take their stuff with them, opting to sell, store or get rid of most of their belongings. However, in most cases, it’s still cost efficient to bring your belongings with you, it’s just a matter of figuring out the optimal way to do it. This is especially the case for corporate moves since the cost of replacing an entire company inventory would likely far surpass the cost of moving.

Traditionally people have seen two methods for getting their things to their next destination: taking it in a moving truck or using a shipping container. Both options have their pros and cons but between the effort and cost involved its easy for neither to feel like a particularly appealing option. What many don’t realize is that AMJ offers a third alternative: Affinity Vaults, which are a modern and reliable version of shipping containers.

What are Affinity Vaults?

Affinity Vaults are specially engineered shipping containers that store your belongings while they are transported throughout Canada, either by freight trucks or trains. Even though the Affinity Vaults are already transported in enclosed trailers or rail containers, the vaults themselves are durable, heavy-duty and water-resistant to ensure that the contents are protected from environmental elements. On the inside, furniture is padded, and boxes are strategically stacked the same way that they would be in a traditional move to ensure everything is secure and protected.

Shipping Container Dimensions

Depending on how much you are considering moving, as well as the size of your furniture, you may require multiple Affinity Vaults. The shipping container dimensions for each vault are as follows:

Exterior 87.5”L x 92”W x 100”H
Interior 84”L x 89”W x 95”H
Cubic Capacity 412 ft³
Door Opening 54”W x 85”H
Weight Per Container 2,000 lbs to 2,500 lbs
Equipment 20 pads and 2 straps per vault

Security During Transportation

Leaving your possessions (especially if it’s all your possessions) in the hands of a stranger can feel unnerving, to say the least. Affinity Vaults can help put your mind at ease during the move since each vault is loaded, sealed and locked at your home or office. The vault itself doesn’t need to be re-opened at any point during transportation, so you can have assured confidence in the safety of your belongings.

Cost of Moving Out of Province

Traditional methods of transporting your belongings have a higher tendency to incur additional expenses. If you’re driving your belongings in a moving truck, you’ll have costs such as gas, hotel stays, and food. With traditional shipping container moving the weight of your container is a determining factor in the price, which can’t be finalized until the container is loaded. Additionally, the delivery date isn’t pre-scheduled so you may find yourself purchasing in-term living essentials to tie you over until your shipment arrives. AMJ Affinity Vaults offer a firm price per vault (the weight doesn’t have an impact). Customers vault are dedicated exclusively to their belongings, and the delivery date is guaranteed.

Guaranteed Delivery Dates

While you’re getting an estimate for AMJ Affinity Vaults, you’re able to pick your guaranteed delivery date so you can assure that the shipment will arrive when it’s convenient for you and that your travel plans and possession date of your new home or office coincide with its arrival. What happens if your timelines changes and your home or office aren’t quite ready to move in? We can store your vault in a climate-controlled warehouse until you’re ready. While traditional methods for moving out-of-province can take up to one month, the transportation of Affinity Vaults takes less than half the time of a typical move (with exact timelines varying depending on the locations involved).

Check out our Affinity Vaults video for an inside look at the vaults and how they work. Think they might be a good option for your upcoming move? Reach out to an AMJ Campbell moving specialist near you for more information.

shipping container

Your 6-Week Planner: Preparing for Moving Day

6 week planner

Counting down the days to moving day? Lack of preparation is one of the main reasons a move can be a stressful occasion. Do yourself a favour by breaking down your to-do list into manageable steps with the help of AMJ’s 6-week moving planner.

 

6 weeks outs

Begin your moving efforts at least six weeks out. As soon as you know where and when you’re moving, decide on which moving company you will use. This is also the time to start purging and donating goods and clothing that you don’t need. Selling your unwanted belongings online can help decrease the amount you’ll need to move while making some extra cash if you have the time to do so. The best place to start is to begin by sorting your closets, drawers, cabinets, or any areas that may have become a collection area for clothes or belongings. Analyze what items are absolutely necessary and what items you can part with before the move.

 

A pro tip to minimizing what you move is to donate clothing you haven’t worn for more than a year.

 

5 weeks out

Create lists and delegate. Sit down with everyone in the household to determine jobs that can be tackled. Assign tasks like purchasing or collecting boxes, booking the movers, and donating old unwanted clothing and household items. Don’t forget to check in on how tasks are coming along to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

 

4 weeks out

Now is the time to rally the troops. This is your deadline for lining up and confirming who will be helping you the day of the move. If you’ve hired professional movers, you still may need helpers to help tie up loose ends. Solo homeowner shouldn’t hesitate to ask friends and family to spare some extra time to help pack, clean, or even lift boxes on the big day. Just remember to return the favour one day!

 

At this point, packing should be well underway! Set aside a space in your home to pile up sealed and marked boxes. You’d be surprised how packing a few boxes a day can help ease the burden.

 

3 weeks out

Make your travel arrangements now. Know that people, pets, and houseplants can’t be transported on the moving truck, so plan to handle relocating those on your own. Map out your travel route to avoid getting lost when time is of the essence. You may need to call your local parking authority to find out if parking permits are required for a moving truck to be on the road in your new neighbourhood.

 

And for your pets, schedule an appointment with your vet to ensure immunizations are up to date. A check up with your local doctor is also a good idea to ensure you have enough medications to get you through this busy moving period.

 

2 weeks out

Start thinking about what items you’ll need right away when you reach your new home. Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, you’ll want to pack certain essentials for your first day and night at the new home, such as a few clothing changes, sleepwear, personal toiletries, toilet paper, soap, towels, and a shower curtain. And don’t forget cherished teddies or kitchen plants that will make the first night in your new home more cozy.

 

1 week out

Time to tie up any loose ends. As you get closer to finishing packing, you’ll come across any borrowed items that need returning, such as casserole dishes, tools, books, or DVDs.

 

Take a minute to write a list of any out-of-sight-out-of-mind storage areas that may need your attention. This can include safe deposit boxes, dry cleaning, and library books.

 

3 days out

Make sure to carry your important stuff with you. This includes important documents such as passports, deed paperwork, keys, and medications. A tip would be to set aside a duffel bag, Tupperware bin, or cloth shopping bag that can zip closed to hold all of these pertinent items. Leaving them on the passenger seat of your car during moving day will ensure they won’t be left behind and can be locked for safe keeping.

 

Moving day

After a good night’s rest, dress in old but comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely and work up a sweat. Fuel up with a breakfast high in protein to keep your energy levels up.

 

When movers arrive, communicate any special instructions as needed. Before you leave your old home, do a final walk through and check for items you may have left in closets, cabinets, or drawers. Record all utility meter readings, snapping a photo of each one to confirm with a timestamped image.

 

Once the last box is unloaded in your new home, take a breather and enjoy your new home!

 

If you’re seeking more tips on how to make moving simpler, make sure to check out our 5 Moving Tips That Will Make Your Life Easier blog. For more helpful homeowner and moving information, read our AMJ Campbell blog.

Expert Tips for Cold-Weather Moving

When you live in Canada, cold weather is hard to avoid. So, if moving day comes along with a frosty forecast, here are the best ways to tackle the task efficiently—and not let winter get in the way of your fresh start.

 

Clear the way

Safety should be your top priority when moving in winter months. Keep your walkways and loading areas clear of snow to ensure no accidents take place. Failure to remove accumulated snow and ice around your house will increase the chances of someone slipping while carrying a heavy box or a bulky furniture piece. A bag of salt can help melt slippery ice, or generously spread sand or kitty litter to provide traction on dicey areas. Additionally, ensure that any parking area needed for the moving truck is clear.

 

Keep valuables warm

The temperature inside non-climate-controlled moving trucks can get extremely low and may put your sensitive and fragile possessions at risk while in transit. Save space to transport any houseplants, animals, and delicate items in a heated vehicle. Take care to add extra packing to temperature-sensitive belongings such as fine china pieces, delicate wood items, antique furniture pieces, electronic equipment, and musical instruments, as they tend to crack when exposed to low temperatures. For long-distance moves, it might be in your plants’ favour to find new homes for them, since low temperatures are quite risky for the survival of leafy life forms.

 

Limit the cleanup

Protect floors in high-traffic areas from snow, sand, and water. Using heavy cardboard or plastic sheeting secured with heavy duty tape will keep floors clean and prevent falls on slippery floors. If you’re short on heavy cardboard after packing, consider placing thick sheets of durable polyethylene down instead. These protective coverings will increase the traction between your feet and the floor, greatly reducing the chances of a fall. As well, floor protectors will keep hardwood from being damaged and carpets from collecting dirt, which will make the final cleanup a smaller job.

 

Hire the right help

Do-it-yourself moves are cost-effective, but for the sake of your relationships with friends and family, it’s wise to seek assistance from reputable professional movers. Not only will they take the weight off your shoulders literally and figuratively, they have significant experience in dealing with moves during cold weather. At AMJ Campbell, we’re ready to help make your move easy—no matter what time of year.

 

If you’re seeking more tips on how to make moving simpler, make sure to check out our 5 Moving Tips That Will Make Your Life Easier blog. For more helpful homeowner and moving information, read our AMJ Campbell blog.

Purging into 2019: What to Bring into the New Year

how to get rid of clutter

The beginning of a New Year brings the opportunity for a fresh start, new goals and a new mindset. It sounds simple, but every time you look around your home or open a closet door you’re faced with the reality that you’re still surrounded by the endless piles of stuff that have accumulated from years before.

Even if you’re not planning on moving now or any time soon, what better way to start 2019 than by re-evaluating your belongings, de-crowding your life and changing your mindset for a less chaotic future. You don’t have to downsize your home to downsize your lifestyle! Follow these tips to guide you through the purge and empower you to make a sustainable lifestyle change that goes beyond your New Year’s resolutions.

Tackling the Purge: How to get Rid of Clutter

The four box method is one of the most popular and simple approaches to decluttering your home and downsizing your belongings. Create four boxes with the following labels: trash, give away/sell, storage (items you’ll keep but don’t use often) and put away (items you’ll keep and use regularly). The first two boxes will likely be the hardest for you to fill, because those are items that you’re going to be parting with. Ask yourself a series of questions:

  • When was the last time I used this? If you haven’t used it in over 12 months (except for seasonal or sentimental items) you can likely get rid of it.
  • Does this item make me happy? Some items, such as decorations or art, aren’t there to be used, but rather to make you happy. If they’re still doing that, they’re worth keeping.
  • Why do I want to keep this? If you don’t have an answer to that question, or your answer is ‘just in case,’ chances are you won’t miss it and it’s safe to say goodbye.

Trial Separation

There are always going to be a few items (or maybe more) that you’re on the fence about keeping. The impulse reaction for most people is to put those items into storage to deal with later, but that’s how things slowly begin to accumulate all over again. Instead, take a trial separation from those items and put them aside in a box that’s out of sight but not in storage (for example, the closet). Set an alarm on your phone to revisit those items in a few months. Anything that you haven’t used, especially the things you’ve forgotten about, can usually be purged. You may have included some sentimental items that you realize you still want to keep, even if you didn’t use them. Those items can be organized and packed away—some things are too special to part with.

Establish Limits

Now that you’ve decided which treasured belongings will make it into 2019 it’s time to change your mindset and habits to resist the urge to fill the newly created space. Evaluate the items that you got rid of. Was it mostly clothes? Perhaps it was furniture or home décor. If, for example, you know that you have a tendency to collect clothes, establish limits that guide how much you can buy and have. Do this by thinking about the line that divides what you want, what you need and what you’ll actually use. Do you typically wear 8 pairs of shoes or is it something you would only use seasonally? Keep that in mind before buying something new.

Shop from What You Have Available to You

Whether you’re a bargain hunter or enjoy the convenience of online shopping and two-day shipping, part of the reason we accumulate so much stuff is because we’re so quick to buy new things. Next time you gear up to make a purchase take a step back and revisit what you already have available to you in the house or through friends and family. If you’re going camping for the first time, consider borrowing a tent before investing in one of your own. Tired of playing the same board games on family night? See if some of your friends or family are interested in doing a game swap. Even if it’s just temporary, it’s a great opportunity to try new games before awarding them a permanent home on your shelf. Whatever it is, consider your network before rushing to hit “checkout”.

For more helpful tips on how to freshen up your home and find new uses for things you already have, check out our Upcycling Your Home blog. If you’ve finished your purge and need assistance moving items into your self storage unit, reach out to an AMJ Campbell moving specialist near you.

Tips for Moving During the Holidays

tips for moving

Moving can be a stressful endeavour no matter what time it is on the calendar but making a move during the holiday season brings along some additional challenges. On top of all the traditions and responsibilities synonymous with the holiday time of the year, such as finding the perfect gifts for friends and family, making a seemingly endless number of baked goods, and attending a variety of festivities and parties, you also have to consider packing and unpacking. As with anything, that potential stress can be relieved – at least a little – if you prepare enough beforehand. Here are some key tips to help make your holiday move less hectic.

Time it Right

Ensure you book a moving company well in advance, as it can be a very busy time for relocation and deliveries, with schedule changes potentially in effect. Holiday hours may also be applicable for different businesses, including cleaning companies, locksmiths, home improvement stores and other companies that you may look to typically help during a move. If you need child care or pet care around your moving day, note that the holiday season sees long waitlists, higher fees and strict cancellation policies due to the greater demand, so planning and booking ahead where possible is ideal. If relocating to your new home involves a long car ride, keep traffic conditions in mind. Route delays can occur, especially later in the month, close to the actual holidays, when many people are travelling to friends and family.

Pack Strategically

Keep seasonal items within reach. If you enjoy holiday décor around the home, or perhaps you have holiday events to attend soon after your relocation, having those items on-hand will make for a less chaotic search when you’re unpacking and sorting. If you look forward to the garlands and lots of green and red to make the season bright around the home, make sure to label décor containers clearly and ask the movers to leave those boxes somewhere accessible.

Make Donations

A move is the perfect time to evaluate your belongings and consider letting go of the things you no longer require. Many charities will pick up certain items, which is an excellent alternative to throwing things away. This time of year is busy for donations, so call ahead. There are often specific items that charities will call out for and be in need of at this time of year (especially unused, new items). Consider checking their lists as you do your own inventory. Check out some of your local charities as well as places such as Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill and the Salvation Army, to confirm the types of items they will and won’t accept.

Consider the Weather

Weather conditions this time of year can range from severe cold, to snow, to hail, and more (depending on where you live). With that in mind, you should prepare for difficult weather by gathering plenty of boots, mitts, hats, shovels and salt and having a bag accessible in your car in case of emergency. Try packing as much of your stuff in waterproof containers as possible.

 

If severe weather is affecting your area, consider the heating of your current and new home(s). Ensure the transition for tenants into your space, and for you and your new home, is warm and easy by making sure heating is in working order. Consider calling to make any needed arrangements with your landlord or your heating and electrical companies to make sure the transition is smooth. On the day of your move, keep covered! Have towels or sheets on hand to wipe off water or snow, and make sure you have your feet covered in proper footwear (warm boots and cozy slippers?).

 

As long as you stick to a plan, prepare all the necessary checklists, and account for all the holiday chaos (both weather- and human-induced), you’ll be well on your way to a seamless holiday move.

Planning an upcoming move? We’d be happy to help! You can request a free quote from us here.

 

AMJ’s Advice from the Expert: A Day in the Life of a Driver

AMJ Moving Specialist - image

No matter how excited you might be to move into a new home, relocation can be a stressful process. But, did you know that, behind the scenes, moving teams put a whole lot of care, consideration, and pre-planning into each move to help support you and make your relocation feel as effortless as possible.

We sat down with Brad Konsmo, Senior VP and Partner at AMJ Campbell Vancouver, and Scott Finlay, General Manager at AMJ Campbell Winnipeg, to better understand the role drivers have in making this happen—including five key considerations you might not expect.

Moving Specialist Scott Finlay - image
Scott Finlay, General Manager at AMJ Campbell Winnipeg

1. There’s a big difference between local and long-haul drivers

At AMJ, there are two different types of drivers: local and long-haul—and their daily lives look a lot different.

“Both are pre-dispatched before the moving day, so they can assess the requirements of the move,” says Konsmo.

They usually start the day pretty early. They will conduct a safety inspection of their truck before hitting the road. That morning, they’ll also load any equipment they’ll need for the job. They will then give customers a courtesy call on the morning of the move to confirm the team’s arrival.

But that’s where the similarities end.

As Finlay explains, local drivers will move belongings from one house to another with usually no more than about two hours’ travel time in between. A local driver’s shift usually last about eight hours, and local moves are generally completed in one day.

On the other hand, Konsmo adds that long distance drivers will confirm requirements with customers 24 to 72 hours in advance of the move. They might work with the customer for up to two weeks (or the duration of the move).

2. The driver is the leader of the moving crew

There are normally two to five people assigned to each team, depending on the size of each move. Drivers are responsible for playing the leadership role.

“The driver is completely in control of the move,” says Konsmo. “From customer contact to walking through the house, [and] identifying all logistics—including precious items that need special attention and care.”

Drivers also plan which items go into the truck first and how to arrange them all. Anyone who’s ever played Tetris knows just how difficult it can be to fit everything in carefully—without leaving anything behind. They make sure all belongings are properly padded, packed, and protected.

3. There’s a lot more pre-planning than meets the eye

Prior to packing the truck, the driver will conduct a walk-through of the home, then the team will tag all items to create an inventory. This is to ensure everything is accounted for once the belongings are eventually unpacked.

The house is then “prepped” with floor runners to help protect floors and carpets. Balconies and entrances are also protected when required.

Heavy or awkward items often need specialized equipment. For example, many pianos weigh up to 1,000 pounds, so there are special piano skids that are used to load and unload these. AMJ moving specialists will take note of these items beforehand so there are no surprises on the day of the move, Finlay says.

“It’s their responsibility to protect the home and contents,” adds Konsmo.

4. Customer service is a key consideration

Moving can be stressful—and AMJ gets this.

“Drivers are owners / operators with a vested interest in each move,” Konsmo explains. “Their goal is to is ensure that everything is set up and put in place so that the customers are sleeping soundly on [their] first night in their new home.”

In fact, if a family is moving locally out of a house on one day and moving in on a different day, AMJ tries its best to keep the same crew together on both ends to give the families a sense of familiarity and comfort. For long-haul moves, the same drivers will complete the entire job from start to finish.

5. Safety is always top of mind

Besides the daily truck inspections, where drivers do a 360-degree walk-around to check things like brakes, fluids and fuel levels, safety permeates other areas of the job, as well.

For example, trucks are stocked with standard equipment like safety kits, fire extinguishers, emergency cones, and vests to ensure safe transport. Vests ensure the movers are visible, while emergency cones help passersby navigate safely around the truck.

Additionally, trucks undergo inspections in keeping with regulated safety standards. Drivers are background checked and take annual training as part of their class 1 licensing requirements. AMJ also offers additional training for drivers who want to take part. In this training, team members are often paired with more experienced ones, so these newcomers can benefit from on-the-job coaching.

More than meets the eye

Our conversation with Konsmo and Finlay highlights the detail and professionalism that happen behind the scenes of a move—all designed to make the process efficient, safe, and less stressful for AMJ customers. Now, next time you see a driver behind the wheel of a moving truck, you’ll know what an integral part he or she plays in making each move a success.

 

To learn more from an AMJ Campbell moving specialist, visit our blog.

Mortgages 101: How to Create a Responsible Financial Plan

Mortgage finance plan - image

Congratulations, you’re going to be a homeowner! Maybe this is your first foray into property ownership, or maybe this isn’t your first home-buying rodeo. Regardless, the best way to make the most of your investment is to go in with a responsible financial plan that considers all aspects of taking on a home loan (called a mortgage loan, or mortgage).

Having a solid plan in hand will allow you to feel confident that you’ve entered into this contract with open eyes—and won’t encounter any big surprises. Buying a house is a big purchase, but it’s also one that will give you and your family a place to make lasting memories for years to come.

So, let’s examine some of the best steps to getting it right.

Determine your budget

Before you can start shopping for your new home, you’ll need to determine just how much you can spend on it.

A lender (like a bank) will be able to give you a ballpark figure, but this will be based on your gross income—so avoid using this as your top price point. You’ll instead want to figure out how much income you have to devote towards your new property. You should consider all your existing debts and expenses when arriving at this number.

Experts recommend your monthly housing costs stay below 32% of your total monthly income. Also, including your potential mortgage, your total debts should be less than 40% of your total income. Otherwise, you may be putting yourself in a potentially unstable financial situation.

Plus, don’t forget to factor in the ongoing costs of owning and maintaining the home. When planning your budget, leave a healthy buffer for ongoing maintenance and renovation costs of the home itself, property taxes, homeownership association (HOA) or condo fees, interest on the loan, and any mortgage insurance fees you will be taking on.

Finally, remember to also add in the cost of professional services that come along with purchasing a home, including lawyers and realtor fees, closing fees, home inspection, and moving costs.

Calculate a down payment that’s right for you

A generous down payment will reduce the amount you must borrow to purchase your home. So, as part of your pre-work, determine how much money you have available to put towards the price of the home. This will help reduce the overall costs of the mortgage over time, and also how long it takes to repay.

If you are putting down less than 20% towards the value of the home, then you will require mortgage insurance on the loan itself, which is not uncommon, but adds in an extra cost.

If you are a first-time home buyer, you can also use money from your registered retirement savings plan (RSP/RRSP) without tax penalties, but you must you pay it back within 25 years.

Establish appropriate financing

Once you’re ready to work with your lender to determine a mortgage payment plan, you’ll need to answer questions on whether you’d like a fixed or variable interest rate, how many years you’d like to spend paying down the loan, and what you can afford in monthly payments.

There are also questions to answer, like if the mortgage be open (so you can pay it any time) or closed. As well, ask if the loan is “portable”—or transferrable to another home if you sell the first one.

Your financing plan comes back to your available income and size of your down payment. It may require a little additional research and advice, so don’t be afraid to consult with your financial intuition or other experts until you feel confident you can make informed choices. Here is handy reference guide that will give you a good place to start.

At the same time, you should check to see if you qualify for any special programs or tax rebates. For instance, if you are a first-time homebuyer, there are federal tax credits available and in some cases, your local municipality may have other incentive programs available.

When arranging financing, you should also work with your financier to choose a repayment cadence that suits your lifestyle. In some cases, you may be able to afford an arrangement like accelerated bi-weekly payments which will help you own your home faster and ultimately pay less interest.

Be patient and diligent

With so many details and options to consider, buying a new house can feel like a daunting task. But there are plenty of resources available. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these and ask as many questions as you can. Eventually, with a little bit of patience and a good dose of careful planning, you’ll find the perfect new place to call home.

 

Once you’ve determined how you will be financing your home, visit our blog to help you get settled in your new community.

3 Ways to Create an Efficient Study Space

espace de travail efficace - photo

Every September, we turn a fresh page. It’s the time when we re-establish our regular schedules at work, get the kids back to school, and re-start all those other annual activities we took a break from over the summer.

If you’re looking to give yourself, and your school-age children, a motivation boost for the upcoming busy season, why not consider redesigning your family study space? A homework nook or home office that’s quiet, comfortable and organized will give you the inspiration you need to get back into the swing of things. Here are the top three ways to get it right.

Tip 1: Find a quiet spot

Whether your study space is for studying or for working, you’ll want to first make sure it’s located in a private, quiet spot in your home. If you don’t have a dedicated room, choose the quietest area you can: one that’s away from distractions (like TVs) and high-traffic areas (like the kitchen or living room).

Also consider adding a lightweight divider, like a three-panel screen, to give the spot a sense of privacy and solitude. It might not block all noise, but it will offer a psychological barrier, so you won’t be distracted by dinner on the stove or video games on the TV. You can also opt to purchase a set of noise-cancelling ear phones to help promote focus.

Tip 2: Sketch out a design

Once you’ve chosen your study area, you’ll need to take a quick inventory of what type of work will happen here. This will help you determine how to organize it. Ask yourself what kind of equipment is needed to support the work.

For example:

  • What kind of computer will you be using? (Laptop, desktop?)
  • Will you or your child need desk space to sketch or draw?
  • Will you need a printer?
  • Will you need a filing cabinet?
  • Will you need a bookshelf or a side table to store extras like pens, pencil, staplers and books?
  • Where are the nearest power outlets? Are there enough to support the electronics setup?

Once you’ve determined your study needs, sketch out a to-scale drawing to make sure all your furnishings and tools will fit in your space. This drawing can help you when you’re deciding on any new purchases—that way you know if you have enough space for both that L-shaped desk and a bookshelf, or if you may need to consider something smaller.

Another option could be to rough out the dimensions of your furniture on the floor using masking or painter’s tape to ensure they’ll fit in the chosen space.

Tip 3: Fine-tune for comfort

Once you’ve nailed down the space’s practical considerations, adjust your desk, chair, and any other furnishings using the principles of ergonomics. That means refining the height and angle of the chair, desk, and accessories so that they suit your body’s needs and will keep you comfortable throughout hours of work.

The desk or table surface should be able to fit the computer while also allowing enough elbow room for typing and operating the mouse, along with any other activities—like drafting, note-taking, or drawing—that might take place.

The computer monitor should be at eye-level. If possible, find one that’s adjustable, or install an adjustable desk that can be perfectly positioned for the user.

If there are multiple users of the space, show the others how to re-position the furniture and accessories for their own height.

Additionally, modern research reinforces the importance of a chair with proper support. So, if your budget allows, purchase an ergonomic office chair. These usually have wheels, so you may also need to buy a protective hard-plastic mat for the floor.

In a pinch, a dining room chair topped with a back pillow will do the trick. Just make the seat you choose is not too comfortable… an arm chair might go too far in the direction of relaxation and prevent you from buckling down to do your work!

Try it out

Once you’ve checked these considerations off your to-do list, you can feel confident that your space will be tailored for maximum productivity. Just remember, with such an effective study area, you may need someone to come remind you to take a break for dinner!

 

For more tips on staying organized and productive, visit our preparing for moving day blog.