Tips for moving with your newborn

déménager avec votre nouveau-né - photo

Moving can be a big undertaking—even more so if you’ve got a brand-new bundle of joy at home.

But if you put in a little preparation, arrange for lots of help, and let go of your goals for absolute perfection, you’ll be able to get the job done well—and won’t have any grey hairs to show for it.

Here’s how to get from your old house to your new one in the most peaceful manner possible.

Create a plan for baby-related tasks

At least one week before you’re scheduled to move, create a plan to ensure your newborn is safe and comfortable throughout the big day. Here are some duties to consider:

Pack a 24-hour diaper bag

All your essentials should be close at hand, including sufficient diapers, wipes, onesies, towels, toys, bottles, and creams for the entire day of the move (plus some for the night before, if need be). Set this bag aside, separate from other boxes (maybe even in the car), so you can guarantee you won’t accidentally ship it off with your other belongings.

Also, on the evening prior to the move, prepare enough bottles for the next 24 hours and keep these in the fridge until morning. This will help you save time on the morning of the move, and prevent you from having to prepare bottles partway through the day. It’s the little details like this which can make a big difference during your busy moving day!

Assign a child-minder

In your plan, you should also assign a single dedicated person to care for the baby throughout the day.

Maybe this person is the baby’s mom or dad, or maybe it’s a trusted relative, friend, or babysitter. Regardless, this person shouldn’t have any other major tasks related to the move so they can focus on keeping an eye on the infant—and keeping him or her comfortable, fed, and changed—for the duration of the relocation work.

Set up the nursery

Once your boxes and furnishings have made it to your new destination, unpacking the nursery should be the priority. Setting up the baby’s room first is an easy way to make him or her comfortable and allow you to get him or her right back on schedule.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for their support on moving day. It will make the day go a whole lot smoother, and chances are they will be more than happy to help.

Ask for more help than you need

Always confirm with a few more people than you think you’ll actually need—just in case someone can’t make it or there are unexpected surprises the day of. You can always send somebody home (or for a coffee run) if you have too many hands on deck.

Don’t forget about related tasks, too

Even if some friends or family members can’t be there for the day of the move, if they’re keen to lend a hand, there are other ways they can support. For example, they could help with a variety of tasks that happen before and after the move (like packing/unpacking, cleaning or decorating). Or, they could help watch the baby while you yourself work through these tasks. Remember, every little bit helps!

Hire professionals

Another way to relieve some of the pressure is to outsource whatever tasks you can. If it’s within your budget, hire a professional moving company to take care of the big tasks on moving day. This is a no-muss, no-fuss way of ensuring your contents get from point A to point B without a lot of leg work on your part. You can also hire professional crews to do some of the cleaning, packing and unpacking throughout the move process, which again, will help reduce your workload.

Baby-proof your new home

Along with setting up the nursery, it is essential to make sure your new abode is safe for your infants and tots. Make sure any stairways are safely blocked off with a baby gate, and cupboards and drawers are equipped with child-proof handles. Electrical outlets should be secured, which you can do by getting a plastic insert to keep any curious fingers from getting shocked (read our blog on electrical safety in your home). You might also considering anchoring your furniture to the walls or floor, just in case your little one is a climber—this will ensure that all the furniture will stay right where it’s supposed to and your child stays safe. Finally, don’t forget to pay mind to the items that are placed within reaching distance of the crib.

Relax

With all the different considerations, details, and logistics required when moving to a new home, this final tip may seem like the hardest assignment of all. But it’s one of the most important for you and your newborn.

Put as much work as you can into pre-planning the move, and then once the big day arrives, do your best not to obsess over the small details. Tell yourself it’s OK if you didn’t find time to wash your hair, or your baby’s favourite toy gets lost in transit, or your phone suddenly dies.

Feel confident that you’ve planned, prepped, and problem-solved as much as you can, and the rest will be figured out between you and the people you asked (or hired) to help. No move is perfect—and that’s OK. Surprises, inconveniences or delays will pop up, and these can all be overcome. Understanding this will give you the chance to address whatever situation emerges, without getting overwhelmed.

At the end of the day, focus on ensuring your baby is comfortable and safe, and the rest will get worked out.

Are your children beyond the infant and toddler stage? Read our blog on moving with kids to help you execute a safe and successful move.

If you’re getting ready for a move and are looking for professionals to give you a hand, contact a moving specialist at your local AMJ Campbell today.

AMJ’s Advice from the Expert: Behind-the-scenes of an International Move

Moving to a new country is a big undertaking. It means getting to know a new language, a new currency, possibly a new job—and a lot of new neighbours.

A huge source of comfort is knowing the contents of your household—all those possessions you hold near and dear—are safe, secure and on their way to meet you in your new locale.

Along with the rest of the International team, Danielle Oaks’ job is to make it so.

Danielle is the director for AMJ International, an arm of the business that’s lesser-known in the domestic market, but well regarded in the close-knit world of global moving services.

AMJ International is responsible for supporting customers during cross-continental moves—quite a tall order—but one for which the company has earned a strong reputation.

The key to success in her unique niche, Danielle says, is the same one that applies to all movers. And that’s to remember that, above all, moving is a personal experience.

One less source of stress

Moving your possessions is just a “teeny tiny part” of a comfortable overseas transition, Danielle explains. But if it goes wrong, it can feel like one of the most painful.

“It’s stressful. To go through your belongings and say ‘I don’t need that.’ To get everything in a box, wrapped up and ready to go … even more so when you’re moving to the other side of the world,” she says.

“Your appliances won’t work, you have to sell your car and your house. There’s immigration to deal with. The move is just a teeny, tiny little part. But if we don’t do that little component well, that’s when emotions come out. They’re trusting us with everything they own. It’s a lot.”

It can be easy to become blasé about it because she and her teammates do it day in, day out, she adds. But they have to remember it’s a momentous occasion for each customer.

“That’s why we need to get it right.”

Using a process they have perfected over time, the International team leverages carefully crafted partnerships, solve problems and plans for contingencies to ensure the family or individual being moved is part of a seamless process that prioritizes the safety of their possessions.

What makes an international move unique?

Here are a few of the unique considerations that make a cross-continent move different from a cross-country one.

The importance of partnerships

On the international side, almost every move involves a partner in another country. That requires AMJ international to maintain strong networks of international service providers.

For her part, Danielle keeps an active Rolodex of people she’s met through global training events and conferences, and is constantly working on maintaining these relationships.

“If I’m moving someone to Bangladesh, I have to ask myself, who am I going to use? It should be someone I know, a partner. Moving is a personal business – I work hard to make sure I’ve got connections around the world.”

She works closely with an international alliance of movers called FIDI, which screens and accredits its members to ensure quality and reliability. When she’s looking for a new partner, Danielle will look for the FIDI seal of approval to know she’s be getting a likeminded, legitimate partner.

Materials for the long haul

The materials used to protect international shipments are different than for domestic movers.

The blankets and other wrapping materials are designed to withstand weeks of travel at sea, Danielle explains.

“They are engineered in such a way to withstand friction when the article is in movement. As much as we try and load things as tightly as possible, things still move. They vibrate for three, four, five weeks all the way to their destination.”

She says she still marvels at the way AMJ crews manage to pack a whole house into a sea container, with everything labelled, packaged and arranged in a way to still leave space for the movers to manoeuvre.

“What they do is absolutely amazing, the way we protect furnishings … it’s just an impressive sight to see.”

The importance of volume

Whereas the most important calculation for a domestic move is the total weight of the items being shipped, when it comes to a cross-continent move, volume is key.

“We’re constrained by equipment available,” Danielle says. “Our world is ‘container-ized.’ We need to determine whether it’s a 20-foot versus a 40-foot shipment. If we don’t get that right, it’s heartache and tears. If we haven’t assessed properly, there are boxes left on the driveway that won’t make it onto the shipment.”

Occasionally, when it’s a really remote destination or time is of the essence, a move will be made by air rather than sea. In these cases, furnishing and household items are packed on special, built-in skids that slide right into the body of the aircraft.

Even after 20 years, there are still surprises

Although Danielle likes to think, after 20 years in the business, she’s seen pretty much every situation, the sheer number of variables involved in every international move continue to keep her and her teammates on their toes.

“You would think every move is the same when you do it for a living.  But, still to this day, I find myself chatting with colleagues saying ‘Huh. How do we do that? Isn’t it amazing we’ve never had this situation before?’”

She recalls a situation where a man missed his late Sunday night flight, meaning there would be no one to meet his movers on the other side of the world the next morning. To cancel the crew would’ve meant a long, inconvenient delay.

So, Danielle worked with the customer all night and managed to track down an acquaintance at his destination who could receive the shipment.
“We found a solution. We put our heads together and stick-handled it between 10 at night at 7 a.m. the next day.”

What to look for in an international moving service

When choosing an international moving services provider, there are a few important things to keep in mind, Danielle explains.

Quality of accreditation – First, look for a moving company that is part of a formal organization, such as FIDI. This will ensure the company is vetted, financial stable, adheres to global principles of quality, and that there are methods in place to protect you, during the moving process.

Testimonials/Word of mouth – Naturally, when you’re searching for a moving company, your first thought will be to ask your friends and family members who they recommend.

Finding this kind of endorsement is more difficult if no one in your personal network has ever moved across the world. If that’s the case, Danielle recommends you ask any companies you’re considering to put you in touch with a past client who can tell you about their experience with that company.

Transparency – The most valuable advice Danielle has for overseas-moving newbies is to never trust what you read online.

In the world of global moving services, there are A players and B and C players—and there’s a big difference between them. But the internet has made it more difficult to differentiate that.”

She says to avoid choosing the first name you see, and not to be taken in by rock-bottom prices.

She recommends that before you hire anyone, ask questions such as: how they plan a move, what their process is like and how open they are with those details.

She says, during a move, if the company doesn’t give you the right information, or you don’t read the fine print in a contract, you could wind up spending three extra weeks in a hotel, in a whole new place, with your belongings trapped in transit.

“You have to remember,” she says, “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweet taste of low prices is forgotten.”

Service-first attitude – When telling prospective customers about what sets AMJ International apart from competitors, Danielle always emphasizes AMJ’s focus on customer care. When planning a move, they just work as hard as if it was their own family making the transition, she says.

This level of service will help ensure the move really is just a small part of your relocation experience, and that it’s as relaxed and stress-free as possible.

“I want that Zen. That look of a relaxed and unworried customer. To me, that’s success.”

August 26

This day is also Women’s Equality Day. A day to celebrate the achievements of women in the workplace—and in the world. It’s an opportunity to reinforce the continuing efforts to ensure women have the equal chance to succeed. For Danielle, it’s also time to reflect on how the face of the moving industry has changed over the past 20 years.

“Twenty years ago, 90% of men made up the sales conferences, today it’s more like 60%,” says Danielle Oaks.

“We are so lucky in Canada and at AMJ, women can do what they do, and they can be great at it. We’ve got very successful ladies, and men, who are good at what they do and that’s because they love what they do.”

To be a successful leader, you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty

Danielle’s personal approach to leadership is to get things done. “People might look to me as a leader, but I’m in the trenches as much as they are, and to me, that’s exciting.”

Because the Toronto International office is small, she says, everyone has the same DIY work ethic.

“There’s no one else to give the work to – so I do it myself. The buck stops here.  That’s why you hire the right people to be around you.”

She also isn’t afraid to roll-up-the-sleeves and demonstrate this work ethic.

“Every now and then, if we can’t get a crew to deliver a shipment on time, I just put the boxes in the trunk of my car and drive it where it needs to be.”

 

To learn more about our experts and leaders, check out our Advice from the Expert series.

 

Packing products to help you save time and gain peace of mind

Moving day is almost here! And although relocating to a new home can be exciting, it can also be a bit intimidating.

 

If you’re preparing to pack up your home, choose the right supplies to help you secure your belongings for transport. This will make the packing process a little easier, a little faster, and it will provide you with a little extra peace of mind for protecting your precious cargo.

 

Here are our suggestions for choosing the right moving products to help you prepare for a smooth move.

 

Buy new boxes

We see this debate among families and roommates all the time. Should you use recycled boxes—say, ones you have stored in your basement from a previous move—or purchase brand new ones?

 

Many people can be concerned with the waste and cost associated with buying new boxes. But here at AMJ, we often encourage the purchase of new boxes for a few important reasons.

 

First, you know that the boxes will be sturdy, clean, and reliable. You won’t need to worry about your boxes falling apart as you carry them up the stairs to your new apartment, or sneezing from dust that’s accumulated on them throughout the years. Also, purchasing new boxes is less expensive than you might expect. For instance, our corrugate moving boxes cost only a few dollars each.

 

For the eco-minded mover, we also offer a recycling program. When you purchase boxes from AMJ, we will gladly take our boxes back with us and recycle them for you at a local facility. We are proud to note that the materials in these boxes are 100% recyclable (even the ink) and, on average, nearly half of the fibers used to make them come from recycled material. (You can learn more about corrugated cardboard and the environment here.)

 

We also offer the option of using re-usable plastic totes that provide superior stability and reduced environmental impact.

 

Not to mention, we make it easy and convenient to order the boxes through our online store. We can provide as many boxes as you need in advance and have them shipped directly to your home, so you don’t have to worry about coming to pick them up. (One less thing off the to-do list!)

 

Because we know you have plenty of unique possessions, we have different box strengths and shapes, so you can pack everything from heavy kitchen foodstuffs and stereo equipment, to files, to large items like mirrors, and even keep your clothes neat with our wardrobe boxes.

 

 

Embrace the tape dispenser

Anyone who’s ever prepared for a major house move can tell you: packing tape is about to become your best friend. But the thing that makes packing tape such a handy box-sealing companion is also the thing makes it so hard to handle: it’s so sticky!

 

Be sure to purchase at least one packing tape dispenser (or two or three if you have lots of helping hands) to help you seal your boxes neatly and securely. A dispenser—sometimes called a tape gun—will save you time because you won’t be searching for the end of the tape roll each time you use it, or be trying to unstick gluey edges that have adhered to themselves. A tape gun will also help ensure you apply a smooth, even layer of tape along the box seam for a tighter seal.

 

Bubble wrap is best

Knowing that your easily damaged belongings are safely stowed will mean you have one less worry on your mind during the moving process.

 

Sure, in the past you’ve probably wrapped your breakables in pillow cases, towels, linens, or newspapers. These can work well for some items. But, using bubble wrap is the safest way to protect grandma’s china or your favourite flower vase, even if the boxes shift or slide during the move. Here are a few suggestions on how to wrap your goods securely.

 

Let’s get moving

And there you have it. With these helpful packing products on-hand you’ll be armed with the tools you need for a successful pack-up. You may be done even faster than you expected. Then, all that’s left to do is to sit back, admire your work, and maybe pop a few packing bubbles to celebrate.

 

Visit our online box store to begin purchasing all the packing supplies you’ll need for the big day.

 

Contact AMJ to book your next move or inquire about purchasing supplies for an upcoming move. Or check out our blog for other helpful information about moving into your new home.

 

 

How to repair window seals

Before the autumn chill arrives, keep the draft out by following our tips to repair window seals in your home. This will not only help keep your house cozy through the winter months; it could also help reduce your home heating bills.

 

Common window seal issues

If you feel a draft or see moisture around your window sill, the best place to start is to determine if it’s one of two common window seal issues: a problem with your caulking or a problem with your weather-stripping. Here’s how to recognize—and tackle—both issues.

 

Caulking

One of the most common culprits of drafty windows is the loosening or deterioration of the rubbery waterproof sealant used to insulate spaces around your window panes, called caulking.

 

Caulking is usually applied along the lines where the window sash, sill and frame meet the exterior and interior walls of the home.

 

Inspect

Check to see if you can feel a slight draft or see any holes where moisture or air is coming through the places where caulk lines your window. If the caulk has peeled or crumbled away, that may mean it’s time for a fresh layer. A cool way to test if there is outdoor air coming through your window is to light a stick of incense, place it on the sill, and see whether the smoke drifts noticeably into the room from that direction.

 

Repair

Remove existing caulk carefully using your hands, a putty knife, or a screwdriver. Sometimes, the caulk might be hardened, in which case you can apply a remover gel to soften it.

 

Next, apply new sealant using a caulking gun. Be sure to follow the instructions on the tube for best results. You can do this on either the interior or exterior of the window seal—just be sure you select a product that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

 

Weather-stripping

Weather-stripping works the same way as caulk but provides a seal against the elements in places that need to move (i.e. so you don’t glue the window shut). It can come in many formats, including vinyl seals or rubberized tape, and can be applied inside the track of a sliding window or at the top or bottom of the window sash.

 

Inspect

Weather stripping may have aged or cracked over time, so check it to see if any plastic or felt strips have come loose or started to fall away from your windows’ borders. If this is the case, it may be time to remove them and install a replacement product.

 

Repair

Each weather-stripping product will have its own installation method, but many have easy, self-stick features or simple step-by-step instructions. Conduct some research, or work with an expert at your local hardware store, to determine what style of weather-proofing will work for your windows, and how intensive the installation process is. If it seems like too big a project, consider hiring an expert to help you put it in.

 

Signs of a bigger problem

If you’ve given your windows a thorough inspection and there seems to be no issue with the sealant or the weather-stripping, there may be a greater problem to solve: perhaps with the window frame itself, the insulation, or the siding of the home. Give a renovation company a call and let them help you determine how the best way to keep the cold weather where it belongs—on the outside.

 

You’ve learned about the best ways to repair window seals, so why not keep the momentum going? Visit our blog for more tips on making easy repairs around the home.

 

How to Fix Squeaky Doors in Your House

You know it’s time to fix squeaky doors when you find yourself cringing, wincing or rolling your eyes every time someone uses a certain door at home.

 

If you’ve forgotten what silence sounds like, the good news is, it can be easy to fix. All you often need to do is lubricate the hinges.

 

Read on for tips to help you make the squeak disappear using common household products. You’ll be the hero of the household—and you likely won’t even need to make a trip to the hardware store.

 

Choose your tool

When fixing squeaky door hinges, silicon spray is the obvious choice—nearly everyone has a can of WD-40 laying around somewhere.

 

Some experts say this type of common lubricant can do more harm than good though—it can attract dust, dirt and even cause discolouration over time. So, if you can’t find spray lubricant—or don’t want to use it—take a tour around your house and see whether you have any of these handy alternatives lying around.

 

  • Olive oil – Believe it or not, you can use this kitchen product to fix a squeaky door. In fact, any type of vegetable oil will do the trick.
  • Bar soap – Any type of soap will do, as long as it’s not glycerine (which is usually clear, like Pears). It should be slightly damp before you rub on the hinges.
  • Petroleum jelly – It’s not just for moisturizing your chapped lips anymore. This age-old beauty product can smooth the creaking that is causing you squeaky door headaches.

Lubricate the hinge

Apply any of the above products the top of the hinge and swing the door a few times to work it into the hardware. If you’re still getting a squeak, remove the pin from the hinge and apply more product to it. You can push the pin out by gently hammering a nail underneath it until it comes out the top.

 

Remember, when removing the pin, the hinge will become loose. So only do one hinge at a time and have a spotter handy to brace the door.

 

Because all of these products are gentle, they shouldn’t cause any damage to the wood or paint of the door or frame. But, be sure to have a rag or paper towel handy to wipe up any excess product or to catch drips and avoid making a mess.

 

When to call a professional

If you’ve tried lubricating the hinges and the door continues to squeak, it may be time to call in professional reinforcement. The hinge may need replacing or it could be a problem with the frame itself. Otherwise, persistent squeaking, combined with a few other red flags like a sticking door, could potentially indicate an issue with the foundation. Contact a contractor or home repair person to investigate the underlying cause. They will likely be able to help you make the repairs you need to achieve the peace and quiet you’ve been looking for.

 

Now that you know how to fix squeaky doors, what other easy fixable problems can you solve around the home? Read more handy tips in our blog.

 

 

 

How to Fix Low Water Pressure in Your House

Wondering how to fix low water pressure at home? Try these three common quick fixes to see if they put a little more flow into your faucets – before you have to call in the experts to help.

 

1.  Clean your aerators

If you have an individual faucet or fixture that’s giving you trouble, the problem could be with the exit point itself. If the tap has an aerator (usually a small mesh or plastic screen inside the mouth of the faucet), remove it by unscrewing the faucet cap, disassembling the inserts and flushing the screen with water. You may need to use a sewing needle or toothbrush to remove any stuck debris. If it’s a shower head or spray gun for a hose, try removing the entire fixture and soaking it in vinegar or a de-scaling product (like CLR) to unclog buildup. If the aerator is old and deteriorated, you can easily and inexpensively replace it with a quick trip to the hardware store.

 

2.  Adjust your PRV

A common source of low water pressure is a home’s pressure reducing valve, or PRV. As the name suggests, this is a mechanism that decreases the flow of water to pipes in your home. (Municipal water flow is often too strong for households, so this is the point where the pressure is lessened before it enters your home.)

 

The PRV is bell shaped, often made of brass, and usually located where your water line enters your home or building (your water main). It could be in your basement or around you water meter box, but the location will be different for each home. Before you adjust the PRV, use a water pressure meter on an outdoor tap to determine your baseline pressure. Then, locate the PRV,  and loosen the top nut using a wrench. Next, use a socket wrench to twist it one full turn clockwise to tighten. Check your water pressure meter after each full turn to ensure your pressure doesn’t go too high. (Many suggest a maximum of 60 PSI—and anything over 80 PSI will likely damage your home’s plumbing system.) And don’t forget to re-tighten the lock nut once you’re done.

 

3.  Tighten your shutoff valve

A water shutoff valve that’s only partially open can be another common culprit for sluggish water flow. Locate the valve (which is located separately, but usually near, the PRV) and ensure it’s in a fully open position. If it’s a level-style handle, it should be completely vertical. If it’s a rounded, wheel-shaped handle, it should be twisted counter clockwise to ensure it’s fully open. Check your faucets once you’re done to see whether your pressure has increased.

 

 

There you have it! These are some of the most common ways to fix problems that are causing low water pressure in your home. If all else fails, call a plumber or your city’s water department for a consultation. They may be able to give you deeper insight into what’s causing your water pressure woes.

 

Looking for more tips to help you make more fixes around your home? Visit this blog to learn more.

 

Your Ultimate Guide to Roommates

Moving in with Roommates - image

As September approaches, many students and young adults may be considering a roommate. Especially for those who have never had a roommate, there may be many questions looming: Do you need a roommate? How do you pick your roomie? How do you get along with someone sharing your living space? We discuss these burning questions in a practical way, so you can have the best co-habitation possible.

Should You Have a Roommate?

When considering a roommate, there are two major components to this decision: personal and financial. Your living situation has a massive impact on your wellbeing, and both of these components should be weighed against each other to make the final decision. Ultimately, it comes down to your needs first, then your wants.

Personal

Whether you are moving in together for school or simply to share a space, you should understand yourself. If you need perfect silence to sleep, your roommate would need to be exceptionally quiet, have the same schedule, or the place you choose must have very good sound insulation. If you are a private person you may want a room large enough to spend a lot of your personal time in. On the other hand, if you are a social person and plan to have friends over, you need to ensure your roommate is okay with a variety of folks in their residence or wants to be social themselves.

 

Financial

Finances are a main reason people consider having a roommate. Bringing your living accommodation cost down, in favour of using finances for other needs or wants, is why many choose a roommate. A certain neighbourhood, for example, may be desired but not achievable without someone assisting with the cost of rent. Perhaps you are looking to bank extra cash per month or create a savings account. A roommate and the right place could give you that monthly influx you are looking to hit. This may be more important than having the perfect sleep 7 days a week.

 

How Do You Pick a Roommate?

Maybe you’re looking for that roommate who will be a forever friend or plan to live with someone you already know. Or perhaps you are looking for an acquaintance or even someone you don’t know that will lead a completely separate life from you during your shared living experience. All are reasonable options, but you should decide this before going in to your roommate search. Ensure you go over these key things when making the choice to move in together.

Relationship Expectations

Some roommates do everything together – cooking, socializing, maybe even carpooling. This may mean integrating friend groups and sharing personal time at home. If your expectations are that you won’t share a life, merely a house, this must be factored in and articulated to who you choose to live with.

Schedules

They may be your best friend, but if they are working a 9 to 5 while you take afternoon university classes and bartend 4 nights a week, your schedules could quickly cause a conflict. They could be keeping you up at night with late night study sessions, or they might be waking you up each morning with their smoothie blender. Over time, this can potentially, worst-case, erode the friendship you’ve developed over the years.

Habits

Watching loud action films, nightly popcorn snacking, and keeping impeccably neat quarters might be your personal habits, but how are they going to affect your roommate? They may abhor the smell of certain foods, or they could be a housemate that doesn’t necessarily make tidiness a priority. These things will quickly cause tension and can be hard to resolve. While you need to respect your roommate, your home is still the place you come to unwind. Whether this means keeping the noise down or them keeping the mess to their room, these are important habits to be aware of.

 

How Do You Get Along with a Roommate?

A roommate has the potential to support you through all your ups and down throughout the year. They could be a good person to bounce ideas off of or vent to. But it’s important to know whether your temperaments will mesh well together. As with romantic relationships, it can be extremely helpful to have qualities that complement each other’s. Beyond that, there are a few things that should be ironed out before committing.

Discuss Expectations

Before moving in together, it’s essential to put all your expectations on the table. Will you take turns cooking meals or just cook for yourselves? Will you share household items like hand soap or milk? When is the house “quiet time”? Is this a place to have a house party? All these considerations should be discussed so you are both happy and comfortable with your agreement. If you find someone with similar expectations to yours, your living arrangements could be much more fulfilling than living alone.

Sharing

From food to couches, deciding what will be shared can save you a lot of disagreement. There are many ways to split things up—food, dishes, chores, expenses—you want to find a middle ground that everyone is happy with. For example, you might consider creating a chore chart to divide household responsibilities equally. And maybe you’ll decide to not share all your food, but you will share condiments. If you’re concerned over the long-term adherence to the rules, writing out a to-do board or drafting a roommate agreement can keep everyone accountable.

Voice Your Concerns Immediately

One of the most important things to remember when sharing your home is to not let problems fester. The longer you wait to bring something up, the more problematic it can become to deal with. Open communication gets everything out there and allows everyone to feel heard. It may also present issues that can be resolved very simply, like towels on the floor or dishes in the sink. If the other person realizes how much those aspects upset you, it should be easy for them to show you respect by cleaning up after themselves.

Your Roommate, Your Ally

Although your living situation may only last for a few months or years, it’s still important to take your time in deciding what is best for you. You may discover a new friend you stay close with for the rest of your life, or you may find that living with your best friend is a strain on your relationship. Considering these questions before signing on the dotted line could be the key to a happy house-sharing experience.

 

For reading on moving in with your partner, read The Logistics of Moving in Together.

If you’re leaving the nest for the first time, read Your Guide to Moving Out for the First Time

Moving Day Must-Haves

Moving can be a fun experience. While it may require a lot of work and preparation, the results are a new place to call home. We’ve outlined three types of things we suggest having on-hand through your move to make the transition smoother: valuables, basics and cleaning supplies. Keep reading for practical ways to be ready.

Keep Your Valuables with You

There are certain things you own that are irreplaceable. These should be packed in a special box or “carry-on” that stays with you throughout the move, regardless of how you travel. It’s important to note that not all valuables are valuable. Important documents may fall under this category, even though their monetary worth is low. If you are travelling via airplane, be sure to check the safety regulations regarding specific items.

Jewelry

Jewelry is not only worth money, it usually comes with sentimental value. Anything that was handed down to you or was given to you as a gift is impossible to purchase again. These are best kept locked during your move, to ensure they don’t walk off on their own.

Keepsakes

Crafts your kids made, romantic gifts, and travel souvenirs cannot be replaced. These should go in a hard-shell case packed with bubble wrap that comes with you in the move to ensure they do not get damaged in transit.

Documents

Your family’s passports, immigration documents, or birth certificates should stay within your watchful eye. Other documents like a lease or your contract with the movers you are using should stay nearby, too. Create files for these pages and store them in a zippered file holder for added safety.

Don’t Forget the Basics

The middle of a move can be chaotic. When your entire home is almost packed or when you first arrive at your new residence, there will be a few basics you need right away. These things can make your arrival more comfortable and functional with a quick stop at the dollar store.

Toilet Paper

Toilet paper is essential, especially if you are driving a bit of a distance to your new place. If you pack it away, you may find yourself borrowing your new neighbour’s (not necessarily how you want to make a first impression!).

Soap

After a long drive, a cab ride from the airport, or just unloading the truck, it nice to be able to wash your hands. Especially if you’ve grabbed a snack on the way to your new home. Keep a simple bar of soap with you for quick and easy cleanups.

Lightbulbs

Ever moved into a new apartment or house and found that all the lightbulbs were gone? Buy a pack of bulbs so you can get unpacking right away.

Remember Your Cleaning Supplies

Having a few cleaning supplies at your disposal can keep all that water or dirt from entering your new place. Or, if your home wasn’t perfectly cleaned before you got there, you may want to do a quick wipe of cupboards or closets before you begin unpacking your belongings. These next things can help keep your move-in clean as a whistle.

Cardboard Mats

By using large pieces of cardboard in hallways and doorways, you can effectively keep the mess to a minimum. Large boxes can be repurposed as cardboard mats to protect your floors from damage while keeping them clean. You may want to bring masking tape to help them stay in place while you move.

Handheld Broom & Dust Pan

In the case that dust or particles have accumulated on the floor of your new place, a dust pan and handheld broom can make quick work of the debris. These can be found just about anywhere—at a dollar, hardware, or housewares store and come in handy around the house long after you’re all settled.

Paper Towel

The weather doesn’t always cooperate with your moving schedule. You may be transporting furniture in the rain, snow, or wind. Should your furniture and décor get a layer of water from rain, sleet, or snow you can easily wipe it off. Plus, you never know when your morning coffee—vital for moving day—might get knocked over in the shuffle.

Be Prepared for the Little Things

Remembering these must-haves are a good way to set your mind at ease for moving day.  Not only will they keep you from hitting roadblocks like a lack of toilet paper, they’ll lower the stress-level of moving important items. Plus, cleanliness during a move can make settling in even easier.

For more moving day insights, read AMJ’s Advice from the Expert: How to Avoid Moving Day Surprises. If you’ve got kids, read Moving with Kids: 4 Tips to Make it Easier.

 

Upcycling Your Home

Upcycling is the art of repurposing old furniture, décor, or housewares. It can be as simple as re-imagining a mug you no longer use as a pen jar or as complicated as turning a rotary phone into a lamp. This practice cuts back on the amount of trash in landfills and allows you to create unique decorations and furnishings for your home, often for less money than a new item as well. Channel your creativity with small, easy projects or go all out—it’s entirely up to you. Talk to your local craft store or market vendors for their take on this hobby to help get you started on your upcycling adventure and keep reading for ideas and tips for creating new from old.

Upcycling Tip 1: Think Outside the Box

The wonderful thing about upcycling is that there are no constraints. It begins with your imagination and ends with something more useful that it previously was. Walk through your home with fresh eyes to discover things you were going to throw away or replace. Peek in your storage room to look at decorations, clothing, and old furniture in a new way—what sparks your creativity?

Furniture

While these projects tend to be a bit bigger, they can often be the most rewarding. If you have a dresser or sideboard in need of new life, a fresh coat of paint or a few strips of wallpaper can make all the difference resurrecting these pieces. A wonderful idea that can quickly turn a plain dresser into a fun, current piece of functional décor is replacing the drawer pulls. Kitschy stores, antique markets, and garage sales often sell bins of them – as does your local hardware store – and picking out your new set it half the fun. Who knows, perhaps you’ll be inspired to create your own?

Clothing & Accessories

Just because clothes don’t fit anymore doesn’t mean it’s time to toss them. Many projects can be done without sewing machines—just scissors and a little enthusiasm. If your baby has grown out of their onesies, you can use these to create toddler t-shirts. Using the top half of the onesie, cut away the bottom portion of leg holes and snaps. Use lace or spare fabric from other unused articles of clothing to add length to the bottom. Those oversized shirts you bought on vacation? You could cut a square from the logo and back portion of the shirt and sew into a square to fit couch cushions. If you’re not into sewing, fringes can be tied together to keep the pillow in place.

 

Home Décor

The easiest upcycling projects are simply reusing containers for a different purpose. Teacups that never get used can make beautiful little tealights by adding a wick and some wax. You can even source the wax from mostly finished pillar candles. Old picture frames look splendid after a once-over with a can of spray paint. Be sure to tape off any areas you don’t want to be painted or to take out the glass. You might even consider using these frames in non-traditional ways, like as jewelry holders or a table centerpiece.

Upcycling Tip 2: Scour Yard Sales & Thrift Stores

Finding goods to work with is half the battle and knowing exactly what you want isn’t necessarily beneficial. Upcycling can be about capitalizing on an opportunity instead of crafting an exact piece. Not having a concrete idea of what you’d like to make, such as a coffee table, lamp, or purse, gives you more wiggle room in what you find to work with.

Yard Sales

The old adage of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” certainly holds true here. Old jars, containers, or vases can be repurposed with metallic paint for a look that’s quite upscale. Create fun designs with strategic masking tape or spray the bottom half of the vase into a bowl of paint to elevate a simple object into a stunning centerpiece. Another example, an old set of chairs, could be uplifted by adding new seats. By taking out the old upholstered portion and recovering it, the chairs will feel brand new. The material you choose doesn’t need to be new either, often old curtains or furniture can work just as well.

Thrift Stores

Likely, these are your best bet for fabric. Peruse the housewares section for sheets, curtains, and blankets that could be turned into something new. The goods in thrift stores have already been washed and screened for quality, making this a better place to find material. These can be reused as material for furniture, curtains, or new clothes for yourself. Second-hand stores are also a perfect spot to find old mirrors, frames, or ornaments for upcycling.

Upcycling Tip 3: Consider Your Strengths

Not everyone is a master of woodworking equipment or the sewing machine. If you are interested in doing projects that involves these skills and tools talk to someone you know who specializes in these areas If you feel that upcycling is a passion of yours, an investment into some classes may help you create even better projects. Overall, this added cost could be outweighed by the savings you’ll earn fetch over time.

Painting, Staining, & Wallpaper

Though perhaps not technically “upcycling” and more akin to renovating, painting, staining and wallpaper could be the most impactful strategy to making something old, new again—and the easiest to learn. The investment is small, but the payoff is huge. With a few brushes and sandpaper, you can change a dated credenza into a statement piece in your home. Wallpaper takes a little practice to really get comfortable with it, but the patterns and colours available to use easily change a dated article into a feature, like this extra special filing cabinet.

Power Tools

If you’re interested in building coffee tables, platform beds, or outdoor sets from other furniture, it may be time to consider turning up the power. Even a power drill can make holes and screws an easier venture without a huge price tag. A power sander or Dremel can save you from hours of hand sanding, making larger projects feasible in a weekend. If you have never used or are not education on the use of power tools, consult someone who has experience with them. You may find another upcycling fanatic to help you with future projects!

 

Getting Started: A Few Tools & Your Own Creativity

While undergoing a project like this may seem daunting, you can get started with resources you already have around your house. Masking tape, scissors, and pens or pencils are most of the tools you will need for painting-based projects. Household sponges and craft brushes work wonders, and if you’ve got touch-up paint laying around the house, this is the perfect time to use it!  Work with what you have first, you may find out you already have everything you need to start upcycling.

Remember that these crafts are an exploration—a successful project doesn’t mean it turned out exactly as you intended, it means you created something new and functional. Regardless of why you’ve chosen to start upcycling, there are many of reasons to be proud of it. Not only will you have new furniture you can say you had a hand in making—you’ll save money on buying brand new while sending one less piece to the landfill.

Read more about making environmental choices, read How to Reduce Waste During the Holidays.

The Logistics of Moving in Together

Warmer weather means moving season is upon us. Moving in the summer months is much easier, since you don’t have to contend with snow on the roads or other bad weather. Many people often move in together at this time of year, what with the school season ending and wedding season beginning. Plus, they can enjoy the summer months in their new space. If you and your partner are planning to consolidate your households, here are a few logistics to consider when choosing your new home, furnishing your space, and talking about money.

Determine Your Home’s Needs

Once you have decided to share a home, the process of picking out your new abode begins. While some decide to have one partner move into the other’s place, it may not feel like a shared space. Getting a new home together gives you both a chance to begin a brand-new journey. If you’re moving in with friends, you’ll have to make similar considerations. The tricky part is finding the Goldilocks Zone that meets all your needs.

Your Must-haves

Discuss the features you will each need—this gives you a starting point in your apartment or house hunt. You may have a large project which necessitates a garage or a hobby that requires a yard. If you like cooking together, a larger kitchen can make that happen. If you prefer to relax on your own from time to time, find a dwelling with enclosed rooms, like a den or reading nook.

Your Deal-breakers

Be honest about what you need in your life, even if it seems trivial. For someone who unwinds with a bath on a regular basis, a stand-up shower just won’t do. Knowing you value natural lighting crosses most basement suites or ground floor apartments off your list. Speaking up about your deal-breakers not only keeps you from moving into a place that doesn’t suit you; it can speed up your search by limiting the amount of properties you look at.

Location, Location, Location

The perfect place is only perfect if you’re happy with the neighbourhood. Reflect on your lifestyles and examine how they might fit in to the surrounding area. You may want to be near grocery stores, shopping areas, or local restaurants. Or, your preference may be a location that is off the beaten path, near parks or rivers, or close to the edge of the city for easy getaways. You also must consider your commute. If your drive to work means you’ll be getting up an hour earlier, is it still your perfect home?

Inventory Your Belongings

If you have each already spent time living on your own, it’s likely that you have most of the things you already need. When consolidating your items, take stock of what you can get rid of without affecting your lifestyle. Two coffee makers, for example, are probably unnecessary unless they serve different functions, like a French press for the daily cup of coffee and a drip machine with a larger pot for company. Taking an inventory of what you own before you move it all into the same house can save you a lot of unpacking headaches.

Trade Up

While it’s nice to have your own things, the easiest way to decide what to keep is by deciding what is in better shape. Even if you are accustomed to sleeping on your ten-year-old mattress, it makes more sense to keep the 3-year-old mattress that doesn’t have the nest-like indentation-for-one in the middle. Choose the appliances that work best, the furniture in the best shape, and the fixtures that are the least dated.

Compromise is Key

It’s doubtful that any one of you is interested in throwing away all the items you already own. This means that you should decide which possessions you are not willing to part with and which ones you could live without. This way, you won’t feel taken advantage of, nor will you domineer the belongings in your shared home.

Repurpose, Sell, Donate

If you have items you no longer need, you may be able to find other uses for them. The older mattress makes a perfect guest bed. A second dining room table may be the right fit for a work or craft table, or even a desk. If you truly do not have the space, consider placing the item on an online marketplace. Your old table lamp may be someone else’s new favourite addition to their bedroom. Or, if you’re not interested in reselling, you may be able to donate these goods to a local charity. Be sure to find out their rules for donating, as charities can’t accept everything, such as used mattresses.

Discuss Your Finances

Money is one of the few conversational taboos left. Even in this modern age of openness, it is not always comfortable or appropriate to discuss salaries, savings, or expenses. That said, if you’re in a relationship, there are important times to do so If you have not broached this subject yet; make a point to talk about it before beginning your cohabitation. This way, you can have clear expectations on both sides about your current savings and/or debt, how you will split the costs of the household, and what money is just for yourself. If you are living with a roommate, it’s still important to talk about the expectations and responsibilities when it comes to splitting your bills.

Savings & Debt

If you’re a couple and one partner is paying off a student loan, it may mean that overall spending needs to be lowered to accommodate debt payments. Alternatively, if a partner has a large sum of money in savings, does that immediately make it shared income or is that for their personal use? Talking about these expectations is vital to avoid miscommunication about the purpose of these funds.

If you’re living with roommates, make sure you give your cohabitants a general idea of how much money you’re able to contribute to bills based on your monthly income, savings, and debt.

Splitting the Costs

In a relationship, sharing your wealth is part of living together. Bills, groceries, rent, or mortgage payments must be paid, and there are various ways to split the cost. The most common way to do this is to add up all the bills every month and each pay half. You could consider assigning the bills—a simple way to avoid the monthly math. Or, if you don’t mind the math, you could even base the split on the income of each partner. For example, if you make 70% of the household income, you can pay for 70% of the household bills.

 

Alternatively, roommates may choose to split costs based on the space you’re each using. If one person gets the better parking space, maybe they could also contribute more to the rent payment. Regardless of how you decide to make that partition, be sure that each of you is on the same page.

Private Spending

Not all your money should be locked into household expenses. If you’re a couple, private spending is important for independence in a relationship. Spending your own money without justifying it to your partner (or yourself) is good for your mental health, which is essential to a healthy relationship. Go ahead: buy that takeout for lunch, those shoes, or a new gadget; just ensure you’ve met your household obligations before you spend that money.

 

Consider the Logistics Beforehand

While these may seem like topics of conversation you would normally bring up with your partner, talking about these things before you move in can help make the transition go smoothly and maintain your relationship in the long-term. If you’re moving in with a friend, make sure you discuss your living habits and outlook for the near future to make sure you both have clear expectations for your cohabitation.

 

For continued reading on choosing your new place, we suggest Settling in to a New Community or Your Guide to Moving Out for the First Time.