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Condo Scene: Movers and shakers


Advice for a smooth move

It is a truth universally acknowledged that moving day is stressful.

The packing of the things, the goodbyes to your old home and the moving of the items you’ve packed will all take time and effort. Possessions may get broken, thrown away or lost in the shuffle (at least temporarily).

And while moving into a condo is not as simple as moving into a single home, it’s also an exciting moment. So here is some advice you can use to make your shift to condo living a little closer to flawless.

You may have booked your movers months ago, having carefully chosen them based on recommendations from your neighbour and your mother-in-law. That’s a great start. But if not, be sure to get three quotes and remember that you get what you pay for — the lowest quote is not always the best or the least expensive in the long run.

It’s wonderful knowing that you’ve selected people who will treat your “goods” with as much respect as you do. But don’t leave it there. Make sure to tell your movers exactly what they will be moving.

Many people ignore items from the list thinking they may add them on moving day, but the truck that accompanies your movers may then be too small and they will have to scramble around to order a larger truck. Additionally, the company may not bring enough people to move such a large load and your day and stress will thus be prolonged, while the cost rises. While you are billed only by time on a local move, a long-distance move will be charged according to weight.

When moving to a condo, you want to make sure that you tell your movers exactly where you are moving. Are you raising your sights to a highrise or is townhouse living in the cards? Are there many steps or levels? Some condos are two-storey or have a loft while some townhouses are four and five levels. This may make a difference as access to the property will be different and your movers need to plan ahead.

If your last move was into a detached home, this difference may not occur to you. Single-family dwellings have easier access — you can come and go without restrictions — while condo access is limited by time, parking, traffic and use of both service and occupant elevators.

This last concern is a big one. If you arrive with a moving crew and find that another occupant is moving in or out, you may have to share the elevator. This will be much less convenient as you will have to share space and time with this new neighbour, which may not be appreciated and may add to your and the mover’s stress level.

This is why you must ensure that you have booked the elevator for your move-in date. In New York City, for instance, you may only move into a condo or co-op between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and there are no exceptions to this rule. This makes it all the more important to get in and get out, otherwise your goods may be stored overnight for an additional cost.

On top of this restriction is the added headache of parking problems. Many movers may skirt around this problem by double parking, leading to a parking ticket that is calculated into your move. Ottawa movers may not have to deal with such difficulties as movers may get on-street permits to block off certain parking meters before the move. But this is why it’s important to be specific about the details of your new condo when moving.

Mike Kohlberg has been in the moving business for 35 years and owns both Royal Moving Inc. in Ottawa and Outaouais Moving in Hull ( He tells me that on a recent Toronto move a client got stuck with paying additional costs when the large moving van holding their beloved belongings could not access their new condo building’s entrance, due to construction and contractors’ trucks.

The movers had to park far away and rent a smaller truck to shuttle the belongings from one truck to another and then begin the move into the condo. Had the owner waited until the condo was completed, the costs would have been much lower.

Having considered outside restrictions such as those related to parking, let’s move inside. Remember that moves to condo buildings usually necessitate the use of elevators. These moves may take longer as you have to wait for the time it takes the load to go up and the movers to come back down between loads. The higher the floor the longer the wait. For this reason, a three- to four-hour move may take between six and eight hours.

When booking your elevator, make sure to check out the condo building’s rules on how long you may book the elevator as there may be constraints on this. Many condo buildings only allow three- to four-hour elevator bookings.

Don’t forget to consider other building restrictions. Is there, for instance, a service entrance for movers? Can the lobby be used during moves? What kind of access to the building will the movers have on that particular day? Are there hallway time restrictions? How close may the van get to the front door? These issues are all key as they impact the price of your move. Remember, time is money.

According to Kohlberg, the best advice for your move is to ask the condo corporation a lot of questions and give your moving company as much advance information as you can.

He says that once you have your three quotes, go by your comfort level with the mover rather than the lowest price.

And he suggests you make sure your new condo is well finished before you move in. Don’t have your movers tripping over cables and contractors to fill the only finished room with all of your earthly possessions. Rather, schedule your move-in date for a bit after the suggested move-in to ensure that things go smoothly.

If you move in before your new condo building is completed, you may end up not getting the work in your unit completed in a timely fashion as the contractor will be on a time line to finish other units first.

So use your condo sense and get your information organized along with your boxes so you can be a mover and shaker.

Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 23 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage, an Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. She can be reached through or follow her on Twitter@marilyn_wilson.

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