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The Ultimate Guide for Moving Across Canada with Ease

By Nikola Asambelevski
A large transport truck driving on a highway through the prairies.

Hundreds of people each year have to make the move across Canada for work, school or just because they need a change of scenery. Moving across Canada and starting fresh in a new city can be very exciting, but the prospect of packing up all of your stuff and hauling it 4500 km across the country can keep you up at night. Moving to Toronto, or Vancouver, or another major city can bring with it a lot of challenges. For such a large undertaking, preparation is key. Here are some things to consider before starting your voyage. 

Remove as much clutter as you can

A room packed up and ready for the big move, with piles of packing boxes and chairs wrapped in plastic to protect them during transit.

A big move can actually be a great opportunity to get rid of some non-essential items that are just taking up space in your home. If an item is less than $20 and holds no emotional value, get rid of it. Hosting a garage sale or donating to your local thrift store or homeless shelter is a great way of getting rid of stuff you don’t need. The less stuff you have to move the easier that the move will be. When you arrive at your new home you might find out that you need some additional space. Self-storage is a great option if you need a place to store extra items while you are settling down in a new home. Self-storage facilities like Storwell have a plethora of storage unit sizes to accommodate any and all of your storage needs.

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A flexible move out date

For some this might not be possible, but try and have a flexible start date for your move. If there happens to be really bad weather on the day you were planning to leave, taking a few extra days is better than pushing ahead. Leaving extra time for any unexpected hiccups will make the process far less stressful.

Cross Canada moving Solutions 

There are three main options when moving cross country:

Renting a moving truck for moving across Canada

A large truck driving on a highway with mountains in the background.

The cheapest option you can choose is to rent a moving truck and drive it to your new city yourself. This might be an appealing option for people living in a smaller apartment with a relatively small amount of furniture. This also might be a good choice for students who are looking to save some money and have a cross country road trip with some friends. 

There are some major drawbacks to this option. For one, you will have to drive thousands of kilometers by yourself. It’s best if you have two people for the journey, to stave off boredom, and share driving duties. Also, not everyone is comfortable driving a large truck, so it might be a good idea to take the truck around the block a few times before you start the journey to get a feel for the weight and handling. 

Plan your driving route carefully

You can power through the night and make it from coast to coast in a day or two, but driving late at night, sleep deprived, and with low visibility is not advised, so you will need to make accommodations to sleep on route. Make sure to plan your hotel trips ahead of time, not just to save on cost, but also time. If you’re only staying at the hotel for a few hours to sleep, then you can aim for the cheapest option you can find. You also have to plan out the route that you are going to take. Fuel is expensive, so you want to take the quickest route possible. In certain cases that might mean driving through the United States.

While you are making your way across Canada, try and take time to experience the country’s natural beauty. You can visit the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia, the Athabasca Sand Dunes in Saskatchewan, Clearwater Lake in Manitoba, and Bow Valley in Canmore Alberta. These are just a handful of the natural wonders that you will encounter while making the trip across Canada.

Arriving at your new home

After you’ve made the journey to your new city, you will have to find a place to park your moving truck. This might not be much of an issue if you are moving into a suburban home with a large driveway, but if you’re moving into a condo in downtown Toronto, you might run into some issues. Pin down your parking location ahead of time, so you’re not stuck squeezing a huge truck through crowded backstreets. If possible, plan to arrive at your new location later at night or early in the morning, when there is less traffic. Make sure to check with your landlord, some apartment buildings have designated move in times. 

Renting a moving container for moving across Canada

A rental self-storage container that is used for moving, providing temporary storage for household belongings during a move across Canada.

If you are moving out of a house, a moving truck might not be a feasible option. The next step up from driving a moving truck yourself is renting a moving container. These are large containers that the moving company brings to your door, you’ll have a certain amount of time to pack all of your things into the container, and then the company will move the container to your new location.

Advantages to moving containers

The major benefit to using a moving container is the flexibility; you can have the moving container show up to your home days before the move and not be in a rush to pack everything away. You will still be packing all of your items yourself, giving you full control over how they are placed in the container. It’s also important that you pick the right size container. If you pick a container with too much space, you run the risk of some of your items moving around during the trip.

Many moving container companies also offer storage options, so if you’re not ready to unpack you can keep your stuff in storage until you are. Of course, that will be adding cost onto your budget.

Disadvantages to moving Containers

The drawback to the moving container option is the price; usually this is a more expensive option than renting a moving truck yourself. It also isn’t the fastest option available. Sometimes moving containers can take up to two weeks to make it across the country. This might workout well if you choose to go with a hybrid option, renting a small truck or van for your more fragile items and also renting a small moving container for some of the larger furniture. The moving container will arrive at your new place several days after you giving you some time to situate yourself and unpack the more sensitive items.

Hiring a full moving service for moving across Canada

Two men moving boxes out of the back of a truck.

The third moving option is to hire a full moving service. A group of movers will come to your home, collect the items, pack them onto their truck, drive the truck to your new location and unpack your stuff there. This is the most expensive option, but also the option that is the least stressful for you. The entire moving process is handled by the moving company; all you have to worry about is getting yourself to your new city.

The downside to this option is that you are giving up some of your control in the moving process; the movers will pack the items onto the truck themselves. If you pick a reputable moving company, then they should be taking care to make sure all of your items are safe, but if you go with a cheaper, less well known company, you are taking a risk that some of your items might be damaged. If you have a lot of valuable or fragile items you might want to consider hiring a professional packing company as well. Sometimes moving companies also offer packing services as well, but again, you will be adding to the overall cost of the move.

Beware of rogue movers

One big thing to keep an eye out for when hiring a moving company is rogue movers. Rogue Movers are companies that use shady tactics to get you to pay them more money. These companies will give you a low quote over the phone or over email, they never visit your home in person to assess how much stuff you have or provide an estimate in writing. On the day of the move they’ll show up claiming “extra fees” for having to move heavy furniture or having to go up stairs. Then the movers will try and get you to sign a contract on the spot without giving you time to read it. Once they have your stuff packed if you refuse to pay the extra fees they will threaten to dump your things on the side of the road or hold it hostage.

The best way to avoid rogue movers is to only use reputable moving companies, make sure to read reviews online. Make sure to get any quotes down on paper, any quotes given over the phone or by email are subject t change without notice. Also never set up a moving day without receiving the contract and looking it over beforehand.

Get quotes from multiple companies

Whatever moving option you go with, it’s important that you spread a wide net when looking for moving companies, truck rental services, or moving containers. There are a lot of companies out there, so get quotes from a few different companies to see which one will give you the best price. Also, regardless of the moving option you choose, make sure to take fuel charges into consideration, people often forget to include fuel in their budgets.

If the reason for your move is a new job, ask your company if they are willing to pay for your relocation. Some companies will cover some, or all of the cost of their employees moving to a new city. This is not a guarantee, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Packing tips and tricks

Packing up all of your earthly belongings can seem like a herculean task, but if you take it one step at a time and remain calm, the process will go a lot smoother. Packing becomes easier and easier the less stuff you have, so it is a good idea to sell or donate as many items as you can. To sell a lot of your possessions at once, consider hosting a garage sale. For the remaining items you simply cannot part with; here are some things to keep in mind.

Packing furniture

Packing furniture into a truck or moving container can very tricky. If possible, disassemble the furniture, take the legs off of couches, and take apart book shelves. This will make it easier to fit your furniture into tight spots and make better use of your space. If you can’t disassemble the furniture, then try and stand it up length-ways, as using up vertical space is really important. Buy some moving blankets; these will keep the furniture from getting scratched up as you’re moving it around. Also try and pack the furniture at the front and back of the moving truck or container, providing a barrier for the smaller more fragile items.

Be careful when packing fragile items

Speaking of fragile items, make sure to pack up any glassware or breakable items using newspaper or bubble wrap. If there are items that have particular emotional value such as old family heirlooms, it is probably best that you keep those with you and not on the moving truck.

Packing clothing

When packing clothing, use the roll up technique. Rolling up items like shorts, t-shirts, and shorts will let you pack them up tightly into small spaces, if you have luggage that you also need to move, fill it up with clothing and other small items to save space. If you have items like suits, dresses or other clothing that can’t be rolled up, make sure to get clothing bags to keep them safe in the move.

Where to get cardboard boxes for packing?

If you need boxes for packing, you can go to liquor stores, bars, book stores, pet stores, or big box retail stores, those stores get most of their inventory shipped to them in strong cardboard boxes and many will give you their unused boxes for a low price or sometimes even free. If you need any other packing supplies like boxes tape bubble wrap you can purchase moving boxes at stores like Boxed Inn

What to do with your old car?

One very important decision that you’ll have to make regarding your move is whether or not you’re going to keep your car. If you decide to hire a moving company then this becomes pretty simple, you can drive your car to your new city. If you decide to rent a truck, things get more difficult. You will have to get someone to drive your car for you or you can get a truck with the ability to tow a car, but that can be a complicated process in and of itself. There are options to have your car transported by rail cross country that are not too expensive. You could also sell your car before moving to your new location but the selling process can take more time than you have before you need to move.

Storage options for your new home

Once you arrive at your new location, you might find that you have too much stuff to fit in your new place or that some stuff you would rather keep in storage than in your new home. A move can be a great time to reevaluate what items you want to keep, throw away, or store. If you’re making the move to Etobicoke, Mississauga or Scarborough you can come to Storwell Self Storage.

Moving your entire life across the country is a large undertaking, but if you have a plan, follow the advice in this guide, and stay calm the process becomes a lot less daunting.

Three Locations in The Greater Toronto Area Three Locations in The Greater Toronto Area

For more details, select the location nearest to you in Toronto:
For more details, select the location nearest to you in Toronto:
Etobicoke Storage Units


300 Evans Ave. (416) 259-5555 Get a Quote
Mississauga Storage Units


2525 Royal Windsor Dr. (905) 823-5555 Get a Quote
Scarborough Storage Units


85 Executive Ct. (416) 534-5555 Get a Quote