Moving? What a great opportunity to declutter!

We all have things we no longer need – or things we purchased that we never really needed in the first place. The time before a move is an excellent opportunity to look around and decide what you would like to keep and what is just excess baggage. Think about it: through decluttering you will end up with less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, and more money.

Too much junk!

For example, how many food storage containers do you have in your cupboards? How many of these have lids? Do you also have clothing that no longer fits or clothing too unfashionable for you to ever wear? Shoes you haven’t worn for years, tax files dating back to the mid-80s, a broken food processor and its useless replacement? Maybe you have an old computer you meant to sell via Kijiji or eBay or a chair that you’d planned to get re-upholstered one day? It is probably about now that you are realizing that the great deal from the garage sale may not have been worth the $5. It costs so much more in time or money to dispose of. And - what about those boxes that were never unpacked after your last move?

Don’t worry – this is a common first world problem with a long history. The following quote is from 1928:

“We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.”

A study reported in the LA Times newspaper found that there are 300,000 items in the average American home. Imagine that – THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND THINGS! No one has bothered to count the number of things in Canadian homes, but I doubt there would be much difference if they did.

Because we have so many things, it’s not surprising it’s hard to keep track of the items we actually need amongst all that stuff. A UK newspaper, The Daily Mail, reported that over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items. The research found we lose up to nine items every day—or 198,743 things in a lifetime. Phones, keys, sunglasses, and paperwork top the list.

Declutter for Peace of Mind

And we move this stuff from apartment to apartment, house to house. But this time – decide not to do it! Why lug around boxes of material that clutter your house AND cost you extra money in moving costs to transport?

So before you move, take an inventory of your own possessions. An inventory is a great tool for many reasons. It will make it obvious where you have duplications (like many packages of chilli powder do you really need?) plus it will be helpful for insuring your belongings. There are many apps that can help with this. To find some, click here. “Know Your Stuff” is an app created by the Insurance Information Institute. You can find it here.

Maybe it’s time to have a garage sale or just donate items that you don’t use to Value Village or another charity. Someone else just might have use for your complete Seinfeld TV Series CD set now that you’ve memorized every scene. Recycle or sell whatever you can.

A decluttered place will bring you peace of mind, and it will be like a fresh start in your new home. Wouldn’t you love to have a place for everything that you need and use so that once you use something you can put it back in its own special place?

But Where Do You Start?

One of the hottest organizational experts right now is Japan’s Marie Kondo, whose 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is still on the best-seller list. She suggests, in her videos and through her website that you declutter in this order.

1. Clothing

2. Books

3. Documents

4. Miscellaneous Items, including momentos

She also suggests you say “thank you” to each item as you send them on to their new home.

So first … STOP SHOPPING! If you are going to bring something new into your home, really question whether it will just be another thing to throw out in a couple of weeks or months or the next time you move.

And keep your receipts so you can take things back.

For more tips on decluttering and moving, please email your ICM professional mover at or telephone number 416 656-8924. Please subscribe to our quarterly newsletter where we regularly provide tips on packing, moving day, and beyond.

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Ask a Mover

Ask a Mover: Interviewed at 4 pm on 17 February 2016

Good after noon, Paul – what are you doing on this fine snowy and cold day?


I’m ordering new uniforms for my guys. I’m thinking that we’ll go with black this time. We went with grey last time but they get dirty fast and really show up the sweat when you are moving. The worst colour t-shirts or jerseys for movers would be white. If your movers come to you with white t-shirts, send them home <he laughs>. White shirts are for desk jobs. Movers and lumberjacks – real men – wear red or black <laughs again – then stops as he sees I am staring pointedly at his white button-down shirt. He gestures at the computer and at the papers around him>. I am working from the office today. My guys are working in the warehouse. Got a few deliveries going as well.



What is the worst thing about moving on a day like today?


The snow is difficult. It is difficult to move in and out of a home without tracking in snow and slush. On days like today we make sure we bring along extra floor runners. You always have to be sensitive to the things like snow and weather that you cannot control on a move.



What is the best thing about moving on day like today?


It’s a sunny day and it is good working weather, temperature-wise. You don’t feel cold – once your body gets warmed up you even take your jacket off. It’s less stress on the body moving during the colder seasons or moderate weather, really.


So, you are a veteran mover. With 25 years on the job, what do you think that experience brings?


Experience brings understanding of the hardship of the work. I can pace my guys and I know how many people to send on a move. I can also really judge how much time a move is going to take, even when customers think they don’t have much stuff. I know that preparation for a move takes time. That includes the disassembly and wrapping up of furniture. Removing doors is also sometimes necessary to ensure you get things through safely – safely for the “things” and also safely for the walls. I also know when and how to hoist furniture. We once had to hoist a sofa eight floors up one time. That was one to remember!


Not only knowing how many men to send to the move, but also knowing the correct size of truck to send is important. And the right equipment. I have several trucks and you have to know which truck to book up for which move so that you can plan your day, weeks, and months properly. Keep the trucks and the guys busy. Logistics is the most interesting and challenging thing I do at my desk, but I also love to get out and direct the guys on the job.


What are the most interesting things you’ve moved?


A $10,000 board room table. It was interesting because it was marble, big and awkward. It had to be lifted correctly as it would have snapped if it was picked up incorrectly. It was difficult maneuvering around corners. Took a lot of experience and good sense to move it safely and without damage – any damage would absolutely ruin it.


We moved a gigantic fish tank the other day. It had to be taken down from the pedestal it was on, about five or six feet up. That was challenging – getting it off the pedestal safely.


<Paul raises an eyebrow and says quietly> We once moved all kinds of torture and bondage equipment from an apartment downtown. They were things you tie people down on – wooden structures with belts and restraining things. We had to walk these things down the stairs as they wouldn’t fit on the elevators. Got odd looks from the other tenants!


What are you most proud of?


We moved a women’s shelter, including pro-bono work for them. I am proud of that and the lady called me today too – she has more work for us. We’ve also been a mover of choice with the LGBTQ community – I love that diverse communities CHOOSE US!



What are your plans for Innercity as a company?


I’m planning to modernize our fleet of trucks – newer, more fuel-efficient trucks. I am planning to delve more into the commercial market. And I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the great people of Toronto. So many of my moves are repeat clients and referrals. I love that. It is so interesting when you get a call from a person you moved five years ago – they’ll say “Remember me? I always kept your number because you did such great work for us!” Gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling <he smiles>




So, if you have stuff to haul – just call Paul. He’s an all-around nice guy and experienced mover.

416 656-8924||


Moving on Up

Moving On Up


Part of the fun of moving people is that you get to experience their joy in “moving on up” especially when they do it “Jefferson” style – do any of you remember that show from the 80s?  When people finally achieve their dream of moving into their first home, or their dream home, it is a beautiful sentiment to be a part of.


I recall moving a family from a nice top floor apartment in the Dufferin and Davenport area of Toronto to a house in Etobicoke with a big backyard. The apartment was lovely, don’t get me wrong: I met my client early in the process, before she’d even packed a single box, in that apartment. When I went in the older kids were quietly doing their homework and a five-year-old was watching cartoons. My client, Lily, was cooking dinner. She’d just gotten home from work when I arrived.


The apartment was crowded, yes: a two-bedroom apartment with three kids and two adults is going to be. But despite that, it was a home, and it did bustle with a nice energy and things had their place: shoes on a rack by the door; family photos framed on the wall and on the side tables; kids’ Star-Wars-themed bedroom had a bunk bed and boxes of toys, one bed covered with books. The refrigerator was covered with kids’ art and that evening the apartment also smelled of the delicious meal Lily was preparing for her family.


I felt lucky to be selected as her mover. Two months later, I came back, and this time the energy was more frenetic. Boxes were packed and labelled leaving little space for the older boys who jostled and teased each other and the little one who was in the arms of her father. Lily was happy and excited to be moving into the first home they would own in Canada, several years after having arrived here from Jamaica.


We packed the truck and drove to meet them in their new home in north-western edge of Toronto: the Albion and Silverstone area to be precise. The house seemed so large compared to their much smaller apartment – the kids were chasing each other through the halls of the empty house when we arrived, laughing and excited with their new environment. Lily and her husband, Everald (I think that was his name – this was way back in 1995) excitedly showed me where to put things and it was a nice feeling to get paid – smile – then leave them to turn this house into a new home.


One of the perks of being a mover is being a witness to this kind of thing. Of course, I’ve seen times when moves aren’t very happy, but in most cases, people are at least relieved to get the job done and to start creating a home wherever they have “moved on up” to.