Lessons I Learned in Moving to a New House in Canada

Last week, I mentioned about how my family is about to move in a new house in the Philippines. They will be busy and excited just as I was months ago. Yet all is the same. We can all learn lessons in moving to a new house whichever the country.

Most Important Lesson: Change is required for improvement. And there’s NO need to over think.

Moving out of the old place force me to sort out and downsize my stuff because I can’t expect to have bigger space which I also don’t need. I want a room that fits my twin bed, my computer (aka my office), book shelf, clothing, and a space to exercise. (I don’t have gargantuan gym equipment.)

What follows are lessons that I learned from mistakes and hope not to repeat in future moving out/in.

It doesn’t matter whether you are reading this before or after moving to a new place because we can apply the lessons everyday to have financial freedom or simply be the best version of ourselves . . . each day.

Don’t Wait for U-Haul or Fine Weather

My driving skill has immensely improved. (Stopping just before the pedestrian crossing.) I like the idea of moving all my stuff with a U-Haul van but it doesn’t come with a driver.

I had to go back and forth at least five times to the new place in winter. Off all the season, I beg you to not move out in this harsh weather unless left without a choice.

Even when I lift the bike to the rack at the back of my car, I didn’t sweat but cursed several times the cold.

Moving to a New House in Canada

Cutleries from IKEA in Calgary.

Shop but Don’t Get Bankrupt

Before I go shopping for new or used stuff, I created a list of what and where to buy the essentials. Budget plays a huge part on making decisions and so is quality.

1. Dollarama or Dollar Store

Or whatever store with a dollar on its name is worth visiting to cross out some stuff on the list. I bought some kitchen stuff like placemat, mantel, towel, sink strainer, sponge, and so forth. The bamboo utensils was my best purchased for C$3.00 as it proved that durability can come with affordability. But for anything with screw and spring there are better place to shop at.

2. Canadian Tire

This store is my favourite place to shop during sale. The Cuisinart cookware was 75% off. Knives and other kitchen utensils are affordable if you are not picky with brands. Starfrit does fine for its price for a long period.

When it’s time to pay, don’t forget to collect Canadian Tire Money. It’s easier to show the barcode on Stocard if you don’t like carrying a bunch of reward cards. I also bought chopping board, shower, and other stuff for home that I sent in the Philippines. And will be back for more.

3. Walmart

I bought the Twin Ozark Trail Flocked Airbed at Walmart because it’s easier to transport than a bed with a box. When it comes to firmness it’s like a typical bed but more affordable.

It works for me; what’s to complain about if it hold my “light” weight for a week. After that I have to inflate it again with the use of built-in electric air pump.

Test how much firmness is good for your body; it helps to add a few sheets like fleece other than bed sheet on top. When frugality meets affordability it’s hard not to say good things about it.


I go to IKEA to shop and eat. The vegetarian food is amazing that I don’t mind having desert as well. (A treat for a rare visit.) You can shop almost anything at IKEA but I didn’t buy any furniture although I love to put things together and read the instruction half way through.

Cutleries are simple and elegant. You can choose different colours and sizes of microfiber bath mat which are lacking in other stores.

Microfiber mat is by far the best choice for bathroom. It’s affordable and easy to wash and I have a feeling it will take a long time before I need to buy a new one. (I guess I’ll need other excuse to justify having my vegetarian treat at IKEA.)

5. Thrift Store

Goodwill or Value Village or whatever thrift store in your area, is a place not to miss when hunting for new ownership of used stuff. It could be a table, chair, shoe rack, paintings, vase or whatever accessory that fits your style and budget.

This was the last place I went to because I have most of the house necessities covered bought from other stores. Honestly, I only shop here if I’m looking for a book; otherwise, I seldom visit the store unless I need to buy ornaments or finally make my own terrarium.

Where else to shop in Canada: Home Depot, RONA, JYSK, Bed Bath and Beyond, Winners and any stores with clearance sale. Where else do you shop?

Tip: Before you shop check the flyers to compare and get the best deal. The Stocard  app shows offers apart from saving your rewards card information.

Give Without Guilt

I don’t have many things to give away since I adapted the following methods:

  • Buy one, give away another.
  • Give away stuff that I haven’t use in a year. Except the seasonal stuff.
  • If I don’t like it and it’s not comfortable, toss it in the must-go bag.

I donated some of my Canadian stuff (eg. coat, gloves etc.) to charity. Look for bins of different charities in your neigbourhood. It’s easier to dump clothing than to bring it to thrift store which is the way to go if you will donate a lot so you can get a charitable tax receipt.

Reminder: Do not put clothing in the recycling bin. (Tempting. Yes I know. But still a no no.)

Some of my stuff were sent to the Philippines through a balikbayan box from Jenrich Cargo.

I don’t need magic spell for myself to put inside the box my Harry Potter books. It was a long soliloquy. Throughout the years, Ive been trying to read all the 7 books but haven’t done so. (I’ve read 3 out of 7 by borrowing.)

Someday belongs to my muggle sibling who has equal obsession to J.K. Rowling’s characters. (But it was a box set with good cover and the spirit of the good old days.) Sidetracked: I still think that I belong to the Gryffindor House if I would wear the sorting hat.

Sell to Fund the Moving Expenses

Moving expenses is part of my emergency fund. Yet I have another plan in mind. I sold my used car. It wasn’t much but it covered my one month deposit and shopping expenses.

Selling my car means saving on gas and car insurance. But my rent expense increase a bit while I can still save some for travel fund.

The huge win for me is not asking for car insurance quote every year.

I appreciate the time I spent with my car but I realized that I’m a commuter at heart since my first solo commute on 3rd grade. The next things I want to sell on Amazon.ca are my bike rack and Jabra Bluetooth Headphone.

At some point, I have to do it anyway because I dream of selling something online besides blogging. If it doesn’t work out then I know people who wouldn’t think twice of saying yes to free stuff.

Change Address Immediately

Changing address is an easy task to do if only I could do it online for all of my account. I learned that it is best to change address within a week of moving out for some accounts. Otherwise, do so once you move in especially for important letters.

1. Bank – Canadian banks (eg. online bank and Big Five) are way ahead of technology when it comes to banking. But I must say that Philippine banks especially Philippine National Bank is catching up though not yet at full speed.

2. Credit CardRogers Platinum Mastercard makes it easy; on the other hand, I had to call the customer support of Home Trust Preferred Visa, a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fee.

3. Employment – I sent an email to the HR department. It’s urgent to do it ahead of time before tax season to have an updated address on the T4 Tax Slip.

4. Insurance – To update your personal information, contact your advisor through email or phone. I did both because one method isn’t enough reminder.

5. Online Discount Brokerage – Questrade as always makes everything easy online. COL Financial, a discount brokerage in the Philippines, do the same thing.

6. Driver’s License – This is the toughest because it can’t be done for free. I went to a registry to get a new ID and update my address although it will expire in a year. Although, I was given a choice to get a new ID with 5 year validity for full renewal fee, I declined.

I may move again and the idea of paying less appeal to me more. The new ID arrived in a week.

Note: For residents of Alberta, each time you have a new address, make sure to update also your Alberta Personal Health Card. Do this in any registry or at the time of getting a new driver’s license.

7. Online Shop – If you regularly shop online (by that I mean once a month) it is best to make an account than shop as a guest. Amazon.ca is my go-to e-commerce shop for gadgets and deals.

Tip: For online shopping use credit card that offers cash back like Rogers/Fido Mastercard or Home Trust to earn points redeemable as cash or credit.

8. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) –  These are the most important update that you should do. The good news is, you can change your address online. For CRA, mailing and home address should be the same, unless it’s intentional.

Have I successfully change all my address?

I’ll find out soon if any letters wander to my old address. It happened to my insurance statement so I had to write an email.

Stay on Guard

All things are at the right place and hand. Yet the work is not over and it will never be.

As a long term investor and fanatic renter, I have to watch my habit and bear in mind the lessons I’ve learned. I am determined to become good at moving my stuff from one place to another.

No, I don’t aim (yet) to fit all my stuff in a luggage and a backpack like minimalist full-time blogger.

What I can do in my new place is to keep things in minimalist style:

  • Don’t buy more books; instead, I’ll borrow books from the library.
  • Keep stuff with sentimental value like photos that my old soul would appreciate.
  • Scan documents and back up files. Keep minimal paper documents.
  • Send bike in the Philippines. I don’t know when I’ll be able to do it (or if I can) but I want my sibling to have my first costly purchase in Canada.
  • Have a moving expenses fund. It includes budget for shopping and maybe, just maybe a sturdy bed.
  • Consider renters insurance. As of now, besides my computer that has my important files, I can replace my stuff if any unfortunate events happen so I better diligently save.

It’s time to move on with this moving out/in post. I’ll read this again whenever I move somewhere else but I am hoping it will take at least two more years before I pack my stuff again. This will buy me time and moola to work on the home improvement in the Philippines.

What about you? What is a must-have item that you bought regardless of the tag price for a new place?

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About Pwede Padala Gal

Pwede Padala Gal loves to share tips on how to save in Canada and the Philippines. Someday she'll finally teach her Aspin at least one dog trick and keep a cactus alive. Chat with her on Facebook and reddit.

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