In Montreal, Moving En Masse

Thursday, June 29, 2006

There's a tradition every July 1st in Montreal: People move. Lots of them.

This city of 1.3 million people, as well as the whole province of Quebec, has a designated moving day ( la journ?e du d?m?nagement ). Based on a decades-old tradition, large numbers of leases begin and end on July 1, creating a kind of moving madness of jammed freight elevators, clogged driveways and overbooked movers. The official relocation day occurs after the area's harsh winters and during the summer break from school. It also falls on Canada Day, a national holiday, so most offices and stores are closed.

"Streets full of people carrying refrigerators and sofas in the sweltering heat is part of what makes Montreal original," says Darren Becker, a spokesman for the city, where he predicts 65,000 households will change addresses on Saturday.

Every year in the United States, one out of every seven people moves (but not all at once). And usually, it's not much fun. In their book "How to Survive a Move" (Hundreds of Heads Books, $19.95), Jamie Allen and Kazz Regelman compiled the wisdom of 600 moving veterans on subjects such as what's the best way to wrap glasses (use socks) and why you shouldn't put labels like "gold medals and trophies" on your boxes (they are likely to be stolen).

"It's a big, traumatic experience and we want to help people through it," Allen says. "You can't just put a mattress on top of your car and drive down the road."

Jura Koncius

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company