Canada's last census reports that four out of 10 Canadians changed their addresses in the five years from 1996 to 2001. The rate at which Canadians move homes is dropping -- it was 41.9 per cent in the 2001 census, compared to 46.7 per cent in 1991.

But with real estate sales posting record numbers during the last couple of years, it will be interesting to see if the moving rate continues to decline. Statistics Canada says the number of people moving is dropping because of the aging population. Young adults aged 15 to 29 are more mobile than the rest of the population because that's when the major transitions in their lives occur -- they move away because they are going to school, taking on a job, or getting married. From age 25, mobility declines steadily with age, says Statistics Canada.

Moving is one of the most stressful events in an average person's life, ranking after the death of a loved one and divorce, says a new study released by Royal LePage Relocation Services (RLRS). The study says moving is stressful for everyone in the family, even pets.

Women experience more stress than men before and during a move, says the study. Forty-six per cent of women surveyed said they experienced feeling irritable, increased anxiety, problems sleeping or tension headaches. Only 32.7 per cent of men admitted to having these problems.

For school-aged children, the hardest part about moving is leaving behind their friends and adjusting to a new school. Some of the symptoms of stress that children suffer include problems sleeping, anxiety and a lack of appetite. Dogs and cats also had a tough time with moving. Many of their owners report the pets reflected stress by abnormal chewing, loss of appetite, lethargy or hyper activeness.

RLRS issued its stress survey to illustrate some of the services that relocation companies are providing to help people cope with a move. This includes helping parents find a new school for their children and providing job search tips for spouses who are accompanying a partner for a work-related move, says RLRS. The company also offers moving tips on its website.

If there's a move in your future, the best advice is to plan ahead and start packing as early as possible. Get rid anything you don't need to take with you. One of your major decisions will be whether to hire a mover or do the job yourself with friends and relatives helping you out. A do-it-yourself move may save some money, but amateur movers risk injuring themselves and damaging possessions. Movers also know how to pack and unpack delicate items. However, even if you use a professional, move important papers and valuables such as jewelry yourself.

Another important part of moving is remembering to tell everyone that you're going. That includes the post office, the utilities, and the school and assorted other interested parties. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. offers a handy Moving Worksheet to help you remember everyone.

On moving day, RLRS recommends that you find a way to get the children involved so they feel more comfortable about the move and get familiar with the new address. Find a friend to look after pets during the move, or make sure they are in an out-of-the-way room so they don't run away while the doors are open, or get stressed out by all the activity.

If you're a small business owner, moving a business can be even more stressful if it's not managed properly. Experts say planning should begin 12 months before the move. A project manager should be appointed to oversee the operation, and department managers must be informed so they can start thinking about what has to be done. At 11 months, a real estate professional should be hired to begin a search for the new space. At 10 months, an interior designer should be considered to physically plot out the new business space. By seven months before the move, you should know what new furniture or equipment you'll require, and start planning ahead for delivery lead times, allowing eight to 14 weeks for delivery.

At six months, both landlords need to be notified of your plans. At four months, the moving budget should be in place, and at three months, construction and telecommunication planning must begin.

Two months before the move, hire a commercial mover. Three weeks before the move, inform all clients and suppliers of the new address. Work well ahead of schedule and make sure you hire the right professionals when you need them, to ensure a safe, stress-free move.

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