Move-out day 2018

On Monday and Tuesday I was busy working the local university move-out day. My picking schedule was pretty laid back compared to last year, when I tried really hard for like a week but only really found noteworthy stuff on the 30th and 1st. This time around I left the early stuff to the local scavengers (of which there are plenty) and focused on the big days.

Even then, I tried not to take it too seriously. I think move-out picking is largely based on luck of the draw, and the great finds either come or they don’t. Move-out day in 2016 was awesome – I saved about 1000$ worth of stuff – and in 2017 I found about 600$. This year I didn’t get nearly as lucky, and I’ll probably make only around 100$ for my efforts.

Still, it was a fun time. Well, Monday wasn’t much fun because the weather was rainy and generally miserable. It was a lot nicer out on Tuesday though, when I walked around with a friend on a beautiful sunny day and dug through various piles of trash. We ended up filling the car mostly with clothes, which we’ll probably sell at my next yard sale, and having conversations with other pickers.

This year the powers that be tried harder to reduce waste on the big day. I talked to a volunteer of the “Trash 2 Treasure” program and apparently they stuffed (at least) two semi trailers full of reusable goods for charity. They either set up appointments with the kids beforehand, or had volunteers pick up the items (mostly furniture and clothes) as they made their way to the curb. It was good to see some progress being made in that regard!

There was still plenty of garbage however. I found a few minor change hauls – no loonies or toonies, but I probably saved around 12-15$ overall. I also found three Euros, an American dollar bill, and…


… a ripped 20! Fortunately I had the useful part, and I was able to deposit it at the bank without any issues. I’ve never found a damaged bill like this before, so that was fun and educational experience. Apparently they’re good as long as you still have the serial numbers on the bottom.

I only found one laptop this year, an Asus slightly better than mine but with a busted screen. It’s not worth too much, but there’s definitely still some useful parts in there (I’m guessing around 40-60$ worth).

I also found a MacBook Air, but the kid ended up reclaiming it when he came back downstairs (he told me his roommate threw it out without him knowing). It was water damaged, but it was probably still worth money for parts. Oh well!

Otherwise, I found a perfectly functional Casio watch (worth about 10$) …

… a Herschel laptop sleeve, which cleaned up nicely and is worth about 20$;

… a small collection of electronic junk (not including a couple calculators and headphones I forgot to include in the pic);

… and a whole bunch of clothes, which my friend and I lovingly piled by the winter tires in my storage. We’re going to wash them using found detergent and sell them at a future sale. There’s nothing super fancy here, but it’s definitely not garbage!

So, I didn’t have the best luck this year. Fortunately, there’s lots of other garbage to pick! I’ve made some quality finds elsewhere, and I’ll show them to you here soon enough.


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Move-out day 2017

I spent a lot of time at the end of April cruising the streets of a nearby university neighbourhood, hoping to find great move-out related trash.

Move-out day is a phenomenon in every university town, but especially those with high international student populations. Basically, when kids finish the spring semester many of them move (often home / far away) around the same time. As you can imagine this results in a lot of great trash. The kids aren’t often all that organized, and a lot of them are quite privileged as well – us trash pickers are thus doubly blessed, triply when you consider just how many people are moving at once.

Last year I did very well, finding a working MacBook Pro, and iPad, a couple of valuable perfumes, change (including loonies and toonies), and even some bills. However, I realize now that I got pretty lucky. I used to think that May 1st was the biggest day for garbage, but this year I figured out that April 30th is best. Last year I was actually late to the party, and was lucky to come away with some great finds regardless. I’m surprised I made that mistake, as now it seems obvious that most of the moving would happen before the end of the month.

The mistake didn’t effect this years results anyways. My plan was always to go to the area early and often in hopes that I’d get the first pick of as much garbage as possible. I knew that even if the 1st was the best day, it wasn’t the only day – some people were bound to move out before that. There’s actually a lot of competition for move-out day garbage, so it pays off to put in that extra effort.

I ended up having a pretty productive few days! My finds don’t quite match up with last years, but they’re still very good.

I think I was most excited about finding another MacBook Pro. The things are like money in the bank – even when broken they typically sell for three figures. I know I’m going to have at least a decent day when I see that silvery plastic shell.

Thankfully, I found one in the trash pile above. I could see it through a little hole in the bag.

The MBP, a 13″ Mid 2010 with a good screen (but no HD and perhaps other issues) sold quickly for 180$. But I found lots of other good stuff that day, including a Samsung notebook that seems to work fine (it runs Ubuntu though so it’s a little harder to do a factory reset), a nice pair of Sony headphones that are worth around 60$, and some tea, spices, and paints.

I had good luck with laptops. I found another one, a Lenovo Yoga 2 not far from my storage. This one is actually in very nice condition except for an issue with the screen, which flickers and stays off about 95% of the time. I was persistent and managed to get it working (mostly through determination / sitting in front of it for a while) long enough to do a factory reset and test the internet. It’s a nice little laptop that should sell for around 175$ even with the screen problems.

People were throwing away Plantronics earphones left right and center. I found three different pairs, all of which worked fine. I guess they were cheap enough (24.95, according to the packaging) to not worry about. I also found two pairs of Qatar Airways headphones with noise cancellation. I sold the lot (minus the fancier Sony headphones) to one person at my yard sale for 15$, which I think was fair for both sides.

There’s always some dumb frosh / frat stuff that gets thrown out en masse on moving day. This year it was sunglasses. The design is actually pretty cool, but they’re almost always emblazoned with some slogan that makes them a hard sell.

I also found a 1tb external hard drive. I haven’t been able to get it working yet, but it might just be my computer being weird.

Here’s some semi-useful stuff. There’s so much to choose from that you really have to limit what you take. The jewelry was almost exclusively junk that ended up in a free box. I sold the two canvases for a dollar, and the Cuban pesos for another dollar.

I found a shopping bag full of books that reminded me of my Sociology degree (I actually still have a copy of The Protestant Work Ethic & The Spirit of Capitalism). I sold most of them to some guy at my yard sale for 10$.

I also found a longboard that my skateboarding expert friend says should sell for around 60$.

I opened up a bag on St Urbain and was greeted with a mushroom container full of jewelry. Most of it was junk, but I did find a locket that was marked as being made by Tiffany in 2004. The locket looks legit in a lot of ways, but Tiffany is commonly faked and it’s best I determine the authenticity one way or the other before selling it. I can’t find a similar piece online, which might be a good thing as most fakes are based on well-known and popular designs. I took a few extra pictures which you can see below, and if you have any potential insights let me know in the comments!

Otherwise, the kids always throw out lots of change.

I had better luck on that front last year, but I still found around 24$ overall, not including Euros and other foreign coins. Better than nothing!

My best cash find though was this gift card. I was optimistic that there would be a little money left on there, but I wasn’t expecting it to be 63$! This is actually the first time I found a gift card with money on it, and obviously I hope to find more going forward. I feel like it’s something I should see more often than I do, and I wonder if I’m just overlooking them as I scan and evaluate the trash.

I look forward to doing this again next year! However, July 1st (aka Moving Day in Montreal) is coming up as well. This will be the first time in a few years that I won’t be moving myself, and I’m excited to see what I can find on the curb.

Move-out day


I mentioned I had a great time picking in the McGill Ghetto during move-out day. That way was back at the beginning of May, but I haven’t gotten around to mentioning it until now.

From what I hear move-out day is a phenomenon across the world. Basically, a lot of students move after their academic years end, and when people move they inevitably leave stuff behind. I wrote a fairly in-depth post about the event last year.

In past years I’ve been busy or haven’t taken the day particularly seriously. This year though I decided to go out of my way to see what I could find. I went with a couple friends and even recorded a bit of video, though we haven’t done anything with the footage yet.

There’s no shortage of things to be saved on move-out day. We (and many other scavengers!) saved lots of clothes, food, books, school supplies, and so on. I think I got particularly lucky this year though. All the stuff in today’s post came from a single spot, one of the first we stopped at. It’s hard to fathom why the previous owner threw these things away, though I’d guess that they’re privileged enough not to have to consider the financial implications of their actions.

One of the things that has surprised me most in my garbage flipping career is the amount of money I’ve made from used perfumes. I had no idea that such a market existed before a couple years ago. The Replica perfume on the left for example sold quickly on eBay for 75$. The “Juliette has a Gun” is listed for 60$, while the Vanilla one sold at a yard sale for 4$ (it was originally 20$ at Anthropologie). I’d guess that I’ve made around 2000$ selling perfumes in the last two years – that’s around 5% of my income!

I also got 30$ for that Links of London silver bracelet, which I noted in my last post.

I love finding cash in the trash. Easy money right? A lot of this change came from inside a laundry bag. I found more (including the bills) inside some used purses, and the rest was loose inside the bags. All in all it added up to around 40$.

Click on the picture to see a GIF my friend made! We found three 24s of Sleeman’s sitting on the curb, while a bunch of other cans (some of which were still cold) and most of a bottle of Vodka were saved from the bags. This is easily 100$ of booze right here. Unfortunately I’m not a big Sleeman’s fan, but they have been useful as bartering chips.


I found another original iPad, which I flipped recently on Kijiji for 80$. I guess we’re at the point now where working 1st generation iPads are being thrown out on a regular basis – I saved another one just this February. I used the photo of the last iPad here because it turned out a bit better.


My best find though was easily this Macbook Pro. It’s an order of magnitude better than the last one I found. For one, it’s a 2012 model instead of a 2009, and it has a 15″ screen instead of a 13″. It came with the power cable, and even the battery works well. It’s easily a 600-700$ computer, and it’s definitely better than the Asus I bought last year.

It was locked with a password when I found it. I’m not really tech savvy, but using Google I was able to find a way to bypass the password and basically delete the old account from the computer. Apparently the laptop hadn’t been used since 2014, so I’d guess that the previous owner got a better computer and didn’t care about this one. Either way, it works out well for me!

As you can see I had a great time on move-out day. I look forward to doing it again next year, though I don’t expect to get this lucky every time.

In other news, I’m moving today so wish me luck! If all goes well I should have a bit of time tomorrow to check out moving day trash. To clarify, moving day is a totally different thing and a uniquely Quebec phenomenon.