Moving home is not something we want to do more often than we have to. Missing phone chargers and tin openers, misplaced boxes, and who knows why they thought the sofa was fine waiting in the hallway…
We’ve all been there. How can you avoid it? Well, there are a few things you can do – it’ll take a bit of forward planning – but trust us, it’s worth it. That drink at the end of moving day will taste all the better when you’ve tried some of these tips.
Before you move
It’s all in the preparation – spend time on this part, and the rest will fall into place. You’ll know where things are located, avoid a last-minute packing frenzy, and reduce the stress for yourself and everyone involved.
- Talk to the seller: Find out where the meters, stopcock, and thermostat are, as well as who supplies the utilities like gas, electric, and phone line. Is there a manual for the boiler or anything else?
- Decide your moving method and make a plan: Are you going to do it yourself or engage a removal company? Make sure your vehicle is up to it, or hire a van. Depending on how much you have to move, hiring a van can be more cost-effective than hiring a company, though if you do use one, you will be equipped with experienced staff who will have their own equipment and liability insurance should any mishaps occur. If you would like to engage a professional removal company, check out the AIM directory for lists of local and national providers.
- Kids and pets: Decide ahead of the move what you’ll do with the dependants – are the kids old enough to get involved, or is someone able to watch them? What about the animals – will they be happy in a quiet room during the busy periods or would they be more relaxed with a pet-sitter or friend/family member? Plan what is right for your situation; whatever helps the day be less stressful for you as well as your two and four-legged loved ones. Check out this article for advice on moving with pets, and this one for tips on moving with kids.
- Make packing and moving day plans: Once you’ve decided your method, plan how you’ll approach the packing and how moving day will go. How many helpers will you have? Who can drive? Decide roughly on the order of moving and when you’ll likely need a break. If you want to be really efficient, decide who will be in charge of food and drinks, and what you’ll have. Keeping everyone fuelled will help keep tempers in check and energy levels consistent, making for a smoother and happier move.
- Start clearing unwanted items: You’ll likely have some things you don’t want to take with you to your new home – it might not fit, no longer be of use, or it’s just plain rubbish. Start with the usual household dumping grounds (lofts, spare rooms, cupboards, garages, etc.,). Decide what needs to be disposed of, what can be recycled, and if anything can be donated. You could either deal with the unwanted things as you go or wait until the whole house has been sorted and packed – for some cost-conscious tips, check out 5 ways to get rid of your rubbish and minimise your costs. Whether you choose to use your local recycling centre, hire a skip, or a professional waste removal company, there is a suitable option for you and your wallet.
- Post: Do you need to redirect the post? To help protect your personal information and keep up to date with correspondence, Royal Mail provides a redirection service offered over differing periods to suit, enabling you to focus on the move and inform everyone of your new contact details when you have more time. Alternatively, you can contact each entity directly – just make sure it isn’t in effect until the correct date.
- Plan you’re Essentials Kit: Save yourself the 10 PM search for your toothbrush and phone charger and set up a box or two of essentials. Spare clothes, toiletries, tea/coffee supplies, food, basic cooking/eating utensils, first aid kit, pet food, phone chargers – pack whatever you might need in the first 24-48 hours. Make sure it has everything you may need to keep your work party motivated and rolling, including enough mugs and treats to go around.
- Cleaning: When can you get into the new house to give it a once-over? If you can dedicate a separate day before moving in, equip yourself with some cleaning products, spare light bulbs, and basic DIY tools and a torch. You can give it a good clean, and find the necessaries described by the seller (meter locations, stopcocks, etc.,) unimpeded by furniture and boxes. Maybe you can get ahead on the furnishing and hang a few curtains without scrambling over sofas and beds!
- Start early: Depending on the size of your house and what’s in it, start acquiring boxes and packing as early as you can, even a couple of months ahead. Most supermarkets if you ask nicely can help you with this. This can run alongside the sorting and disposal process; if you tackle a few boxes a day, one area at a time, you’ll break the chore up into manageable chunks, and give kids and pets a chance to get used to the upheaval. Start with the least used or seasonal items, and keep the weight manageable for the sake of your back and everyone else’s.
- Label, label, label: At the bare minimum, write down the destination room on the box so it will end up in the right area. To make life even easier, get specific and label the category and contents on the boxes – there’s always that one box or item that you need but cannot find, at least by doing this you minimise the chance of having to open 20 boxes to find that all-important item.
- Loose bits: Screws, bolts, pins; there’s a surprising number of fiddly little accessories that keep your furniture together. Make your life easier at the other end – bag and label these pieces and put them in a dedicated (labelled!) box, or securely attach them to the item they belong to, ready for reassembly.
- Tools: Allen keys, wrenches, screwdrivers and other useful pieces – keep them in their own box, and make sure you’ve finished with them at one end before taking them to the other. Keep them together with the loose bits described above, and you’ll be even more organised.
- Read the meters: Try and read them before you start bringing stuff in – it’s easy to forget once you get going. Use the notebook app on your phone or take pictures of the reading so you don’t lose them, this way you can make sure you have the most accurate bill and have evidence should yours and the previous occupant’s meter readings not tally up.
- Prepare the houses and your helpers: Protect the floors with old carpet off-cuts or flattened boxes if you have them, being careful to minimise any potential trip hazards. Fit light bulbs if you need to, and decide where furniture is going. Remember that moving plan? Review the plan with your helpers, and make sure they have the tools they need to get the job done, whether that’s keys, tools, gloves, spare tape, markers or the new house address. Let them know when the breaks will happen so everyone has a goal to aim for, and if you have someone in charge of the food and drink situation, make sure they know where the Essentials Kit is and what the food arrangement is.
- Furniture first: This way it can go in unimpeded straight to it’s designated spot, and the boxes can follow. Less moving!
- Keep it relaxed: You know people will get tired and grouchy, and boxes will try their hardest to go missing. Someone will always ask rather than look at the label, and maybe there are kids or pets to keep track of. Knowing this, you can avoid some of the major hiccups through your preparation. Your Essentials Kit is here to save the day – pull out the kettle and drink supplies, unearth the biscuits, and use the break times to regroup. Everyone can relax for a moment, catch up on the progress of the day and review the plan going forward.
Once you're in
- Utilities and council tax: Search for utility quotes on sites like uSwitch or your preferred comparison provider, and find out if the property is on the right council tax band – There’s no need to pay more if it’s not necessary. If your council tax still feels wrong, you can check with neighbours on your street with similar sized houses to get a feel whether you may need to investigate this further.
- The previous owner’s post is still arriving: This can be returned to the sender, marked ‘not known at this address’, and they will amend their records – check out the Royal Mail’s advice for further details.
- Put your feet up: You’ve worked hard – you moved all your earthly possessions, set up a new home, and hopefully got a good deal on the utilities. Congratulations!
You don’t have to resign yourself to a stressful house move. Break the process into manageable steps, plan for the day and keep everyone informed. Use these tips as a jumping-off point to create a plan that works for you and your family, and you can look forward to a smoother transition from your old home to the new. Time for that drink!
Thanks to modern medicine and higher standards of living, we’re living longer and dealing with situations that did not affect previous generations to the same