Published: 23/09/2021Whether you’re buying a new place, getting the keys to your first home, moving to a new rental or downsizing for retirement, moving house usually means huge upheaval.
It is not something any of us can do easily, even with a big moving budget and plenty of help. To help the moving process go as smoothly as possible, it is best to break it down into the three Ps: planning, preparation and packing.
The best way to avoid any last-minute stress or rushing around is to plan as far in advance as possible. As soon as you’ve got the go-ahead to move, get on with planning your costs, removal choices and personal admin.
Costs - Make a list of everything from mortgage fees and stamp duty, to the price of removals and storage. Be realistic when it comes to your budget and factor in a financial buffer. The benefit of paying for a full removal service, for example, is that you get to watch someone else pack up, transport, and then unpack your stuff. The downside is, you’ll have to pay a fair whack for it. Work out everything you’re going to have to pay for, and make sure those funds are in your account.
Removals - Work out what kind of service you’ll need, because the costs differ depending on whether you opt for a packing service, or simply want movers to load and unload boxes you’ve packed yourself. Bear in mind that certain days of the week are more expensive to book movers (like weekends), and there are dates (like summer, or the end of the stamp duty holiday) when everyone may be rushing to move at the same time, which will push costs up.
Personal admin - Get seriously organised by informing important people and organisations of your impending change of address – that’s everyone from the doctors to the DVLA. Royal Mail’s redirection service allows you to redirect your post for up to 12 months. It’s a job you’ll be happy to have completed in advance once you move and realise your address book is in the bottom of a packing box somewhere.
There are many things you can do well in advance to make moving day easier.
Declutter and sort - Spend the weeks in the run up to moving, sorting, decluttering and ditching anything you don’t want any more. Get into the attic, find out what’s in the cupboard under the stairs, leave no nook or cranny untouched. The less stuff you have, the quicker, easier and cheaper it will be on moving day.
Get the boxes and brown tape in - High-quality boxes and brown box tape will be your best friend once you start packing. Don’t scrimp on it, and do buy more boxes and rolls than you could possibly imagine using. You will need all of it.
Wrap, wrap, wrap- Collect plenty of old newspaper and bubble wrap to pad out boxes with and to keep your fragile possessions safe. Without it, there's a 100% chance things will get broken.
Size matters - You don’t want to find out that your furniture cannot fit into your new place. Do the feet and arms of the sofa come off? Bear in mind that some removals firms will charge extra if it turns out that they have to take large pieces of furniture apart to get it through doorways. So it pays to be prepared!
Rain or shine - There’s no controlling the weather, but knowledge is power. Check the forecast as soon as you are able to and prepare for it, even if it means buying plastic shoe covers to stop the movers treading mud in, or buying a large umbrella that you can shelter under while you watch their progress.
3. Packing (and unpacking)
Packing - Once you’ve decluttered and stocked up on boxes and brown tape, it’s time to start packing. It’s vital to systematise your packing in the simplest way possible. To do this, divide the contents of your home into 'not urgent, important and vital'. As you put your items into their boxes, write them down on a list. Once a box is packed and taped shut, stick the full inventory to the top. Take a room at a time, starting with the ones you use the least, and dedicate one of them to storing the boxes.
Unpacking - Don’t be daunted by unpacking, it is simply packing in reverse and you can still use the system. Unpack vital items first in the rooms you use most, such as the kitchen and bathroom. You can find space for the important and non-urgent items later. The first pieces of furniture to assemble should be the beds. Be sure to have a box with clean linens, duvet and pillows clearly labelled.
Remember, unpacking takes time and you won’t finish everything in a day so don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall into that newly made bed with boxes all around it.
A final tip: Take meter readings as soon as you arrive, by taking photos on your phone. That way, you can wait to sign up for the gas, electric and other utilities until a few days after you’ve arrived - hopefully by then you’ll have located your sofa among the boxes.