Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful things you can experience, akin to divorce or a serious accident. However there are many ways in which you can ease some of the stresses involved and be well prepared. While we can’t mitigate for that unforeseen delay from the solicitor or a last minute hitch, we can take steps to ensure that the whole process is as smooth as possible, and that any problems don’t cause you to go into meltdown. Although everyone’s experience will differ in some way, the checklist here summarises many things common to many house moves.
Six Weeks to go
So you’ve bought your dream house, the solicitors are doing their thing and it’s just a case of waiting to get your hands on the keys. With around six weeks until you move, there are plenty of things you can organise to get the ball rolling. Remember it’s much better to plan too far in advance than to leave many things until the last minute!
This is a good time to consider your moving options, whether it’s a professional removals company, or simply renting a van yourself and getting help from friends and family. It’s worth shopping round and getting quotes, whatever your preferred option. If you leave it too late, you’ll find that companies are booked up and you may end up paying a premium or having move yourself. Professional movers offer extras such as insurance, storage, packing, cleaning etc. You can get a van from the top listing on Google here http://www.nationwidehireuk.co.uk/vans-for-hire/. If you are planning to move yourself make sure you are insured: there are few things worse than arriving at a new house to discover that half your possessions are damaged and you aren’t covered.
Notify your employer; you’ll probably need to book some leave around the moving date, and also get personnel records updated with your new details. If you’re living in rented accommodation, you’ll also need to tell your landlord as soon as you have a moving date. Other considerations include alerting schools if you’re leaving the area and will be transferring your children to a different school.
Four weeks to go
This is a great time to de-clutter and get rid of everything you’ve hoarded in your attic / garden store / basement over the years. Be ruthless – if you haven’t used it in a while, get rid. It’ll reduce moving costs, ease any storage issues, and some of it can probably be sold at car boot sales, eBay, taken to a charity shop or advertised in the local paper. You could even make enough money to cover your removal costs! Anything you’re leaving in the old property will also need to be put onto an inventory for the solicitor – carpets, curtains, any furniture; you could end up responsible for disposal costs for anything else you leave behind.
It’s a good time to take full stock of finances. Do you have enough capital to cover the associated costs of a move (stamp duty, insurances, removals etc); if not, you’ll need to arrange this now. You’ll also need insurance for the new property, to make sure everything’s covered from the day you move in. It’s also important to confirm parking arrangements at the new place, especially if you don’t have your own garage or driveway.
Get hold of packagaing materials such as boxes and bubble wrap. Even if your removal company is providing a specialist packing service, you’ll still need to pack up lots of things yourself. Local supermarkets should have cardboard boxes available for free – you can never have too many boxes! Don’t leave this to the last minute, as there will be lots of folk in the same situation.
It’s worth visiting the new house and measuring up for carpets, curtains etc. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re moving to a new build or a vacant property, but try and work with the seller to ensure as smooth a handover as possible. Arrange for a professional clean of your new house if it’s vacant. Make sure you get a forwarding address so you can redirect mail or return any items left behind – and ensure you do the same for the people buying your house!
Three weeks to go
Give the garden a thorough going over, clean items such as BBQs or lawn mowers, and get rid of anything you’re not taking with you. It’s ime to be really ruthless with your household items. You may already have cleaned out the loft, but what about items stuffed into the back of cupboards or old furniture? Your new place may come with a fitted kitchen, meaning you can also get rid of bulky appliances; while you will want to keep your fridge and washing machine as long as possible, but advertise to friends and family now.
Go through all your paperwork and make a list of everyone you need to contact with your new details – insurance companies, the DVLA, TV licensing, magazine subscriptions, your bank or building society, pension and healthcare providers etc. Visit the post office – you can arrange for postal redirection relatively cheaply, sort out pension book changes, and update other services you may have, such as premium bonds or utilities.
Moving house can also be a great time to switch utility providers, so make sure you shop around for the best deal for your new property and inform your existing providers of your new address whether you intend to switch supplier or not! Similarly, notify phone, broadband and TV suppliers of your move, and see if you can negotiate a better deal. There are also many other agencies who will need to be alerted – council tax, the Inland Revenue, your doctor and dentist and others. If you take medication and need to change
doctor, ensure you have enough supplies to last you until after the move.
Two weeks to go
The time it takes to pack up a house catches many people out, so don’t leave it until a day or two before moving date! By now all the clutter and rubbish should have gone, so it should be a case of organising everything room by room ready to go. Obviously there are lots of things you can’t pack until the last minute, but get books and CDs, bulky items, and any non-essentials boxed up as soon as you can. Make sure every box has a clear label indicating which room in the new house it is to be placed, and possibly a quick summary of what it contains. It’ll save a LOT of time at the other end if everything is put in the correct room to be unpacked!
It’s a good time to take an inventory of food, especially frozen items. Some people even have frozen food parties to eat up freezer contents, but even if you only have a few boxes of food, there’s no point having to throw them away. Cupboard food and long-lasting items such as pasta and tinned goods can be packed away now.
As you pack, clean cupboards and drawers. You don’t want to leave your house in a poor state for the next occupant, just as you wouldn’t expect to move into a dirty house yourself – give everything a first clean at this point, especially the kitchen.
Something to bear in mind is document storage; if you’re worried about losing passports, birth certificates or other vital records during the move, then now’s a good time to store them somewhere safe. It’s also worth backing up your PC; you don’t want to find your work or precious photo collection has been lost due to an accident in transit.
One week to go
By now, most of the major jobs should be complete. Arrange one or two “essentials boxes”; these will include items you’ll need on the day of the move – documents and phone numbers, some food, a kettle, bottle of water, spare keys, torch, batteries, things to keep the kids busy, a luxury or two to enjoy after the stress of the day itself. Also put in some cleaning materials so you can give the kitchen and bathroom a wipe over.
Make sure friends and family have your address and new contact details. Write instructions for the removal company and make sure they have precise directions to your new and existing properties, and confirm the date and time.
Return library books and cancel any regular deliveries such as newpapers or milk, and make sure you’re paid up. Contact your utility suppliers again to confirm the moving date and that you’ll supply final meter readings.
Now’s the time to thoroughly clean. Make sure the kitchen is thoroughly clean (especially the oven and cupboards) and defrost the fridge and freezer. Make sure that any spare keys and items you don’t need are now packed away or put into the essentials boxes.
If you have furniture that needs to be taken apart, also get that done now – it can be quite time-intensive to take apart furniture and remove fittings from walls, so keep on top of it. Make sure that any screws, bolts and fittings (and instructions if you still have them) are put into sealed bags and clearly labelled for each piece of furniture!
One day to go
Buy any last minute items for your essentials boxes and make sure the car is filled with petrol. Take down curtains from all rooms except the bedroom, confirm that you know where you need to go to hand over any final paperwork or to collect keys, and check over the essentials boxes. Also make sure you have some cash to cover any costs on the day or for emergencies. Give the house a final thorough check over and give the bathroom a clean.
So you’ve prepared for weeks and now the day’s here! Start the day with breakfast – you don’t know when you’ll get chance to eat next and hunger can lead to grumpiness and tiredness!
Go round the house and make sure all the electricals are off – especially the fridge and anything you’re leaving behind. Turn off the central heating too. Make sure your bedding is packed up and labelled. If you’re moving yourself, start packing up as soon as you can – it can take a long time to fill even a medium size van; also allow yourself some breaks, so you don’t hurt or overstretch while lifting. Hopefully you’ll have plenty of helpers!
Collect the keys to the new property as soon as you can and arrange for someone to be there to oversee the delivery of your furniture and possessions. You’ll also need to make sure someone remains at your old house until everything’s been fully packed up and checked.
As soon as your old house is empty, give the rooms a last check, take final meter readings (gas, electric and water if applicable), turn off all electrics and lights and lock up securely. Drop the keys off with your solicitor.
All that remains now is to get to the new place and start the next chapter of your life – good luck!