Moving house? Get organised!
Having recently moved house for the first time in 11 years, I agree with everyone who says moving house is stressful! Here’s what I learnt, and my top tips for anyone else planning a move in the future, including where to source your packaging. Good luck!
1. Checklist/spreadsheet/project plan – make a list!
As a project manager by trade, I had a moving project plan! But it was really just a list of everything that needed to be done, structured into:
- Things that could be done well in advance, for the house I was leaving and the one I was moving to
- Things that needed to happen on the day of the move
- Things that could be done post move, again split into tasks for the house I was leaving and the one I was moving to
Use whatever method works for you. If you don’t have the software and want to try it, look at Project Libre, as a project planning tool, or Open Office, for spreadsheets. Both are free. The advantage of a project plan is you can add notes against tasks, and mark off tasks when complete, which is very satisfying! With a spreadsheet, you can use colour coding to categorise and mark off complete tasks. Whatever way you list everything, my top tip is: review your list daily to ensure you keep on top of it and don’t miss anything.
2. Removal companies are not all the same – research, research!
Start researching moving companies well in advance. If possible, look for recommendations. Get companies out to view and do their own inventory, so they can be confident in their quote. I got multiple quotes and the price varied by about £1000! I thought I’d asked all the right questions and still learnt lessons the hard way. Here’s my top tips of questions to ask removal companies:
- How many people will be on the job? Companies can cut costs by reducing man-power, leading to a very long and fraught day and increased risk of damage. More people make the process faster and easier.
- What’s their recommended moving strategy? There are endless variations of moving over one day or more, storing goods overnight etc. Work with the company for an arrangement that works for you.
- If your furniture will go into storage, what sort of facility is it being stored in? Is it dry and clean? Will furniture be protected in the warehouse?
- How will furniture be protected? If you are doing your own packing, how do the removers expect to see your items packaged? Do they have any recommendations?
- Do any pieces of furniture need to be dismantled for transport i.e. dining table, beds, large wardrobes? If yes, who will dismantle, the removers or homeowner?
- What’s the policy if anything is damaged in the move? Is there a time limit to report any damage?
- Who deals with any parking restrictions at either end? Sometimes the removal company sort this and sometimes they place the responsibility onto the homeowner. If permits are required you might need to apply a week or more in advance. Councils generally have this type of info online.
- Can the company provide a reference you can speak to? I looked at online reviews, but speaking to someone who’d used the service would have given me more insight.
- Companies are generally open to some negotiation. When you’ve narrowed your shortlist to a few companies you like, you have nothing to lose by some haggling over price! Companies may also suggest they can offer a cheaper price if you’re able to be flexible over moving date and/or put your possessions into storage for a few days. My top tip is to explore the moving options and price variations with your chosen company.
3. You can never have enough packaging or start packing early enough!
My top tips for packing:
- Make yourself a Packing Kit to keep everything to hand whilst you pack. Mine is pictured above: packing tape, clear tape, post-its, marker pens, pens and pencils, stickers, scissors, string, allen keys and plastic bags (for dismantling furniture and storing the pieces for reassembly!) and a duster. All stored in a handy gardening apron. This was a real time/stress saver!
- Get as many sturdy cardboard boxes as you can! If you’re sourcing them for free, most stores crush their boxes regularly, so don’t always have them available. I got best results from visiting my local Tesco Superstore late afternoon as aisles were being re-stocked, and asking the people doing the re-stocking. The frozen aisles offer rich pickings as frozen goods are heavy, so the boxes are sturdy. Most stores are happy to give you as many boxes as you like if you catch them at the right time.
- Use plenty of packaging within boxes. I saved/was gifted old newspapers and wrapped every item of crockery, mugs and glasses individually in a couple of sheets. This worked pretty well.
- More is more, with packaging! In particular with pictures, use a few layers of bubble wrap. If there is any piece of furniture you are worried about add extra packaging yourself to be sure it’ll be well protected. For example bedposts that might get scratched and wicker baskets that might rip can be protected with bubble wrap. So my top tip: look at all your furniture and consider how you can add extra protection with some packaging.
- Label as much furniture as you can – with stickers saying what room it’s going into, in your new house. It saves the removers having to ask you.
- Label the drawer order in the chests of drawers! Removal companies are generally happy for you to leave items in drawers. They will remove the drawers to make the chest lighter to carry into the van and slot the drawers back in. Labelling the order means everything ends up in exactly the same place in your new home!
- Separate out anything you want to take in your own car – and include a first day survival pack: a change of clothing, toiletries, bedding, towels, cleaning materials, kettle and a day’s worth of crockery. If you have that to hand, you don’t need to worry about finding it on day one.
4. Be realistic about how much you can do on moving day
Moving day is exhausting! My top tips for a smooth day:
- Don’t forget the first day survival pack – see above!
- Make sure you know when and where you need to drop off and pick up keys – have the post codes for your sat nav if you’re going to be in an unfamiliar area.
- If possible have ALL your packing completed BEFORE moving day. Then on moving day you only have to worry about any final bits and pieces and cleaning up. Running out of time leads to having to make snap decisions you might regret.
- Have a final walk round your old house before you leave, check there is nothing lurking behind in a cupboard or corner, and take your meter readings: gas, electric, water etc.
- On arrival in your new home, take your meter readings: gas, electric, water etc. Check you can turn the boiler on so your hot water and heating is sorted.
- If you arrive at your new home before the removal men, take advantage of the time to do some labelling. I stuck a post-it on each door saying what the room was. I also had post-its on the walls for bigger pieces of furniture so the removers knew exactly where to place everything.
- Identify which rooms you want habitable first, and which can be storage rooms. I opted to keep the living room and master bedroom as clear as possible of boxes, so there were immediately usable. The spare bedroom was stacked high with boxes but I could shut the door on that until the shock of moving had worn off!
5. Prioritise notifications of changes of address
There is a surprisingly long list of people you need to tell when you move home! Here’s my top tips for how to manage it:
- Use the Royal Mail redirection service to give you time to notify everyone over a period, rather than having to do it all at once. The Royal Mail need one week’s notice of your move to have everything in place for moving day
- Make a list of everyone you need to notify. You can include the list in your moving house checklist or plan, or do a separate one. I opted for a simple list on a spreadsheet.
- Prioritise items like council tax, service providers, tv licence. These suppliers will know that someone has recently moved out, so will be expecting to hear from the new owners.
- For gas and electricity – don’t expect to use your chosen supplier from day one. Whoever was supplying the previous occupants will need to transfer the supply to your chosen supplier. This can take a few weeks, so you will have no choice over taking gas and electricity from the previous suppliers for a period. Make sure you understand the transfer process to your chosen provider.
- You don’t need to tell the passport office – but you do need to tell DVLA of a house move, both for your driver’s licence and the car log book (V5) of any vehicles you own.
- Don’t forget any online shopping sites you use, or mail order catalogues, or any stores or supermarkets you have loyalty cards for – they all have your address so need notifying.
6. Finally – don’t forget to enjoy your new home!
Always make time for a celebration! Does it really matter how long it takes to unpack the boxes?
Let me know if this helps you! What are your top tips for moving house?