Moving home isn’t rocket science but it pays to get organised if you want things to go smoothly, both on move day and on the first few days in your new place. Here are our top six tips – from the essential to the just plain handy – for getting ahead of the game as your move approaches.
1. Checklists are your friends
Like other big events in your life, your home move will benefit from a bit of simple project management. That means drawing up a list of essential actions and considerations as early as your first decision to move and running through to move day itself. Creating a checklist puts you in control of your move, and is a reassuring companion as the number of tasks and reminders – large and small – begins to grow. When you feel in control, you and everyone involved will be less stressed, you’ll make better decisions, and the people and organisations that are integral to your move will have time to play their part properly.
For example, a postal redirect takes about a week to set up, and if you’re thinking of employing a professional company to clean your home or a tradesperson to do some work, you’ll want to check their availability and secure your place in their busy diary. If you need to book time off work, you’ll want to do that as soon as possible too, so that you have time to plan your absence around your and your colleagues’ workload. Then again, notifying the DVLA of a change of address on your licence and vehicle registration should be done after you move, as you may need both documents as proof of ID and address before you relocate.
The excellent Compare My Move website has a detailed Moving House Checklist to help guide you through organising your move, from early first steps to removal day itself.
2. Tell the world
Our home address is held by many more organisations than it used to be. There are the usual suspects, such as your bank and utilities companies, but then there are the many ‘lifestyle’ providers such as your gym, magazine subscriptions and online vendors such as Amazon and eBay, not to mention those who contact you less frequently, like your pension and shares organisations, charities you support, even your pet’s microchip registration. Make a starting list, and add to it as you remember so that you advise as many people and organisations as you can reasonably recall to ensure a smooth transition and continuation of services.
Most people use the Royal Mail’s Redirection service, which you can set up for 3, 6 or 12 months from your move date. It’s good, but some items can still slip through the net and end up at your old address. If possible, keep a friendly line of communication open with your buyers; you could even provide them with pre-paid, labelled envelopes so that they can forward any mail to you quickly and conveniently. Better still, if you plan on keeping in touch with a former neighbour, arrange for mail to be left with them so that you can collect it when you next meet up.
The same applies at your new home, as you’ll inevitably receive mail for the former occupiers. If you do receive mail and are unable to forward it (by the way, it’s illegal to open it), simply write ‘return to sender, no longer at this address’ and post it. The sender should stop sending further mail and update their records accordingly.
The Which? website has a comprehensive list of organisations you may need to inform of your change of address.
3. Get rid of your clutter
We moved a customer recently who had a loft full of gear. He told us that he’d moved most of the stuff into his loft 20 years ago from his previous loft, had hardly looked at it in all that time and was now shifting it to the loft in his new home. In the end, he decided to use the move as a break point, to sort out this small mountain of unused and forgotten clutter, and we took maybe a quarter of the original consignment to his new home. We all become surrounded by a multitude of things in our home, and when we have time to assess those things – and move time is an ideal time to do that – we realise that a lot of them can simply be disposed of, sold or given away, and our lives won’t be any the less for doing so.
Home-life blogger Andrea Dekker uses the mantra of “Love it, use it, or lose it” as a good starting point for having a healthy purge of the things you have accrued over the years. A new home is a chance to have a clear out. It’s a new start, so maybe it’s also time to take another look in that loft, and in those little used cupboards, drawers and outhouses and decide whether everything warrants a place in your new home.
4. Clean as soon as you can – one room at a time
A deep clean of even a modest home is a pretty significant undertaking. Trying to do it in one go while you still have a house full of gear and lots of other move tasks going on is doubly difficult and probably won’t be as effective. There will likely be several less used rooms that you’ll be able to pack early, which means you can also be cleaning early. Clean each room as you pack it so that you can declare it ‘ready for occupation’ as soon as possible. By the time you’re a week or a few days away from the move, the majority of your home will be spick and span, and off your list of things to do. When you do your final clean, just after the loaded removal vehicle has left for your new home, it’ll be a relatively quick job, and if you’re using a professional cleaning company, maybe a cheaper one too.
5. Befriend your sellers
As you begin to settle into your new home, you’ll quickly have a few unforeseen questions that need answering as to how the new home actually functions. Your greatest ally here is the former occupiers, so make a list and ask for their help. What is that small box with the flashing red light in the garage? Why are there 13 different keys in the kitchen drawer and to which locks do they belong? Where is the light switch for the loft? (Oh, it’s in the kitchen – who’d have thought?). Who supplied the wood flooring for the lounge? Is this your child?
Check out the Money Saving Expert home moving guide for, among other tips, the ‘Top 10 last-minute questions to ask sellers’.
6. The ‘bits box’
Yes, where did you put the bolts and brackets for the bed? We’ve all done it: placed a bag of components in a non-descript drawer, taped it shut for the move and said to ourselves I will absolutely remember where I put those. And you will remember. For about a day.
Create a dedicated ‘bits box’: a place for to put all the nuts, bolts, screws, fixings and other indispensable paraphernalia that keeps our furniture and fittings together and without which they cannot be returned to their former functional glory. And it’s not just components either. The precious bits box can also be home to keys, remote controls, child safety clips and covers, even essential paperwork and documents – anything in fact that you’re going to need to lay your hands on quickly in the first day or two in your new home.