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They sure got it right when they said that moving house is in the top 5 of most stressful things in life! I am not just talking about the selling/buying of a house, but all the packing and unpacking that goes with it! Having moved 20 plus times in my relatively short life, I feel fairly well qualified to give some advice on packing and moving house.
The time frames given here are not set in stone, the earlier you can start then the better….
Two months before you move
Sort through all your wardrobes/cupboards/sheds/loft and remove anything that hasn’t seen the light of day in 6 months. Sort these things into piles, those to be thrown away, those to be kept and those that you can recycle by selling or donating to charity. Label the boxes/bags so you don’t get mixed up. DO IT – your next day off or weekend take the rubbish to the dump, and the recyclable to the charity shop – don’t leave them hanging around the house – get rid of it.
If you have a firm moving date, organize your removal people/van. It is cheaper if you hire a van yourself and round up a couple of friends and family to help out, however if you use a removal firm check they have up to date and adequate insurance. We had a disastrous move once, when the removal men dropped our grandfather clock down the stairs – we only then found out that they had no insurance! There are some companies that will pack all your belongings for you and you don’t have to do a thing. I don’t like this idea but they do generally have excellent insurance – so any breakage’s can be claimed for. Ensure you have suitable insurance for any expensive goods being moved. If you go for a reputable company they will provide you with boxes/cartons to pack your belongings into – you can never have enough! As we are not moving far, we have opted for the cheaper alternative of hiring a van which is costing us £30 for the day.
If you have children, especially young ones, take them to see the ‘new’ house and let them choose their room, reassure them that all their toys etc will be there once you have moved. If it helps get them to draw pictures of the new house and let them decide where their bed will go etc. This helps them to feel part of a major change,
If you are not using a removal firm, start collecting boxes, tea chests, and cartons – you can never have too many! It is always worth asking friends and family if they have any boxes – my father has kept all his from moving nine years ago, they are ‘proper’ removal company boxes too, so they are very strong. Most supermarkets will let you take boxes home with you, find out when they have deliveries though, as the boxes are often flattened the same day. If you are moving to the other end of the country or to a new town make sure the removal company has a good map, give them another one on the day just to make sure. If you have a mobile phone, make sure they have this number and you have theirs to make sure you can stay in touch
One month before moving
Start to pack items that you don’t use every day – clothes that are not going to be worn, ornaments, pictures and the like. Label all the boxes, what’s in them and which room they are to go in, in the new house. It is very easy to forget what and where you have packed items! Don’t do what we did and pack all the videos and CD’s we have been listening to the same 3 CDs for 3 months now!
Take down any light fittings you are taking with them, and make sure you replace them with suitable fittings. Likewise remove any fixed items that are not included in the sale, like curtain poles. Obviously if you need the curtains up, then leave them until the night before – but try to take down as much as you can. Take down and wash the curtains that are not needed in the house, make any alterations to the curtains for the new house. Pack all curtains together and label the box appropriately.
Decide what to do with any children and or pets on moving day and make arrangements. If you have a dog it might be an idea to ask a friend to look after it for the day, all the fuss will most likely upset the dog, and s/he will be underfoot getting trodden on. I think the best course of action with children, especially toddlers, is to have them out of the way, until you reach your destination. Do let them say goodbye to their old house though.
Two weeks before moving
Contact the gas/electricity/telephone companies and inform them of your moving date. They will require that you telephone them on the day of your move to give them final readings of your meters. Inform them of your destination address and ensure that the facilities there are sorted out. The house we are moving to has been empty for 6 months, if this is your situation, make sure you send the readings into the utility companies to ensure you have service when you move in.
Compile a list of people that need to be notified of your change of address – most importantly perhaps the bank/building society and your insurance for both house and car. Organise with the post office to forward your mail to your new address – this can be done for up to 6 months, but you do have to pay PER NAME, so if you have three different surnames in your house, as we do, the month option will be cheaper. This will give you breathing space to notify all the people who write to you of your change of address.
One week before you move.
If you are moving a good distance away it is a good idea to write to your doctor/dentist/optician and ask them to send your records on to the appropriate people in your new town.
Have a good look around the house to make sure cupboards/lofts/sheds are empty, especially if you have children. With 4 days to go our garden is once again full of toys! Check the shubberies for any ‘lost’ toys. This also needs to be done on the day of your departure, but the bulk can be removed a week before.
Move as much as you can downstairs, especially large items like wardrobes/dressers and the like. There is nothing worse on moving day, than struggling to find a screwdriver to take apart something that wont fit round the bend in the house!
Dismantle anything that requires it. I know my PC desk is going to have to come to bits – 4 days to go and I am still sitting here!!
Ensure that the services are in place at your new home, if in winter, check that the heating system is working – especially if moving to an empty house. If there is no heating system, make sure you have an emergency plan, such as electric heaters – especially if you have children.
Cancel your milk deliveries and pay up to the day you leave, likewise with your newspaper deliveries.
Prepare a change of day and night clothes for all the family, plus bed linens, medications and special cuddly toys for children, not to mention a couple of towels, soap and toilet rolls! Put this in your car on the morning of the move and leave it there so you know where it is at all times.
Run down your stocks in your fridge/freezer – this reduces the weight in the fridge/freezer that you have to move. Some people may suggest emptying and defrosting your freezer – it depends on how far you are moving.
The eve of your move.
Make sure you have your change of clothes bag and necessities in your car. Prepare a box with some food in sandwiches if possible crisps, fruit and so on, to keep you going throughout the following day. Don’t forget to put in animal food and bowls as well! Also put in the box your kettle, tea/coffee/sugar and milk – not forgetting teaspoons (I have lost count of the amount of times we stirred the tea with a screwdriver!) and the cups of course, make sure you have plenty for anyone who comes to help you! Put your washing up liquid in this box too – the cups will have countless refills over the next few hours. This should also go in your car and be one of the first things to be unpacked at the other end.
Make sure you have a handy toolbox and you know where it is, keep this in the car if necessary, if several trips are required between houses, leave some screwdrivers at each end, you just never know.
Move as much as you can downstairs now, dismantle the beds and sleep on the mattresses.
If you have children, once they are in bed, remove their bedroom curtains and any posters/pictures left on the walls, stow these carefully, again if possible put them in car as a priority to sort out once you are in your new home. This will help them feel the house it theirs too.
Disconnect and empty residual water from your washing machine, use cable ties to wrap up the flexes and keep them safe in a carrier bag inside the drum. If you are taking a cooker/dishwasher disconnect these too.
Likewise with your television set and video recorder, wrap and secure all the cables with cable ties and keep them in a safe place. If you have children, this will be an essential later on in the day, when they are tired and you are busy, so get it set up early on!
Have another check around the house; look out for plug in air fresheners you may want to take. Make sure you have all the lampshades you are taking with you likewise with light fittings. Have you left light bulbs (working ones) in every room? Are all the curtain poles etc down that you are taking? Are there any pictures still on the walls? Check right to the back of topmost shelves in cupboards also. If you have managed to empty any of the rooms, give them the once over with a hoover – not essential but a courtesy I would hope everyone would follow, although from past experience this is most certainly not the case!! Give the bath a quick clean, again a little courtesy extended goes a long way.
The morning of your move.
Pack away any bedding/nightclothes and toys – put these in your car. Organise the children and animals if they are going away for the day.
Pick up your removal van
Start loading, put larger furniture towards the back of the van and smaller boxes in the spaces created. We have tried a number of ways to load a removal van, from loading room by room – that doesn’t work at all, to loading boxes first furniture second. Our tried and tested formula appears to work for us!
If you are moving yourself – then try to have 2 people at each house, whilst items are in transit you can be cleaning/arranging/unpacking things.
If you have labeled all your boxes adequately, you wont spend time trying to remember which is supposed to go where, this really does save time and energy.
Prioritize the rooms you want to unpack first. I always like to get the Kitchen sorted out first so at least people will be fed and watered throughout the day. Then move onto the children’s bedrooms, sort out their sleeping area and make their bed. If possible try and locate some posters and put them on the walls and hang their curtains. We have labeled James’s toys separately so they can all be put in his room; we are leaving him to organize that himself! The next room to be tackled is the bathroom/toilet – easy as pie here, bleach down the loo, toilet roll on the holder and a swipe round the bath and sink with flash.
Hang all your room curtains, at least once it is dark you will be able to shut out the night and have some privacy.
Once you have got all your furniture and boxes in the house, and in the right rooms you can start to arrange the furniture. We have given a number to each of the boxes packed in each room. This is the order of priority ‘1’ needs to be unpacked before ‘6’ if there are still boxes with ‘6’ on them in 6 months time, they are going to the tip!
With all the hustle and bustle of moving day there a couple of things you MUST remember to do, one is to eat regularly and properly – you will not get to the end of the day eating chocolate and crisps, the second is to drink (water/juice/tea etc). Above all don’t fall out with your other half/children/friends. It is a very stressful time, but one that should be looked at as an adventure!
The last thing I want to say, is anyone willing to volunteer to help us move???