How to make moving house as stress-free as possible.

We’ve all done it, whether renting or buying a home, moving day can be the most stressful experience. No wonder moving house ranks as one of the most emotionally charged things to go through in your life, along with relationship breakdown, divorce and starting a new job. I’m here to give you my top tips for making moving house stress-free.

I have moved house more times than I care to remember. I am, in fact, a moving house pro thanks to my parents. My entire childhood was spent moving from one home to another, even to different continents! By the time I reached adulthood it seemed perfectly normal to me to relocate regularly. It’s a trend that has carried on throughout my married life.

I don’t believe that moving day can be completely stress-free. However, I do think it’s possible, with careful planning, to alleviate the symptoms in order to not completely lose your mind and your relationship!

If you follow my gardening shenanigans on Instagram, then you’ll know I love a well trimmed bush.

There’s not much you can really do before you have exchanged contracts apart from get as many removal company quotes in as possible. Once you find the company you want to go with contact them and tell them that they are your preferred choice. You can’t, of course commit to them until contracts have changed hands, but they can at least pencil the dates in their diary. You don’t want to find that your company of choice is all booked up.

The most important thing you can do before contracts have exchanged though is to sort through your entire home. I don’t mean start packing. I mean really sort through all your worldly possessions into what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. Do you really want to move and possibly put in storage all the things you never intended to keep in the first place?

You can start this weeks, if not months before the big day. Even if you don’t end up completing on a sale/purchase, it’s a good thing to do. When you do eventually sell your home you will be rid of all the years of useless stuff you don’t need anymore. Either hire a skip, or in our case, we did several trips to the local recycling centre and charity shops.

Start at the top of the house in the loft, if you have one. I know that’s a daunting place to start, but, along with the garage, it’s usually the messiest and probably full of all the things you haven’t looked at in years. Split things into piles of what you want to keep and what you want to dispose of, gift or sell.

Be ruthless! If it’s neither use nor ornament then you don’t need it! Do you love it? Does it bring you joy? Does it have sentimental value? Is it really useful and are you sure you will you use it? If the answer to all these questions is no, then it’s time it went to that great resting place for pointless things in the sky!

If you carry on like this throughout every room, then you can be sure that everything that’s left is coming with you. By doing this you will have dramatically reduced the amount of possessions you have, so there’s less to move! Honestly, this is such a good thing to do, you’ll thank me in the end.

We loved our old home so much. Exciting things are on the horizon though!

Now, I’m going to presume that you have exchanged contracts. If it is at all possible, try and arrange quite a bit of time between exchange and completion. You will definitely underestimate how much there is to do, so the more time the better. We had three weeks between the two. If you can help it, please don’t exchange and complete on the same day, it’s beyond stressful and may result in a murder.

The key to a successful and relatively calm house move is in the planning. It’s important for you to take time. If it is at all possible, you should book time off work before, during and after the move. I know annual leave is precious, but so is your sanity and having to deal with work stress at the same time as a move is a bad idea.

If you have children or pets then I hugely suggest getting someone to look after them during the move. A lot of removal companies like to schedule a relocation over two days now. If you can get grandma and grandpa to take the kids, do it! If pooch can go too, even better. Moving house involves change and upheaval and most of us don’t like that. It’s a transition period, where almost everything is uncertain. Your family will all be dealing with their own anxieties, be it leaving their school friends or your dog wondering why all the furniture has gone!

We put our dog Missy with her carer for a couple of days. Her vision is impaired due to bi-lateral cataracts. She would not have coped very well with walls of boxes and raised voices. Much better that she was out of the way somewhere happy and calm.

Plan ahead! You will need to find a new doctor, dentist, schools and the nearest supermarket. Do your homework in advance. You will need to notify all number of people and bodies of your new address too, this can all be done in advance. I’m a huge fan of lists. To me lists can solve almost everything. So, here’s my checklist for things to sort in advance of the big day:

  • Sit down! Grab a cuppa and actually write the list! No, I’m not joking, write the list!
  • Contact everybody you possibly can and inform them of your new address as soon as you exchange. These are the bodies I contacted in advance. Most of them could be done online and didn’t take that long:
    • Bank/building society
    • Credit card companies
    • Royal Mail for post redirection
    • All utility companies
    • Existing Borough Council and new one.
    • Register to vote from your new address too, this is a separate job from telling your council about your move.
    • Contact your driving licence agency. In the UK it’s the DVLA and it can be done online and it’s free. It is illegal to not do the last two points!
    • Contact your TV company. Ours is Sky TV. I was able to book in advance so that they arrived to install the day after we moved in.
    • House insurance – very important!
    • Car Insurance. I actually got a rebate as the new address was “safer” in their eyes!
    • Your mobile/cell provider and the landline company. We arranged for Broadband via British Telecom, to be installed on day two.
    • Change your address online with your chosen supermarket. We mainly shop at Tesco, due to the British Airways miles we collect. This is important as you may want to book a grocery delivery for soon after you arrive at your new home.
    • Put an email list or a WhatsApp group together of all your friends and family and then let them know your new address all at once.
  • There are some people/companies that I did not contact in advance. These included: my doctors surgery, my dentist, my hairdresser and my dog’s vet. You’re probably wondering why. Well, choosing these takes time. Once you’ve signed up to a new general practitioner in the UK it’s very hard to change. I want to scout about first and find out which is the best surgery. The same goes for dentist, hairdresser and vet.
  • Buy boxes! Always go for twin-skinned boxes with thick walls. We bought most of ours on Amazon. If you have paid for a full packing service I would still buy some boxes. There will be things you want to pack in advance, essential kitchen bits and bobs for example, or personal things that you’d rather the packer didn’t see! Buy packing tape, some brown and some that says: “Fragile”. Get “Fragile” stickers too and handheld tape dispensers and cutters. You’ll also need permanent marker pens.

Packing

Do this in the same way that you did the sorting out. Start at the top of the house and work down. My biggest tip is not to make things too heavy. You may not be moving the boxes yourself on the day, but I can assure you that you will be carting them around the house once you’ve moved in! Help your back out. 

Use more packing tape on the bottom than you think necessary. Believe me, from experience, it isn’t very much fun packing your prized ornaments beautifully into a box to find that when you lift it everything falls out of the bottom! 

Mark on the box what is in the box! Don’t write what my hubby Mr C wrote: “stuff”. It wasn’t very helpful once we moved in and although funny now, I was less than amused at the time! 

Don’t just write it on one side of the box. Write it on all four vertical sides. Why? Well, when the boxes are stacked you will be able to see what’s in the box from whichever way the removal company stacks them. Otherwise, you are going to have to dismantle the wall of boxes to find out what’s in that particular box.

Put together a few boxes and mark them up in advance for “essentials”. You’ll need a kitchen essentials box, for coffee, tea, the kettle, snacks, cups, a few plates and knives and forks, etc. Put everything you need to execute a task, such as making a cup of tea, into one box. 

You’ll also need a toiletries essentials box, one for important tools, possibly babycare, etc. The idea is that you are trying to make things easier for the first few days of moving in. If all the things you need immediately are together and organised, then you will be far less stressed. 

Pack a suitcase for each person in your household just like you would if you were going on holiday. So, you’ll all have clothes to see you through the first week. 

Go to your alcoholic beverage area in your home. Choose your favourite wine, gin etc and make sure you have enough mixers too. Put the glasses you will need in the same box, wrapped in bubble wrap. Mark on the box on all four sides: “Emergency Alcohol”. 

When dismantling furniture, such as beds, have some freezer bags handy and a marker pen. Put all the nuts and bolts for each piece of furniture in separate bags and mark them. Take keys out of cabinets and put them in a bag and mark which key it is. Then put all of those bags together into one box and mark it! 

I’m a huge fan of packing things ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, it is mind-numbingly dull and repetitive, but at least I know where everything is. We have used packing services before and I spent most of my time trying to find things. I’m sure there are very good companies out there with great organisational skills, just not the ones we’ve chosen so far. 

Try to pack everything before the big day. You will be too busy cleaning the house and doing a million other things to add packing to your list of chores. A note on cleaning, particularly with Covid-19 around: do ask your buyers whether they are having cleaners come in to blitz the place before they move in. If they are, like our buyers, then you don’t have to kill yourself doing a deep clean everywhere. You can just hoover and wipe around and make sure everything is tidy. Who am I kidding, do you know me? Of course, I went around and cleaned everything within an inch of it’s life! I don’t care if they’ve got industrial cleaners coming! I’m not having anybody think we’re dirty buggers! Nope, never gonna happen!

Finally, if there’s time, plan a few days worth of meals for when you move in and either buy in advance or get a delivery. Not having to think about a menu for the family will help you out no end. I suggest a takeaway for at least day one, if not day two and three, like we did! Good luck and it’ll all be worth it in the end. 

18 Comments

  1. Floss
    October 11, 2020 / 7:45 am

    Thanks for this, wish I had read it 18 months ago! I put 90% of my life into storage (including my cat into a cattery) for 4 months & relocated into a tiny bedsit while moving away from a collapsed marriage, starting a new job & waiting for my downsized house purchase to go through.
    The best thing I did was to throw money (and regular tea & biscuit breaks) at my wonderful removal firm as they fitted me in at the last minute when the booked firm let me down, packed up an entire 4-bed, 3-storey house (after I did the necessary stripping out of excess stuff to fit into my new 2-bed home), drove off into the Blackpool sunset and reappeared 4 months later in the leafy Cheshire suburbs. They were amazing, and would recommend them http://www.owens-removals.co.uk/

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 11, 2020 / 10:26 am

      Thanks for reading and it sounds like you’ve hit the jackpot with your move! Xx

  2. October 11, 2020 / 8:33 am

    Hi great article. I’ve moved lots too. My extra bonus tip would be to load the car up early on move day (or the night before if it is safe to do so) with the suitcases for each family member, school bags, work bag, and food parcel items / essentials you do not want hidden on the back of the removal truck. Eg phone charger, those essentials where stress levels would fly off the dial! This really saved us on our last move as when the removal guys come in they are in every room! Their focus is everything must be packed and moved but of you leave a cardi on the back of a chair, you may just turn around and find it gone! Packed in a box! So best tip is to pack the car. Move plants over in advance if you can. Keys are another area. Really they should not pack keys but some of ours went missing in the last move. Be mindful of this and good luck. I hope to move before Christmas out of my rental into my next home. Fingers and toes crossed. Decluttering and early packing is commencing!

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 11, 2020 / 10:27 am

      Some great extra tips there! Thanks for reading. Xx

  3. October 11, 2020 / 8:55 am

    Such great advice JP… we always pack ourselves for the exact reasons you’ve suggested. Here the moving company supplies boxes, and that’s so convenient. I love you’re paragraph about “emergency alcohol”!!

    Hope you find your house of dreams very soon, and in the meantime your Greek taverna looks well stocked, so at least you will be alright xx

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 11, 2020 / 10:28 am

      Ha ha. Thanks Laura, yes, first things first! Xx

  4. Tanya
    October 11, 2020 / 9:16 am

    Great great TopTips JP- LOVE the box saying ‘Emergency Alcohol’😂😂👍🏻

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 11, 2020 / 10:28 am

      Most important things first Tanya! Xx

  5. Tracy
    October 11, 2020 / 9:34 am

    Hi JP
    I’ve moved a zillion times too and have read many books on organising and moving. Your blog on moving has got to be the best down to earth, practical and real piece of information I’ve ever read.
    My daughter and son-in-law are in the process. She’s super organised but there are certainly some sound tips she’ll use.
    Fabulous xx

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 11, 2020 / 10:29 am

      Oh that is so lovely of you to say! Thanks so much and I hope it’s useful for her. Xx

  6. Jennie
    October 11, 2020 / 11:16 am

    Such good advice Jp and worth keeping. It’s been 25 years since we last moved and this reminds me that I hope it won’t happen again! Your rental has character and is cute and I also loved the different areas in the garden. At least there is some outside space and plants to play with. So glad you’re happy and settling in 😀 xx

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 11, 2020 / 11:50 am

      Yes we are lucky to sill have a garden and the rental is getting cuter by the day. Got to be grateful for a rood over our heads, right? Thanks for reading darling. Xx

  7. Lynne Curnow
    October 11, 2020 / 1:25 pm

    A truly useful article and one for keeping if we ever move again! With your chosen furniture, paintings etc etc – your rental house looks stylish and comfortable already! Have fun nesting and getting to know the area. x

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 12, 2020 / 10:00 am

      Thank you so much Lynne. Xxx

  8. Samantha
    October 11, 2020 / 6:27 pm

    Just love these tips thank you so much xx

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 12, 2020 / 10:00 am

      Thank you for reading it. Xx

  9. Sharon
    October 11, 2020 / 6:47 pm

    Love this JP, some great tips and advice . Love the emergency alcohol box- definitely an essential 😂 .Hoping to move in the not to distant future so will take notes from this
    Hoping you find the next project soon. Cant wait to see what you do with it. Although I’m sure it wont feature a Greek taverna style kitchen bar 🤦🏻‍♀️🤪😂x

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 12, 2020 / 10:00 am

      Oh good luck with everything darling. Xxx

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