Moving can be stressful. A quick Google search will show you that it’s up there in the top three most stressful life events! But there’s a reason we do it time and time again; it’s exciting and re-energising. Relocating to a new area is naturally exhilarating with the new prospects and opportunities it creates, but even if we’re only moving within our own town, the chance to make a house a home and put our own stamp on it is the best kind of challenge. Moving home marks the beginning of a new chapter, a clean slate, a fresh start. And who doesn’t need something new and different and fresh right now? You may not be clear whether the current lockdown restrictions actually allow you to move so let me clarify; they do! There are still some rules that limit the help and assistance available, but it is very much do-able. Trust me, I speak from experience!
Let me set the scene: It’s April 2020. The world has been tipped upside down and inside out and we’re unknowingly at the foot of a flu pandemic mountain. The world is eerily quiet. Schools are closed. All but essential shops are shut. Only keyworkers are prohibited to work. Outdoor exercise is allowed for one hour per day otherwise we must stay at home. We can’t see our family or our friends and standing within two metres of anyone is forbidden. And I’ve just had confirmation that we’re moving to a new house! No-one can help us and we have three children aged between 4 and 9 in tow. I. Am. Panicked!
Yes, that was our family last year. As it was at the start of the first lockdown, removal companies were unsure whether they could continue to trade but were also, understandably, concerned about whether it was safe to do so. We had no choice but to hire a self-drive van and move the entire contents of our lives ourselves. If you are moving from overseas, it may not be an option to hire your own transport but fortunately removal companies have been given the green light to go ahead in subsequent lockdowns. We were incredibly fortunate to be able to move over the course of three days, but it was still challenging. We can look back now and (almost) smile as we recollect that crazy week, but we did learn some useful lessons. It’s all in the preparation!
As soon as you know there’s a move on the horizon, start to sort through your belongings. Perhaps start with the things you don’t use every day such as items in the loft or garage, so that you limit the impact on your living space initially and create more room to store packed items. Consider selling possessions that are new, valuable or in excellent condition but that you no longer want or need. If items are in a usable condition, donate them to a charity shop or pass them on via social media pages. For anything else, either be prepared to do a regular trip to the recycling centre or maybe hiring a skip would be more worthwhile.
Phone, TV and Internet
When your moving date has been confirmed, contact your phone/broadband provider to organise the transferral of services to your new property. At the end of what is likely to be a very tiring day, you might long for some downtime, relaxing in front of the television in the evening and if you have children, internet access could be vital entertainment to keep them amused whilst you are busy. It may also be fundamentally necessary for home-schooling in the days that follow but it would be worth contacting the school to see if there is any alternative they can offer you, should you not be able to get it up and running in time.
Rent a storage room
A great tip is to hire a storage area to put all your belongings in prior to the move. Not your essential items, but things you may only use at certain times of the year, such as Christmas decorations, outdoor furniture etc. This way you can get it out of the way, not have to worry about it when you’re moving and you can collect it when you are all settled in your new home and have created the space for it.
Knowing what you have packed where is key to a smooth move. Inevitably it will take you a good few days to unpack and get your new home ship-shape. If you take a systematic approach, I can almost guarantee the transition will be more straightforward. The level of organisation is your choice, however! One way to go is to write a rough outline on the side of each box of what’s in it and what room it is to go to in the new house. Make sure you write on all sides and the top of each box in case they’re not stacked in a uniform way. The more detailed method is to write a thorough inventory as you pack. You could number the boxes (again, remember to write it on each side) and then write a list of each item in the box. Although more time consuming initially, this will avoid a ‘lucky dip’ situation when trying to find things post-move.
Rather than leave the beds up to be dismantled on the day of the move, take them down a day or so before and sleep on the mattresses. This will save so much valuable time and if you have children it will add to the adventure for them.
As you disassemble furniture, put the screws etc into a labelled zip lock bag. You could either attach them to a part of the furniture or keep all the bags together – somewhere safe!
If you are moving chests of drawers, take the drawers out but leave the contents in them and stack them on top of each other. Perhaps you could cover the top one with cling film if it looks as though your belongings may fall out. Once the chest of drawers is in place in the new home, simply pop them back in – no need to empty and pack.
When it comes to packing your clothes, keep them all on the hangers, bundle them up and tie the tops of the hangers together. You could then either hang them in suit bags or simply lay over the top of your items in the back or boot of your car. As soon as the wardrobes are assembled, no need to unpack it all on to hangers, simply untie them and hang them up.
When you pack the bedding, leave the covers and pillowcases on the duvet and pillow, and keep the sheet to hand too. The last thing you want to be doing when everyone is ready to fall in to bed, is be rummaging around for sheets and duvet covers. Keep each bed set together and place in a bin bag. Even if you don’t manage to re-assemble the beds, when the evening comes you can just put the sheet on the mattress, roll out the duvet and sleep in comfort.
What not to pack
Remember you are going to need some essentials on the day. Have an overnight bag each that contains a few changes of clothing, nightwear, toiletries, book/s, tablet, charger, medicines. If you have children that you need to keep entertained then you might want to include a few toys, their favourite teddy and maybe a colouring book and pencils. Remember also to keep face coverings handy in case you need to pop to a shop for essentials. Unless you’re looking for a failsafe excuse, it's also an idea to keep any work and resources related to home-schooling somewhere safe too!
Prepare a box to keep with you with some of the things you will need during the day; kettle, mugs, tea, coffee, sugar, milk, teaspoons, soft drinks, toaster, bread, snacks, toilet roll, cleaning products, bin bags, handwash, lightbulbs and a pen and paper. At least if all else fails, you’ll be able to have a cuppa and some toast!
Ensure you keep some basic tools to hand. As well as building furniture, the new property may need some minor repairs undertaken so it’s an idea for you to keep a tool kit at the ready including a hex key set, a hammer, nails, screwdriver, screws and rawl plugs.
Remember to always keep valuables with you and safe at all times.
Arrange your redirection to start on the day you move as it’s inevitable there will be someone you forget to inform. It’s not exhaustive, but the following list may be a useful start:
Home – Buildings and Contents
Remember to take meter readings as you leave your previous property and when you arrive at your new one. If you’re able to take pictures of the meters, that would be useful.
If you are able to have young children looked after by family, friends or even if they are able to go to school, it will make a huge difference. To be able to focus on the move and not worry about the children all the time will make the whole ordeal move more quickly, more efficiently and be far less stressful! If, however, you are left with no choice but to have them with you on the day then as well as having some toys, books and enough snacks to feed an army on hand, it would be really useful to have downloaded a few programmes or films to a device to keep them amused and in one place.
Your children may benefit from being actively involved in the move. You could give them some tasks to do or ways to help or ask their opinion on the layout of their room. In addition to keeping them occupied, involving them may also help them to feel settled more quickly.
Organise for your new local supermarket to deliver a food shop to you the morning after you move. This will give you more time to get straight in your new home without the hassle of having to take a trip to the shops. If you are moving a fridge and/or freezer, remember to allow time for your appliances to settle before using them.
Order a takeaway on the day you move in rather than plan to cook. Remember to do your research and check which food outlets deliver to your new address before you move.
Whilst we’re living in a time where minimising the transmission of germs is crucial, if time allows it would be great idea to engage the services of a professional cleaner prior to moving in. If you are renting a property, this should have been undertaken as a matter of course but if you are purchasing then there is no guarantee what condition the home will be left in. However, if you are moving out and in on the same day, it’s unlikely you will have the time to do this. In that case it would be a good idea when you first arrive at the new property for one person to go in alone and sanitise the obvious surfaces such as door handles, kitchen worktops, toilet flush etc.
Another great tip, especially if you are moving when the weather is less pleasant, is to lay some offcuts of carpets or some cardboard over the carpets to keep them clean.
There’s no getting away from it, moving is hard work. It’s tiring and it’s stressful. You never fully appreciate the amount of ‘stuff’ you own until you have to pack and unpack every single item. At least once you will question why you thought moving was a good idea and you will almost definitely vow to never do it again! But it’s also exciting and rewarding. There is so much joy in a new view from the windows; a new landscape to explore. Learning the quirks of your new home and planning your life within it is one big adventure. Moving during lockdown was difficult but, nearly a year on, I am so pleased we took that leap; it was worth every single stressful moment.
If you are thinking about relocating to, or within, the UK, please get in touch with us to see how we can help you.
0118 947 0029
Kalewa, The Warren, Caversham,
1 The Mews,
Gilston Park, Hertfordshire