When it comes to studies on 'most stressful life events', 'moving home' is nearly always present, rubbing shoulders with 'relationship breakdown', 'divorce' and 'starting a new job'.
But while those last three may have unpredictable and upsetting aspects to them, moving home is a little different: you can plan ahead to tackle almost every eventuality - save perhaps the emotional impact of saying goodbye to your old home and neighbourhood.
Here is our moving home check-list for planning before, during and after your big move.
Two months before you move:
- Tell your energy provider you are moving home. Remember to take a meter reading on your last day to avoid getting over-charged. They will send you a final statement once you have moved. When you contact them, you may wish to transfer the service to your new address. Doing so could mean you avoid being put on a standard or emergency tariff.
- Cancel any memberships in advance - for example, for your gym.
- Get removal company Since it is such a crucial aspect of your move, it's best not to leave it until the last week or so. This also gives you more time to find an affordable removals firm.
- Arrange packing supplies: boxes, tape, padding etc. Instead of buying expensive bubble wrap, you could use old clothes that you would otherwise donate or throw away before the move.
- You may wish to begin packing at this stage, spreading the workload over a longer period.
One month before you move:
- If necessary, arrange mail Royal Mail lets you redirect mail for 3, 6 or 12 months.
- Tell your bank, credit card firm, doctor and other important entities that you are moving.
- If you need a parking permit for your new residence, contact your new local authority and ask them to arrange it - thereby avoiding any parking fines.
- Start packing away items - especially those you are unlikely to use in the coming weeks.
Last week before you move:
- Try to eat perishable food in the final few days, so nothing gets wasted.
- You will need at least 24 hours to defrost your fridge or freezer, otherwise the removal lorry could get a little wet and your belongings might be damaged.
- Re-confirm the moving date with your removal company.
- Disassemble any large items before the big day.
- Little by little: start packing your belongings as far in advance as is practical, to minimise stress and to spread the workload. Packing in the few days before you move could be very stressful indeed.
- Ask yourself if you will need the items you plan to pack. You may want to leave/give away/sell any unwanted or redundant items - making your moving experience a little easier.
- Plates should be packed on their side, not flat. Pack plates in first, then lighter kitchen items on top (glasses, cups etc.). Fill spaces with newspaper - or ideally blank newsprint to prevent smudges. You might also use old clothes as mentioned above.
- Ensure boxes containing heavy items - such as books - are strengthened with additional tape at the base.
- Use smaller boxes for heavy items like books so you don't end up with an unmanageably heavy box. Reserve larger boxes for lighter items.
- Furniture should be wrapped with pads, themselves secured with tape.
- If possible, use original packaging when packing electronic goods.
- Clearly mark the contents and destination room on each box. You might even use tape that is colour-coded to each room: e.g. blue for bedroom, black for kitchen etc. This can be useful since the words written on a box are not always easy to identify when stacked up with other boxes. Don't forget to tell the removals workers/family members what each colour means!
The actual move:
- Inform your removal firm about any restricted access at the property you are moving to. If access is very limited, the removals firm may decide to use a smaller vehicle.
- When packing, try to distribute weight evenly throughout the box - especially if it contains delicate or breakable items.
- Keep items from one room in the same box. Label each box clearly: "kitchen", "bedroom" etc.
- Keep very important items on your person - passports, birth certificates and anything you will need as soon as you move in.
- Be ready to direct the removals staff to where you want each box.
- Take meter readings as soon as you move in. You can then relay these to your new provider so you don't get overcharged or receive an ‘estimated' bill.
- Make sure you know which box the kettle is in: moving is thirsty work for everyone. And don't forget to pack the biscuits.
- Pack a bag of overnight essentials for the first night, including a change of clothes and toiletries.
After you've moved in:
- Get a spare set of keys cut.
- Consider giving a set of keys to a friend or relative nearby - this is cheaper/less hassle than getting your landlord to come out, or paying a lock smith.
- You may consider changing the locks in your new home, as an extra security measure.
- Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector - then test them.
- Make sure any gas appliances have been checked as gas-safe.
- Arrange home, buildings and contents insurance - buildings insurance is likely to be a prerequisite if you have a mortgage.
- Consider arranging home emergency cover for things like boiler breakdowns, plumbing and drainage emergencies, lost keys, vermin infestation and alternative accommodation costs in the event that your home is uninhabitable.
- Deeds and documents: scan/photograph these then email them to yourself, as an extra precaution.
- The date you moved in: write it down, because in future you will need to enter this on all manner of forms. If you have moved a lot, you may well start to forget these dates.
- Say hello to your neighbours. This will help maintain a sense of community and should make everyone around feel safer and more secure. Your neighbours may be invaluable in letting you know about local matters (bin collections etc.) and you could end up being good friends, able to help each other out in times of need.
- Locate the stop-cock straight away. If a leak springs, you can turn off the mains immediately. Time wasted finding the stop-cock in an emergency could result in a lot more damage, not only to your own property, but to that of any neighbours below.
- Locate the fuse box: so you can turn off electricity in an emergency.
- Celebrate moving into your new home!