Moving made easy

You have managed to successfully navigate the buying process and finally you have the keys to your new home. It’s time to move!

As with the home purchase process, the secret to ensuring your move goes smoothly is to have things organised well in advance.

Effective planning will mean that the move itself goes well and also that the first few weeks in your new home aren’t spent trying to find misplaced belongings!

The countdown should really begin as early as two months before your move date and at least as soon as you’ve exchanged.

The move, your checklist

Basically you have two choices. You can either move yourself, or use a specialist removals company.

  • If you are moving yourself, you need to ensure you have a van of the necessary size booked, and the manpower to lift all your belongings.
  • If you are using a removals firm, make sure you take the time to pick the best one for you.

Ask about and seek recommendations from friends, family and work colleagues for a reputable removal company. Then get at least three written quotes for removal costs.

Before contacting removal companies to get a quote for your move, you need to work out exactly what you want them to do.

Make a quick checklist so that when you call up for a quote, you can be precise about your requirements.

They will need to know:

  • When you want to move
  • Are you going straight to your new home the day you move out of your current one?
  • If not how long will you require storage for your possessions?
  • Where are you moving to? Is it local / long distance?
  • Do you need boxes and packing equipment?
  • Are you doing the packing yourself or are they? (Some removals firms offer a comprehensive packing service.)
  • How many possessions do you have?
  • Have you any fragile goods?
  • Have you any awkward shaped or very large items?
  • Have you any valuable goods?
  • What insurance will you need? Check whether there are any exclusions.

When choosing a moving date you will find that Fridays, weekends and bank holidays are usually in high demand with removals firms so, if possible, try and organise yourselves for a mid-week moving date. You may even find that the removal company offers a discount if you move on an off-peak weekday.

Count-down to your move

Planning well in advance of your move will help ensure it goes smoothly.

4 weeks before you move

  • Confirm your moving date with all parties, including your removals firm
  • Arrange home insurance to cover your new home from the day you move in
  • Notify all your current utility companies of your moving date and arrange electricity, gas and water meter readings on your property
  • Arrange for your new telephone line/internet/satellite/cable connections to be made – these need booking well in advance and you don’t want to be without them
  • Make a list of all the people you need to notify. Include all your service providers such as car insurers etc – a good starting point is to go through your bills; plus your employer, friends and family
  • Start sorting out your possessions. Moving home is a perfect opportunity to throw away, or donate to charity, any unwanted or surplus items – some of which have probably sat in your loft since you moved into your current home!
  • Book the required time off with your employer.

2 weeks before you move

  • Arrange when you are going to collect the keys to your new home – and from where
  • Confirm your moving time to the people you are buying from, and the removals firm
  • Organise a time with your landlord, solicitor or estate agents to hand over your old keys
  • Arrange to get your mail redirected by the Post Office to your new address
  • Notify all other service providers of your change of address
  • De-register from your doctor and dentist if you are moving out of the area and re-register in your new locality
  • Notify any local services you use, such as milk delivery, papers, window cleaning, etc and arrange a cancellation date
  • If you are packing yourself, begin with any non-essential items, e.g. spare clothes, extra crockery, books. Make sure you colour code or label the boxes as you go
  • Arrange for any final bills to be paid
  • Have meters read and pay any outstanding amount
  • Find some old blankets to put down in your new home to protect carpets when you and/or the removal company are trekking in and out
  • Start cleaning your old house – it’s only fair to “leave it as you would like to find it”
  • Ensure your pets have tags with your mobile or new phone number on them
  • Put important documents such as passports and drivers’ licences in a safe place
  • Keep all your house move related documents together.

The day before you move

  • Prepare a pack of ‘essentials’ that you will need on the day. This should include things like:
    •    Toilet roll, candles, matches, toiletries, underwear, cash, phone charger
    •    Tape measures, extension leads, tool-kits and step-ladders
    •    Kettle, mugs, tea, coffee, milk, biscuits etc
    •    Any medication that you or your family may need
    •    A chilled bottle of wine for after your move!
  • If moving yourself, collect your hire van
  • Defrost the fridge and freezer
  • Clearly mark up all boxes
    •    Label or colour code all the boxes and with the room you want them to be put in. You don’t want to have to move everything twice
    •    Mark any boxes containing fragile items, so the removal firm will know to take special care.

The day of the move

  • Make sure the removals company know where they are going and have directions to your new house
  • Make sure everyone involved has your mobile phone number
  • Unplug all your remaining appliances
  • Strip the beds and keep the linen separate in a bag that travels with you so you can use them on the first night in your new home
  • Put your ‘essentials’ into your car and out of the way of the removals men
  • Count the boxes before they are moved and check when they are delivered to your new address that you have them all
  • Don’t attempt to do all your unpacking on the first day. Just unpack what you need – and make sure you have made your beds and put curtains up in the bedrooms and that there is somewhere comfortable to sit, eat and sleep
  • Sit down, put your feet up, order a take away and open the wine to celebrate being in your new home!

Sensible packing

  • Spend some time considering how you are going to pack your possessions. Books are easy but heavy valuables need careful wrapping and will take time, and some furniture may need to be dismantled
  • Start early. Packing always takes longer than anticipated, particularly when you start reminiscing over old photographs or school books stored in the attic
  • Begin at the top of the house and move downwards. If you have an attic, it’s a good idea to sort it out first
  • Always pack heavy items in small boxes. It will make transporting them easier. Also, keep the weight of all boxes to a minimum to avoid any back injuries
  • Pack one room at a time, clearly labelling each box with details of its contents and the room to which it belongs. Clearly label boxes that contain breakables and also those that are load-bearing and can be stacked in the van
  • Keep all boxes for each room together. This will save time unpacking
  • Pack heavier items on the bottom of the box and lighter items on top
  • Wrap items individually and place in a box that’s been lined with several layers of newspaper and a sheet of bubble wrap. Any breakables should also be wrapped in bubble wrap. Use clean tissue or wrapping paper for the first layer to prevent newspaper print leaving marks. Pillows and blankets are also useful for wrapping valuables and protecting furniture prone to dents and scratches
  • Pack important documents together, such as birth and marriage certificates, and keep them in a safe place.

Making it easy for your pets

  • Ideally, make arrangements for your pet/pets to stay with a friend, relative or neighbour – someone that they feel comfortable with
  • As a last resort, consider booking him into a boarding kennel for the night
  • Have a tag made with your name, new phone number (and mobile phone number if possible) so that it is ready to put onto his/her collar for the day of the move
  • If your dog is microchipped, get his records changed to your new address
  • If you are planning to move a long distance away and your dog or cat suffers from travel sickness or severe anxiety in the car, talk to your vet about medication to make the journey less stressful for them. NEVER leave an animal in a parked car on a warm day
  • Some dogs may become distressed or anxious during the upheaval of packing, so confine them to a quiet room where they can rest and be safe
  • Leave packing his/her toys, bedding and other equipment to the last moment so that he/she is comforted by the presence of familiar things. Do not wash bedding until a couple of weeks after the move, so that they will have something familiar smelling in the new house
  • Check your boundary fencing to make sure that it is secure, of sufficient height and ‘hole-free’ before letting your pet run free in the garden
  • Try to unpack the essentials before introducing your pet to the new house so that they can see familiar items within the unfamiliar house
  • Cats should always be transported in a safe container. Leave the carrier around for a few days or even weeks before your move, so that the cat becomes used to the sight and smell of it
  • Leave the cat in the carrier until you have one room set up to accommodate him (all doors and windows shut and fireplaces blocked)
  • Leave him with some familiar bedding and if it is a cold day, a hot water bottle wrapped in a blanket plus water, food and a litter tray
  • Confine initial exploration to just a couple of rooms so that he is not totally overwhelmed
  • Rub a soft cotton cloth gently around the cat’s face to pick up its personal scent profile. Then dab this, at cat height, around the room(s) where he will initially be exploring. You can repeat this daily and widen the areas where you impose his scent, so before he ventures outside he should feel confident within his own home.

Send them PACKING

Moving home can be a nightmare but LINDSEY DAYKIN of Pickfords Removals suggests some top tips to help make the stress much less!

1. CHOOSE A REMOVAL COMPANY that is a member of the British Association of Removers. BAR is a trade association, which fosters fair practice and high standards within the removals industry. A BAR member has to conform to a range of professional standards and abide by a code of practice.

2. CHOOSE A PACKING OPTION to best suit your needs. The cost of your move will vary based on the type of packing service you choose. You can choose from a full packing service or you can arrange just to have your fragile items packed professionally. You can even choose to pack yourself.

3. COMPARE QUOTATIONS carefully. If you have invited more than one removal company to quote, check the quotations carefully. Different companies may recommend slightly different services. Compare the number of days that the companies recommend the move will take and compare the costs of insurance and the types of packing services being quoted. Do read the terms and conditions of the insurance contract when comparing quotations.

4. A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. Remember to show all the removal companies exactly the same household effects. Remember the loft, the garage and the garden shed. Your quotation will be based on the volume of goods that the removal company’s sales person has seen and your quotes will vary if you are inconsistent in what you say or show the remover.

5. CONSIDER STORAGE. If you can’t move straight into your new home, or you find yourself with too many belongings, short or long term storage at a facility close to your new home could be a flexible solution. Your removal company will collect and deliver your consignment to store, taking the stress out of trying to manage this yourself.

6. BE AWARE of unexpected costs. Some homeowners may experience a delay in receiving the keys to their new home and in these cases additional costs would be incurred. Pickfords, for instance, offers a ‘late key waiver’, which allows an additional three hours waiting time to be factored in. Late key waiver costs £25 and is recommended as an option to give you complete peace of mind in the event of a delay.

7. ASK YOUR REMOVAL COMPANY for help and advice. Most reputable moving companies will be able to provide a hint and tips list. This is a good starting point for you. Plan all the tasks that you need to undertake before you move and delegate some tasks to other members of the family so that no one person is inundated with work.

8. TELL YOUR NEIGHBOURS that a removal vehicle will be parked close to your property when you move. A removal vehicle is the same size as a bus and may cause an obstruction in your road. Parking permits may have to be arranged, so check with your local authority.

9. MAKE A SPACE PLAN of your new property and mark up the position of the furniture. This will help the crew on delivery day to place furniture to your instructions.

To contact the British Association of Removers go to