There’s an awful lot to be done when moving house and some sellers find themselves against the clock when they go under offer. I often recommend bringing in a professional helper to organise the move including downsizing belongings, logistics and even just emotional and/or organisational support.
Helena McBride, Professional Organiser with The Space Maker is just such a person – she helps clients organise their move at their pace, easing stress and smoothing the transition. Here she gives her advice on preparing to move house.
Depending on which reports you read, moving house is often ranked as one of the top three most stressful things life. Other examples may include marriage, divorce and bereavement. But let’s ignore the rankings, just ask anyone you know who has moved house recently and they will tell you. Moving house is VERY stressful.
Plan your work and work your plan all the way through.
With planning and preparation, we can make it a little less stressful and planning for the move starts way before you’ve even accepted an offer.
Even plan a time to make a plan. There are plenty of tools and tables and cheat sheets available on the internet and even a good estate agent or realtor will be able to help by providing you with one. I’m sure there’s even an app for that but for something like this – I’m old school and will make lists and lists of lists on a good old clipboard. That way, if anything happens to me, someone else can pick up where I’ve left off or when someone asks if they can help, don’t turn it down, give them the clipboard.
Work out timings, what has to be done and when, including all the admin: finding a conveyancer; a school; commute route; pet sitter; GP; Dentist etc and you’ve planned the time off work. But we’re not talking about the admin here today, we’re talking about the actual practical, physical job of moving.
You may be thinking about putting your house on the market and your house is going to be on show or you may have already found your next home or have a pretty good idea of what your dream home will look like. Now take a look around your current home. If it’s overcrowded with clutter, moving to a larger place will not solve this problem. This clutter is what your potential buyers will see and not the home of their dreams.
You need to find what really matters to you, what you love and what has purpose, this process will be made easier as you handle each item to pack. All the rest can go, have a really good declutter of every cupboard and every drawer, anything that is broken, let it go, anything that no longer serves you, find a new home for it amongst your friends or donate to a charity shop. If need be, hire a skip!
Everything should have a place and there should be a place for everything in your existing home. This will make packing up so much easier and, when you get to your new home, unpacking will be a dream. You certainly don’t want to be paying removal men (if you’re using them) to pack and move stuff you don’t even want and if you’re doing the packing yourself, you don’t want to be lugging around anymore boxes than necessary. The fewer things you have, the cheaper it will be.
On the subject of removal firms, book one as soon as you have a moving date. There are plenty of comparison web sites to use, this would be good to gauge costs but the best way is always through recommendations. A removal firm will normally offer a full packing and unpacking service, disassembling and reassembling furniture (make sure they do the beds first), know how to lift and transport heavy loads safely saving potential damage to you and to your home.
Whether you are using removal men or not, start packing early. Make sure to ask the movers or if you’re packing yourself, get some empty boxes, packing tape and labels delivered to you way in advance of the move. As you’re decluttering each room be mindful of the things you want to keep but actually will not need between now and your moving date. E.g., ski items can be packed into an empty suitcase or seasonal decorations can be packed if you’re not going to be using them, books and photo albums can all be boxed up. I don’t usually advocate the use of storage units but this can alleviate some of the stress on moving day, lessening the load. Then the storage unit can be emptied gradually by bringing your belongings into your new home in stages. However, if after 6 months you haven’t emptied the storage unit, you probably don’t need the stuff anyway!
Make a list of you will pack in your car rather than any removal van.
- Household cleaners
- Lighter fluid
- Fertilizer and Weed Killer
- Perishables (moving the kitchen)
- Car Batteries
- Cash, Wills, Deeds, jewellery, valuables
- Toilet paper
- Prescription medication
- Plates, eating utensils and cups
- A knife (for opening boxes)
- Non-perishable food items – choose those wisely
- A small toolkit including tape measure
- Torch, and batteries
- Food and snacks
- A change of clothes
- Moving documents
Of course, if you’re anything like me in the UK, I’d have the kettle, mugs, some teabags and milk with me at all times. Don’t forget to include extra mugs, you want to keep the removal people happy too!
Don’t forget how you’re planning to feed the family on moving day too, buy sandwiches, get a take-away, freeze meals in advance or book dinner out but whatever you choose, don’t forget to eat, you’re going to need all your energy!
Accept as much help as you are offered. Friends and family will be happy to help. Even if they just offer to cook you a meal or offer to help packing boxes, take it. A job like this can be far more fun than a chore if you share the load.
Don’t just denote which room the items came from or are going to but an idea of the contents too. There’s nothing more frustrating than realising you have packed something you need now or, when you get to your new house, you can’t find what you need without opening 5 boxes. Label both the top and side of the boxes – more than one side. If the boxes are stacked, you won’t be able to see the top label! Believe me, it’s worth it. Don’t forget to label your furniture too, you don’t want to be lugging that armoire up to the third floor when actually it is going in a downstairs room.
Give a plan to the movers. The room you call ‘Bedroom 4’ may not be that obvious. You may have a ‘utility room’ and a laundry room. They may think the room you’re going to use as a snug is actually going to be your downstairs office. Make sure the labels on the boxes match the labels on your floor plan.
I know it sounds silly, right? But have you checked that your sofa will fit? Or the chest of drawers will fit in the space behind the door or beside the bed or if your extendable dining table will fit in your new dining space? Will that piano fit up the stairs? Do you still need all your furniture?
If you can get a scaled floor plan, work out the scale and cut out pieces of paper to represent the size and shape of your furniture (I’m sure there are apps for this too!). Lay these out on the floor plan and decide where every large piece of furniture is going to go. This will save so much time and pain on moving day when it is absolutely clear where things need to be. You can always tweak it later to get the aesthetics right. Don’t forget, home stagers and interior designers are great for this too.
Because we all know moving house can be stressful, don’t forget to be kind to one another. This means looking out for mood changes or emotional swings too. Your family may be moving away from friends and family and an established safety net or support network. The amount of disruption, lack of order and upheaval can trigger anxiety, shorten tempers, increase frustrations, and potentially exacerbate underlying mental health issues. Please don’t forget how a major event like this can affect children and pets too.
Prepare your children and communicate clearly what is going to happen, when and why so that there is no confusion for them. They may be concerned or scared so be ready to listen and reassure them and try to keep to their normal routine as much as possible. If you can, try to involve them in the packing process, let them choose a blanky or a cuddly toy for them to keep, that’s not going to get packed up. Children and pets feed off our emotions too so the calmer you can be the better the experience for them.
If you’re prepared, you can minimise the stress of moving day. Despite what I said at the beginning about moving house being so stressful, don’t lose sight of how exciting it can be. A blank canvass, a fresh start, new friends, and new opportunities await.
If you’d like help with preparing for your move, or any other home organisation projects, get in touch with Helena, The Space Maker, to arrange an initial (free) Consultation and visit. Either call on 07798 702041 or visit www.thespacemaker.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Award winning professional organiser Helena McBride founded The Space Maker in 2018. A member of the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (APDO), she serves a dedicated and growing UK client base and has undertaken unique commissions in both Europe and Australasia.
Based in Oxfordshire, Helena holds Continuing Professional Development (CPD) qualifications in virtual decluttering and how to meet the unique needs of people with ADHD.
Helena’s mission is to help people curate their belongings and organise them logically. She empowers her clients to live harmoniously with their treasures – making mindful choices about what to let go without adopting a minimalist lifestyle
The Space Maker