Because everyone knows moving is hell on earth.
Thanks to boarding school, London prices and that time I lived with an actual psycho, I’ve moved every single years since I was 13. That’s a move a year for more than a decade. Luckily that means I’m pretty much the moving Svengali, and I’m going to share my wisdom with you.
Two weeks before
Get booking. Broadly speaking, the options are to do it all yourself with car/taxi/kindly friends. This is the most stressful option because you can’t get annoyed with your friends and you’re not paying them so if they don’t feel like it on the day, they can just skip it. You could rent a van, but please remember that driving a van is hell on earth and you’ll have to do all the heavy lifting yourself. Possibly the best option is getting a man/men with a van. That way you don’t have to drive the massive van or lift the really heavy things.
If you’re time poor but cash rich then you can hire people who’ll come in, pack everything and move it. You can even pay them to unpack everything. If you can afford this, do it. It will be worth the money. If you can’t, you’re just like the rest of us. Keep reading.
Make sure that everyone who charges you bills knows that you’re moving, and give them final readings on any meters. If you’re keeping the same internet provider then they might let you just plug the WIFI box into your new flat, meaning pretty much instant internet.
The week before
Get brutal. There is literally no point in either paying someone, or straining your back, moving boxes of stuff that you’re going to put in the cellar/attic/under your bed and then not look at at all. If you haven’t used it in the last 9 months then you don’t need it. Ebay it, give it to a friend, take it to the charity shop or throw it in the bin.
If you’ve got lots of stuff to get rid of that’s still in decent condition, charity shops will come and collect it for you. This is particularly great when it comes to furniture, which can be expensive to ditch. Bear in mind that any sofas, mattresses and upholstered furniture will need to have a fire safety label.
Clean everything, even if you’re getting a professional cleaner in after you leave. A whole lot of dirt settles over the length of a tenancy and if your landlord thinks it isn’t clean enough they’ll charge you crazy money to have it deep cleaned.
Check your contract. What did you have to do at the end of living there? Some places make you get your garden pressure washed, others will stipulate that you have to get the chimney swept. Again, anything you don’t do your landlord can charge you for, so it’s best to take control and shop around for the best deal.
Get hold of boxes. It can be tempting to pack in bin bags, but boxes will make life a lot easier on the day. If you do insist on using bags, either bulk buy laundry bags with handles from your local pound shop, or at the very least buy the heavy duty wheelie bin bags. If you’re going to be sensible and get boxes, try asking around friends, looking on FreeCycle or Gumtree or bidding on Ebay, all of which are much cheaper than shelling out for new boxes, which are weirdly expensive.
Start packing. Pack by room, don’t be tempted to cross contaminate your boxes. Trust me, it’s going to save you a lot of time earlier. Invest in bubble wrap, it’s a lot cheaper than replacing everything you own that’s breakable. Packing will take about twice as long as you think it’s going to.
Order an online food shop to be delivered the day after you move in. Unpacking is hungry work and you’re going to want snacks.
The day before
Pack a suitcase like one you’d take when you’re going on holiday, with clothes, toiletries, any laptops or computers and anything you’re super dependent on (teddy, anyone?) The suitcase comes with you wherever you go, and means that whatever happens you’ll have what you need to go to work.
Also pack all of your valubles. Whether it’s something you’re attached to or something expensive, put it all in one bag and then either keep it with you or drop it off at a trusted friend’s place.
Pack a bottle of wine, tea bags, a pint of milk and the kettle (or whatever constitutes emergencies in your life) and make sure it’s the first thing to be unpacked or put in the fridge at the new house. That way you’ve got something to sooth your ravaged soul.
Pack a DVD, a book or a packet of cards. You probably won’t have telly or internet for the first day or two, and getting bored is a very real risk.
Print out a map and address details from your old house to your new house to give to anyone who’s helping you.
Label your boxes with rooms on them. It’s a game changer.
Make a schedule. Obviously you won’t end up following it, but it will give a good structure to the day. If you’re picking up keys that day, make sure you allow for that, and if you’re doing an inventory at either end that always takes longer than you expect it to. Major things to include are when your movers (or friends) are arriving, how long you think it will take to load the van/car, how long the drive will take and when your helpers have to leave.
On the day
Put something hideous and comfy on. I favour an extremely ugly polka dot jump suit. You’re going to be bending over a lot. Tie your hair back. It’s going to be sweaty. Wear trainers.
Have a massive breakfast, there’s not going to be anything useful in your kitchen today.
When the stuff gets there, put the boxes straight into the right room. It takes a little bit longer now, but it’ll be quicker in the long-run.
Make the bed. Pretty much the first thing you should do after you shut the front door and jump up and down because you’ve got a new house! Once your bed is made you know you’ve got somewhere to collapse, and by the time you want to crawl into it you’re not going to want to be wrestling with duvet covers. I like to bring the duvet in a duvet cover from the old place so it still smells like home on the first night somewhere new, but that’s probably just me.
Turn the fridge on (for the food that you cleverly arranged to have delivered tomorrow morning).
Have a glass of wine/pizza/something bad for you. You deserve it.
Go to bed. You can unpack tomorrow. You’ve got everything you immediately need in that suitcase you packed (you smart cookie).