There’s no getting away from the fact that moving house is one of life’s most stressful events. It is on a par with divorce, death and getting stuck on the M25 en route to Gatwick as your holiday flight nears departure time. But there are ways of substantially reducing the stress, even if it may never become a completely pleasurable experience.
Hire a van
Why not consider hiring a van? It can be more convenient than employing a removal firm that will need to complete the job in one day. More and more companies are offering the hire of new vans to house movers, and provided a little planning goes into the packing process (including how to load the van to maximise the available space), it’s an option that increasing numbers of people are endorsing as being the least stress-inducing means of moving house.
Before selecting any new vans for hire, though, it’s wise to draw up a “moving house checklist” to ensure a glitch-free transition. Leaving things to the vagaries of memory, especially during a time when one’s adrenal glands could well be working overtime, is asking for trouble. Number one on the list should be to start decluttering. Everyone accumulates far more than they’ll ever make use of. If it’s been in the loft or in a cupboard for months or years, the chances are it will never be used again and isn’t really needed. No one wants to hire a fleet of new vans for a single house move, so begin early and dispose of all your clutter. Those of a thrifty disposition might like to declutter with a good car boot sale and make a little money out of the affair, but charity shops will eagerly take anything that doesn’t fall into the category “tat” (just bin that).
Invest in good quality, double-walled packing boxes for added protection during transport. Start packing away non-essentials like books, DVDs, clothes that won’t see the light of day till next season, etc., at least a fortnight before M-Day (moving day). A key piece of advice throughout the packing process is to remember labelling. Develop the habit of clearly labelling all packing crates as they’re sealed – it’ll save a lot of perplexity and frustration on M-Day when unpacking begins.
Pets tend to dislike house moves even more than humans. If it’s possible to tuck Cuthbert the cat or Lucy the Labrador in a cattery or kennel, or with friends or family, during the move, they’ll find it a lot less stressful and will be less likely to use the new carpet as a toilet or pull tufts of fur from their lower backs.
It’s a good idea to keep valuables like money, passports, jewellery, driving licences and so on close to hand during the move – no one wants to end up inadvertently stashing these in the corner of the loft beneath a pile of other “to be opened later” crates.
Finally, don’t overestimate your physical strength – if that washing machine looks too heavy to lift, it probably is. Don’t get a hernia; hire a sack barrow instead. That’s the piece of equipment that experienced removal firms use to make light work of moving hefty items. But remember, larger items should be handled with care to stop them falling off during transport; a fridge freezer can do a lot of damage if it drops on an unsuspecting foot.
When the day itself arrives and the van is waiting outside, be careful to pack it in the right order. The best rule of thumb to follow is “first out, last in.” Take the packed boxes out first and stack them together into a wall at the back of the van. This maximises the space you’ll have available for bigger items, like bed frames and mattresses. These are best tethered to the sidewalls of the van (put the mattress in first, then the bedframe). Capitalise on the soft, protective layer offered by mattresses to sandwich delicate mirrors or framed, glazed pictures between. Fill the rest of the space by packing items for downstairs first and items for upstairs last.
Do not forget to notify utilities and authorities of the removal date so they can amend their records – make a list of all of them (e.g., water, gas and electricity suppliers, DVLA, TV licensing, GP, dentist, credit card firms etc.). Utilities suppliers need to read meters just before the move.
Finally, sending out change of address cards a week or so before the move could spare a lot of postal problems later.