There’s a lot to remember when it comes to moving house – from all the big physical stuff right down to the small bits of paperwork – so it’s no wonder that there are some things that get left behind. When we teamed up with Rightmove earlier this year to run a competition based on your removal horror stories, we were reminded just how many things people forget when moving house...
1. Labelling boxes
This might sound like an obvious one but when there’s so much else to think about, little things like labelling a box can easily be forgotten. And although it seems like a small mistake to make, the impact it can have on your move at the other end can be quite a big one, as one response to our competition proved: “This is really silly but I never label my boxes! So first day always involves me scattering all my belongings everywhere and still never finding what I'm looking for!”
Our tip: Labelling boxes properly is actually one of the top things people forget when moving house - yet one of the most important! Always label your boxes in marker pen with the name of the room they are to be put in when unloading. Mark any box containing fragile items clearly as this will ensure the crew take extra care when loading and unloading it from the truck, and mark anything that’s got priority items in it with a number so that it gets unpacked first. This blog post on labelling boxes when moving house explains everything you need to know about getting it right.
2. Using the correct packing materials
Underestimating the amount of stuff you’re trying to move and how many trips it will take you to get there is a particularly common problem encountered by those that try and move themselves. It’s always hard to calculate the volume of your goods by yourself, as one of our RightMove competition entrants found: “We were moving almost 3 years ago to a house that was only a few streets away, I thought I was mostly organised and just had a few things to pack the night before, turns out I had run out of the boxes and I had to get my partner to run round to the new house and dump the contents and run back round to let me use the boxes again... well over and over again. Kept him busy!”
Another entrant found that whilst he could cope with the volume alone, his choice of packing material ended up being his downfall: “Being a pretty lazy guy, I didn't bother packing up my things from my uni house until the day I was leaving, in a pretty hungover state I decided to chuck everything in bin bags, I took them to my mum's house where I was staying for the summer, and yep you've guessed it, she threw them all out with the rubbish while I was catching up with my mates in the pub!”
Our tip: Using a removal company means an experienced surveyor will calculate the amount of boxes you’ll require and they will provide the standard of packing materials needed to safely transport your items.However, if you’re still intent on moving yourself make sure to buy the appropriate quantity (best to overestimate!) and appropriate quality packing materials (i.e. don’t use fruit boxes from the local supermarket!) you can buy your boxes and packing paper from a removal company – not only will they be sturdy enough to withstand the move, but some even offer second hand boxes which will lower the cost – and avoid using bin liners! Read our guide to the 9 packing materials needed for a house move to make sure you've got everything covered.
Finally, always start packing as early as you can so that you avoid running into problems like the first one mentioned above the week before the move – the more prepared you are, the smoother your move should run!
3. Accidentally packing things you shouldn't
Once you eventually get into the swing of packing it can be hard to stop – and while that’s good, it’s also bad if you end up getting carried away and packing things you might actually need on the day of the move. A couple of the answers given in our Rightmove competition highlight just how easily it can be done; at best, when moving a short distance, this is a disruption you can do without at the end of a long day: “When I packed all my clothes and everything and had to wear the same thing for days. Not amused.” But at worst, it can have major implications on your move – especially if it’s an international one: “When moving internationally we had professional packers in to pack and ship our house contents. We allocated one room which had items that were not to be packed and everyone was informed. The day went well and by the end everything was packed and my husband and I set about putting the items from the allocated ‘no pack’ room into the car to head out. As we packed, we discovered that the backpack with our plane tickets was not there – oh dear! Thankfully the tickets were reprintable; we were just grateful we hadn’t put our passports in as well as we didn’t see our stuff for another 12 weeks!”
Our tip: Always work out what you will be needing to keep on your person well in advance of your move day. This could be simple things like a change of clothes, toilet rolls, a wash bag and towels, phone chargers and some food, or more important things like passports, jewellery, laptops and travel documentation. Make a list of the things you’ll need immediate access to at your new house and when it comes to packing this stuff, put it in a completely separate bag or box and keep it in the car or a clearly identified separate area. Double check it before you start packing the rest of your items so that anything left out can be added before the removal crew load anything onto the truck – particularly if you’re moving abroad and won’t have access to your things for several weeks.
If you're packing yourself, download our self-packing guide and tape it to your fridge in the run-up to the move as a quick guide on what to put in each box and which packing materials you need to stock up on.
4. Making an essentials box
Similar to number 3, this is something that a lot of people often overlook, believing that once they reach their new house it will be easy to access everything they need at once. Well actually, it won’t. Depending on the time of day you move, you might not have the time nor the energy to start unpacking properly when you get to your new house, and the last thing you need is to be rooting through all of your boxes in search of your essentials before bed.
Don’t believe us? These are just a couple of the answers we received in our recent Rightmove competition from people whose moving day was made all the more stressful by not having packed an essentials box: “Our last move was a bit of a rushed affair and we had to do a lot of things last minute. My other half did a run to the charity shop to hand in a load of stuff to save us from moving things we didn’t need while I started loading up. A lot of trips back and forth later and we finally got everything in. After sighing and sitting down for five minutes, I said: ‘let’s get the kettle on’. I unpacked the kettle and went in search of the mugs. I opened the box I THOUGHT they were in, only to find a load of my son’s old plastic toys – every mug, cup and glass had gone to the charity shop and we were left with stuff we were trying to get rid of! We ended up opening the Champagne we were saving for a special occasion and taking turns to drink from the bottle. Oh well, we probably needed that more than the tea anyway!”
“Moving day was stressful – I was presenting a TV show at the time and wanted to make sure we could have a quick and easy meal. I packed the tin opener in a special box then went to the studio. Lo and behold, when I returned that evening, famished and secure in the knowledge I could whip up a quick baked beans on toast dinner, the special box was nowhere to be found – I knew I should have packed that tin opener in my handbag!”
Our tip: The essentials box didn’t earn its name for nothing – it really is an important part of your move. Of all the things people forget when moving house, this is probably the most annoying and will cause you the most inconvenience on the day. The best way to start deciding what should be in yours is to think about all of the items you use on a daily basis that you will want access to straight away at your new house, as well as items that will speed up your unpacking process or those that you can grab in case of an emergency.
Always consider the time of year you’re moving and tailor your essentials box to include items that correlate – for example, in the summer you might want to add some garden toys for children to play with at the new house or an ice box with cold drinks instead of tea and coffee, whereas in the middle of winter you’ll be grateful for mugs of hot chocolate and soup, de-icer for the car and some grit for any paths and driveways that might need it.
Make a list of what you need (or download our essentials box packing list) and start packing your essentials box in plenty of time, preferably just before everything else as this gives you the chance to check against your list and add things that might have been forgotten on the first pack. Then first thing on moving day put it in the car so that it’s out of the way and completely separate from the rest of your boxes to avoid any mix ups when loading the truck.
5. Organising storage for special items
There are some items that you know you want to take with you when you move, some you have to take and others that, well, you might love and want to keep forever, but others simply can’t see the point of – especially if you’re downsizing or compromising on space in your new house. And it’s these items that can cause the most hassle in a house move – do you give in and get rid, or stand your ground and take them, only to face the inevitable argument about where it’s going in the new house? A case in point is this excellent example we were given by one entrant of our recent Rightmove competition: “The husband collects comic books and has about 100 full carrier bags full of them (we know this because he chose this unconventional method to pack them for some reason). They weighed an absolute tonne, and it was about a week before moving when he realised that he had to do best man duties at his best friend’s stag do, so come moving day he was nowhere to be seen whilst me and my family moved all our possessions – including these 100 carrier bags – up two flights of stairs without any help from the owner of them! We have never been so exhausted. When he swanned in the next day saying he was a bit hungover he nearly got a smack!”
Our tip: If you’re in a similar situation and have been collecting things for years that you can’t bear to part with but that you know there won’t be space for in your new house, or you won’t be needing access to very often, then why not consider the benefits of short or long term storage? Not only will your things be kept safe and secure, but you can keep everyone happy by freeing up space in your new house. If you're considering storage then these are 6 things you need to know about storage for your belongings with a removals company.
6. Moving on a Friday
Unless you really can’t avoid it, try as hard as you can not to move on this particular day. It might be tempting to deliberately schedule your move so that you have the weekend to sort your house out without taking too much time away from work, but Fridays are a notoriously busy day for removal companies, particularly during the height of the summer so you might struggle with availability.
Still want to move on a Friday? Here’s one account of the troubles it can cause, as recounted by one of the entrants of our recent Rightmove competition: “Years ago when my children were very small I moved into my house on my own. It was a Friday evening and was very hard work. The house at the time was bare – no carpets or anything – but I knew I could work hard to get it right soon, so tried to keep upbeat. I looked around and saw the kids were dusty so thought, ‘right, bath and bed’. I turned the water on and to my horror realised there wasn’t any hot water. I thought right, well this must be an emergency, so I phoned the number and they told me it was not an emergency, and furthermore no one could come until Monday! Now I broke down and cried with exhaustion wondering how the heck I could manage. I put the phone down and just didn’t know what to do. But half an hour later, miracle of miracles, a rather handsome plumber came like an angel with a spanner and fixed the hot water. He told me the lady who had taken my call had felt so bad that she bent the rules a little and sent him round. I’ve never been so grateful!"
Our tip: Not only is moving on a Friday more expensive (especially so during the peak summer and Christmas periods), but it’s also a lot harder to solve problems, like the example above, that you can’t plan for at short notice when the weekend might cause inconvenience. You should also take into consideration the fact that if anything delays the move – such as the handing over of keys, for example – and pushes it into the weekend then your costs will start to rise considerably.
That’s not to say that every move on a Friday is a disaster – far from it – but it’s certainly something you should factor into your considerations when planning your move, particularly if your budget is tight and a removal company can offer you a cheaper rate for a mid-week move.
7. Collecting ALL the right keys from the previous owners
You’ve got the front and back door keys and you’ve even remembered to ask for the ones for the windows and conservatories – but is that all you need to be worried about?
You might not think so, but after reading one of the entries to our moving horror stories competition that we ran with Rightmove recently, we’re not convinced: “I was so excited when I got the keys to my first house. I came in the back door and the delivery driver, with my furniture, came to the front door – but I couldn’t get the door open as I didn’t have a key for the dead bolt, so I asked him to come to the back door then realised that the back door would no longer open. I had to pass him the keys through the window in the kitchen as I realised the dining room window was painted shut. We moved the boxes in but the couch and table wouldn’t fit through the back door and I had to wait until the next day for the previous owners of the house to return the dead bolt keys to move the rest of the furniture in.”
Our tip: Make sure you check with the owners of the house that you’re buying whether they have all the keys you’ll need on moving day. Don’t forget about things like sheds, conservatories, garages and garden gates or you might find yourself in the same awkward situation as the lady above. Also, once you’re in, make sure you get ALL of your locks changed. The previous owners might no longer have keys but you can never be sure who else has been given a copy over the years, and many insurance policies will be invalid unless the locks have been changed.
8. Checking that everywhere has been properly cleared
It might sound obvious, but making sure you’ve packed everything prior to your move is always a good idea. When you’re concentrating on the important items you use regularly, it’s easy to overlook the cupboard under the stairs, the attic and even the contents of the garden shed – particularly if you’re moving in a hurry. By being extra vigilant, you’ll ensure you don’t fall into the same trap as some of the entrants of our Rightmove competition: “We loaded all our belongings into the truck, truck set off, handed the keys in to the Estate Agents and set off to our new home – only to discover the next day we had left our 42” Samsung LCD TV in the cupboard under the stairs (put there by me to keep it safe while moving boxes!). Oopsy!”
Our tip: Do a proper walkthrough of your house once you think everything’s out, open all the cupboards and drawers and don’t forget the loft and any outside spaces – don’t just quickly glance in the rooms!
9. Informing people about your move
You’ve done the hard bit and got from A to B – but just how many people that need to know about it actually do? You’d be surprised at the amount of people who move that simply forget to tell anyone about it, including their family members…
“The day we moved into our first house we were sitting eating dinner on cardboard boxes when we heard the front door open followed by the words “coo wee!” As the lady walked in we all looked at one another in complete confusion…it turned out she was the cousin of the previous owner who hadn’t realised she’d already moved out – she was so embarrassed! We locked the door from then on understandably!”
“I forgot to tell my mum the day we were moving and a few days later she went to the old house and sat in the front room. She wasn’t amused when the new owner asked who she was – she thought she had dementia for a few minutes! We didn’t know she was visiting and had been planning to pick her up and take her to the new house!”
Taken from our recent RightMove competition, these are just two examples of the kind of situations that can arise when people fail to inform all the right people about their move.
Our tip: As soon as you get your move date confirmed, start letting people know. Remember to go through all utility providers, creditors, the bank, doctors, your place of work and anywhere else that you correspond with regularly and inform them of your new address.
Then go to the Post Office and fill in a form to get all post redirected from the date of your move (this is free for 12 months). A couple of weeks prior to your move, fill in some change of address cards for friends and family with the date of your move on it to make it easier to let everyone know in one go…or they might end up paying your new owners a surprise visit!