Hello there lovely Buttoneers! It has been just over a month since our big house move to a new town and new home that is our very own. Sometimes it feels like we are just staying in a holiday home and it hasn’t sunken in that we actually live here. It’s strange. I have never lived in a town I didn’t know before, even though this town isn’t a million miles away from the town we lived in and I grew up in.
It all feels so new with lots of scope for adventure with new places to explore, new areas to discover, little treasures and pockets of magic around each corner – maybe that’s why it feels like a holiday!?
Other times it feels like I have settled here so easily, especially compared to our first bought house in our old town because of the problems we had there. We have settled into lovely new traditions like steak night at our local pub and market day for our fresh fruit and vegetables – I was ridiculously excited to go and register at the local library the other day – my 12 year old self that carried arms of books out of the library each visit would have been so proud! It feels a lot like home and I couldn’t ask for much more than that to be honest.
It feels wonderful to walk outside and explore at the same time as feeling safe and happy in our own home. It feels like we can grow roots here, branch out and blossom – It feels a lot like home.
Our move process has it’s up and downs and a whole roller coaster of emotions on a daily basis from trying to pin down the owner of this house for enquiries to settling on a move date further down the chain where the people were emigrating to a different country and needed extra time etc, etc. It was exciting and stressful in equal measures – we shirked the responsibility of packing up the house more times than was probably sensible but we made sure we laughed and adventured and napped alongside the worry and panic and overwhelm to equal it all out – especially in my ‘must have EVERRRRRYTHING organised’ brain. But eventually we made it.
We packed up two lorries worth of our stuff (we own too much stuff!) and didn’t look back once!
(Actually the relief of moving forward from all that had happened to us made me have a bit of a snotty sob/happy cry in the car as we left town – I am a real sensitive soul but pulled it together with the thought of lunch on the horizon!)
There was a bit of a last minute panic when the removal company arrived at about half 7am and we hadn’t finished/started packing up the kitchen because we needed at least few hours’ sleep the night before (maybe we shouldn’t have napped or adventured so much after all) and my parents definitely sensed the panic in my quivering voice when they rang to see how it was going. Mum and Dad were bloody angels! Not only did they come in separate cars to take some of our stuff to their house that wouldn’t go on the lorries, but they stayed and worked as an amazing packing duo wrapping our china, taping and labelling boxes and generally shouting encouragement to get us out the door on time – We cannot thank them enough as well as my sisters texts laughing at me and my panic which totally made me step back, breathe and relax throughout the morning.
So, now that the dust has settled and I can step back and see the wood for the trees a bit – or in our case the walls from the boxes a bit – I thought it would be great to share my top tips for a smooth move process.
I wanted to gather my own experiences of moving and put them into a bit of a list of do’ and don’ts (any excuse to make a list right!?) As much as I now say I will never move again – who knows, this may be a good reminder for any future moves too!
So without further ado, here are my Top Ten Tips for…Moving House…
1. Get Organised
☀ Start off by having a huge clear out – It’s amazing how much we hoard over the months or years we live in the same house. Try to be ruthless. If you haven’t used or liked that item in the last 6 months – send it off to the charity shop or throw it in the bin. You’ll then only be unpacking the best of your stuff in the new house and probably have a cheaper house removal company quote as a result of less stuff – Win win!
☀ Don’t forget to sort out the garage/loft – It is also amazing how much you store away out of sight that you forget about. It took us almost a whole day to sort out our garage of junk we had accumulated!
☀ Organise your stuff into boxes together with things you use at a similar time or go in a similar place in each room – This makes it a lot easier when it comes to knowing what is in each box and how quickly you can unpack it at the other end.
☀ Don’t pack all of your heavy stuff in one box – the removal people need to actually be able to lift it! Pack books with cushions or pillows to distribute the weight and also add as a layer of protection for your beautiful book spines and edges!
☀ Photograph things on display so that you remember how you loved them all together to make for an easy unpack and homey feeling at the new house. Or do the opposite and mix it all around to feel all sparkly and new!
☀ Also, it is a good idea to take photos of T.V. and computer cables so you know what plug goes into which socket or even how your furniture went together if you have to take it apart – TOP IKEA TIP: All of their flat pack instructions are free to download on their website if you get stuck!
☀ When taking apart furniture, especially bookcases or wardrobes – either label or colour code the pieces if you have more than one so you know which piece of wood goes with which bookcase – A nightmare with the shelving in the Eliston Button Headquarters!
☀ Label every box with the room you want it to end up in at the new house for easy organising the other end for the removers – Also, label key items in each box so you don’t have to unpack every box to find the bottle opener or your T.V. remote! This was the best idea ever in the studio!
☀ Print off a floor plan of the new house for the removal company so they can have a heads up to which room is which. You can normally find these on your estate agents website in your ‘For Sale’ brochure.
☀ Make sure you have organised your child or pet care for the day of the move (if you are able to of course) so that you can focus and not have to worry about anything while you direct boxes to different rooms and make copious amounts of tea and coffee!
2. Plan Your Time
☀ Don’t leave everything until the last minute – It ALWAYS takes a lot longer than you think it will, especially with the little bits and pieces and tying of loose ends as you get closer to your house move date. Don’t nap! Trust me – It might sound like the best idea in the world at the time, but not when you are near a mental breakdown because you haven’t even started packing the craft studio 2 days before the move or finished packing the kitchen on the morning of the move…*cough cough* just me!?
☀ Make lists – Prioritise rooms or jobs, note down little jobs to do in between big ones, list out last minute things to do or meals to help use up food before you defrost the freezer. Plan out each room to box up starting with your less used rooms or stuff to your last minute items – Timing is key. I had to arrange for my Dad to pick up and store my pink Vespa (it is currently off the road for a while until the better weather!) ahead of the move so that it was one less thing I had to think about come move day!
3. Hire a PROFESSIONAL Removal Company
☀ Yes! Yes! YES! – Did I ever tell you the story of how we shut down a removal company on our last house move!? They damaged my beautiful wooden studio desk, wouldn’t replace it and falsified their insurance documents…bad move! We were forced to take them to court and trading standards got involved. They eventually were shut down for insurance fraud – Always make sure that your removal company have legitimate insurance! We eventually got our money back (through court bailiffs when they failed to appear in court) but the stress and upset left a bitter taste attached to the whole move – It was not the best start. Luckily this time around, the removal company were extremely professional and legit!
☀ Check for hidden removal company costs for things like insurance excess, extra boxes or even an hourly rate if you receive the new house keys later than planned. Ask the questions and decide with what feels right. We paid a small amount as an insurance against a late key pick up (because our seller was a bit of a Slow Joe when it came to getting organised with anything) and it gave us a buffer to ensure we weren’t going to get charged per removal person, per hour after the time set which gave us a more relaxed move day without worrying about every scenario!
☀ Don’t just choose a ‘Man with a Van’ unless you are happy to not have any fall back if anything goes wrong. I don’t mean the odd chip or dent in your furniture; I mean a more dramatic outcome of a lorry crash or fire on route to your new house. I am sure it is extremely rare but your whole life is packed on to that truck – Act accordingly.
☀ TOP TIP: Here in the UK, there is a governing body of removal companies called the British Association of Removers (B.A.R) who are dedicated to ‘promoting professional excellence in removals’. In a nutshell they have a set of high standards that each removal company registered with them have to follow. This is amazing for the little people like us house movers because you are protected for everything from cancellations to disputes to the removal company being trained in lifting, carrying and correctly moving your items. It is wonderful piece of mind after our bad experience the previous time and we wouldn’t have ever used a company not registered with B.A.R for this move.
4. Protect Your Stuff
☀ A good removal company will give you free packing supplies – thank god! We had a ridiculous amount of boxes in the end that went into hundreds (I know…I know…We have too much stuff – It’s embarrassing!) It would have cost a fortune to buy boxes and supermarket boxes are just not strong enough. Boxes get stacked in the removal lorry to utilise the space and thin walled boxes will crush and in turn your stuff gets damaged. Removal company boxes are generally double lined or at least thick so you have peace of mind. TOP TIP: You can sometimes find used removal boxes on Facebook selling pages or websites like Freecycle.
☀ Bubble wrap is your very best friend. so is packing paper and when you run out of these…towels, tea towels, aprons, blankets and even socks! Using the latter items also is a really good way of utilising the space in your boxes too. Wrap everything in cotton wool (not literally) that you don’t want to see damaged, chipped or dented. Stuff moves around in boxes however carefully they are carried and most removal companies insurance policies don’t cover boxes you have packed yourself. TOP TIP: Don’t use newspaper unless you want last week’s news printed on your stuff! We had to rewash all of our china and crockery after the previous move!
☀ TOP TIP: Masking tape bookcase or storage unit shelves together to keep them as a set and put any fixings in a zip lock sandwich bag taped to the largest piece of wood or inside a drawer – They are sooooo easy to lose! Don’t use packing tape for this – it leaves a sticky brown residue…eww!
☀ TOP TIP: Pack plates, dishes, vinyl records and Cd’s on their side in the boxes to minimise cracking or breaking under the pressure of stacked boxes!
☀ TOP TIP: Pack your shower gels, creams, bubble bath, sun cream and any other bottles of liquid in zip lock sandwich bags before boxing them up – damage limitation at its finest if one leaks or splits open!
5. Make a Survival Box
☀ Once you have moved in to your new home, the last thing you want to do is trawl through every box for the bottle opener/coffee/toilet roll etc etc – Have essential items all in one box (preferably that you take in your own car so that you know where it is, rather than five boxes deep into your living room)
☀ Be sure to also include a plate/mug/knife and fork for each person for your first few meals, a first aid box including any medications you might need, so that they are all to hand, drinks, snacks, extension leads, cleaning supplies and anything extra you might need for your first day or so.
☀ Take bedding, clean sheets and your pillows etc in your own car where possible too – not only does it keep them safe and clean but you can make up the bed as soon as it is unloaded from the removal lorry – You will be sooooo glad you did the minute you want to crash for the night after a long day of moving.
☀ TOP TIP: Pack clothes and toiletries for your first week into suitcases to not only use free ‘box’ space but also so they are to hand and easy to spot – include any work clothes, pyjamas and lounge wear too – don’t forget your knickers!
6. Change Your Address
☀ I know this one sounds like a no-brainer but it is so easy to forget with the hustle and bustle of everything going on in the run up to the big move day. Spend a little time over the week before you move changing your address for club cards, store cards, magazine subscriptions, catalogue mailing lists, online shopping like Etsy, Amazon, EBay etc, banks and building societies, student loans, driving license etc etc…the list feels endless so well worth starting early – You don’t want to risk your important post going to your old address!
☀ In the UK the Royal Mail has a (paid for) mail redirection service but you may be label to avoid paying for this is you get in early with address changes for things due to be posted around the move date.
7. Be Prepared
☀ It took us a few weeks to get settled and start getting things like Sky Tv and more importantly, Internet sorted (the latter was out of our hands unfortunately) so scope out the local WiFi hotspots or free WiFi cafes and coffee shops – these were a god send for me keeping my biz running over the whole move process.
☀ Research your local public transport – even if you drive! Our car broke down about a week in and my fiancé had to take the bus to work for a while – it was so handy to have all of the information to hand – and lucky for me to work from home 😉
☀ Look into your local shops and supermarkets – you will need to restock your fridge, freezer and cupboards sooner rather than later if you want to keep eating out costs to a minimum.
☀ TOP TIP: If possible, visit the area you are moving to before you move. We did this a few times and familiarised ourselves with the lay of the land, the local shops and markets, the local pubs, doctor and dental surgeries, library, hairdressers etc etc – It made it all feel all the more like home when we moved and not as scary as getting lost on the way to the shopping centre!
8. Let It Go…Let It Go….
☀ I had the most ridiculous move day expectations in the world – we actually laugh about them now! I planned to make omelettes for lunch whilst the removal guys loaded the vans and to sit with a coffee planning new room layouts – Haha! In reality I was frantically helping my Mum and Dad pack the kitchen, direct the removal guys to which box was going where and grabbing all of the last minute bits and pieces and chucking them into someone’s car! Just relax and see how the day shapes itself – you have the rest of your life to plan the new house!
☀ Before the move I was really hung up on the little details. I had planned and made lists of first rooms to unpack, how the temporary Eliston Button Headquarters would be set up instantly and how I would be able to use our own internet to write and post blog posts – I did none of these things and wasted so much time worrying about things that essentially were out of my control. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but try to relax and once you move, you will just be glad it is all over and it all (hopefully!) went as smooth as possible.
9. Stand Up for Yourself
☀ If, worst case, something gets damaged during the move – let your removal company know. They are used to accidents happening and a good company will claim through their insurance and you can replace the item – Only you lose out if you have to pocket the expense of replacing the item or worse, put up with a scratched or damaged item.
☀ Legitimate removal companies have (legitimate) insurance to cover these accidents for a reason – accidents happen and they can easily be resolved if needed. A couple of our storage units got scratched being taken on and off the lorry on one side – we spoke to the removal company and received a cheque in the post within a week so we can replace the items.
☀ TOP TIP: Make sure you know how many days you have in your contract to make a claim if you need to – if it runs out, you can’t claim anything.
10. Treat Yo’ Self
☀ Finally, you have been through a huge upheaval and ordeal with all of the packing and planning and the ten thousand things that ran through your head at any given minute – Relax! Open a bottle of wine, go out for a celebratory meal, open that bar of chocolate you have hidden in your survival box, take a hot bath and take a deep breath – You made it.
☀ You have the rest of your life (or time in that home) to unpack – take time to take it all in, decompress, plan your rooms and be sure to not end up getting fizzled out, ran down or worse full of cold because you didn’t have enough self-care. As much as you want to get back to normality, you don’t want to push yourself too hard. You might even find some hidden treasures that you didn’t notice when you first viewed the house (I am seriously thrilled about finding the beautiful vintage ceramic door handle below that I will definitely be keeping when we replace the old door!)
☀ TOP TIP: If you are able to, take a few days to explore and adventure around your new area or, if you are already familiar to the area, take time to enjoy your new home before you start rapidly unpacking everything – it gave us a mini ‘holiday’ from it all before we got going again which did wonders for our sanity and our achy arms!
So there you go and now you know! This is obviously not a finite list of everything in the world to do with moving, but it’s the best tips that worked really well for me or little lessons learnt that I will benefit from in any future moves.
If you made it this far then a top ten glittering button points to your chosen Hogwarts house! Hooray!
Would you add any tips to this list? Do you have any funny/horror house move stories to share? I would love to hear all about them!
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Until next time, meet me for a chat with a cup of tea in the comments below. I’ll click the kettle on! Happy Moving!