12 ways to reduce stress when moving house

Having moved house three times in 18 months, Deputy Editor Laura Crombie shares her top tips for minimising stress the next time you move

Moving house is stressful. Anybody who tells you otherwise probably hasn’t done it for a few years. In fact, moving house three times in 18 months has been such an upheaval that I’ve told my husband we won’t be moving again for at least 20 years. After all, what’s the point in writing about extensions and loft conversions all day long if I don’t maximise my home’s potential?

Despite the blood, sweat and tears, the upheaval of moving so frequently has had some advantages; we got rid of boxes full of clutter we couldn’t face lugging around, and we’ve become masters of moving (well, better than we were the first time, anyway). I can’t guarantee these 10 tips will make your move completely stress free, but they will certainly minimise the chances of those aforementioned tears:

1. Make the most of your second viewing

If the first viewing is about getting a feel for the house and deciding you want to buy, the second (or even third) viewing is all about practicalities. Go armed with a list of questions and don’t leave until they’re answered. Obviously this will be harder if the viewing is with an agent rather than the owner, but they’re being paid to sell the house so should still provide you with the answers you need, even if they come back to you afterwards. Here are a few to consider:

  • Where are the water, gas and electricity metres located?
  • Where is the fuse box?
  • Where is the water stopcock?
  • How does the boiler work?
  • How do the kitchen appliances work?
  • Which days are the bins/recycling collected on?
  • How does the burglar alarm work?

2. Make friends with the sellers

When you go for that second or third viewing, ask the vendors for an email address of phone number in case you need anything. Depending on the relationship you build up, you may be able to organise collecting the keys on moving day without having to go to the estate agents. You could even ask them to leave the fridge and boiler on ready for you.

It’s also handy post-move when you suddenly discover you don’t know which shade of grey they used to decorate the hallway and it needs touching up.

3. Transfer your funds early

Once a completion date has been set, the majority of hold ups tend to be because funds haven’t gone through in time. If you’re due to move on a Friday, get your deposit transferred to your solicitor the Friday before to make sure you’re not the one holding things up. It might be worth sending this article to everybody else in the chain, too.

4. Decide whether to DIY

Decide whether to hire a removal company or move yourself with a hire van

I’ve always hired a van and roped in friends and family to help with the move. But here are the pros and cons of using a removal company or hiring a van so you decide what’s best for you:

Removal company

Can provide boxes, wrapping and labelsGenerally more expensive
Staff will lift the boxes and pack/unpack the vanYou need to be ready for a set time
Experts in moving and do this every dayYou’re putting a stranger in charge of your possessions

DIY van hire

Usually cheaperYou need to factor in fuel costs
You can set your own timetableHarder physical labour
If the journey is short, you can do a number of runsYou need to be confident driving a van*

*Anybody hiring a vehicle now has to apply to the DVLA for an authorisation number. You’ll need to do this in advance or you won’t be able to hire it.

5. Start packing once contracts are exchanged

I can’t emphasis this one enough. We once left it until five days before moving day to start packing, which was a major error. As soon as contracts are exchanged, get your boxes and start packing. This will give you time to think carefully about what you’re putting where. Crucially, it will also give you chance to get rid of any junk – either take it to a charity shop or try selling it online. There are thousands of local swaps and sales groups on Facebook, as well as Gumtree, Ebay and Shpock.

6. Label your boxes smartly

As well as marking each box up with the room it will go into in your new house, I use a numerical coding system, which helps organise the boxes:

1 – needed within the first week

2 – needed within the first month

3 – things I love but don’t strictly need (think books, old school work, photo albums, ice cream maker)

7. Use sandwich bags for fixtures and fittings

There’s nothing worse than coming to put your bed/table/sideboard back up, only to find you can’t locate any of the screws or brackets anywhere. When you’re dismantling the items, pop all of the screws into a sandwich bag and tape it securely onto one of the pieces of furniture they’re for. No more lost screws. While you’ve got the tape out, use it to stick cables to the back of your TV and devices to stop them trailing.

8. Create a moving-day kit

There are some things you won’t get through moving day without. Pop them in your car, rather than the van, so they’re with you at all times:

  • Metre key
  • Charged electric screwdriver
  • Smartphone and charger
  • Screwdriver (this will be useful for getting to your water metre)
  • Packed lunch
  • Biscuits
  • Bottled drinks
  • Glasses/mugs
  • Kettle
  • Teabags
  • UHT milk
  • Sugar
  • Soap
  • Hand towel
  • Cleaning bucket
  • Bleach
  • Cloths
  • Washing up liquid
  • Toilet rolls
  • Bin bags
  • Vacuum
  • Mop

9. Photograph your metre readings

You’ve got the keys, you’ve run around in excitement and already started planning a complete redecoration/extension/loft conversion. Before you do anything else, use your smartphone to take photographs of the readings. Then you can call the energy companies a couple of days later to start your accounts. Don’t forget to switch your TV licence over, too.

10. Clean up before the boxes arrive

However good a house looks when you’re viewing it, by the time the previous owners have packed up and moved out, it’s going to need a quick clean. Once the van is packed at your old house, head over to the new property in your car and give it a quick once over before the boxes arrive. You’ll never get another chance to clean without furniture in the way, so make the most of it!

11. Make your bed the night before

Take the hassle out of your first night in your new home by changing your sheets the day before you move. Then simply roll up the sheets, duvet and pillows and pop them in your car, ready to put straight onto the beds in your new house that evening.

12. Research local takeaways

Trust me, after a day of moving, the last thing you’ll feel like doing is cooking. Get on TripAdvisor the week before you move and find the best-rated local takeaway. Tell them you’ve just moved to the area and you might even get a surprise – we got a discount and welcome cookies on our latest move.

Have you got any other moving-day tips I can add to the list? Email me at laura.crombie@futurenet.com and I’ll keep them in mind when the urge to move strikes again!