Moving house is a big ordeal... Whether you are moving across town, across the country or even around the world, it is never a simple task. It's daunting, emotional, overwhelming and hard work... but it is also promising, rewarding and exciting.
The key to a successful move is to plan it properly, get some help and try (I said try!) to stay calm. If you can afford to pay a company to wrap, pack and move everything then set up your new home for you as well, go for it and save yourself a few wrinkles! But let's assume that if you're reading this you're doing it yourselves. I have moved more times in my life than I can even count - this is our 11th home in 10 years - and with each move, we learn another lesson or two. To help you out, here are ten tips I jotted down whilst in the midst of our recent move:
1. BE PREPARED!
If ever there was a time to use that girl scout training, this is it. Moving doesn't just happen overnight and you need to plan things out, get organised, make lists and be prepared. (Even for the most disorganised, there are numerous printables out there to keep you on track.) Do as much as you can in advance, sort through cupboards, drawers and shelves getting rid of anything you don't really need. Letting go can be a hard part of moving, but ridding yourself of excess baggage really is quite a cathartic process. Donate to charity, sell things online, gift to grateful friends or just throw some things out. You'll feel lighter and better for it.
2. Buy decent boxes and plenty of tape
You'll find that boxes don't go a long way and quickly pile up once you start emptying your home. Similarly, there never seems to be enough tape. You'll always need more than you think and collecting odd boxes from supermarkets etc will just result in a hugely chaotic pile of stuff. Investing in decent boxes really is so worthwhile as you can reuse them next time, stack them neatly, store them if necessary and just feel a lot more organised. It also makes the actual process of moving an easier job. Ours have been reused so many times by ourselves and friends - hopefully one day soon we'll no longer need them and can pass any surviving ones along for good.
3. Get some help
It's a big job and you can't do it alone. Draft in some trusted strong friends and pay them with pizza and beer at the other end, people really are happy to help if you ask them. Alternatively, get professional movers in to do the heavy lifting and moving. The expense will be worth it and you'll save yourself a lot of time, stress and potential injuries.
4. Pack a "Starter Box"
When you get to your new, empty house, what will you need? What's the first thing you (or the kids) will want to do? Pack a box/bag/laundry basket that you take in the car with you or that is clearly labelled as the first to be opened up. Include the following:
- Toilet roll
- Hand soap & hand towels
- Bin bags
- Paper plates & cups
- Tissues & wet wipes
- Scissors & sharp knife
- Some basic cutlery (knife for spreading, teaspoons for making tea)
- Tea-towels & washing up liquid
- Kettle & toaster
- Local takeaway menus - you'll be too tired to even think of making dinner but will want to know where to get food from!
5. Have an easy-food bag
Many a crisis was solved over tea and toast! Moving house doesn't allow much time or ease for food prep but you'll keep everyone happy with a few basic drinks and snacks. Toast is always a winner so pack some bread and favourite spreads. Biscuits, muesli bars, fruit, nuts and crackers will be lifesavers on a long day. Remember the teabags, bottled water, juice and cans of coke for the movers and last but not least, make sure you include a bottle of wine and some yummy nibbles for the evening when you finally collapse. Wine glasses optional, paper cups perfectly acceptable.
6. Pack an overnight bag each
You never know how long the move will take and how soon you'll be able to find pyjamas, clean clothes and toiletries! Act as if you're going away for a casual weekend and pack an overnight bag each with your essentials for a couple of days just in case. This will take the pressure off having to find everything right away.
7. Make sure bedding is easily accessible
As above, make sure your bedding is clearly labelled and easily accessible. As long as you can fit the mattresses on the floor and have sheets to go on them, you'll have a place to fall into at the end of a long hard day. The actual building of beds can wait a few days.
8. Have your vacuum cleaner and cleaning box at the ready
As much as we'd all like to move into a shiny, sparkly new home this is very often not the case and there will always be things that need cleaning before you start unpacking. Or at the very least, once you've finished the actual moving-in stage and have gone through a few boxes, you'll be grateful for that vacuum cleaner.
9. Focus on one box/area at a time
It is so easy to get swept up in the amount of things to do, boxes to unpack and things to find new homes for that it can quickly become overwhelming. Everywhere is a mess and chaos reigns! From personal experience I can't stress enough how much more satisfying it is to simply choose one area to focus on and to fully unpack one box at a time. Whether you choose the bathroom, kitchen, living room, kids room or master bedroom - whatever seems most important at the time, by focusing on creating one calm and organised space, it will make the rest seem a lot more manageable.
10. Pack the kids an activity kit
Kids are great little helpers when moving house and can be drafted in for various jobs. They love feeling useful and nothing quite compares to the joy of playing in the empty boxes during the process...
However, there are a lot of times when they can't help getting in the way and are better otherwise occupied. So pack them an activity kit with some easy things to keep them busy (that won't create too much mess and they don't need any help with) and they'll happily let you get on with it for a while. Here are some ideas to include:
- Colouring/activity books and pencils
- Sidewalk chalk
- Pack of cards
- New storybook
- Wooden puzzle
I hope this has been helpful, feel free to share any of your own moving tips in the comments below.
Love Holly x