Just over a year ago, in May 2018, we had our offer accepted on the house we now live in. ‘We’ includes my husband and I, our 3 young children, 2 cats and a dog. Having had enough of city life, we decided to relocate from near Manchester to North Yorkshire. Our reasons were numerous: to give ourselves the opportunity to change jobs, to move the children to a new school, to be nearer to the countryside and most importantly to place ourselves equidistant between both sets of grandparents.
I remember vividly the joy of that moment the offer was accepted followed by 3 long, stressful months until we finally got moved although, apparently, the average time it takes people to get moved is 12 weeks.
Moving to North Yorkshire meant downsizing. We would no longer afford to have a house with a double garage; in fact we’d have no garage at all! We would also not have a kitchen diner or a study like we had in our old house. It was going to require some serious de-cluttering and a huge amount of packing to get the 5 of us moved.
A month after the offer was accepted my husband started working away in our new town as he had to start his new job. I realised this meant I was going to be doing a lot of this packing on my own. Plus I would have to make sure all the addresses and paperwork in our lives would need to be changed to our new address. To try and reduce the stress of moving I made an plan and kept a journal of tips and photos of preparing for our huge move.
I’ve always been one to over-prepare rather than under prepare, particularly with 3 kids and pets in tow. Here I am sharing those tips with you along with some of the other things I learned afterwards. If you’re looking at these because you are also preparing to move house, I hope they help you out and good luck!
29 Tips for Preparing to Move House
Things to do as soon as your offer is accepted:
Tip 1 – If you haven’t done it already, visit and apply to schools/nurseries for your children. Also look into what breakfast/after school clubs and child minders are available if you will need their services.
Tip 2 – Collect boxes. You could get some of these from supermarkets and superstores, etc. I put a message on Facebook asking friends for boxes and trawled Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Ebay for people selling them off cheaply from their move. Also, save lots of newspapers in advance (ask family and friends to save them for you too). This way you can avoid having to pay for packaging.
Tip 3 – Order packaging tape, a tape dispenser and a thick black marker. It’s worth getting a good quality tape as you’ll end up needing to use less. We found that the cheap stuff started peeling off in the time the boxes were lying around waiting to be moved! A tape dispenser is really useful to help you seal boxes quickly.
Tip 4 – De-clutter! Take time to send things to the charity shop, sell it or bin it. After all, what a waste of time to pack things you don’t want or need anymore? I found this was easier to do alongside the packing. Go through your house room by room and revisit them each week to check for more things you decide you’ll no longer need. With kids toys, put pieces back in their boxes and then sellotape them shut until you’ve moved!
Tip 5 – Start packing early, in fact start straight away! It always takes so much longer than you think to pack up a house, especially if you are de-cluttering or downsizing too. Start with items that are rarely used but you must keep e.g. memory box, books, pictures from the walls, things in the garage, shed and loft.
Tip 6 – Write on each box what is inside and which room it is going to in your new house. If you don’t know yet where you will put your new items, write on the box where it came from to help you decide when you move in. We found that the unpacking of the removal van happened at lightning speed and the removal company were really appreciative of the guidance for which room to put the boxes in so they didn’t have to keep checking with us. It is best to use a thick black marker as it’s easy to read and an arrow on the side shows which way up the box should be.
Tip 7 – Pack light things in big boxes and heavy things in small boxes. Your removal company will really appreciate this as heavy boxes can break apart and sometimes they need 2 people to move them. Label heavy boxes as heavy (and fragile items as fragile) so your removal people are prepared!
Tip 8 – Only pack stuff to go in the same room in the same box. This makes it much easier when it comes to unpacking at the other end.
Tip 9 – De-clutter your paperwork. Go through the paperwork that you have been harbouring for years and get rid of things you no longer need e.g. out of date insurance policies, statements for accounts that were closed years ago, etc. Sort your paperwork into labelled files so they are easy to locate. Pack all your paperwork in the same box and label it as very important so you can keep an eye on it on moving day. I would leave it unsealed for now as you may need to access it before moving day.
Things to do as when you get your approximate completion date:
Tip 10 – Book a removal company. Shop around and don’t be hoodwinked by cheap prices, sometimes it’s a case of you get what you pay for. Make sure the removal company include the transportation of any garden furniture, playhouses, sheds, etc in their estimations as these big items can seriously affect the space in the removal van.
Tip 10 – Find out about services in your new area: doctors, dentist, optician, car garages, clubs for the children, after school/breakfast clubs, cat sitter/dog walkers, hairdressers, milk delivery, supermarkets, cleaner, builder, maintenance person, decorator, gardener, window cleaner, post collection office, literally anything or anyone that you currently use. It can be really helpful to have an idea before you move of what there is in case you need something urgently. However, you can always wait to see if someone local to your new area can make a recommendation. Also check when bin collection day is, what recycling services exist and where the tip is.
Tip 11 – Use suitcases to pack essential things you will need when you arrive at the new house. This should include pyjamas, a change of clothes for the next morning, toiletries and maybe a few books and activities to occupy the kids. It saves unpacking boxes if you arrive at your new house late in the day.
Tip 12 – Tackle the cleaning jobs. It’s a disgusting job washing out bins but it saves being embarrassed when the removal men pick up a stinky kitchen bin! Give all the bathrooms and kitchen (including the oven if you’re leaving it) a good scrub – it’ll save you time nearer to moving day. Wipe your windows, sills, skirting boards and scrub any weird stains on the floor that seem to appear when you move the sofas!
Tip 13 – Tidy up the garden. Mow the lawn and cut back the hedges and shrubs. If it is Summer then unfortunately you might have to mow the lawn again but at least it will be more manageable. Don’t do anything that costs any money but just keep on top of the garden chores to ensure it doesn’t look like you abandoned the house as soon as it was sold! Take apart the kids play house and shed, if you have one and want to take it, and any other garden furniture you want to take. Transfer any plants to pots that you want to take with you and get rid of any bags of rubbish or rubble to the tip.
Tip 14 – Arrange childcare for moving day. We wanted our children to be involved in moving day but the reality was that they didn’t want to help! Arranging childcare can take the pressure off having to supervise them on moving day. It can be dangerous as well as distracting to have young children wandering about whilst the doors are open for hours on end and heavy things are being moved about. If your child is old enough and wants to be involved it is still a good idea to arrange for someone else to be there to keep an eye on them at all times just to keep them safe.
Tip 15 – Arrange the care and transportation of your pets on moving day. We decided to send the dog to our parent’s house for the day and they brought her to the new house in the evening when we’d had time to unpack some things. We chose to put the cats in a cage in the car (windows open and it wasn’t hot) before the loading of the removal van started and let them out inside the new house when everything had been unloaded and we could keep the doors shut. Cats should be kept inside for a period of time when you move house so you need to give consideration to how you will manage this. Also ensure that your pet’s food, bed, cage/tank, lead, food and water bowls, etc, are packed somewhere where you can easily locate them.
Tip 16 – Run down the number of food items in the larder and freezer. It is less to pack up and avoids things being spoiled.
Tip 17 – Don’t miss bin collection days. You will need an empty bin to start removal day with as it will get soon get filled up.
Tip 18 – Set up a Mail Redirection as this can take a couple of weeks to take effect.
The day before moving:
Tip 19 – Clean out your fridge and defrost the freezer. Get a cool box ready for any fridge stuff that you will be transporting.
Tip 20 – Decide what you will eat the next day. Either chose a take away, in which case look up where your nearest one will be in advance, or cook something and store it effectively. You may also want to get a bottle of fizz ready to toast your new place!
Tip 21 – Make up a brew kit. Remember to also include biscuits and snacks. Our removal company were also really grateful we had squash, fizzy pop and had done a batch of sandwiches! Make sure you’ve got some cups and plates handy too. To make it easier you could use paper plates and cups so that they can be binned on your way out of the old house.
Tip 22 – Unplug/plumb the dishwasher, tumble dryer and washing machine.
Tip 23 – Give the kitchen and bathrooms a last wipe down. Hoover the floors.
Tip 24 – Put your keys in labelled envelopes in a kitchen for the new owners. The front door key will need to be kept out though to pass to the new owners or the Estate Agent.
Tip 25 – Contact your TV/broadband provider to see if you can transfer your account. We found that our existing provider didn’t operate in our new area so we had to set up an installation date with a different company. Many companies insist on you giving 30 days notice too.
On the day:
Tip 26 – Don’t expect that your new house will have such considerate former owners! Keep the cleaning products (and the hoover) in the car, have extra bin bags to hand and take some key fobs, or even masking tape that you can write on to label your new keys.
Tip 27 – Take meter readings and ask for final bills for Gas, Electric and Water. I took photos of the meters in case there was any discrepancy at a later date.
Tip 28 – Change your House Insurance over to your new property.
In the days that follow your move:
Tip 29 – As well as adjusting to life in your new home there are unfortunately loads of companies to contact and addresses to change. These are the ones we needed to deal with:
- Bank Account/Savings Accounts
- Credit Cards/Store Cards
- Children’s Savings Accounts
- Car Insurance (& caravan)
- Driving Licences and V5 Log Book
- Gas, electric and water suppliers
- Life Insurance
- Mobile Phone
- National Trust & other memberships
- School/Nursery contact details
- TV Licence
- TV and broadband provider
- Work contact details
- Work Unions
Have you got any top tips? Please leave us a comment below!
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