I took an extended blog break that hadn’t really been planned! Moving house and setting up a broadband connection took a whole lot longer than I had imagined it would. But, we are now happily settled into our new home, hooked up to the fastest internet connection our countryside location will allow, and I can share some ideas, learned along the way on how to simplify a house move.
During my late teens and early twenties I moved house a lot; like people often do, from student halls to short-term rentals; changing place every year or two. This has proved very useful as practice, and whilst moving into a 1 bed flat with just a suitcase is very different to moving from a 3 bed house with 2 children, the principles are largely the same. Here are some of the main areas I focused on simplifying as much as possible this time around:
1: Planning – I know, it sounds really boring doesn’t it…but planning a move really well helps to take off so much of the pressure. Make a time plan if you can, from when to start packing the first box, the order to pack the house in, to booking movers or a van in plenty of time. It will also make you feel super-in-control and you get to tick stuff off lists as you go, so it feels like you’re making progress, even when the whole house is starting to resemble a box warehouse.
2. Have a system – this links in nicely with the planning tip – decide on your own system for labelling your packing boxes and stick to it from beginning to the end. If anyone else is packing with you, make sure they’re using the same system (you might sound a bit controlling…ahem, but trust me it’s worth it!). I numbered each of our bedrooms in our old house, then decided who would have each bedroom in the new house, and labelled the boxes in line with this. So Mia’s room was bedroom 3 and all of her clothes, teddies, etc went in boxes numbered 3, clearly marked on the top and all sides of the boxes. As soon as we arrived at the new house I stuck some pre-made number signs to each of the doors; the movers then knew exactly which box to put into each room. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who gets really annoyed being asked where each individual box goes…we had over 90 boxes, so this system saved my sanity on moving day. I only numbered the bedroom boxes, but you could easily number each room in the house. I also wrote on the side of each box exactly what was inside, especially key items that we would need during the first few days.
3. De-clutter – perhaps this should have been number one, because it really helps to get started early. We knew that we wanted to move house quickly as we had actually found the perfect new house before ours was even on the market. The move actually ended up taking 7 months, but that is a very long story. Anyway, the extra time the move took allowed me plenty of de-cluttering time, but even if you just have a day to sort through stuff, you will be so glad you did it. There is just no point in the extra effort of boxing up, moving and unpacking items you don’t use, or wear, or like that much. At heart I am the worst hoarder of stuff, mostly for sentimental reasons…it’s tough to throw away old birthday cards or all the sweet artwork Mia and Joe bring home from school. After a whole weekend sorting through our attic, and finding unpacked boxes from the previous house move 8 years before, I learned to be a little more hard-hearted, and only kept the most important things. I probably still have progress to make on this one, but I’m down from about 10 boxes or cards and artwork to 2, which is much more manageable.
Books, DVDs, CDs and magazines are all really easy to de-clutter. I was amazed by how many we had, despite not owning a CD or DVD player for several years. Some I gave to charity, and magazines to waiting rooms, or for recycling. There are some really great sites such as Webuybooks, Fatbrain and Zapper which allow you sell your items in bulk. I used Webuybooks which has a great mobile app for scanning the barcodes or unwanted books, DVDs and CV’s. It then offers you a price for everything you have scanned and they will arrange for a courier to collect your items. I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was. I’m sure you could probably make a greater profit by selling items individually through eBay or Amazon, but for speedy de-cluttering it was great.
4. Find helpers – I found that accepting any kind of help offered with moving made it easier in so many ways. From A’s work allowing us a plentiful supply of cardboard boxes, to Mia and Joe having a sleepover with their grandma the night before the move and A’s dad helping to transport our garden plants on moving day. As well as the obvious and very welcome practical support, I found it reassuring the feel that we had this support network around us, and that we weren’t doing it alone. We were lucky enough to be moving within the same village, but for further moves I’m sure accepting help from family and friends would become even more important. And, they are excited to come and see your new home too, and often bring wine or cake, hooray!
5. Survival box – it sounds dramatic and perhaps a bit too Bear Grylls, but pack everything that you will need for the first day in a separate box, and label it clearly not be touched by the movers! Mine was actually just a large laundry basket which I kept safely in my car. It included essential paperwork we might need (from solicitors and estate agents), spare pens and packing tape, bathroom essentials including shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, toilet roll. I also included plenty of snacks that we could eat on the day…nothing too healthy I have to confess, mostly jaffa cakes and protein bars. Most importantly, the kettle and some tea bags, plus a couple of teaspoons. Chargers for phones and I also popped in my laptop and camera for safe-keeping! Fresh bedlinen and nightwear I packed separately in a suitcase for each person. I also included my numbered room signs (see 2!) and blutack.
6. Make the beds first – I was going to stop at five points, but had to included this as an extra one as it really helps make the day a happy one! When you arrive in your new home, start with the beds. I’m always tempted to start unpacking the kitchen first, but knowing you have a comfy freshly-made bed to climb into at the end of the day is such a comforting thought, and you are most likely going to be pretty exhausted by bedtime. I started with Mia and Joe’s beds; putting the frames back together, putting their usual bedlinen on and adding a few of their favourite teddies. When they arrived later in the day to explore the house and their new rooms, the beds looked familiar and were ready for bedtime routine, amidst the chaos of the rest of the house. Making my own bed too was such a good idea, and by 10pm that night I had completely crashed out.
I really hope that if you’re moving soon, or in the future, that these tips help a little! Do let me know if you have other ideas for simplifying a house move, I’d love to hear your stories.
*image from Unsplash