When it comes to life stressors, moving house sits right up at the top of the list. Yes, it can be a daunting process, but with a bit of preparation and the right approach, it doesn't need to drive you to despair. We asked some relocation experts to share their top 10 tips for easing the pain of moving so you can power through — and start looking forward to your next chapter.
Always start early.
"After you've made the decision to move, give yourself four to six weeks to get organized," says Sue Carter, managing director of Relocation Services Australia. "Start by booking your moving company and arranging an early delivery of boxes and packing materials. As soon as you have a spare half hour, pack items you don't use regularly."
It's also a good idea to book a skip if you think you'll need to get rid of a lot, and to donate or pass on anything you don't need. "Create an inventory of all your belongings, making note of fragile items that need special care when they're being moved, and any scratches or dents on furniture. Measure rooms and doorways in your new home to ensure furniture will fit, particularly the fridge. Two weeks out, stop using your fridge and pantry.
"Three weeks out, notify [your electric company] of your new address and update your driver's license and car registration. Have your mail held or redirected and, if necessary, gather family and pet medical records, as well as school and dental records, and prescriptions.
Arrange time off work and plan for how to care for any children and pets on moving day. Disassemble bulky outdoor items, such as trampolines, and create a DIY kit with basic tools and first-aid supplies. "A week before the move, book cleaners for after the last box has left. Arrange final readings of your gas and electricity meters and reconnections at your new address.
Dismantle your furniture — always taking care to tape screws in an obvious location. Prepare a 'survival box' with a kettle, tea and coffee, disposable cutlery, and paper plates, phone and laptop chargers, tools, and school supplies. Water your indoor plants lightly and pack them into plastic-lined boxes. And don't forget to back up your computer files."
"When you pack for a move, you handle every single item in your home," says Amy Revell, professional organizer and decluttering coach at The Art of Decluttering. "Don't waste the opportunity to have a thorough clear-out.
Ask yourself: will this item add value to the next stage of my life? Go through room by room, including the garage. Put items into three categories — keep, store, and bin. Make sure kids are onboard and sort their things too."
Seek the best boxes.
"Moving boxes should always have a sturdy base so nothing tears or falls out the bottom," says renovation and design expert Naomi Findlay, a seasoned relocator who has moved house nine times.
"I prefer cardboard to plastic tubs, which can be brittle and break, leaving sharp edges." Etty Matalon, psychologist and chief organizer at professional organizing firm Dotorg, recommends ordering about 150 boxes in two sizes for a four-bedroom home with two to three children. "Boxes can be included in your movers fee, but if they're not it's easy to hire them separately," says Carter.
Pack by weight.
"Pack light items such as clothes, linen, and toys in the largest boxes, and heavy items like dinnerware and books in smaller boxes, with the heaviest items at the bottom," says Revell.
Mark fragile items clearly. When it comes to your packing strategy, Carter recommends starting with least-used items first and working your way down to ones you use regularly.
"Label boxes by room and category — this makes unpacking at the other end so much easier and faster," says Findlay. "Label boxes on the side, not the top, so you can read what's inside when they're stacked.
Tape everything up with a roller gun — it's much quicker than using scissors. Pack precious items, such as jewelry and important documents, separately and transport them yourself, suggests Carter.
Outsource packing materials.
If you're pushed for time and have the budget, consider calling in professional packers. "They are trained and can ensure that items are secure for transport. You can also arrange an unpacking service for the other end," says Ryan Cameron, group relationship manager at Conroy Removals.
Prices vary, he says, but in terms of timing, professionals can generally pack up a three-bedroom house in a day. They'll also provide all the packing gear they'll need, from rolls of bubble wrap to rolls of tape and foam cushioning for securely transporting lamps and furniture.
Keep must-haves close by.
"Pack an essentials bag or box for each family member to get you through the first couple of nights in your new home before you're fully unpacked," says Findlay. "Fill it with pajamas, toiletries, medications, clothes for the next day or two, pet essentials, the kids' school supplies, and favorite toys," says Matalon.
Speed up the process.
There are several things you can do to streamline the moving process and reduce the number of hours you'll be charged by your mover says Cameron.
Firstly, arrange an inspection ahead of time (it's generally free) so the mover can see whether additional labour is needed for heavy items or if they need to accommodate difficult access. An inspection also helps them assess which size truck from their fleet they will need to use on the day.
Consider, too, what you're prepared to transport yourself. If you get the keys to your new home before moving day, and it's relatively nearby, you might be surprised at what you can deliver.
"Before the movers arrive on moving day, have all the beds and tables dismantled, boxes packed and sealed, and all your electricals unplugged," he says. "If you live in an apartment that's upstairs you may need to book a lift. Ask your movers about the size of their vehicle and reserve a suitable parking spot near your front door."
Stick to simple meals.
Stick to the basics for dinner in the week before and during the move, suggests Matalon. "Cheese on toast, sushi, microwave meals, a barbecued chicken. Anything to keep the washing up to a minimum." Be kind to yourself and take the easiest routes wherever you can.
Unpack right away.
"Unpacking is best approached like a military operation, so enlist several pairs of hands, if you can. Three people unpacking and putting away is ideal," says Matalon. "Flatten boxes as you empty them and allocate a spot to store them. Unpacking bedlinen should be your first priority — it will have been a long day."
Offer a friendly welcome.
"Leaving a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine and a letter with useful information about the house for the new owners is a nice gesture," says Revell. "You could also share the phone numbers of a trusted plumber and electrician you've used before and were happy with, plus a couple of menus from local restaurants." Leave any manuals and warranties for fixtures such as the air conditioner, dishwasher, and oven. After all, you can't take them with you.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.