Tuesday 8 November 2016

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Moved House

Moving house is stressful, isn’t it? In fact, so much so, that it has been rated as one of life’s most stressful events, above divorce, a new job, bankruptcy and even the death of a loved one. 
In a recent poll, two thirds of people voted moving house top of their stress list, with it triggering more anxiety than relationship breakdowns, divorce and starting a new job.
Despite this, we move house, on average, eight times during our lives. So it's a good idea if we can make it a joy rather than a pain. Focus on the pros of the new home and the cons of the old. Remember why we're moving and enjoy the process, seeing it as a time for out with the old and in with the new. 

Personally I find that a positive can-do attitude to moving is even more important when we are being role models to our children. Not simply so that they would move themselves one day when necessary, but also, because them feeling safe, secure and settled in their new home and during the process is fundamental to their happiness and mental health. Moving is fun for children when it's an adventure. "Look at that big truck" (we moved with an arctic) and "look at our new garden" followed by "look at your new bedroom". The stressful side of it can be dealt with when they're at nursery or in bed. Don't get me wrong, I don't shelter him from everything, as children are more well-rounded when they know what's going on, but I certainly made sure moving house was something he looked forward to rather than dreaded.

I have a very negative attitude to moving house but I ensured that I didn't pass this on to Aaron. My issue comes from the fact that my Mum moved back to Ireland and I didn't get to pack up my room before she left, so now when I put down roots I get a bit sticky and like to stay there, hence why we stayed in our flat for 13 instead of 5 years. 

He only knows about the up sides of us having moved - like gaining his own private garden. I want him to grow up to be one of those people who isn't held back by their location, because one's location can be changed in a heartbeat if you don't have any hangups about doing so. Laying down roots is something we can do with ease, once we choose a place that's right for us. A place that draws us in and welcomes us like a big hug.

Anyway I got sidetracked. Back to the logistics of moving...

Misplaced possessions and realising furniture does not fit in the new home tops the list of most stressful moving day moments but, before this, you may also have to deal with slow solicitors, endless phone calls, difficult estate agents and the risk of it falling through – to name a few.

I can personally tick all of the above. Two of Aaron's favourite toys got misplaced in the move and we had to buy them again. A year later they turned up so now we have duplicates. Isn't that always the way. That's why he has four Thomas the Tank Engines too as they often used to fall behind the sofa etc... when we lived in our flat. They'd always turn up soon after you making the decision to purchase a new one. He has two Disney's Planes too - Dusty!

The worst thing though was furniture not fitting. I cried for 2 whole days but was tearful for a total of four when this happened to us. It was a big deal. I'd bought a 3 metre wide wardrobe from Ikea for Aaron's arrival when I was pregnant in 2010. Total £1,000 with just the glass sliding doors costing £500. I contacted our buyer and as they complemented the room so well she wanted to buy them and literally said we could name our price. From what I know of her, she was sincere in that too. But as I was sentimentally attached to them I contacted the seller of our new house and asked the dimensions of the bedroom. He did a drawing with measurements and did it wrong. So I assumed I could bring them and therefore didn't sell them. Big mistake huge! Don't know about you but I can't say "big mistake, huge" without thinking of Pretty Woman :-)

On top of the fact that the wardrobe wouldn't fit in the room, the glass sliding doors of it couldn't go up the stairs anyhow. Ironically our entrance hall was bigger in our flat than it is in a house. The bed slats wouldn't go up the stairs either. It really was a "sliding doors" moment as I can so easily visualise the other Gwyneth, with a couple of hundred pounds in her pocket having sold the wardrobe to the buyer of our flat. They'd love the room with it in. I'd love the money. And we'd have a fresh start with something that DOES fit our bedroom here.

Many of the things that cause us stress during a move are out of our control. But, before you make your next move, read these top tips and you can minimise any extra stress.

Tip 1: Create a checklist

There are so many things to remember when you are moving house from booking a removals company to redirecting your post – so create a checklist, which will ensure you don’t forget anything. List them in the order that things need doing and tick them off as you go. As for booking a removals company, the large ones like to do a "survey" so allow a timescale for this. They don't trust you on how much stuff you have so they literally look at all your belongings (before or while you pack) in order to do the quote. Do get recommendations though as I was thoroughly let down by ours and paid £1300 for a service that was probably worth £500. I should have taken them to the small claims court for the things that they did, so get a reputable one!

Tip 2: Have a clear out

Moving house is the perfect time to have a clear out – there is no point moving things that you don’t really need. Start by throwing out the rubbish, fill bags that can be taken to a charity shop and finally sell what you can. Yes things can be sold on eBay, but often people have more luck on Gumtree or you could have a car boot sale – either way you make some pennies from the items you don’t want anymore, to invest in your new home. There's always the option of giving things to family, putting them on Facebook selling groups or with white goods or large furniture the easiest thing is to sell them to the buyer of your property, like I should have done with my huge Ikea bedroom wardrobes. This and that I didn't declutter are my biggest regrets. I didn't do this and it is HORRIBLE handling old clutter twice, once when you pack it and again when you unpack it. What I would suggest is having the clear out before even putting your home on the market. A decluttered home is more attractive anyway and you don't want to be dealing with it when packing as by then you are on a clock!

When selling things to your buyer, do so separate to the negotiations so that it doesn't become part of the purchase price. It is then binding, as you have to do a detailed list of what you are leaving, some of which you may be leaving free of charge. Like when we moved we benefited from curtains/blinds on all windows which we were and are incredibly grateful for. We left behind a fitted cooker though and came to a property without one, which was a bit stressful as it took way longer to choose a new one than I bargained for. It was the first time in my adult life that I'd bought one, and it took a while to establish what I wanted in a cooker. I would HIGHLY recommend ao.com.

Tip 3: Take advantage of storage

We recently bought storage from B & Q for Aaron's bedroom, in order to make his toys look more tidy for a friend coming over. But storage can be important while moving too. Get yourself a storage unit through a local self-storage company. This will enable you to start moving items out of your house early – so you don’t have to do it all on moving day, but you can use it on moving day if you have any issues and it is perfect for items that you don’t want or can’t have in your new home straight away, for whatever reason.

Tip 4: Label everything

While you are packing up your boxes make sure you label everything – with not only the room it is intended for but also its contents. This may seem to make the packing process longer, but it will in turn ensure the unpacking process is much easier and you will be so grateful for this when all you want is to be settled into your new home.

I can't recommend this enough. Firstly it means that when the removals men pack the truck they do it in rooms and secondly, it means that they position boxes in the rooms they belong to, when they unload the truck. When hubby goes to work and you're home alone unpacking like I was, having things already in the room they belong in is invaluable. There were about 25-30 boxes in the kitchen alone, so I cracked on with these during day times and if Aaron was at home he would watch a DVD while I cracked on. As the weather was great we had to keep going to the park and getting to know our new area, so this process went on quite a few weeks.

While you are packing up your boxes make sure you put one aside which will be your moving day ‘survival’ kit. This will include the kettle, teabags/coffee, milk, mugs, toilet roll, cleaning products, important documents, plates and cutlery, bed linen – basically all the essentials you could need as you leave your old house and enter your new home. Stupidly I didn't do this and when I DID find the kettle it no longer worked, so our 2nd or 3rd day here was spent trying to find a shop that sold kettles. I am a BIG tea drinker, so I treated this as somewhat of an emergency!

Tip 5: Get to know your new area

This kind of happened automatically, while looking for outdoor spaces and kettles! Ha ha! It is important because it will help you to settle in much quicker. Where is the local GP and dentist – perhaps you could even start the registration process before you move? If you have children where will they go to school and how easy is it to get there from your new home? Are there any clubs you might want to join that you will enjoy but that may also encourage you to make friends in your new area? Gosh! We still haven't even registered with a Dentist even now oooops!

If the house you are moving to is a significant distance away, you can do all this from your current home thanks to the Internet. A quick Google search will bring up all you need to know and you can start signing up to things from there.

A big regret is that I didn't know what signing up for a school would be like and I assumed it'd be the same as where we lived before (in that you had to provide proof of address in the form of many attached documents like Child Benefit and Council Tax). So that meant we did a late application in April instead of an on-time one in January, which meant by that time all of the good schools were already full and over-subscribed. To this day, when we walk to school we walk passed a sea of people walking in this direction to go to our schools when we walk to their area to go to theirs. We had the proximity to mean we'd have had priority had we only done the application on time. I'd have done it prior to moving had I known proof of address was not required. Ironically we were in a chain of 5 and only one link caused the delay, which was our buyer. I should have made her pay for that but she got our flat for the same price she offered 5 months before. Another regret and I know it's bad to have regrets...... Moving really is a minefield, but if you can stand grounded and centred, intuition will guide you to the correct decisions, which in my case would have been leaving my precious wardrobes behind. You don't want to know where those doors are now! Gah!

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