Moving House in the UK: Essential Tips

moving house

IN THIS ARTICLE

Moving house is often cited as one of life’s most stressful experiences. But it’s also the start of your next chapter – a chance for a fresh start and new adventures.

With so much happening on moving day, it pays to be organised and to prepare well. With the logistical aspects of your move under control, you’re less likely to face last-minute surprises and stresses. And should anything go awry on the day, you’ll have a better handle on how to deal with it.

Planning your move is not just about packing boxes. Your to-do list is likely to include everything from hiring a removal company to setting up new utilities and updating your address details.

In this guide, we set out practical tips on how to best approach and prepare for the process of moving house. The aim is for you to be organised and make moving day as stress-free as possible.

 

Section A: Pre-Move Planning

 

You’ve found your new home and your offer has been accepted. With your conveyancing solicitor working overtime and the conveyancing process in full swing, there are a number of tasks to be completed before you move.

Proper planning can significantly reduce the stress of moving. These jobs won’t just prepare you physically for the move; they’ll also help make moving house a more positive and enjoyable experience.

 

1. Choose the Right Moving Date

 

The choice of moving date can be significant, impacting things like moving costs and the ease of your move. For example, during peak periods, it may be more difficult or expensive to find an available removal company.

The moving date is typically decided through negotiation as part of the conveyancing process. It’s not solely decided by one party; it’s typically chosen through mutual agreement between the buyer and seller.

While finding a suitable moving date involves negotiating, the focus should be on a date that works for both the buyer and seller.

Consider the following when agreeing a moving date:

 

a. Completion Date

The legal transfer of ownership and payment for the house happens on a specific date called “completion day.” This is the date when you, the buyer, can officially move into the property.

 

b. Solicitor Involvement

Most solicitors work only on weekdays; as such, their availability may influence the final agreed moving date since they continue to play a pivotal role in the conveyancing process right up to the completion stage.

 

c. Estate Agent Involvement

The estate agent will act as a facilitator, keeping both parties informed and ensuring a smooth handover of the property – including the keys – on the chosen completion date.

 

d. Chains 

If either the buyer or seller is part of a property chain (meaning their purchase is dependent on another sale going through), the completion date might be impacted by the progress of the entire chain.

 

e. Negotiation and Communication

Both buyer and seller have their preferences and constraints regarding the moving date. The buyer might need time to sell their existing house or arrange removals, while the seller might have a deadline to vacate the property due to their onward purchase. Open communication between both parties is key to finding a mutually agreeable completion date.

 

f. Season

In the UK, summer months are popular for moving due to better weather conditions, but this also means higher demand and potentially higher costs.

Winter can be cheaper, but you face challenges like shorter days and unpredictable weather.

 

g. Day of the Week

Many buyers and sellers prefer to move house on a weekend because they require less time off work, but it can be trickier than a weekday move.

Completion dates are usually on a weekday, most commonly Fridays. Solicitors and estate agents also typically operate on weekdays with limited or no weekend hours. Completing on a weekend would, therefore, require special arrangements to be made, potentially incurring additional fees. This makes mid-week moves generally more plausible and cost-effective.

You could consider a workaround, such as a Friday completion with the moving date scheduled at the weekend. This would allow you access to the property once the legalities are finalised. However, you would also need to check that this works with any other parties involved; for example, if you are in a chain and are selling your home, you will need to ensure the timings work for the buyers of your property.

In some cases, you might be able to negotiate an early key collection with the seller through the solicitors. This would allow you to move in over the weekend, even with a weekday completion.

 

h. End of the Month

Lease agreements often expire at the end of the month, leading to higher demand for moving services. Planning a move for the middle of the month might provide more flexibility, greater choice and lower rates.

 

i. Personal Schedule

Consider your personal commitments. For families, it might be better to move during school holidays to minimise disruption to schooling.

 

2. Checklist for Moving House in the UK

 

A well-organised checklist is essential for a stress-free move. The following is a helpful breakdown of tasks, set out as a countdown to the moving date.

 

a. Two Months Before Moving Date 

 

1. Start decluttering and decide what to keep, sell, donate, or discard.

2. Begin collecting quotes from moving companies.

3. Create an inventory of valuable items for insurance purposes.

4. If you have children, arrange to visit local schools to decide the best options for your children. Register them as soon as you’ve made your decision.

 

b. One Month Before Moving Date 

 

1. Book the moving company and confirm the moving date.

2. Start packing non-essential items.

3. Notify schools, doctors, and other relevant parties of your move.

 

c. Two Weeks Before Moving Date 

 

1. Arrange to transfer or set up new utility services.

2. Change your address for bank accounts, subscriptions, and memberships.

3. Start packing most of your belongings, leaving only essentials unpacked.

 

d. One Week Before Moving Date 

 

1. Confirm arrangements with the moving company.

2. Pack an essentials box with items you’ll need immediately upon moving (toiletries, some clothes, important documents, etc.).

3. Defrost the freezer and organise last-minute cleaning.

 

e. Moving Day

 

1. Double-check rooms, drawers, and cabinets for any left items.

2. Ensure movers have your new address and contact details.

3. Do a final walkthrough with the landlord or new homeowners.

 

3. Notify of your Change of Address

 

Moving house will result in admin for you, including:

 

a. Utilities & Subscriptions

Contact your current electricity, gas, water, and broadband providers well in advance of your move to inform them of your moving date. Taking meter readings on the last day in your old home and the first day in your new home will ensure accurate billing for both properties.

If you’re moving to a new area, you may need to set up accounts with new providers altogether. Even if staying in the same area, consider this an opportunity to shop around and potentially switch to a better deal.

 

b. Contact Address Update 

You’ll need to notify your bank, insurance companies, and credit card companies of your new address to keep your financial records accurate.

Also, inform your local council of your move date and your new address so that your council tax record can be updated accordingly.

 

c. Healthcare

If you’re moving out of the area, you may need to register with a new GP and dentist. This ensures you have continued access to essential healthcare services.

 

d. Driving Licence and Vehicle Details

Don’t forget to inform the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) of your new address. Updating your driving licence and vehicle registration is not only a legal requirement, but it also ensures all your official documentation reflects your current location.

 

e. Mail forwarding 

Royal Mail offers a temporary mail forwarding service for a fee. You can order this on the Royal Mail website.

 

 

Section B: Packing for the Move

 

Packing for a house move can quickly become daunting and overwhelming. But with some organisation, the right supplies and a strategy to breakdown the task into smaller, manageable stages, you can cut down on the chaos of moving day and ensure your belongings are well-protected, organised, and easy to locate when you arrive at your new home.

 

1. Essential Packing Supplies for Moving

 

The right packing supplies will help you stay organised and, importantly, ensure that your belongings are safely transported. Packing essentials include:

 

a. Boxes: It’s best to have a variety of sizes. Consider special-purpose boxes like wardrobe boxes for clothes and dish barrel boxes for kitchenware. Don’t overpack larger boxes with heavy items, such as books.

b. Packing Tape: Invest in heavy-duty tape to secure boxes.

c. Bubble Wrap and Packing Peanuts: Protect fragile items from knocks and bumps.

d. Stretch Wrap: Helps keep items bundled together and protects furniture from scratches.

e. Packing Paper: For wrapping dishes, glassware, and other fragile items to prevent scratches and breaks.

f. Labels and Markers: Essential for marking contents and destination rooms on the boxes.

g. Furniture Pads and Covers: Protect furniture from damage and dirt.

h. Dolly or Hand Truck: These can help make moving heavy items and boxes easier and less likely to cause injury.

 

2. Tips for Packing

 

Packing efficiently will help you avoid damage, keep track of your belongings and generally reduce stress:

 

Tip 1: Start Early

Begin packing items you use infrequently a few weeks before the move.

 

Tip 2: Room-by-Room

Tackle one room at a time to keep things organised and manageable.

 

Tip 3: Pack Heaviest Items First

Place heavier items at the bottom of boxes and lighter items on top.

 

Tip 4: Wrap Fragile Items

Use bubble wrap and packing paper generously for fragile items. Fill gaps in boxes with packing peanuts or crumpled paper to prevent movement during transit.

 

Tip 5: Use Original Boxes for Electronics

If possible, pack electronics such as TVs in their original boxes. If not, use plenty of padding to protect them.

 

Tip 6: Disassemble Large Furniture

Remove legs from tables and disassemble bed frames to make transport easier and save space.

 

Tip 7: Pack an Essentials Box

Keep one box aside for essential items that you’ll need ready access to once you’re in the house, such as toiletries, medications, chargers and basic tools.

 

3. Tips for Labelling 

Taking the time to label your packing will pay off when it comes to unpacking. Combine this with inventory management, and you’ll be better equipped to keep track of where everything is.

 

a. Label Clearly and Consistently

Use a heavy marker to label each box with its contents and the room it belongs to. Consider colour-coding labels by room.

 

b. Number Each Box

Keep a detailed inventory list with box numbers and their contents. This helps in tracking all your belongings and identifying if something is missing.

 

c. Special Handling Labels

Clearly mark boxes containing fragile items with “Fragile,” “This Side Up,” or “Handle With Care.”

 

d. Photograph Contents

Taking pictures of box contents can be helpful for insurance purposes and to help you remember where specific items are packed.

 

e. Use a Digital App

Consider using a moving app to keep track of your inventory and box contents digitally, which can be very handy during both packing and unpacking.

 

Section C: Choosing a Moving Company

 

Choosing the right moving company is crucial to ensuring your move is smooth and hassle-free.

When researching removal companies, consider the following to ensure you’re buying a service that meets your needs:

 

a. Reputation

Check online reviews and testimonials on platforms like Google, Trustpilot, and social media. Positive feedback from previous customers can be a good indicator of reliability.

 

b. Experience

Look for a company with extensive experience, particularly with moves similar to yours (e.g., size, distance, type of residence).

 

c. Accreditations

Choose companies that are members of recognised industry associations, such as the British Association of Removers (BAR), and adhere to certain standards of service and quality.

 

d. Services Offered

Ensure the company offers the services you need, such as packing, storage, and unpacking. Some might also provide specialist services for items such as pianos or fine art.

 

e. Local Knowledge

A company familiar with your current and new area can navigate logistical challenges more efficiently.

 

f. Availability

Check their availability around your intended moving date and how flexible they are with schedule changes.

 

2. Should You Get Insurance when Moving House?

 

Standard homeowner’s or tenant’s insurance typically doesn’t cover your possessions while in transit during a move. Moving house insurance fills this gap, providing financial compensation if your belongings are lost, damaged, or stolen during the moving process.

Insurance to cover a house move can come with different coverage options. Some policies might offer basic protection against damage, while others can include extended coverage for things like theft or even accidental breakage:

 

a. Standard Liability Coverage

Most removal firms offer a basic level of liability insurance included in their service. However, this coverage will typically have limitations and will typically only cover a small amount.

 

b. Full Value Protection

This insurance covers the repair, replacement, or reimbursement of damaged items at their full current retail value. It’s more comprehensive but will increase the overall cost of the move.

 

c. Declared Value Protection

The protection amount is based on the total weight of your items multiplied by a set amount per pound.

 

d. Additional Insurance

For high-value items, you might consider purchasing additional insurance from third-party providers or extending your home insurance to include these items during the move.

 

3. Tips for Comparing Moving Quotes and Services

 

Take the time to carefully select your moving company and understand your insurance options.

Comparing removal quotes and services methodically will help you get the best value and service according to your specific needs:

 

a. Get Multiple Estimates: Obtain at least three quotes from different removal companies to compare prices and services. Ensure these are binding estimates to avoid unexpected costs later.

b. Assess Inclusions and Exclusions: Carefully review what is included in the price. Some companies might offer a lower quote but charge extra for services that others include.

c. Face-to-Face Estimates: If possible, have an estimator come to your home to review your belongings. This provides a more accurate quote and minimises surprises on moving day.

d. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask about any details, including the handling of delays, storage options, or how they manage special items.

e. Read the Contract: Before signing, thoroughly review the contract for any hidden fees or clauses that might be problematic.

 

Section D: Moving Day

 

The day of the move is often the culmination of weeks, or maybe even months, of planning and preparation. With a positive mindset and a few expert tips, you can turn what is often a hectic day into a series of manageable, successful tasks.

 

1. How to Approach Moving Day

 

Moving day can be stressful. The following tips will help you stay organised and feel in control:

 

a. Start Early: Begin the day early to ensure you have plenty of time to handle tasks without rushing.

b. Stay Hydrated and Eat: Keep water bottles and easy-to-eat snacks on hand. Avoid heavy meals that might make you feel sluggish.

c. Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes to move around easily throughout the day.

d. Delegate: Assign tasks to family members or friends who are helping so you’re not overwhelmed.

e. Take Breaks: Short breaks can help reset your stress levels and keep you energised.

f. Essentials Kit: Ensure it includes all day-one necessities like prescription medications, basic toiletries, chargers, a first aid kit, and important documents.

g. Moving checklist: Have a checklist of things to do and remember on the day of the move.

 

2. Final Checklist for the Day of the Move

 

On the day itself, take the pressure off by working on a checklist:

 

a. Verify Mover Details: Confirm the arrival time and contact information of your moving company.

b. Protect Your Property: Use floor protectors and corner guards to prevent damage to your old and new property.

c. Meter Readings: Record the final meter readings for gas, electricity, and water at your old home and do the same at your new home upon arrival.

d. Final Walkthrough: Check every room, closet, and cabinet one last time to ensure nothing is left behind.

e. Essentials Kit: Make sure your box of essentials is accessible. It should include items like toiletries, medications, a change of clothes, chargers, snacks, and basic tools.

f. Keys: Collect all keys to your old home to hand them over to the new owner or real estate agent. Make sure you have the keys to your new home.

g. Important Documents: Keep all important documents, such as contracts, leases, and insurance papers, in a safe and easily accessible place.

 

3. How to Deal with Unexpected Issues During the Move

 

Despite thorough planning, unexpected issues can arise. With a flexible, problem-solving mindset and using the following tips, you can manage the day’s events more calmly and ensure a successful transition into your new home:

 

a. Damaged Items: Immediately document any damage with photos and notify the moving company to start the claims process.

b. Delays: If there are delays, communicate with your movers to understand the extent and cause. If it affects your schedule significantly, you may need to adjust your plans.

c. Lost Items: Keep your inventory list handy to check off items as they’re moved in, making it easier to notice if something doesn’t arrive.

d. Weather Issues: If bad weather strikes, ensure that safety comes first. Use mats and towels to manage wet or dirty conditions indoors.

e. Last-Minute Cleaning: Keep basic cleaning supplies out to handle any mess created during the move out or move in.

f. Communication: Keep your phone charged and accessible to manage calls or texts related to the move.
By preparing with these strategies and maintaining

 

Section E: Settling into Your New Home

 

With moving day over, it’s time to start the next chapter by settling into your new home.

Unpacking is likely to be top of your list. While clearly important, settling in is about more than unpacking boxes – it’s also about creating a comfortable, functional, and welcoming environment for you and your family.

 

1. Initial Steps to Take When Unpacking

 

a. Prioritise Rooms

Start with the rooms you’ll use most immediately, such as the bedroom and bathroom. Setting up your kitchen should also be a priority to enable home-cooked meals, which can help you settle in.

 

b. Unpack Essentials First

If you’ve packed an essentials box (or boxes), start with these. Having your key personal items easily accessible will help you feel more at home and less stressed.

 

c. Set Up Major Appliances

If you moved major appliances like a refrigerator, washing machine, or stove, get these up and running as soon as possible to facilitate daily living.

 

d. Organise as You Go

Instead of just unpacking everything, take the time to organise your belongings as you unpack. This will save you time later and help you find a place for everything right from the start.

 

e. Child and Pet Safety

Ensure that areas used by children and pets are safe and secure before letting them roam freely.

 

2. Adapting to Your New Surroundings

 

If you’ve moved to a new area, you should dedicate some time to familiarising yourself with your new surroundings.

 

a. Explore the Area

Go for walks to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings; find the nearest shops, parks and other essential places and amenities.

 

b. Meet the Neighbours

Introduce yourself to your neighbours. Building relationships can help you feel more at home and can be useful for local advice and support.

 

c. Join Local Groups

Look for clubs, groups, or classes that align with your interests. This is a great way to meet people and integrate into the community.

 

d. Establish Routines

Try to establish new routines quickly. Regular habits and schedules can provide a sense of normalcy and stability.

 

e. Decorate and Personalise

Start adding personal touches to your new home. Hanging pictures, arranging furniture, and decorating can make your new place feel truly yours.

 

3. Register with Local Services and Amenities

 

You will need to ensure you notify relevant authorities to update their records with your new address:

 

a. Council Registration

Notify the local council of your move to update the electoral roll and council tax payments.

 

b. Healthcare Services

Register with a local GP and dentist. If you have specific medical needs, find out where the nearest hospital and specialists are located.

 

c. DVLA 

Motorists are required by law to ensure their details on their driving licence are up to date. Vehicle registration details must also be current.

 

Section F: Common Myths about Moving House

 

Moving house can be an overwhelming process, and there are many myths that can make it even more daunting. Let’s tackle some common misconceptions to help you approach the process with confidence.

 

Myth 1: Weekends Are the Best Time to Move

Reality: While it might seem convenient to move over the weekend due to work schedules, it’s actually one of the busiest times for moving companies. This can lead to higher costs and less availability. Moving on a weekday can often be cheaper, and movers may have more flexibility in their schedules.

 

Myth 2: DIY Moving Is Always Cheaper

Reality: When you factor in the cost of renting a van, fuel, packing materials, and the potential for damage or injury, hiring professionals might not only be more efficient but could also be cost-effective, especially for long distances.

 

Myth 3: Last-Minute Packing Is No Big Deal

Reality: Packing at the last minute is stressful and can lead to poor organisation and damaged items. It’s best to start packing several weeks in advance, beginning with items you use less frequently.

 

Myth 5: Boxes Are Just Boxes

Reality: Not all boxes are created equal! Using old or worn-out boxes can risk damage to your belongings. Invest in sturdy, high-quality moving boxes, especially for heavy or fragile items. It’s also important to use the right sizes to prevent overpacking and underpacking.

 

Myth 6: You Don’t Need an Essentials Box

Reality: An essentials box is crucial on your first day in the new home when you might not have the energy or time to unpack everything. This box should include items like toiletries, a change of clothes, basic tools, snacks, medications, and important documents.

 

Myth 7: You Can Pack Everything Yourself

Reality: Certain items, especially large, heavy, or special care items (like pianos, large artwork, or antiques), might require professional packing to ensure they are moved safely. Professional movers have the expertise and materials to handle these items properly.

 

Myth 8: All Moving Companies Are the Same

Reality: The quality, reliability, and pricing of moving companies can vary widely. It’s important to research and select a moving company with good reviews, proper licenses, and insurance. Look for companies affiliated with professional associations like the British Association of Removers (BAR).

 

Section G: Summary

 

Moving house is often said to be one of life’s most stressful experiences. But it’s also the start of your next chapter – a chance for a fresh start and new adventures.

With so much going on on ‘moving day’, it pays to be organised and to prepare well for your move. This way, should anything go awry on the day, you’ll have a better handle on how to deal with it.

Follow these practical tips to reduce stress levels and help ensure your move runs smoothly:

 

a. Plan Ahead: Starting your preparations early, from decluttering to booking movers, sets the foundation for a successful move.

b. Choose the Right Moving Date and Company: Selecting an optimal moving date and a reputable moving company are crucial decisions that impact the efficiency and cost of your move.

c. Pack Wisely: Utilising the right materials and techniques for packing, especially for fragile items, protects your belongings and organises them for easy unpacking.

d. On the Day: A final checklist and strategies for stress management keep the moving day orderly and calm.

e. Settle In: Once in your new home, prioritising unpacking and connecting with your new community can transform your new house into a home.

 

Approaching your house move with a plan and a positive outlook will make the process easier. The effort you put into organising your move will pay off when you find yourself settled comfortably in your new home, ready to embark on the next chapter of your life.

 

Section H: Moving House FAQs

 

How far in advance should I start planning my move?

It’s advisable to start planning your move at least two months in advance. This gives you ample time to research moving companies, declutter, and begin packing items you don’t frequently use.

 

Should I hire a professional moving company or move by myself?

The decision depends on several factors including budget, the volume of items to move, distance, and personal capability. Professional movers can provide convenience and efficiency, especially for larger moves or when moving long distances.

 

What should I look for when choosing a moving company?

Look for a reputable company with good reviews, proper licenses, and insurance. Ensure they offer the specific services you need, such as packing, loading, and unloading. Memberships in professional organisations like the British Association of Removers (BAR) are also a good sign.

 

What are the most important items to include in an essentials box?

Include items you’ll need immediately upon arrival, such as toiletries, medications, a few sets of clothes, snacks, basic tools, chargers, and important documents.

 

How do I pack fragile items to ensure they are not damaged during the move?

Use sturdy boxes, and pack fragile items with plenty of cushioning materials like bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or crumpled paper. Each item should be individually wrapped, and boxes should be clearly labelled as “Fragile”.

 

Is moving insurance necessary?

Moving insurance provides peace of mind by covering your belongings in case of damage or loss during the move. Consider the value of your items and the potential risk to determine if moving insurance is right for you.

 

How can I minimise stress on moving day?

Prepare a detailed checklist, start early in the day, and keep your essentials box accessible. Stay hydrated, take regular breaks, and try to maintain a positive outlook throughout the day.

 

What should I do if I need to move last minute?

Focus on essentials and consider hiring professional movers who offer last-minute moving services. Pack a simple essentials bag, prioritise items, and organise as you pack.

 

How do I change my address when I move house?

Notify important parties such as your bank, utility companies, and employer. You can also set up mail forwarding with the Royal Mail to ensure you receive all your correspondence.

 

How can I get to know my new neighbourhood after I move?

Explore the area to locate essential services like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hospitals. Attend local events and consider joining clubs or groups to meet new people and integrate into the community.

 

 

Author

Moving House in the UK: Essential Tips 1

Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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