Let’s make no bones about it — moving house can be hell on earth. More often than not, the long-term anticipation of settling into a new place is tempered by the grind of packing up all your belongings and actually getting them across town (or even the country). On top of that, moving usually comes with a hefty price tag. For an entire family household, Barclays claims it can cost around £9,000 on average — though this does depend on the location.
To help you with moving woes, we’ve put together a shortlist of best practices for doing it without breaking the bank, whether by relying on professional services, or taking enough time to prepare yourself.
1. Reconsider removal vans
While a decent amount of money can buy you a door-to-door moving service and even some helping hands to carry the weight, unless you’re staying in the same city, this is expensive. If you do have large items that can only be removed professionally, we’d advise looking on a comparison website first to decide where you’re going to fork out. A big van may be unavoidable for a family home, but for smaller households or individuals there are DIY alternatives that can save money, time and hassle.
There’s perhaps no better excuse (other than an emergency) to call on a friend for some aid than when you’re moving — especially if they’ve got their own car or van. It’s also wise to spread out the move by using self-storage. As Ready Steady Store states: “You can start moving those non-essential items out early, and have somewhere to fall back on should anything go wrong on moving day”.
If you do own a car and don’t have enough things to justify hiring a van, do most of the moving yourself and hire a smaller service, like a courier, for same-day delivery of larger items that won’t fit. Just be sure to do your research first, as the possibility of same-day varies depending on the destination of your move. According to London-based courier CitySprint: “Items sent across town on a short delivery will have a later cut-off time then cross-country city to city deliveries which will have an earlier cut off or collection time”.
Clearing out the wheat from the chaff requires getting out ahead of time, as it reveals just how much stuff you really have. Give yourself a few days of packing in advance to properly sort through old things without using too much of your weekend, and chuck away what you don’t need: it will save you endless hassle on the big day. Also remember that removal companies do not only bill you for the amount of time they are required for, but also by how many things you have. This goes the same for self-storage — you will be charged by the size of the unit.
Though it can be overwhelming getting started with the clean-out, having a step-by-step strategy from room to room is a helpful place to begin. Start with your wardrobe to see how many hangers you have that your housemates, friends or family could use — not to mention those shoes you haven’t worn for years but haven’t had the conviction to get rid of. For the kitchen, it might be time to recycle those mismatched plastic tupperwares, or the spare spatula or plastic set of tongs from your Christmas stocking three years ago. A great system to follow is the KonMari method, which details five categories for sorting out your belongings, and six rules to stick by when decluttering.
3. Label everything
While it seems like it adds a lot of time to the packing and moving process, labelling everything is absolutely vital. Though it may draw out the packing process, doing so will cut potentially hours from you unpacking — exactly the kind of job you always want to be short and sweet, so you can start settling in as soon as possible.
Write the destined room for each package, but also list the items too, and try to be as detailed as possible. You could even use different colours for each room, either with distinct sticker labels or pens, which help not just you but any other people who may be assisting.
There are some do’s and don’ts though: obviously avoid labelling your boxes before you pack them with various belongings — you can’t predict how many you’ll need for each room. At the same time, refrain from doing all the packing first, because it’s likely you’ll find yourself having forgotten what’s in each box when you’ve finished. You should fill them, wrap them, and label each of them one at a time.
4. Leave essentials aside
Last, but certainly not least, is an often forgotten piece of advice. It’s oh-so-common for people to put all of their energy into getting everything from point A to point B, finally putting the last box down to flick on the kettle for the much-needed cup of tea — only to realise it’s buried somewhere among an ocean of cardboard boxes.
If your new place is unfurnished, for instance, you might find you’re soon living off takeaways until all your appliances are put into place, which will definitely rack up the expenses. You should have prepared a separate case or box for essentials that you’ll need as soon as you get to your new place, such as toiletries, medicines, snack food, ready meals, pyjamas, perhaps even a sleeping bag if you’re waiting for a new bed to arrive. Bring some tea or coffee (and don’t forget the french press), cloths and towels, kettles (and mugs), and basic tools like screwdrivers and hammers.