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How To Move House

Nov 7, 2007
Moving house is one of the most stressful life events. When I first came to London I had about twenty addresses in three years. After the first few moves I got pretty good at it. I had to! Here's what I did:

1. Pack well in advance.

It used to drive me wild how some people in our house left it until the last minute. The result was they'd still be going back and forth from the old place, to the new, days later, for the last pot plant or bit of cutlery.

Make up your mind that you are quitting this house for good, then don't stay a minute longer than you have to. Otherwise you'll be wasting time that could be more profitably spent doing something else.

2. Put small things into a large container.

This saves multiple trips. Sturdy medium-size boxes are a life saver, as they can be stacked easily.

3. Containers should be light enough for one person to lift.

Some people try to fill up a big box with books, for example. The result: no one can lift it, or worse, it's just light enough for someone to try lifting it, and put their back out.

4. First to go in, last out.

You'll be putting the carpets down first, presumably, so they should be last into the van. If you're super organised you can decorate the new house 'on the fly'. Otherwise, put all your stuff in the smallest room in the new place, and then move it about from there, when it's all moved in. This stops the need to move stuff between rooms later.

5. Leave behind what you don't need.

If you've always hated the sofa, leave it behind. Some people have a curious pack-rat mentality; they love to hoard. If what you're hoarding is not gold or jewels, but jam-jars and newspapers, leave them behind.

6. Hire a big van with a big man.

This should really be the number one tip. The idea of a big van is that you'll make fewer trips, ideally only one. Some people try to save money by using their cars, or a friend with a mini van. The result: umpteen trips stretching over days. You get cheesed-off, and so does your friend. Instead of decorating your new place, you're still half-in the old one.

Moving house is very stressful. Get it done as quick as you can. Hire the biggest van you can find.

7. Many hands make light work.

After you've hired the big van, get as many friends as you can involved in the move. If you're really organised, you can move house in half a day. I did this once, to the great surprise and gratitude of the van driver we used. He'd been expecting a day-long slog.

8. Mark parking space for your van.

Cordon off enough parking space for your van driver, so he can park next to the house.

9. Cancel the utilities.

Bit of an obvious one, really. You don't want strangers running up bills in your name. Let the utilities know the date you're due to move out.
About the Author
T. O' Donnell runs entrepreneur, real estate, and webmaster sites in London, UK.
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