Moving house: the essential and stress-free checklist

Moving house checklist

Moving home can bring to light our most (or least) organised selves. Get advice on how to ease the process and a checklist of steps to follow from those who've rolled up their sleeves and been through it all before

Over a month before the big day, make sure you've checked off all the initial admin which comes with moving. Now's the time to confirm final dates, book anything that needs booking, and write out all your endless lists.

1. Research the top removal firms and get quotes

Top of the list, have a look at removal firms in your area, how much they charge and what they offer. The service will vary massively – and you can choose between larger, more well-established companies and smaller, local firms (which will be cheaper).

2. Confirm the completion date

This is when the keys are yours and you can contractually move in

3. Book time off work

Having days spare on both sides of the moving date would be ideal, so you have time to get packed up beforehand and then to unpack properly at the other end.

4. Make sure you have home insurance cover from day one

You want to be covered from the minute you move in, and if that means overlapping policies on both houses for a short while, that's ok.

5. Book storage

Whether you want to move some things out in advance, or you just have a lot of stuff and want to put it somewhere safe, a storage unit or similar could be a huge help.

6. Transfer your children's school records and order uniforms

It's a good idea to get this done early, as it will become more stressful the longer you leave it – and noone wants to be buying uniform the weekend before they start.

List writing

Now for the real business: packing up your entire life takes time. With around a month to go, it's time to arm yourself with bubble wrap and permanent markers and start shifting your non-essential stuff. Whether you're boxing things up to put into storage, have a lot to get rid of, or are just getting everything organised into boxes, here's how to get ready for the big move efficiently and easily.

7. Stay organised

If the idea of packing your entire home into boxes fills you with dread, make sure to keep similar things together, and label everything (you'll be grateful when you're searching for your favourite mug later, we promise).

Label every box with a small list of what's inside, and then a big notice of which room in the new house you want it put into.

We moved the children in together for the three weeks before our move to free up one bedroom for boxes that were packed and ready to go.

Get double the packing boxes than you think you'll need, and allow yourself at least double the time you estimate it will take to pack them – in fact just start packing now. Also, label all boxes on all sides, so when they are all in a higgidly piggidly pile in the van or in your new house, you can instantly see what each box contains.

Mumsnetters recommend bulk-buying packing labels to make it easier for everyone to know where each box should end up:

Also useful:

8. Have a good clear out

There's no better feeling than a huge declutter – it will save you time during the move, and will mean you're not desperately trying to find space to store a load of things you probably don't need. Mumsnetters recommend getting a skip, clearing out books you won't read again, and eating through anything left in the dark depths of your freezer.

Get a skip if you can. It will help to really declutter everything. You don't want to spend time and energy packing things you don't really need, want or use.

We've been eating our way through the odd things lurking in the back of the freezer and cupboards to save having to take it with us.

Don't move all the books that you've read unless you want to keep them for sentimental reasons – they are heavy!

Declutter, declutter, declutter. Then scrutinize every thing you have left, and declutter some more.

Related: how to declutter your home the Mumsnet way

Packing up

9. Use your time wisely

It's easy to waste time, and also very easy to get distracted. Stay focused on the task in hand and, if you start early enough, you'll be able to tackle it a little bit at a time.

Packing up an attic, garage or garden shed can take much longer than you think, so start early (our garage took a whole weekend!).

No matter how interesting your photos are, how much you want to stop and reminisce/chat about that favourite ornament of yours… Don't! Be very clinical. Just pack.

10. Or let the experts do it for you

Some removal firms will also pack up your home for you if you pay a little extra, and you can also get professional packers in separately before the movers turn up. This can save time and stress for you – and will also minimise any distractions. These are usually priced by the hour or by the volume of stuff, so it stands to reason that the larger your house, the more it will cost. And a word of advice – packers really will pack everything, so if you don't want it taking to the new house, be sure to get rid before they arrive.

I paid the removals firm to pack up as well – it is worth every penny and in the overall cost of moving house is minimal extra expenditure.

Packers go through the house like a plague of locusts – they are unbelievably quick because they do it all the time. If it's not nailed down, it will be wrapped in paper and boxed.

11. Get your children on side

Whatever their age, moving house can be equal parts scary, exciting and unsettling for children. However, with a bit of patience and some pearls of wisdom from Mumsnetters, you can make the upheaval much less disruptive for the whole family.

moving house

I gave our son a disposable camera for him to take photos of our old house just before he left.

Things that helped were familiar scents in our son's room. We used lavender oil for a few weeks either side of the move in his new and old bedrooms.

Make sure you get the TV set up as quickly as possible, so DC can watch a familiar programme while you run around like headless chickens.

Why not give your kids a camera so they can drive everyone crazy capture their own memories of the old house and moving day? Have a think about whether you'd prefer them to be wielding a disposable or digital model. Remember, you'll be busy and won't be able to watch them all day, so if you opt for a proper camera, make sure it's not going to get chucked down the stairs.

12. Let people know that you're moving

Boring but important, you need to make sure your local council, utilities companies, and doctor know your new address, as well as friends and family. We would recommend telling services a month or so before the move – some providers need 30 days' notice – and it's a good idea to let friends and family know maybe a couple of weeks before.

It's traditional to send cards to let people know, but nowadays people would probably appreciate an email or text more, and most service providers will allow you to enter a change of details online. Also, contact the Post Office to set up a postal redirection service – they will charge a fee, and you'll need to be registered for a Royal Mail account.

Make sure to print off our checklist of the people and companies you need to inform so you don't miss anyone.

The people you need to tell when you're moving house:

  • First off, mail redirection via the Post Office
  • The council
  • Your gas company
  • Your electricity provider
  • Water company
  • TV licensing
  • TV provider
  • Your employer
  • The bank
  • The building society
  • Pension provider
  • Child benefit office
  • Tax office
  • Credit card company
  • Student Loan Company
  • Paypal
  • Phone line provider
  • Broadband provider
  • Mobile phone company
  • DVLA
  • Car tax
  • Car registration
  • Breakdown cover
  • Car insurer
  • Home insurer
  • Life insurer
  • School and/or nursery
  • Doctors
  • Dentist
  • Vet
  • Travel insurance (if annual policy)
  • Credit or bank card insurer
  • Online shopping account
  • Any other subscriptions
  • eBay/Amazon accounts
  • Any other online shops
  • Loyalty card providers
  • The neighbours
Writing a list

The most important thing is postal redirection – they need at least five days' notice.

Our broadband company needed 30 days' notice that we were cancelling our contract. I'll also be asking the water company to do a meter reading and notifying the council that we're no longer responsible for the council tax etc.

If you want to keep it old-fashioned (or have relatives who don't know how to work a mobile):

14. Find out where everything is

Before you get there, make sure you know where the gas and electricity meters are, where the valve to shut off the water supply is, and where the thermostat is. It's also a good idea to research where the nearest takeaways and late night supermarkets are (you never know).

Removal time

Ok, so the day has arrived and everything's in boxes ready to go in the van – now what?

13. Make sure the essentials are to hand

Here is a checklist of the top items we recommend keeping close at hand on moving day to keep you, the kids and the removal team happy. Pack these in their own box or bag, and make sure it's the last thing you put in the moving van and the first thing you take out – or, even better, keep it with you in the car.

  • Kettle, milk, sugar, coffee and teabags
  • A couple of cups and mugs
  • A couple of plates
  • Phone charger (and chargers for the tablet, MP3 player, Switch, and anything else they're bound to ask your for)
  • One extension cable, to keep everything handy and in the same place
  • Biscuits
  • Bottle(s) of water
  • Bin bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Baby wipes
  • A tea-towel and/or roll of kitchen towel
  • A teaspoon
  • Washing up liquid and sponge
  • Purse – handy for when you inevitably run out of milk
  • Cash to tip the removal team
  • Torch (in case of any electricity problems)
  • A radio or Bluetooth speaker
  • Scissors
  • Pens and a notebook
  • Screwdriver, adjustable wrench and Allen key

15. Keep some space free for relaxing

Before you start unpacking, take a moment to find your happy place – whether that's making sure your sofa is cleared so you can sit with a cuppa, or getting the table set up and cleared for a takeaway at tea time. Plus, make sure beds are made for the whole family to fall into when you've had enough – moving is exhausting.

Feet up

Have one safe haven in the new house to retreat to, and do the unpacking in there first. Then give yourself permission to unpack everything else slowly and eat take-out.

Make the beds first. At the end of a long day, you really won't want to make a bed at midnight.

16. And some final tips and tricks

Mumsnetters are a wise bunch – they've been through all this before, and know exactly where is best to take shortcuts and where that can be catastrophic. Here are some final pearls of wisdom to keep the day itself as pain-free as possible.

My one tip is if the removals company offers you some sort of re-delivery insurance, in case of problems/delays getting into your new property, then take it.

Use a handbag that goes across your body so you can't put it down and mislay it (and thus lose keys, etc).

Get all your friends to help, with a promise of a take-away at the end. It saves a fortune, but also, I love the end of the day when we are all tired, sat on boxes in the front room eating pizza and drinking wine.

Puppy moving house

Related: the best storage boxes, according to Mumsnetters

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