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

1. Initial preparation for moving

Over a month before the big day, make sure you've checked off all the initial admin which comes with moving:

  1. Research the top removal firms and get quotes
  2. Confirm the completion date, which 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)
  4. Make sure you have home insurance cover from day one
  5. If everything isn't going to fit into your new home or you want to move some things out in advance, book extra storage
  6. Now is also a good time to transfer your children's school records and order uniforms

2. Packing up your old house

First thing's first, 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.

List writing

Stay organised

Right now, the idea of packing your entire home into boxes probably fills you with dread. Organisation is your best friend here – put 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:

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

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.

Or, just 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.

3. Helping your children understand the house move

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.

If you fancy the idea of giving 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.

Here are some Mumsnetter-recommended models:

4. Letting people know 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.

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):

5. Tips and tricks for moving day

Ok, so the day has arrived and everything's in boxes ready to go in the van – now what? We recommend researching where the nearest takeaways and late night supermarkets are, and making sofas and beds your first priority so you've got somewhere to put your feet up when needed.

Removal time

Find out where everything is

As soon as you're in, 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.

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

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.

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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