Careful planning is the key to a smooth and successful relocation to your new home.

Whether you’re shifting in to your first home, trading up to accommodate a growing family or downsizing for retirement, careful planning is the key to a successful relocation.

As another year and summer home-buying season gets in to full swing, many people will be acting on New Year’s resolutions to move home. But completing a sale or purchase is just the beginning. Moving home has been rated in studies as one of the most stressful of life events, sometimes ranked ahead of divorce or starting a new job.

But careful planning of each stage of your move will go a long way towards ensuring your relocation is as smooth and stress-free as it can be.

If you have the luxury of time, it helps to get started as early as possible with research and preparation – particularly if you are moving town.

This could include researching and approaching schools and childcare providers in your new area and exploring local job opportunities.

Start getting a range of quotes from professional movers or – if you’re game to do it yourself – from truck hire firms. If you’ll need some temporary storage, get space lined up in a facility close to your new home.

Four to six weeks before moving

Now is the time to book with a removals company, giving them an outline of what you’ll need to move, where and when. You should also consider your options for transit insurance; by protecting against the loss or damage of your prized possessions during your move you will also lock in some peace of mind in the event that things go wrong.

Once this is booked your move will start to feel real, and the countdown will begin. If you’re moving to another area, advise your kids’ school or childcare provider about your move. Get records transferred, and get a copy of your medical notes from your doctor and dentist so you can give these to your new ones. The same goes with other family members – and any pets, whose medical history and immunisation certificates should be requested from your vet.

You can’t start too early on packing, and risk considerable anguish if you leave it too late. Take stock of what you have in your home; pretty much everyone has more than they realise, and more than they need. If you don’t need it, someone else might – either sell it or give it to your local charity shop. If it’s worthless, put it in the recycling or rubbish. It’s all less stuff you’ll need to deal with when you move.

If you’re doing your own packing, stock up on cartons, tape, marker pens and other materials. If using a moving company, secure their boxes and packing supplies as early as possible. You’re guaranteed to need more boxes and time than you think, so plan accordingly.

Start your packing with items you use least often. Put a label on each box recording what’s inside and which room it will go to in your new home. Record these details on a packing worksheet so you can tick them off as they arrive safely at the other end.

Around a month before moving, start contacting utility and other providers to arrange to disconnect essential services at your old address and ensure connection at your new home.

Key people to notify include your providers of internet and phone, electricity, gas and subscription TV, and others such as your bank, insurers, doctor, dentist, Inland Revenue and the Electoral Commission. Make a list and tick them off with each call.

If you’re moving town, and haven’t yet made your travel arrangements, now is the time to get them locked in, including plans for how you will move any pets.

Check with your lawyer or real estate agent when you should sign any documents for the sale and/or purchase of properties. Agree times for moving with the purchaser of your old property and the vendor of your new one.

Two weeks out

If the property you’re leaving is rented, make sure you set up a time for a final inspection by the landlord.

Once you’ve arranged to have your mail redirected, and updated any newspaper or magazine subscriptions, your focus should now start shifting to moving day. Think about what your kids – or pets – will do on the day. You might want to arrange for them to be with friends or family.

Final week

Make sure you tackle any final cleaning and maintenance before you move out. Give the house, oven, showers and baths a final clean and mow the lawns. Use up any remaining food in your fridge/freezer, then defrost it and give it a clean.

On the day before you move, unplug electrical appliances and devices and prepare them for removal. Separate out any valuable or personal items, such as important documents and jewellery, and carry these yourself to your new home.

Make sure that all the chattels you sold with your home remain.

Get in touch with the vendors of your new home, so they can fill you in on any quirks or instructions such as how to work the alarm.

Once this is all in hand, the time has come: you’re ready to move house…

Moving day

Remember to give your electricity and gas suppliers a call with your final meter readings, and remove any rubbish.

Once your possessions are in the truck, go from room to room to make sure nothing is left behind.

Lock all doors and windows and take away your memories – and prepare to make some fresh ones in your new life, in a new home. Along the way don’t forget to give your old keys to the purchaser, or rental company!

Once you and your possessions arrive at your new home, take starting readings from the gas and electricity meters.

Check all cartons and other possessions have been safely delivered, and tick them off on your packing list. If anything is damaged or lost take it up immediately with your removals firm and/or insurer.

Unpack the kitchen and other essential items first, set up your beds and get your children and pets organised. But don't try to unpack everything on the first day. You might like to get in some takeaways and a glass of wine to celebrate your arrival.

Over the coming weeks your new house or apartment will become a home, as you start to settle in and explore your new neighbourhood. A carefully planned move will help ensure you and your family can begin the adventure on a calm footing and set the scene for a happy and comfortable life in your new home.


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