- Buy a pack of change-of-address cards, or fill one out and photocopy it to save time writing out dozens. Ensure that your insurance company, bank, credit card issuer, pension company, and all the other businesses you deal with know of your move.
- Arrange building and contents insurance at the new house to start on the day you move in.
- Cancel regular deliveries of groceries or newspapers.
- Arrange by telephone, and confirm in writing, transfers of the electricity, gas, water and telephone accounts. Before leaving, read the meters.
- Make arrangements for the gas, electricity and water to be switched on at the new house.
If you intend to use a professional removal company, contact 2 or 3 different removal companies as soon as you know that the move is on and ask them to visit and quote for the job. Ask neighbors or friends for their recommendations, too, as they may be able to offer useful advice on local companies. Firms which are reluctant to visit may he best avoided, as a guessed estimate may cause problems on the day if they do not know, for instance, that there will be a spiral staircase, low doors or an attic or loft stashed with boxes to cope with.
When the removal men arrive, point out anything that may make parking near the house a problem, and remember to tell them if they are likely to encounter difficulties at the new address. Show items requiring careful handling such as antiques, computer or hi-fi (stereo) equipment, as well as anything that has to be dismantled before it can be moved such as large wardrobes (closets). Giving all this information at the start will make the removal company’s quotation as accurate as possible and prevent a nasty surprise when the bill arrives.
Always read the small print on the documentation and check that the house contents will be insured for the duration of the move. Many removal firms’ contracts state that you must let them know within 10 days of the move if anything is damaged or missing. Be sure to open every box and inspect the contents thoroughly as soon as you arrive, even if they remain otherwise untouched for weeks afterward. Most firms will pack and unpack the contents themselves, but may give a discount if you do it yourself. This could affect the insurance cover, however, so check this before you decide.
Check your own house-contents insurance, as it is likely that the insurance will not cover items lost or damaged during a move. If necessary, ask the company to extend the cover.
Hiring (renting) a van
Doing the move yourself is cheaper, but driving a large van packed with furniture can be an alarming experience if you are unused to it. Unless you are fit and reasonably strong and can spar ethe time, it can in fact end up being a false economy. Hiring (renting) a van and driver could be a happy medium —check whether you will he charged extra for mileage, or whether the price quoted is inclusive. Wrap plates individually and pack them vertically to minimize the risk of breakages.
Begin packing a few weeks ahead of the move. Start with items in the attic or loft that you rarely use — this is also a good time to throw out items that you no longer need. Additional, purely decorative items and ornaments can also he wrapped up at this early stage.
Collect boxes from the supermarket and save newspapers for packing items. Buy bubble wrap (padded plastic wrapping, available from stationers) to protect delicate or easily marked items. Use large but manageable boxes, mark each lid with a bold pen to show which room it belongs in at the new house. Alternatively, place a colour-coded label on the box, for example, blue for the bathroom, yellow for the kitchen, green for the living room, and so on. When you arrive at the new house, stick matching labels on the relevant door to each room so that the removal company knows exactly where everything needs to go. When labelling boxes, give details of the contents (e.g., kitchen pans and crockery; food processor and attachments) so that you do not spend frustrating time trying to find one item.
Line boxes containing china with a thick layer of bubble wrap or with scrunched-up paper to protect the contents. Wrap plates in paper or bubble wrap and stack them vertically in the boxes. In the event of the box being knocked or dropped, the plates will be less likely to crack if the weight is not resting on those at the bottom.
Leave soap, toiler paper, hand towels and tea- and coffee-making items (including cups and the kettle) until last, then pack them in a brightly coloured plastic box so that you can see it easily the instant you arrive. Pack tools, light bulbs, extension cables, spare fuses and screws in another brightly coloured box so that rooms can be lit and quick repairs undertaken.