Today we talk about Moving houses! Why? Well, because I just moved houses!
Yup, most of us do it every 10 years or so. Some of us, never do it. Others do it once in a lifetime.
(Not sure what value that last sentence added, but I just felt like I had to say it. Thinking about it, I don’t think I know anyone who has never moved, though I do know one 55 year old guy who’s only moved once in his life.)
Moving Houses These Days
Anyway, moving houses, if you’re a guy with a family, is a lot of fun. And by a lot of fun, I mean… no fun at all. Not a bit. No even an iota. Now, if you’re a single guy, and you’re moving houses, that’s no problem at all really. Single guys don’t have a lot of baggage (physical baggage that is, couldn’t say about emotional baggage). When I last moved as a single guy, all my stuff fit into 10 boxes. I’m not kidding. I was in my late 20s and it all fit into 10 boxes.
(If you’re a single guy or gal who’s moving, I’ll be honest and tell you that you don’t really need to keep reading (unless you’re like a super-meticulous person)…
Now, when I then moved again as a married man, 10 boxes were needed just for the friggin’ scented candles!
…And I HATE scented candles! The flowery scent is enough to make me wanna jump out the window, but besides that, it’s bad for the environment. And I don’t mean the “green world” environment, I mean your personal environment. A candle is an open flame. With a bit of bad luck, you can literally end up burning your house down! Is it really worth the risk, just to have a musky fragrance in your apartment? As any man will tell you, there’s only one answer to that question… “no”.
Now, I admit, I’m exaggerating about the 10 boxes for the candles. As it happens, milady is a very reasonable lady. Of course, I have to say that, as there’s a good chance she reads this post, but it also happens to be true. However, most better halves, including mine (and probably yours), have a lot of pretty stuff, and that pretty stuff must also all go to the new place. So, lots more boxes.
If you’re “well-to-do”, then she’s got nice furniture made of “oak” or “mahogany” then that stuff’s gotta be carefully disassembled, wrapped up, taken to the new place, unwrapped and reassembled. Woohoo right?
If you’ve got kids… well, like your kids, you too will probably have a little cry about the whole thing. Kids have tons and tons of rubbish which must also make the trip. Depending on the age they’ll have all kinds of stuff, including desks, clothes, toys, more toys, PCs, tablets, Playstations, TVs, bikes, pushchairs, bottle warmers and on and on the list goes. You name it, they’ve got it. If they’re young and they’ve got cool “Spiderman” beds, that stuff’s gotta be disassembled and reassembled in the new house. If they’re older, then they’ll have less of those things but more flat screen TVs and surround sound systems.
Maybe you’re thinking “if the kids are older, then they can pack their own stuff”. Err… everything is possible, but let me tell you a (short) personal story!
I remember I moved when I was 14. I was completely useless. It took me 2 hours to pack one box (actually, on that point, the missus says I haven’t changed that much). Then there was this one piece of custom made glass, which was central to a nice piece of display furniture my Mum had (still has it actually), and it was supposed to be moved super carefully. In my infinite wisdom, I decided that I could handle it, and when no one was looking, I just picked it up, hit it against the wall and broke it.
Well, it’s quite simple really. I thought it was lighter than it actually was. So, I picked it up, but couldn’t quite carry it properly, leaned to one side.. and smash!
Teenagers. Physically capable (kinda), but let’s be honest, in most of them, the screws haven’t been tightened yet. At least that was the case with me…!
Yup, moving houses. It’s fun!
So What Should I Do?
Well, the best thing to do, as usual, is to plan ahead! Have you heard (or read) me say this before? You’re gonna need a plan. You’re moving houses. Lots of decisions to make. Lots of things to write down! Here’s some guidelines…
1. Sort out some time off. Seriously. You could do this without taking time off, but that would make me cry. Also, if you do that (not take time off), your better half might kill you. So take a few days off. Of course, the day of the move you’ll have to be off work, but the truth is, you’ll probably need a few days in advance, and maybe one or two afterwards (if you want to settle “comfortably”).
2. Sort out your utilities (electricity, water, gas, internet, TV etc) in the new place (and also the old place if necessary). No utilities = one angry missus. Take special care of this one!
3. Arrange the packing. You’ll need to actually pack (who’s gonna do that?). So you’ll need boxes, bubble wrap and tape, probably all in large quantities. You’ll need these in advance, so you’ll have to go around the house and try to decide how many boxes you’ll need. Once you have the boxes, you’ll have to go through all your stuff, and decide what doesn’t need to move. Whatever’s going needs to go into boxes and the rest needs to go to well, wherever! (The Samaritans will probably take most of it.)
4. Arrange the actual “move”. Are you getting movers? You’ll need some quotes. Realistically, it’ll take you a week to get each quote, so call the movers ahead of time. Are you renting a truck? You’ll need to book it, to make sure it’s available when you need it. Leave it to the last minute and you’ll either be truckless or very angry at the amount you had to fork out! Who’s going to do the carrying? If you’ll be using your mates, make sure to tell them in advance (and make sure to ask the reliable ones).
5. Remember to do your mail forwarding. While you’re at it, tell everyone that needs to be notified of your move (call your Mum!).
6. Special actions: The furniture, you’re not likely to forget. But did you install some funky light fixtures in your current place, that you want to take with you? Well, don’t forget to arrange to take them off, at which point you’ll be in the dark for a bit! Maybe you installed some speakers into the wall, and you need to remove them? Remember to fix the property you’re leaving (if it’s a rental). If you forget, that’s fine too, though you may lose your deposit!
Note about point 6 (Special Actions): There are tons of things that this article will not mention explicitly. You must think of these things yourself as they apply to you. Do you have a pet? Who will take care of it on moving day? Do you have room in front of your house(s) for a truck to park? Do you have the keys to your new house? Have you got all your insurances sorted? Think about all these carefully…! For those of you in the UK, here’s a checklist from the beeb.
Start to write things down the minute that you know you’re moving. Make a list of all the actions that you need to take, and schedule them, so that you know what you should have done at which point. If you see that you’re falling way behind, you’ll have to take some drastic action to get back on schedule (e.g. take more time off).
Stuff To Do In Advance
Actually, all the stuff in the paragraph above needs to be done in advance to a certain extent. However, there are some things, you don’t want to be late with (and some you can’t be late with). The most important are the movers/truck and new house keys.
After that, if you move to a new place, and there’s no internet, now that’s not funny. If you’re a single guy, you can cope, but if your family expects internet, and then there isn’t any.. well… it depends on how tolerant they all are right? Silly jokes aside though, electricity and water you really can’t do without. So, remember to ensure well in advance that your utility companies (and internet co) are informed. In some countries, the electricity companies need a whole bunch of stuff to hook you up. This is not really the case in the UK, but it might be prudent to check what the situation is in your new house (i.e. is the electricity already connected?) and also at the electricity company (in case it’s not connected).
You’ll need to do the same with your Internet/Landline/TV companies (which are often the same one company). Again, in the UK things are pretty good, but still, give them a few weeks notice that you’re moving, to ensure a smooth transition. If for example, you’ve got a satellite dish, that might complicate things since it’ll have to be uninstalled and reinstallled.
Informing people like your bank, employer and others can generally wait a couple of weeks. However, you need to notify the postal service in advance to get your mail forwarding in place on time. Again, this is not supercritical. If you’re late, you’ll need to stop by your old place and pick up the mail now and then, till the forwarding kicks in. Not a problem if you’re staying in the neighbourhood, harder if you’re moving cities (or countries!).
The Actual Move
At one point, you’ll have to decide how to move. The cheap way to move, is to rent a van (e.g. a Transit or equivalent) and get some mates. Now, if you’re a family of 4, then a Transit will not be big enough (you’ll have to make several trips). You can get a bigger van, and that’ll probably save you the extra trips. Just make sure that you have the right licence for the right vehicle in advance of booking it.
If you’re a DIY guy, then you can probably dismantle all the furniture that you had assembled, and put it all back together in the new place. You can also do that with the lights, the sounds systems and whatever else you’ve installed. If not, then the movers can probably do those things, but make sure you ask them. Also, get a written quote, stating exactly what they will do. If a mover gives you a verbal quote only, then you’re likely to have some sort of trouble during or after the move (this is true at least in the UK).
Regarding furniture assembly/disassembly, it’s always helpful to have the plans (i.e. the IKEA booklet!). If your furniture happens to be IKEA, then remember that often, the plans are available online (so if you’ve lost the booklets, you can probably download them). Your movers will appreciate you giving them this stuff too.
Does it sound like a lot of trouble finding the assembly instructions? Probably, as you’ve got tons of stuff to do.
On the other hand, you must weigh up the amount of grief you’ll get from your better half, if the stuff is not properly reassembled. You’re entitled to take a calculated risk! Just make sure you do the calculation properly…!
Move day should also start early. You’ll all need to be up early, because there’s so much stuff that needs to be done…
And perhaps the most important thing, is that on move day, you’ve gotta be packed and ready to go. Don’t leave packing or disassembly for the move day, you won’t fit it all in. Unless it’s absolutely critical (e.g. toothbrushes and beds), don’t leave it to the last day. On the day, your goal is to get all your stuff to the new home, and unpack the critical things (i.e. the beds, sheets, pillows, duvets and white goods), so you can sleep soundly. The following day, the real unpacking work starts.
Moving Houses Smoothly – But How?
Here’s the truth. Are you ready for the truth? (Can you handle the truth?). Well, here it is…
There’s no such thing as a smooth move. It’s an urban myth. Can it be done? Only in theory! In practise though, we are people, we have lives. You had a million things to do before you decided to move. Now that you’re moving, you’ve still got to do those million things and move!
So, here are the two things which must be done, for you to have a smooth move.
1. Give yourself plenty of time, and plan things out. Make a list of all the things you need to do. Remember to put a schedule and a time frame, so that you know how things are going and you can react in time if things are not going as per your expectations.
2. Talking about expectations, that’s the other thing to do. Manage them! If you think that you’re going to move today, and tomorrow, you’ll be settled in your new house, then you’re on the wrong track. It’s not going to happen like that. You must assume that things will go wrong, and when they do, try to stay calm.
Moving houses is tough. Someone told me that apparently the Russians have a saying. “One house move, is like two house fires.” What does that mean? I can’t work it out exactly, but I’m guessing it means that moving houses is tough… and it is.
Make a plan, try your best to stick to it, and stay cool. Remember, your life will be in limbo for a while, it’ll be a bit like camping, except with a lot more work. Don’t try to do too much in one go, don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure. It’s gonna be tough, but you’ll get through it. Do it the English way. Keep calm and carry on…
And with that, I leave you! As for you, leave your comments! Had a tough house move? I’d like to know all about it. Heard a funny Russian expression? I’d LOVE to know all about it…!
PS Word count at 2453! Another new personal record surely? Woohoo!
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