Recently we moved to a new home – after 18 years in the same house! That’s an awfully long time to accumulate family treasures, holiday keepsakes, furniture and general “stuff”, not to mention the personal possessions of 5 family members (and a dog).
Moving is nothing new to us, having relocated across the world, as well as interstate and locally a number of times during our lives already. But this was the longest time we had spent in the one home, which meant we knew we were in for a BIG job. As we always say though, information is power, and as long as you have a realistic expectation of what you are in for in terms of time, money and effort, you can make the experience easier on yourself and all involved.
Top 5 tips when moving house
With a lot of careful planning, the use of checklists and some very good support from professionals, family and friends, here is how we survived our move:
1. Know how much it will cost before you hit GO
Working on the presumption that you are moving house and not just a single bedroom which can be accomplished with a few car trips, the first step is to get a handle on how much the move is likely to cost you. Make a list of at least three reputable moving companies and ask them to come and visit your home to provide a cost estimate.
Quotes provided online or over the phone may provide a decent ballpark figure but will never be accurate enough to take your own personal circumstances into account. Be honest about how much stuff you have, as at the end of the day you tend to pay by the hour or volume, so there is little point in downplaying it only to be charged extra at the end of the move.
In our case, just a couple of our challenges were that we had to move a solid 3m jarrah dining table and some beautiful but very heavy life-size outdoor stone statues. Both took 5 very fit young men to lift and move! Also, if for example, you have newer furniture with inbuild electronic seat adjustments, don’t underestimate the weight of these items. Often 2 people alone will not be able to move these. Unless you are willing to physically lend a hand, best to have enough help there on the day from the get-go.
2. Find yourself a reputable removalist
Yes, using professional removers does add a cost to your move, but consider the alternative! Do you honestly have the time, headspace and physical strength to hire a truck, move the many pieces of furniture, boxes and household items yourself?
You can then make the choice whether you want them to pack, move and unpack, or simply focus on the moving part of the job. Here are some alternatives to finding a removalist near you:
Search the Australian Furniture Removers Association at www.afra.com.au
Visit the Australian Furniture Removers Association (AFRA) website to search their directory of accredited Australian removalists. AFRA is an official body of removals experts that helps regulate the removals industry.
They list removalists all over Australia and can assist with local, national and international relocations.
Post a message to your Facebook community or perhaps to your local Buy Nothing Group asking for recommendations. If you haven’t come across the Buy Nothing Project yet, check it out as a wonderful platform to give away, share or lend items to your neighbours. Not only did we find a wonderful removalist via this group but also used this an easy way to give away unwanted items (big and small) without having to wait for verge collection day or throw things in the bin.
Find me a removalist websites
There are a number of online aggregator websites springing up that may help you find what you are looking for. Source multiple quotes for removal services near you via websites such as:
www.findamover.com.au www.muval.com.au www.oneflare.com.au
3. Create a Moving Caddy Simple but very effective!
Create your own box, crate, bag or container to keep all the essentials together in one handy place:
- Stanley Knife
- Packing Tape Roll Dispenser
- Spare Rolls of Tape and Fragile Stickers – Bunnings has a great moving section where you can buy these items.
- Labels for Boxes – add coloured paper if you really want to colour coordinate your boxes into specific living zones – helps with unpacking!
- 2 x Sharpies for labelling
- Rubber Gloves for the bathroom, laundry and shed areas.
- White Cotton Gloves – a saviour for your hands as you handle packing paper and boxes, but also great to keep fingerprints off your glasses and crockery as you pack these up.
4. You will need to source many, many boxes in different sizes!
You will need more boxes than you think, so start getting creative. The trick with packing is not to overpack each box and make it too heavy to lift and move. That’s how things get broken and it makes the removalists very cranky by the end of the day.
You can have your removalist provide new boxes, wrapping paper and tape (at a cost) or purchase these from your local Bunnings store. Either option usually offers you the choice to return any unused boxes, which is a bonus.
Alternatively, look on Gumtree or your local Facebook group for those either selling new boxes or giving away used ones. Most of the boxes we needed for our move were sourced via our local Buy Nothing Group from a mum who had literally finished unpacking her boxes the day before!
5. Lists and Inventories
Keeping yourself and your loved ones on track in the weeks leading up to your move is essential. We started 8 weeks out and made a rule to pack at least 6 boxes each weekend so that when it came to the final push only the essentials were left to be dealt with.
We created two lists:
- A MOVING CHECKLIST to remember all the large and small pre- and post-move tasks that need to get done. Prioritize the tasks and add a timeline to the list. This will keep you on track and act as your ultimate time management tool.
- An INVENTORY of all boxes and items you are packing. Almost every removals company, real estate agent and utility provider offers some sort of template for a moving checklist and inventory, so you are spoilt for choice.
Use any one of these that suits, delete the items that are irrelevant or create your own. It really doesn’t matter what the list looks like. What is important is that you know what you have packed and where you can find it once you have moved.
How detailed you wish to go is completely up to you and usually a reflection of our personalities. For the control freaks amongst us, your list will be able to pinpoint where that can opener went. Others will be content to be able to separate kitchen utensils from the garden tools.
Number each box from the start and create a list recording the box number, which room of the house it belonged to (kitchen, dining, bathroom etc) and a short summary of contents. We simply created an Excel spreadsheet which worked a treat. Whilst it’s easy to get bored and opt to summarise contents very broadly, you will be thankful for greater details when it comes to unpacking.
We had to change a number of recipes whilst cooking in the first week because apparently, we had a number of boxes marked “kitchen utensils” and couldn’t find the can opener!
6. Marie Kondo as you pack and unpack
You probably have heard about Marie Kondo, Japanese organising consultant and author famous for showing people how to declutter, simplify and tidy up their homes. Her central ethos is that you should only keep those things that spark joy. Moving house and especially when you are downsizing or facing different space constraints is one of those classic decluttering moments in life.
Make the most out of the opportunity to rid yourself of items you haven’t used in years, never really liked or simply do not need any more.
TIP: It pays to have a loved one or good friend help you with this, as it’s too easy to convince yourself that you could not possibly let that sentimental item go. Have someone there who can push back as ask you whether you REALLY need to hand on to something is powerful.
We borrowed from Marie Kondo’s approach and took photographs of those sentimental items (especially children’s art pieces from bygone days) before discarding them. So, the memory remains, but space is cleared. We also continued to purge as we unpacked – round two of decluttering with the benefit of a little space and time to reflect on what you really want to unpack.
7. Keep your essentials handy
When it comes to the day of the move you will still need to make cups of coffee or tea, feed the family and deal with unexpected last-minute hiccups. It pays to have box marked ESSENTIALS handy.
Consider having the following close by:
- Cups, cutlery, bottle opener, can-opener and some plates
- Basic food staples such as snacks, tea, coffee, sugar, cereal etc
- Garbage bags and dustpan
- Toilet paper, paper towels and tissues
- Set of basic tools to disassemble and assemble beds and furniture
- Band-aids, Panadol and first aid kit
- Phone and laptop chargers
- 1 x Powerboard
- Snap lock bags to keep keys safe
- Cleaning cloths, tea towel and cleaning spray
- Fresh bed linen for the beds in your new home
Our family is safely set up in our new home, but we still have a few boxes of non-essentials to unpack. It pays to remember not to be too hard on yourself when it comes to getting everything just right when you unpack. Allow yourself time and you never know, you may well find that those last few boxes turn into non-essential giveaways down the track!
Pia Turcinov is the Co-Founder and a Director of Build in Common. Coming from a family where building and renovating were part of everyday life, she got an early taste of the many different skills and trades it takes to create a dream home. One thing that always rang true was that the best ideas are worth nothing without good execution. Not to say the challenge of being able to communicate a great idea to others! Taking the steps to make it all happen can be tiring, challenging, but also oh so satisfying!
Pia is involved in a number of projects and professional roles, all connected through a common focus on the opportunities which innovation, disruption and diversification offer.