Move-it Yourself: Five Steps to Success

Sharon Hurley Hall

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I have lived in five countries and have moved house nearly 20 times. It may be more, but I’m not counting the ones I can’t remember from my childhood. Most of those moves I’ve done myself (with the help of a few friends) and over the last 25 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about moving that considerably streamlines the process. So here, for my money, are five steps to can take to make sure you are adequately prepared for the big day.

1. Start early

Although you love those photos of friends and family, they can be the first to come off the walls when you’ve decided on a move date. The more you’ve packed before move week, the less you’ll have to do then.

2. The best investment

If you’re hiring a van, you may be tempted to go for something cheap. This is almost always a mistake. You will tire yourself out lifting stuff onto and off the van, so why not get a van that will help you? Spend a bit more and get one with a tail-lift. This will be invaluable, especially for the larger furniture items. If you can get power steering as well, someone up there likes you. Those vans can be difficult to manoeuvre.

Buy or borrow a heavy duty trolley of some kind and you’ll have almost all the bases covered. When booking a van, look for a company that will allow you to either pick it up the night before the move or return it the day after. (If you can find one that will let you do both for a reasonable price, let me know). The night before will let you get a head start on the loading; the morning after means you can collapse into bed at night without watching the clock – and you may be able to take another load the next morning.

3. Other transport

Make sure you make full use of your car (s). These are great for transporting the delicate items (the laptop or the DVD player for example) and the items you don’t want to lose (money, jewellery, credit cards). The back seat is a great place to put your hanging clothes (why add ironing to the list of chores you’ll have to do in the new place?). Before the move, you can pack these in a box labelled ‘car only’. The trunk and footwells of a car are also the ideal place to put your house plants for transportation. If you stack them close together, they should arrive intact. Remember to line the area with black rubbish bags so that you don’t have to clean your car afterwards.

4. Box clever

There’s a theory that bigger is better when it comes to boxes for packing your stuff. Not so. In fact, the reverse is true. You need to keep boxes small and manageable. Those boxes that your reams of paper come in (you can get a few from your office) are perfect for packing books, CDs, DVDs, tapes, records (if you’ve still got them) and other small items. The ones with handles are best.

Check out your local shop and ask them to save the boxes that snacks and chocolates are delivered in. They’ll need to be reinforced but they’re a good size as well.

For all the mums out there, the Pampers multipack boxes are strong and solid (and they have handles).

Finally, book boxes (the smaller ones, of course) from your local bookshop. These are difficult to get hold of but when you use them you can be sure that your stuff won’t fall out mid-move.

5. Tape talk

When it comes to tape, the wider the better. Your packing tape should be at least two inches wide and very strong. The brown rolls are best (again, you’ll need one for each of the main packers), but masking tape (good for labelling) and Duck tape (strong but expensive) are other alternatives. You can also use the tape to label anything stored in a garbage bag (you’ll need plenty of those as well – and not just for rubbish).

Last words

If you do all this, you should be primed for a successful move. Happy moving!

© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2005

Sharon Hurley Hall worked in publishing for 18 years, writing articles and editing and designing books and magazines. She has also lectured on journalism. For more information or to contact Sharon, visit


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