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Tips on Moving House from a Serial Mover

Jan Gamm

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Moving house is reputed to be among the top three most stressful things the average human being goes through during life. The most stressful thing is bereavement, the second is divorce and the third is moving house. Sometimes, the top two experiences swap around in the stress polls, but always moving house comes in as a strong contender for third place.

So what, you might say. Well, I have moved house more than seventy times during my life and I suspect I will move once or twice more before I finally shuffle off my mortal coil. This could account for my reputation for being slightly mad. I have learned one or two useful lessons along the way which might help to pave the road for those of you who are considering the Big M.

The first thing is to spring clean thoroughly. This sounds poor advice since you are about to vacate the family home and it is gong to get filthy in the process, but in fact if you turn out your belongings, throw away the stuff you no longer wish to live with, and clean the furniture in the process, your job at the other end will be far easier.

Whilst cleaning, organize any collections you might have into boxes so the things which are not urgently required when you get to your destination can be stored somewhere, in that way you can unpack them at leisure. Label everything clearly on the side and the top and instruct your packers or removal company that boxes or cartons must be stacked at destination with the label showing. Mark your boxes for whatever room you want them in at destination, such as Dining Room, Bedroom 2, Kitchen etc. If you are really efficient, go one step further and number the boxes according to the priority in which they will be needed.

Unearth carrying cages for your pets and make sure they are clean and ready for use. Items which are not fragile or too heavy can be packed into drawers. There is no point in the removal company stacking empty drawers, so make use of them. Remember not to put anything precious in open drawers, though.

Pick two or three DVDs which the children like and tape them to the side of the television or the top of the DVD player. When you get to your new home, ask your husband to set up the television and DVD player straight away, so the children are amused and happy while you deal with the chaos of organizing boxes and setting up a working kitchen. Packing a few emergency amusements for the children can buy you a whole lot of available time for the important stuff in your new home.

Pack an emergency kit for your arrival. This kit should include:

The kettle, plus cups, coffee and tea bags, can opener and corkscrew, cutlery, sugar, milk and emergency snack food. If you have pets, remember you will need their dishes straight away.

A separate box containing enough linen for the family beds for that first night.

Towels soap, shampoo and toothpaste.

Hot water bottles (sometimes new houses are cold until the central heating gets going).

Any medicines that need to be taken on a daily basis.

Pack some family clothes and other essentials as you would for a two day holiday, into suitcases. That way you have emergency clothes for everyone until you get around to unpacking into wardrobes.

Pack valuables such as jewelry into bags that travel with you, do not entrust them to anyone else. The same goes for all of the family documentation that is absolutely vital, such as passports, medical cards, etc. If you have been efficient enough to complete an inventory, remember to keep it with you.

Try not to do what I did once, arrive at your new home hours after the removal vehicle, and then have to pay an enormous fee for extra time because the removal staff could not gain access. Remember also not to bury the keys to your new home at the bottom of a packing crate. Check you have all the keys you need, such as garage, garden stores, boiler house, or roof space.

Do not pack the essential cleaning materials you will need to spruce up the house you are vacating. You will need to clean it for the new owners, so remember to set aside the vacuum cleaner and other necessary cleaning items such as cloths, spray polish and bleach until the last moment. I always donate to the new owner a clean towel, new soap in the bathroom, and new toilet rolls in all the bathrooms. I have always managed to remain friends with the people who buy my houses and I am sure that is the reason!

Some people display the most revolting behavior when moving house. I bought a home in the South of England once and the day I moved in, I disturbed the ex owner while she was busy stripping the apple trees of every single piece of fruit. She and her husband were packing them into a large box and muttering something about how they had grown them so why shouldn’t they take them. Why indeed. I suspect she was prepared to make herself ill eating apples rather than leave a single one for someone else.

Another lady decided to leave behind all the furniture she had agreed to sell to other people, in the house after she had moved! She left instructions for me about who was to have what, and when she would be coming to collect the money they were going to pay for it! She said it was easier for her that way. Aaaagh!

In England I believe it is actually illegal to leave a house without a single working light bulb when you vacate a house, but this does not stop some people from removing every single one! Stunning isn’t it! I am one of those people who leave behind quite a lot of comforts for new owners and I also leave my houses spotlessly clean. I always think how lovely it must be to enter a new home smelling of lavender and pine disinfectant, because I always manage to inherit disgustingly dirty houses, with filthy toilets and about twenty years of dust, grease and grime clinging to every room.

I must be house hunting in the wrong circles. Set aside a room for your pets in which to recover. Set aside another room for yourself in which to recover. Enjoy your new home.

Jan Gamm writes reflections on life with an emphasis on world travel. She has lived in many countries and traveled extensively in the Far East, the Middle East, America, South America and throughout the South Pacific. She writes for fun and for money whenever she can manage it.


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