The very idea of moving house strikes fear in the hearts of most people for very good reason; it is rated as one of life’s most stressful activities, and even if you are moving from a shack to a mansion, packing up your worldly possessions and transplanting your family is a huge upheaval.
But, according to Sandy Geffen, Executive Director of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in South Africa, moving does not have to be a complete nightmare and, with careful organisation and forward planning, it is possible to minimise the stress of the move and ease the process of settling into a new home.
“Comprehensive checklists are paramount and once they are compiled, delegate jobs and organise your team so everyone has a role. This helps avoid important things being forgotten or overlooked and also prevents people from getting in one another’s way, which is when tempers really start to fray.”
Justine Roux, Area Specialist in Johannesburg’s Atholl, Illovo and Inanda, says that the biggest mistake one can make is to leave anything until the last minute.
“Get started as soon as you know you will be moving. Even months in advance you can begin to slowly declutter room by room and also get stuck into seldom used spaces like store rooms and garden sheds which can be a real hassle to sort through and pack up”.
“It’s also important to decide on which day you will be moving and to confer with the new tenants or buyer as moving on the same day can result in chaos.”
At least one month before moving day:
- Start to clean out cupboards, discarding what you don’t need and packing non-essential items you will be keeping in the least used rooms;
- Arrange storage facilities if required;
- Give notice to the relevant utilities companies and switch home insurance to your new home;
- Notify the important people and institutions in your life like banks and cellular networks;
- Apply for your new water and electricity accounts and transfer security companies or inform them of your new address;
- If you are moving to a new area and the kids are changing schools, arrange for the transfer of their school records and order new uniforms;
- Have valuable possessions assessed for insurance and check if your insurance policy will cover your move. If not, your removals company may be able to provide cover;
- Start a ‘moving file’ to keep documents relating to your move – include to-do lists, important numbers etc.
Two weeks before the big day:
- Run down freezer foods and other perishables, only restocking essentials;
- Finalise details with the removals company – confirm times, parking and directions;
- Put important items and documents like passports, insurance policies and jewellery in a bank safe or at least a secure box for safe keeping;
- Give the post office your new address and arrange mail redirection service;
- Give away plants and flowers you won’t be taking with you, especially the larger potted plants which are difficult for removal companies to move.
The day before:
- Assemble a survival kit of all the ‘must-have’ items you will need when you arrive at your new home, such as the kettle, tea and coffee, breakfast supplies, special children’s toys, phone chargers, school needs, pet requirements, toiletries and a torch or candles;
- Don’t forget to pack essential medication separately for easy access;
- Pack clean bed linen and towels separately so that beds can be made up as soon as possible and everyone can have a shower after a long day;
- Finally, prepare a delicious picnic hamper for a family housewarming dinner with treats for everyone including the kids and pets.
On the day:
- Record the meter readings for water and electricity, preferably by taking a photo with your mobile phone;
- Check all windows are secure and utilities are switched off;
- Make sure you have the survival kit and packed linen in your own vehicle so that you don’t have to search for them on the other side;
- Ensure one person stays until your movers have finished packing to check the packing inventory and ensure that everything is accounted for;
- Move your furniture into the new house first, otherwise you’ll end up moving boxes around again to make room;
- Make sure there are light bulbs – you don’t want to have to go to the shops mid-move or not notice until suddenly it’s too dark.
Roux further suggests: “If possible, consider moving during the week as removal companies are generally busiest over weekends and it may well be cheaper to move on a weekday. Also, get a few quotes before deciding on which company to use as rates vary considerably.”
“While the forward planning and early start on packing up are important, it is essential that you don’t neglect the component that is most vital to a seamless move.” cautions Geffen.
“With the multitude of tasks that need to be completed during a house move, it can seem like there is no time to relax but it is vital that you don’t put yourself last by neglecting your own needs and well-being. Don’t tire yourself out by working through lunch time and late into night and make sure you are getting enough rest and maintaining a balanced diet or you will soon become weary”.
“And when you arrive, don’t try to unpack everything in one day. Give yourself chance to relax and regain your physical and emotional strength. Most of all, enjoy the excitement of your new home and new beginnings.”