How to move house without losing your mind

17 Jul

In the last 10 years I’ve moved house 9 times. It feels to me like that’s rather a lot and I’ve managed to pick up a few handy tips and tricks in the course of my travels so thought it might be useful to share. I think you can apply these ideas to almost any relocation to help you feel – if not less stressed – a little more in control.

7 tips for moving house Decorator's Notebook blog{Decorator’s Notebook}


In the mid 1950s a chap called Cyril Northcote Parkinson published an essay in The Economist about efficiency… or more specifically, inefficiency. He based his argument on the old adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” and the theory became known as Parkinson’s Law. Anyone who’s ever done anything to a deadline will know this is almost always turns out to be true… give yourself 24 hours to pack up your home and you’ll probably manage, but that’s not to say you’ll be able to find anything at the other end. Give yourself a good few days to pack and a couple more to clean before you move.


Until my most recent move I’ve always begged old Doritos boxes from Sainsbury’s for my packing. If you’re moving into your new place straight away that can be fine, but I knew the majority of my stuff was going into storage and irregular shaped boxes that don’t stack are much less cost effective in the long run. So, I bought boxes from a local removal firm (even if you’re not using them to move they’ll usually sell boxes) – a greater number of smaller boxes is best because you’ll resist the temptation to make them too heavy and they’re an easier shape to carry. I spent about £25 on boxes but if I’d got my act together I’m sure I could’ve sourced secondhand ones on local forums or Freecycle. Alternatively, most removal firms sell ‘once used’ boxes at a discounted price. Start hoarding newspapers and bubble wrap as soon as you know you’re moving… for some reason bubble wrap is very pricey to buy.


My top moving tip is to get down to your local pound shop and pick up some of those big tartan laundry bags. If you don’t know what I mean, check out your local launderette (or tune into Eastenders). These are perfect for packing duvets, pillows and even clothes because they hold their shape, you can cram loads into them and they zip closed. Plus, if they’re packed full you can stack them up and there’s a bit of give in them to cram them into awkward corners of your van.


Spending a few quid on decent labelling kit will save you time in the long run. I buy coloured index cards which are large enough to list all the items packed in each box and can be used as colour coding for the room destination at the other end. For bags I punch a hole in the top and turn them into luggage tags that can be tied onto the handles. Don’t skimp on cheap parcel tape (you really do get what you pay for) and buy a sellotape dispenser which will allow you to bubble wrap with one hand and tape with the other. Lastly, arm yourself with a biro and a big fat marker pen.


Try and get the house you’re leaving cleaned to the point where you only need to do a last vacuum once the boxes and furniture have gone. Deep cleaning (especially the fridge and oven) always takes longer than you think so leave plenty of time. I recommend these extra products* on top of your usual ones for a moving-out clean:

Kilrock Thick Descaler Gel: the only thing I’ve found that completely removes that awful London limescale around the base of taps / plugholes

Dettol Mould and Mildew Remover: gets rid of stains on bathroom grout / sealant without scrubbing. This stuff will burn through your clothes if you spill it and skin won’t stand a chance so always wear gloves

Lakeland Magic Oven Liner: a preventative measure to make the horrible job of cleaning the oven less painful. When you do, I’ve found Mr Muscle Foam up to the task

* moving home is no place for eco-friendly cleaning fluids or elbow grease in my view and these chemicals don’t mess about – be warned and open the window!


You’ve probably been planning how you’ll use each room in your new home for months, but remember that when they’re empty, which one you intend to use as your guest bedroom / playroom / home office won’t be obvious to your removal guys / helpers. When you arrive at your new place, blu-tack signs to the door of each room corresponding with the labels on your boxes. This way everyone can work out where boxes go themselves and you don’t need to orchestrate everything. Consider labelling your furniture in the same way too.


It’s easy to forget those final essentials when you’re tired and desperate to get on the road. Make a list of your last-minute tasks and stick it on the front door so you don’t forget. Reading your meters, dropping keys to the estate agent, turning off the fridge/ boiler and leaving your forwarding address for the new owner should all be on this list.

If you’re moving… good luck!

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4 Responses to “How to move house without losing your mind”

  1. Rebecca March 20, 2014 at 08:05 #

    This is so fantastic! Thank you thank you!

  2. Susan August 20, 2013 at 12:44 #

    Biggest tip I have learned DO NOR MOVE JUNK! If you have not used,looked at something in the last 6 months, out it goes! keep it simple, makes life easier.


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