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Moving 101: A Week-by-Week Guide to Moving Out of Your Old Home

This guide is your weekly checklist to make your big house move even easier

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By House & Garden | January 23, 2024 | Diy

As our editor-at-large, Liz Elliot, once wrote in a house story, “Only divorce or death are thought to be more stressful than moving house. Most of us emerge exhausted, swearing that we shall never go through that again – until the next time, of course.” Some people claim they love it but most of us, quite understandably, find the whole ordeal stressful and manic, no matter how organised we think we are. It's one of those life events that puts our routines into disarray and forces us to live in semi-chaos for days (or weeks) at a time.

However, help is at hand in the form of a checklist that will keep your house, mind and family in order as much as possible as you navigate these choppy waters. Below, you'll find a list of all the things you need to do, stretching back as much as two months before the move date. Print it out, stick it on the fridge and check items off one-by-one until you finally reach the big day, smug in the knowledge that you sailed through it with ease.

Two months before

Declutter! There is nothing quite like moving house to force you to take stock of what you own, what you really don't need or use and what therefore does not need to move houses with you. We have a comprehensive guide on how to declutter room-by-room that can be your bible.

Image: Kensington Leverne.

Choose a mover and book them – if you know your move – or get in touch to keep some slots pencilled in for the likely time. Look at a range of companies, read reviews, get prices and find out their flexibility in case completion dates (when buying a house) have to fluctuate. If in doubt, always go with a recommendation from a friend.

Get insurance in place for the move if you have any valuables and, for those with high value art, book specialist art movers.

Take stock of what you might want to move yourself – any sentimental or precious items – and make a list so you don't pack them later down the line.

If you're moving area, notify gyms, schools, nurseries and the like of your plans and give them the date.

Contact new schools and nurseries to get a place set for your children, if you haven't already.

Six weeks before

Make travel arrangements for the move, if it's to a new area.

Get your medical records from the GP and dentist and research new practices where you're moving to. Once you find one that suits, see if you can already enrol as a patient so it's done when you arrive.

This London house is invisible from the bustling street, behind a door framed by a distinctive classical stone portal. Photo by Edvinas Bruzas.

One month before

Let your gas and electricity suppliers know you're moving and what your final date in the house will be.

Similarly, see if you can set up new suppliers for the next house.

If you are packing your own house, order boxes, tape and other necessities. If your movers offer a packing service, you can ignore this.

Three weeks before

Start the packing process for any items you won't need for the next few weeks – coats and jumpers if it's summer, summer clothes if it's winter, books and so on. You can leave this until two weeks before if you'd rather have less time living amongst boxes.

Brand new home in the Fresnaye suburb of Cape Town, South Africa.

One week before

The real packing begins – it's time to get organised and start putting everything in boxes. Pack it up by room and label each box by room and type of items (Eg ‘kitchen – spice cupboard’ or ‘bedroom – bedding’) so it's easier to unpack at the other end. Put aside clean bedding for every bed to take with you in a separate box labelled ‘priority’ so that you can get the beds made as soon as possible when you arrive.

Get cash for tipping your movers.

Reconfirm all the details with your movers – pick up address, time, address of the new house and number of boxes or rooms to pack up.

Change your address on any subscriptions and remaining bills.

Deep clean rugs, curtains and other soft furnishings so they're fresh for the new house.

Once you're at your new house and the process is done, pour a glass of wine, order a takeaway and relax. Photography by Nicole Franzen.

Put aside things you plan to take with you – suitcases of clothes, Christmas ornaments (if yours are sentimental and irreplaceable then we definitely recommend taking them with you), toiletries and the like.

Send out change of address cards or messages to friends and family

Moving day

Pack the items you haven't been able to yet and again, label them by room and item but add ‘priority’ to the box so that you know to unpack them first. Essential in such a box is the kettle, teabags and mugs so that everyone has easy access to a cup of tea during the unpacking process.

Put any items you plan to move yourself into the car so they don't get caught up in the rush.

Do an inventory check with the movers, alert them to heavy or fragile items and make sure priority boxes are noted too so they're easy to get at the other end.

Do a final walk through once it's all packed, turn off any lights, plugs or appliances, check for anything left behind, lock the doors and windows and be on your way.

Once you're at your new house and the process is done, pour a glass of wine, order a takeaway and relax.

This story originally appeared on House & Garden UK.