I moved house recently.
Just before 7.30am on moving day morning I sent this tweet:
But when the horror started, the last thing I wanted to do was to “live tweet” about it—I was far too busy enduring it.
And I wasn’t able to “live tweet” about it when it ended either, because it has yet to end. Let’s put it this way: despite moving home nearly two months ago I’m writing this post from a Premier Inn in Chingford because our house is essentially uninhabitable at the moment. So you see, the horror endures to this day.
I was going to write a kind of retrospective diary-style post about the whole experience of moving but then I decided that would be too dull.
Instead, there’s a blog post I read just before the day of the move which is titled “13 Killer Moving House Tips”. I’m going to quote each “killer” tip and then talk about it from the perspective of my own move, which I wouldn’t describe as “killer” (although it did nearly kill me).
Be warned, though, it is still pretty dull.
1. MOVE DURING THE WEEK IF POSSIBLE
At first I thought I was on to a winner here, because I was moving on a Friday which is generally regarded in the UK as being “during the week”. But when I read on I found out that Friday was not just part of the weekend but actually the busiest day of the weekend.
…weekends and especially Fridays are the busiest when it comes to moving house.
I wish someone would tell my boss that Friday was part of the weekend.
2. TAKE TIME TO RESEARCH A MOVING COMPANY
Simple searching in Google alone is not enough.
I was on a bus going round Old Street roundabout when I saw a van with the name of a moving company on it. I googled them on my phone and when I found that they had a website, I was sold.
Later on, instead of coming to my flat to quote for the move, the manager found my flat’s “for sale” listing on Zoopla or Rightmove and put together his quote based on the photos our estate agent had taken. Rather than being perturbed by this, I marvelled at his ingenuity. It didn’t occur to either of us at the time that in the estate agent’s photos we had made an effort not to include the big piles of junk we own in each shot.
This led to the first major incident of horror on moving day, when we all realised that there was far too much stuff in the flat to fit into the moving company’s van, and desperate measures had to be taken. So my spin on this tip would be to not just research a moving company, but to make sure the moving company takes time to research you as well.
3. PACK YOUR ITEMS PROPERLY
Take some time off and start to pack as early as possible. 2 months prior to your move, for example.
2 months?? You can imagine how I felt, reading this the day before I moved and having done barely any packing. Well, I’d packed my records and books into boxes and thought I was doing pretty well. Little did I know what a small percentage of the overall mess those records and books comprised.
4. DECLUTTER YOUR HOME
You would be surprised how many items you’ve collected over the years. [Get] rid of the ones you no longer need…
I’m totally sold on the idea of decluttering. In fact I’ve even bought Discardia, a book which is all about the joys of decluttering. I still haven’t read it though.
On the day of the move, however, it became clear that most of my decluttering had involved moving unwanted things into a cavernous floor-to-ceiling storage space in the corridor of our flat as opposed to actually getting rid of them. Increasingly innovative ways of organising the junk had, over the years, resulted in a solid 20-square-metre pillar of dusty old drum machines, Iomega Zip drives and monstrous SCART cables. This tottering tower of detritus was, naturally, not included in the photographs our estate agent uploaded to Zoopla, and the movers felt sad when they discovered its existence.
The point is this: I wish I’d read Discardia.
5. ARRANGE PARKING SPACE
I can be a bit smug about this because it was one of the very few advisable things I’d done ahead of the move.
6. CLEAN BEFORE YOU MOVE OUT
Clean as you pack.
For a few years the flat we lived in always seemed like quite a small and pokey flat, a bit cramped even. Yet it underwent an unexplained and unnatural transformation in the 48 hours before the moving date, expanding telescopically in size like the interior of the Tardis. Hitherto undiscovered vistas opened up before my eyes as I explored this now vast territory with my overworked hoover. The cleaning I thought would be so straightforward once the flat was empty became an insurmountable challenge. Long after the movers had left in their van, I was still roaming the unconquerable carpeted plains of our flat hoovering up dust and coins.
7. DEFROST YOUR FREEZER
I didn’t have to move our freezer and am greatly relieved about that. My advice would be, don’t move your freezer at all. Just leave it where it is. It’s happy there.
8. LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN AT A SITTER DURING THE MOVE
This is another one of the few things about the move which I can look back on and think, “well that wasn’t a completely insane and self-destructive idea”.
For a few days either side of the move our children were hundreds of miles away, in Cornwall. I can only imagine the chaos that would have unfolded if our three-year-old son had been in the mix. My advice to anyone with young kids moving house would be to forget babysitters and get your children as far away from the blast zone as possible, preferably in a different timezone.
9. LET ALL YOUR CLOSE ONES KNOW OF YOUR MOVE
The way I did this was with the above-quoted and by now ironically prophetic tweet. Because all of my “close ones” are looking at Twitter at 7.30 on a Friday morning, obviously.
10. FILL IN CHANGE OF ADDRESS DOCUMENT
It’s lucky for me that the internet exists because I did most of this stuff online the day before I moved, and some of it on the day itself.
11. NOTIFY IMPORTANT INSTITUTIONS
Same as the above.
You might think you’ve got all the aspects of your move covered, but unexpected expenditures can always occur.
Going through a house move is similar to being a financial trader operating in the peak of a wild speculative bubble (or, better, a global economic meltdown) who has chosen to take strong hallucinogens on the way into work. What I mean by that is that your normal relationship to the world of money becomes completely abstracted and the rules of conventional economic logic no longer apply. Huge sums of money will drain from your bank account while you shriek with terrible laughter, utterly unable to comprehend what it means for your finances.
When things calm down later on—and it’ll be much later on—you won’t even be able to calculate the financial damage so it’s best not to try. So yes, it’s good to have extra money.
13. PREPARE A BACK UP PLAN
What if your move takes longer than expected? What if you need to leave some of your items in storage?
This is another great tip. The backup plan I suggest you prepare is quite simple: abandon the move and just stay where you are. I’m sure it’s lovely.