How to Pack and prepare to move house

August 14, 2022

Moving house doesn’t have to be a headache. Follow this step-by-step guide to make that big day stress-free.

1. Declutter belongings

When moving house, the last thing anyone wants to do is pay someone else to move items that would end up being thrown away once the move has finished. Therefore, having a thorough sort out at least two weeks before the move is the best way to go about this.

Make sure to clear items from everywhere – up in the loft, under the stairwell, spare bedrooms and offices, outbuildings and the garden shed. It can often be a big shock to discover just how many hidden items there laying around and how many things have accumulated over the years. As a result, anyone will be happy this action was taken ahead of time.

2. Think about what will go where

Imagine the layout your new home and think about how the space will actually be used for placing the furniture.

The previous owner should have provided the buyer with a document detailing the dimensions of each room. From here you can work out what will fit where, and what there isn’t enough space for. Therefore, if there isn’t enough space for what you have, sell it, give it away or take it to the dump without haste. In the end you will save yourself from unwanted mental stress. 

It’s always a good idea to check out the new property before moving. This will give you an opportunity to double-check the measurements and see with your own eyes, whether there’s room for your floor rugs, sofas, washing machine, etc. 

Another good idea is to check out where your electrical hookups are, and where your main water valves are. The least thing anyone needs during a power outage or water leak is to be scrambling about trying to figure out where they can cut off the source.

The sooner this task has begun, the better. In addition, the longer you’ll have to try and get rid of unwanted belongings for a reasonable sale, rather than subjecting oneself to simply giving valuable items away because they’re in desperation to get rid of them before the big day. Or, simply trying to get the lights or water on or off. 

3. Decide if a removals company is necessary.

Let’s say you live in a ground-floor, one-bedroom apartment with minimal possessions. In this scenario you could hire a van, get a couple of friends to help out and move yourself on the day. This could cost as little as £100 more or less. Or, maybe a bit more depending on how much pizza your friends are hungry for.

If you’re moving by yourself, book the largest van available (bearing in mind that it’s possible to drive a van up to 3.5 tonnes with a standard driver’s licence). Ask for a van with a low kerb height or a let-down tailboard to allow for easy loading and unloading. 

Remember that several journeys will likely be necessary, including a final one to return the van. Therefore, this option using a van by yourself is only practical for moves over a fairly short distance. 

If there are more than four rooms to clear out and move, there’s probably too much to do for one person. Consider how many possessions there are. Now imagine having to pick up each one of them, carry it across a makeshift obstacle course (including stairs and even extension cables) and put it down without breaking your back – and all to a tight timeline.

removals company can take care of the mental and physical stress of loading and unloading to a 12pm deadline on moving day. 

When deciding to use a removals company, start looking into who to use early on in the move so there is sufficient time to get competitive quotes. 

4. Identify your valuables and fragile belongings

While most of anyone’s belongings can go straight into the packing boxes, you’ll want to take special care of any items that are fragile. 

It’s always a good idea to pack these items first, separately from the rest of your belongings. Wrap up anything fragile in bubble wrap, twisted packing paper or extra packaging, then be sure to label these boxes as fragile. 

Whenever possible, transport these items personally in your car, rather than in the rental or moving van.

This also holds true for anything that’s not fragile, but still valuable. The removal company’s insurance may not always cover the items over a certain value (even if they pack these items for you). Therefore, move anything that’s especially expensive or sentimental in your own vehicle is always best practice.

5. Start packing your boxes

There are some simple packing tips that can be done to make packing, as well as moving and unpacking, easier for yourself and others:

  • Buying quality packing materials and sufficient quantities. This includes plenty of boxes, bubble wrap and proper packing paper or cloth.
  • Be sure to put layers of crumpled paper or protective material between each fragile item to prevent scratches or dents.
  • Never overpack boxes. 
  • Spread out heavy items evenly within boxes and between boxes.
  • Label each box with the contents and indicate which is the right way up with an arrow.

If this sounds like it’s not your cup of tea, getting a removals company to pack your belongings can add surprisingly little to the cost of the move. Hiring a removals company means that your items are insured against breakage and they will be packed by specialists who have been trained pack valuables efficiently and carefully. 

There’s also the option of going the whole hog and having them unpack for you, too!

It generally takes professional removal companies between half a day and two days work to pack up items for a move (depending on how much you have), and a day or two more to deliver them depending on distance. 

6. Provide notice of your move

Before moving house, you’ll need to let the utilities providers know that you’re changing address. The same is true for your banks, insurance companies, hospitals and any other organisations you are formally apart of.

It’s not too late to notify your electric, gas or water company on moving day, however it’s certainly best to do it ahead of time. A quick phone call can arrange an appointment to have the proper official available on an appropriate day. 

For a full list of who should be contacted, please see our moving house checklist.