I’m sitting here with a stress headache and feel completely under qualified to write a post about how to minimise moving house stress.
I’m so damn tired and have ONCE AGAIN spent the morning listening to annoying on-hold music while ONCE AGAIN trying to get internet* connected at our new house – a relocation order that was supposedly put in place in November. But wasn’t.
I may have cried.
I did cry.
I’m highly emotional at the best of times but the frustration of not having this pre-organised part of our move sorted and up and running is tipping me over into emotional La-La Land.
Everyone tells you that the stress of moving house is up there with death and divorce.
I know this is so because I’ve done it before. But it still hits you all the same … because you wrongly think that surely that can’t be the case.
We have not sold our Sunshine Coast house (new tenants moved in yesterday) and we are renting in Brisbane. It’s a formula that works for us right now. We get to live where we want to live in the city and not lose out on our Coast property investment (the property market in our area is lower than when we bought six years ago).
Anyhoo, a lovely reader thought I might have some tips on how to stay sane when moving house, so I thought I’d give it a red hot go and also share some pics of our new house.
Before you start packing
1. Prepare yourself mentally as best you can. For me that meant not allowing one box to be packed until the day after the Boxing Day. We effectively gave ourselves two days off to just enjoy Christmas and family. Then it was on! Even after day one I was really glad I put my foot down on this one. Being surrounded by chaos is not fun.
2. Organise logistics as much as possible in advance. We were fortunate to secure our Brisbane house in November and have a set moving in date in January. We then allowed a week at our previous home before tenants moved in for us to get some extra work done there. This gave us greater flexibility and time to prepare and organise essentials associated with the move – the removalists, packers, insurance changes, Springfree trampoline (they offer a pack down and re-assemble service that’s very much worth the $), electricity and phone internet. All except the latter happened as organised.
3. Moving is not cheap. Work out your budget for what you can afford in the way of help with a moving company. We chose ab fab – The Stress Free Movers – and they proved to be everything that their business name promises. From the initial phone call, booking and deposit to loading and unloading of the truck, everything was professionally handled. Much as we would have loved for the entire house to be packed by them, we opted for a compromise and chose to have my office and the kitchen packed by one of their team two days before our move. At $17.50 a box (box included) this was also money well spent as it meant on this particular day we could tackle other areas of the house.
Packing up your old house
4. Cull as you go. I’m ruthless. Mr SY not so. He managed to sneak a few things down here that were definitely bound for Vinnies up the Coast. Despite this, we collectively cut back a lot. I try to do the cull process regularly but there is nothing like the promise of a fresh start to really make you think about what you need and use. If in doubt, chuck it out. Blunt but true.
5. Organise as you go. Not only did I cull as I packed, I thought about how I was packing each box. I compartmentalised each room and labelled with plenty of detail so at the other end it landed exactly where it needed to be unpacked. This little bit of extra time and thought saves considerable time when unpacking.
6. Pack everything in packing boxes. Yes, it means outlaying for said boxes but it makes a huge difference to how the removalists are able to efficiently pack the truck. This efficiency saves you money when you are being moved on an hourly rate. It also means you are less likely to have breakages. We sourced our boxes from Gumtree (expect to pay about half new price for used boxes), The Moving Box Company (can highly recommend the wardrobe boxes for keeping your clothes uncrushed and the ease of simply moving them from your wardrobe to the box and back to your new wardrobe on arrival) and extras as required from a storage facility around the corner from our old home. Ab Fab bought back all our boxes at the end. On that note, only write on the packing tape if you’re wanting to re-sell.
7. Pack kitchen essentials and fresh linen for all beds separately. Being able to make a coffee that first morning and sleep on fresh sheets that first night can make all the difference to your stress levels – well mine anyway. It’s the little things that get you through those days at the other end. Make it easy on yourself and carry these with you in your car or in a clearly marked box if going on the truck.
8. Book cleaners to come in the day after you move. There was no way either of us were going back to clean after spending a week packing with the prospect of another week unpacking. We booked the house for a “bond” clean well in advance. Ask around for recommendations. The agency handling our rental property was able to recommend their preferred cleaners. This also gave us peace of mind as they would be familiar with cleaning the house to that agency’s standard.
Unpacking at your new house
9. Construct and make beds first. Remember that box of fresh linen? The first job at the new house – I think – should be to get the beds constructed and made. That way you can collapse into them later that night without a further thought.
10. Get the fridge switched on and the wine chilled. The fridge took a while to come out of the truck but 30 minutes after it did (the gas needs to settle), I switched that baby on. As soon as it was cold the champagne went in. By 6pm it was cracked and enjoyed with a friend who arrived with more. Good friends arriving with champagne should always be made to feel welcome.
11. Order takeaway for as many nights as it takes. This comes down to a budget and availability thing but thankfully we’ve moved extremely close to all manner of takeaway options, of which we availed ourselves while the kitchen – and our culinary brains – were in a state of distress. Didn’t feel guilty about this at all and found some great places we’ll order from again in the future. Also grateful to friend, almost neighbour and fellow blogger Mother Down Under, who sneakily dropped some home made muffins on our door step.
12. On day one or two create one zone as a chaos-free zone. My mind works better when things are ordered (those who know me well will not be surprised and not find this revealing at all). Unpacking is chaotic. But it can be ordered chaos. I wanted to get the living/dining area sorted as soon as possible … to have one area in the home that was free of boxes. Somewhere to sit and take a break. Once that was done, the kitchen was next – always a huge task as you’re working with the same stuff you had before but different space in which to fit it.
13. Work methodically, unpacking room by room. With the kitchen and living rooms done, we worked room by room to get the rest finished. Mr SY also did two trips back up the Coast to sort stuff with the house and he delighted in allocating a day dedicated to a serious dump run. Yes, we culled more as we unpacked and discovered storage that we didn’t previously have and found that we needed extra kinds of storage that we had never needed until now. This may or may not have resulted in a couple of expeditions to IKEA, resulting in more cardboard, more construction and a very happy me with the office/lady room of my dreams (more on that next week – am waiting on one more crucial piece of furniture before the big reveal).
14. Realise that you are going to be completely whacked at the end of it and that 8pm will seem like midnight. My eyes are fuzzy, my head sore and my whole body is screaming at me: ENOUGH. It is mentally and physically hard work but we’re here. We’re in and we love our new home.
15. Get out and explore your new ‘hood. Such was my overwhelming intent to get settled, I didn’t leave the house for four days. Crazy, yes? When I did emerge it was for dinner with old friends and the next day I vowed that a walk in our new community and a celebratory and much-needed mani/pedi was in order. It felt good. I realised I needed to get out to feel more settled when in. Was also comforting to get good recommendations for where to buy fruit and veg and meat from my brother who lives up the road.
Our new routine is slowly evolving.
Mr SY went back to work yesterday and was home to cook dinner last night. And that’s something I’m very much happy to adjust to.
The next big step is school starting (two weeks tomorrow). I’m grateful that I’ve been able to have this time to feel settled before helping Master SY cross that bridge.
I know many of you out there have done bigger moves than ours – and more often. In the interests of a SY community service, please do share your moving house tips in the comments below.
*I do have one of those mobile 4G wi-fi thingies unfortunately it’s not so reliable as the 4G coverage is not so strong here. Think dial-up without the tone.