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10 Things to do when you decide to move house

Great decision! Congratulations!! It’s wonderful to have a new adventure as we get older. They say ‘change is as good as a holiday’, but there are a few things to consider so that the ‘excitement levels’ stays relatively high.

Make no mistake, moving house can be a stressful time. You have to leave your current home empty and clean for the new owners, so there is a lot to do. You have to touch EVERYTHING in your home (garage, shed, garden….) and make decisions about whether it comes with you or goes elsewhere. These tips should make life a bit easier as you start this journey. Good luck!

1. Start Early!

Even when you think you are starting early enough, you may not be! I cannot overstate this. When I moved my Mum into retirement accommodation, we had 7 weeks to prepare and move. It wasn’t enough and we often felt rushed. If you have the opportunity, take your time. Ideally, I’d suggest a 3-6 months timeline to ensure a thorough and smooth transition. It does depend on how long you have been in the one location and the number of possessions you have, but the more time you have to sort through things the better your experience will be. If you have any influence on your ageing family, encourage them to take a realistic look at their belongings now and start to ‘rightsize’ for their age and lifestyle while they still have the energy and motivation to do so.

2. Create a timeline

It’s surprising how quickly time vanishes when you are working to a deadline! Careful planning is needed or you may find yourself ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ madly moving last-minute stuff into a truck on the day before settlement and key handover. There is so much to do when one sells a property and moves into another. Start with the end date in mind and work backwards. Write down everything that you need to do before moving out, decisions to be made about what to take with you, what you are not taking, how you are getting rid of these items, removalist and packers to be booked, utilities to be stopped and reconnected, mail redirection, etc. Consider how it will all fit together and when things need to be completed or booked. Grab a large calendar, diary or print out pages of a calendar to use as your timeline and start to add details between today and your move day/settlement day. Don’t be caught short.

3. Start with the easy stuff, the ‘rubbish’

Grab some large rubbish bags and do a round of the house, garage, garden and shed. Place anything that looks like rubbish into the bags and get rid of it. Apart from the obvious rubbish, look for chipped and cracked homewares, torn clothing, stained linen, etc. You will be surprised at the amount of ‘rubbish’ you find and can dispose of very easily before you even start making decisions about the other items in the home. Be ruthless, you won’t be sorry.

4. Write a list of the items you cannot live without, then declutter, declutter, declutter!

Work out your non-negotiables, the pieces and possessions you love, and cannot live without and hope the larger pieces fit into their new environment (we’ll work on that next!). Deciding on what must come with you will assist in making decisions about the things that didn’t make the list. When downsizing, we can’t take everything with us and it’s often difficult to make decisions about our worldly possessions. If you focus on the non-negotiables, it may be easier to let go or make decisions about the rest. Be realistic about the things you will need in your new home vs the things you will not when looking through your stuff. A professional organiser could be your greatest asset at this stage.

5. Obtain floor plans for your new residence and be realistic

Empty spaces can be deceiving and often look much larger without furniture. Less is often more when decorating, and space can quickly look overcrowded. Take the time to measure the room’s dimensions, lengths of walls, and where the windows and doors are and do the same for your furniture. If you prefer a visual approach, use butcher paper to mark out your furniture and place it around your new home to better gauge what the new space will look like with furniture. Storage space in the kitchen, bathroom and wardrobes are other areas that may have less room to utilise than you think. Ultimately, it is easier to take out smaller items than larger pieces of furniture.

6. Who gets what? The great divide

Deciding how to dispose of unwanted items can be one of the headaches associated with moving. Family dynamics can get interesting during this phase. Having honest conversations about your possessions with other family members may solve some of the issues related to finding homes for unwanted pieces. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. If someone wants something that isn’t needed any longer, then give it to them and ask them to take it with them sooner rather than later. Out of sight is out of mind and one less thing to worry about. Donating items to charity is a great option for everyday items. Selling higher-end items is an option and there are many solutions available. Consider all your options to ensure a smooth transition with this particular aspect.

7. Seek advice from an expert when it comes to antiques, art and sentimental items

There are many solutions available to us when it comes to items that hold a special place in our hearts or are worth a significant amount. Art and antique dealers are best placed to assist with an art collection and antique furniture. Professional organisers are adept at providing solutions for those sentimental items. We often need encouragement to realise that one special item and memory can be enough to remember a significant person or event. Family and friends may be able to suggest experts in these fields. Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree (Australia) are great sites if you have the time and expertise.

8. Transport your valuables and essentials yourself

Have several small boxes put aside for your valuables including your jewellery, important documents and medications. It is best to keep valuables with you at all times and minimise the number of people who come into contact with them for safety and security reasons. Be prepared and ensure your scripts of essential medications are filled in advance.

Create and label an OPEN FIRST box that has the things you need for your first night at your new location, mainly for your bedroom, bathroom and kitchen: sheets, towels, pillows, toothbrush, address book, keys, plates and utensils, toilet paper etc.

9. Label your boxes appropriately

To reduce confusion at your new location and to make life easier for all, ensure all boxes are marked or colour coded according to their location in the house and basic contents in the box. Eg.-kitchen appliances, kitchen glasses, formal room dinnerware, socks and jocks, study stationery, books, etc. This will provide great guidance to the removalists so they allocate boxes to the most appropriate rooms and you’ll know which boxes are the most important to open first. Also, remember to use butcher paper rather than newspaper when wrapping items. Print comes off newspaper easily and may result in having to wash items at the other end. Newspaper may be considered cheap, but it will cost someone at the other end.

10. Move earlier than your settlement date (if possible)

My last tip and possibly the best one- If you can move out of your old home days or weeks earlier than settlement, the clean-up and remaining tasks will be so much easier. I know we might not all have that luxury, but if at all possible, try to arrange it. When you have a clear house it is so much easier to see what needs to be done before finally closing that door for the last time.

Empty new apartment interior

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