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Our Moving Day - a First Time Buyers Case Study!

We moved into our house on completion day. There was a valid argument for waiting, hiring a wallpaper stripper and getting a new carpet in the dining and living rooms, but the arguments against this were stronger. Firstly, family and friends were available that day to help in the flitting. Most of my boyfriend’s possessions were 120 miles away at his parents’ house, so we had to tie in with when they were available to bring it all over. Secondly, having squeezed into a house with my mother for three years, we were keen to give them their space back and get in to our own home as soon as possible. Redecoration would have to wait.

Removals van
Removals van

The benefit of this “all at once” approach to Completion and moving in was that it allowed us to just go with the chaos of the day. There is always a certain amount of commotion and tumult associated with a house move. You don’t know where anything is, items go missing and your attention is abruptly drawn to aspects of the property you didn’t spot on the first, second or third viewing (hello, large crack in the kitchen ceiling…). I think we did just as well to make the most of the upheaval and merge everything from our two households at the same time, with a coordinated approach and a lot of help from family and friends!

Below is an outline of the sequence of events leading up the day and the move itself, the parts everyone played and what we learned in the process.


Moving with a car
Moving with a car

Get help

We were fortunate to have huge help from my boyfriend’s parents in advance of, and throughout, the day. We had seven days notice between exchange and completion, in which to pack up our respective households and organise the move. We also drafted in help from a good friend. It turned out he was going to be moving locally within a month or so of us, so we would go on to repay the favour.

Have a clear out

This sounds obvious, but it made a huge difference to our moving experience. Whilst my boyfriend didn’t have the luxury of time off work or easy access to all of his possessions before the move, I did. Clothes that no longer fitted and/or were unlikely to ever be worn again all went to a local branch of H&M offering £5 off a future purchase for every bag of clothing recycled. My son’s superfluous clothes, school shoes and rugby boots went to friends and family with younger children. I went through each folder of paperwork I held and destroyed those that were no longer relevant: Tax Credits and car insurance certificates from years ago, old tenancy agreements, P45s, P60s and optical prescriptions. There was no point in holding on to any of these, so it was an ideal opportunity to lighten the load for the move.

Moving boxes
Moving boxes

Get stuff in boxes

In the week leading up to moving day, we put small items, books and appliances in boxes ready to go. Labelling up boxes as we went made unpacking much easier later. We left the disassembly of bigger items of furniture until the last minute. Over a hundred miles away, my boyfriend’s parents loaded countless boxes of his stuff and furniture (including a beautifully restored chest, dining table and chairs, vintage sofa and chairs that had been lovingly kept aside, several chests of drawers and a single bed) into a rental van [Photo B].

The big day!

On the morning of the move, my boyfriend’s parents set off in the fully loaded rental van, ready for the two to three hour drive to our new home.

Our friend arrived first thing to help my boyfriend in dismantling large items of furniture. My son’s cabin bed, complete with integrated wardrobe and desk, our wardrobe and each of our desks were all flat packed. My son got involved in unscrewing bolts in hard to reach places . As each item was dismantled, we moved the pieces downstairs, so they were ready to load into the van later. Each of our cars was then packed to the brim with boxes

This proved a good use of the time that morning. Firstly, we needed another strong pair of hands on the job as the furniture was all heavy stuff; my boyfriend and I would have struggled to manage it ourselves. During this time, my boyfriend’s parents were journeying across the country in a rented van, full of his possessions, so we weren’t twiddling our thumbs in waiting for them to arrive. Lastly, it was the most useful thing we could’ve done whilst waiting for the keys to be released. We had been warned that, as Friday is busy day for completions, solicitors can take some time to transfer the mortgage advance to the sellers and we were prepared to wait until early afternoon for the keys. As it happened, we got the call from the estate agents at 11.30am, shortly after my boyfriend’s parents arrived in the van and we had finished disassembling the furniture. I headed in to collect the keys, whilst everyone else descended on the new house.

Moving house
Moving house

Pictures for posterity

We knew it’d likely be a while before we saw the house empty again, so took the opportunity to take some photos!

Find a central space for boxes

Once we had the keys, the boys unloaded the van. Furniture like sofas, tables and chairs and chests of drawers were placed in the appropriate rooms. Boxes were all put in the dining room, most central in the house. Whilst this looked like an unruly heap, we could begin to sort these into their rooms later. We had to maximise the time in which family and friends were available to help move everything into the house, rather than sorting it out.

Take a break

While time was of the essence, it was important to stop for a break. Always superbly organised, my boyfriend’s mother had packed a picnic lunch complete with cutlery, cups and plates. In this way, no time was wasted in trying to locate boxes of crockery and cutlery or ‘popping to the shops’, and everyone was refuelled with a filling and nutritious meal, ready to continue the task at hand.

Assembling beds
Assembling beds

It’s not all about heavy lifting

Not everybody could get involved in this, so we found other ways to be useful whilst the heavy lifters went to my mother’s house to load up the van with our furniture, fridge freezer and items too big for boxes:

I) The outdoors

My boyfriend’s mother came prepared with equipment to tend to the garden. After a couple of months without tenants and amid a heatwave, it needed attention!

II) Cleaning

Although the previous owner had done a good job in cleaning the property, discrete areas under the kitchen cupboards, in the gaps for kitchen appliances and bathroom needed a good clean. I tackled these, ready for the delivery of our new washing machine and dishwasher during the afternoon. When checking these areas, our friend spotted a missing attachment needed to plumb in a dishwasher and popped to the local hardware store to get it for us. He also used his carpet cleaner to go over the carpets upstairs (beds and chests of drawers were kept in the third bedroom, with tiled flooring, until they had dried). At the end of the day he even went over our fabric sofa. It was a bonus to have a clean start in our new house!

III) Unpacking

My boyfriend’s mum unpacked the kitchen boxes for us. This proved most useful in making strong coffees and a restorative breakfast the following morning!

IV) Taking deliveries

As mentioned, my boyfriend had arranged for white goods and our new bed to be delivered on the day.  It was a huge help to have people available at the house to take the deliveries whilst the rental van was being loaded at my mother’s house across town.

Take another break

With two van loads of stuff loaded and unloaded from my mother’s house, washing machine and dishwasher installed and bed frame unpacked, it was time for another break. We had to keep the fridge freezer switched off for 24 hours after moving it, so we got a take away from the local fish and chip shop. Much needed after a hectic day!

 Assemble the essentials (beds)

My boyfriend’s parents had to get on the road again to return the van.  After saying goodbye to them we got on with one last task: re-building my son’s cabin bed. This was the final hurdle between ourselves and sleep. IKEA have made their assembly manuals available online, so after accessing these via smartphone, it took the three remaining adults and hour and three quarters to put it together.

We finished the day with a warm beer sitting on patio. Having packed a rucksack with wash bags and clothes for the following day, we could start our unpacking feeling fresh. In the weeks that followed, we picked through the boxes and gradually found a place for everything.