So it looks like you’ve finally found your new home. You’ve begun the conveyancing process and you’re starting to think about what lies ahead.
Of course, preparation is key when it comes to moving home. The thought of picking up your new set of keys soon should excite you, not fill you with dread. To make sure your move runs like clockwork, everything goes ahead without a hitch and you settle into the new place as fast and as comfortably as possible; we’ve put together this handy moving house checklist. Simply print our list off, stick it to the fridge and check on it at regular intervals over the coming days and weeks.
Planning ahead: Before exchange of contracts
Though the conveyancing process may be progressing well, nothing’s certain until contracts have been exchanged. This means that your moving date is subject to change, and there’s still a chance the sale or purchase could fall through. Any steps you do choose to take at this point are at your own risk and you should bear in mind that you could be put out of pocket if you were to start booking things.
This limits what you can do at this stage, but you can be planning ahead for when you do complete. The time after you complete will be rather hectic, so having some quotes ready to go and the house in a packing-ready state are the best steps to take.
- Begin decluttering. While you won’t want to start putting your entire life into boxes this early, start being honest with yourselves about some of the things you don’t need. Look for things you’ve never used – Christmas gifts that never came out of the box, or ornaments you’ve fallen out of love with. Take these to a charity shop, sell them online or dispose of anything that’s beyond its useful life.
- Check your holiday availability. With things moving forward, you’ll be thinking about potential moving dates. It’s a good idea to check when you might be able to take some leave, so that when the time does come to set a date you’ll know what works for you. Don’t book anything yet though – until exchange has taken place all dates are subject to change and nothing is set in stone. Still, it’s better your employer knows some last-minute leave may be in the pipeline, so inform whoever you need to and keep them updated.
- Collect quotes from removal firms. The entire process of moving isn’t cheap, so save money where you can. Shop around for a few quotes, check their references and the limits of their insurance. But hold off booking as, until contacts are exchanged, dates are subject to change.
- Check your tenancy agreement – if you’re renting. You need to have your notice period in mind, and it could be anything from one to several months. You shouldn’t give notice until contracts are exchanged otherwise you could be left homeless, but as you’re liable for rent payments for the extent of your notice period, you need to account for any costs you might incur here.
- Shop around for utilities. Moving house is a great opportunity to get a better deal on your gas and electric. Shop around for quotes and use comparison sites to see if you could cut down on your living costs once you get to the new house.
- Start accumulating boxes. So that you’ve got everything you need to start packing soon, get your boxes ready. You can bulk order boxes online, buy them from dedicated storage stores or – to save money – pick them up at a supermarket. Keep popping into local stores and ask what they have that you might be able to use; most will be happy to help. If you’ve picked them up for free, it wouldn’t matter so much if the sale were to fall through – you could just store or dispose of them.
- Look into storage – if you need it. If you’re downsizing and have things you’re not sure what you’ll do with yet, get some quotes from storage facilities in the area. As nothing’s set in stone before you exchange, booking now could leave you out of pocket if the completion date needs to be moved, and you could incur cancellation charges. But it won’t hurt to get an idea of costs and contract details.
- Start planning for the kids or pets to be looked after – If you need to. The last thing you need is the dog or the kids running around your feet on moving day. Now’s the time to ask family and friends if they would be able to take them in for a day or two – leaving you to get on with the task at hand. If you’re looking to use professional services such as childcare or kennelling, hold off booking until you’ve exchanged, but it might be a good idea to see what’s available when, and get a quote or two.
Full steam ahead: After exchange of contracts
Once exchange of contracts has taken place, the sale is confirmed and the moving date set. There’s no standard timeframe you’ll receive between exchange and your moving date, and it may only be a few days.
It can be tempting to get some of these ticked off before you’ve exchanged, but to do so is a risk. You could incur charges if the process end up being delayed, and massively inconvenienced if things fell through.
As soon as possible, notify…
- Your bank. Inform them of your change of address and the date it will be effective from. Let them know of any direct debits or standing orders that will be affected by the move.
- Your existing utility companies. Tell them you’re departing and when. Start to plan for settling the meter readings and bills. You may want to transfer some services where this is possible (such as your broadband and telephone provider) so take steps with them to arrange this now.
- Your employer. If you need it, get your leave booked and confirmed as soon as you can. Hopefully, you’ll have been keeping your employer updated on your move and the request won’t come as a shock. Remember to get your address updated on their records.
- Your landlord – if you’re renting. As you’ll have a notice period to serve, you urgently need to notify your landlord of your intention to leave. You’re free to move out of a rental property anytime you like, but you’ll still be expected to serve your notice period and fulfil any other contractual obligations.
- The DVLA – If you drive. If you have a car, you need to notify the DVLA of your move. You can print a form online and mail it in, or change your details online. This is because it’s an offence to not have your current and correct address on your driving license, so you need to get his amended – but don’t be tempted to do it prematurely.
- Your motor insurance provider – if you drive. To calculate your premium, car insurers take your address into account. As such, if you move and don’t tell them, it could invalidate your insurance. Keep it valid and let them know your new address. It’s vital you don’t do this until after completion, as if you changed the address on your insurance but ended up remaining in your current property, it’d be invalid then too.
- The relevant local authorities. For council tax and electoral registration services, both your new and old local authorities need to know about the move. You mustn’t do this until you’ve completed, otherwise it could interfere with the sellers’ own council tax bill if they’re prematurely given notice of a new occupier.
- TV licensing. When you move, your TV license moves with you. Letting TV licensing know is easy and can be done online in minutes.
- Any subscriptions and services. If you use any mail-order services, have subscriptions, a milkman or a receive a newspaper delivery; get in touch with them to let them know your new address.
As soon as possible, book…
- Your removals company. Now the date is set, get your removals company booked. If you’ve been prepared you should have a few quotes to hand and booking should be quick and easy. Before you book, remember to clarify what their insurance covers and the duration of their service, as some may charge extra after a certain time period.
- Your childcare or kennelling – if you need it. With your moving day confirmed, you can go ahead and book any child or pet care you need. If you’re going to use the help of friends and family, they’ll appreciate you giving them all the notice you possibly can.
- Your storage – if you need it. Once you’ve exchanged you can be sure the move is going ahead. That means it’s time to book storage space for any items you don’t want to bring to the new house or aren’t sure what to do with yet. If you’ve been organised, you should have some quotes ready to go.
- Speak to your conveyancer. Check with them that everything is now in place and they don’t need anything more from you.
- Check your home insurance policy. Make sure your existing policy covers you to moving day and until you’re out of the house. Get an understanding what your contents insurance covers in relation to moving items out of the home and transit. If you’re moving your belongings yourself, consider that you might not be covered for breakages or loss.
- Get packing. Consider what your non-essential items are. Start putting away ornaments, heirlooms – anything you don’t need day-to-day. You could start by emptying out the attic and packaging any loose items up, putting away old DVDs and books, or clothes you won’t be wearing. Decide where you’re going to start stacking things and make space. A back room or locked garage are good choices.As you pack, remember to be labelling your boxes. List on the outside what’s in them, if the contents are fragile, the right way up and what room they need to be in when they arrive at the new house.Remember that you mustn’t simply ‘strip’ your home. Check your Fittings and Contents Form to make sure you’re only taking and leaving items that you’ve notified the buyer of. If you’ve changed your mind about anything, let your conveyancer know immediately.
- Have your mail forwarded. You don’t want to be missing out on any important letters once you lock up your old place for the last time. Set up mail forwarding online with Royal Mail once you know your moving date; they only need five days’ notice. Never do this before completion or your mail could end up through the letter box of a house you’ll never have access to. Also bear in mind that you will be charged a fee for this service.
- Start dismantling furniture. If you’re taking any flat-pack items with you, it may make sense to dismantle them. This can be tricky so don’t leave it until moving day – do it now. Remember to check your Fittings and Contents form to ensure you’re not accidentally taking anything you informed the buyer you’d be leaving. If you’ve changed your mind about any items, inform your conveyancer as soon as you can.
- Start getting the house in order. When you move, you’ll be obliged in the contract to leave your property in a reasonable state – with sufficient lighting and usually with utilities in place. In the run up to your move, consider whether your property will meet this requirement and remedy any issues to ensure that it does.
The day before the move…
- Finalise your moving day plans. Get in touch with your removal company to confirm everything’s going ahead and at what time. It might be a good idea to run through the directions to the new house with them, avoiding any disasters on the day. Double-check the estate agents’ opening hours and make sure they have your mobile number so that they can call you when you can collect keys.
- Speak to your conveyancer. Check that they have your mobile contact details, and consider giving them an alternative number for a friend or relative in the event that you cannot be reached on the day.
- Get enough clean clothes together. You’ll want to be getting together enough clean clothes to get you through the move and last you a few days. You won’t want to be washing while you’re getting set up in your new home. Set these clothes aside and make sure they don’t just get thrown in with all your furniture and boxes.
- Ensure all your important documents are together. It’s easy to lose track of stuff when you’re transporting almost everything you own – especially if they’re A4 sized and easily shoved away somewhere. If you haven’t already, collate important documents in a folder now. This would include things like your new and old home insurance policy documents, your car insurance documents and passports, amongst others.
- Make up a ‘first night box’. Put together everything you’ll need to start unpacking when you arrive, and to spend your first night in your new home. This should include toilet roll, spare light bulbs, tea, coffee, milk, sugar, scissors, toiletries, plates and a few bits of cutlery.
- Pack your overnight bag. You should now be down to only a small, handheld overnight bag. It should contain the next day’s clothes and some basic toiletries. Make sure your phone chargers are in here so you can maintain contact with your conveyancer on the day.
- Do a final check. Look in every cupboard and corner of your home to check everything’s accounted for. Remember to look in the kind of places you might not have thought of for years – the top of cabinets, underneath white goods and so on.
On moving day…
- Make sure all phones are fully charged. You’ll need to be in contact with your conveyancer and the estate agents throughout the day – it’s vital you keep lines of communication open. Make sure you’ve multiple, well-charged phones to be using.
- Have the children and or pets dropped off/collected – if you need to. Bear in mind that it might be best to get your children acquainted with their new home earlier on. They might react to the transition better if they feel they’re a part of the process.
- Greet your removal team. Give them any instructions you may have. Show them which boxes are fragile, what needs to go first, and so on. If you’ve managed to label well as you pack, it’ll make their job much easier and save you time explaining.
- Make a note of your meter readings. Do this for water, electric and gas.
- Lock all windows and doors. Once the final load is ready to go, fully secure the home. Why not leave a welcome note with any useful information?
At the new home…
You’re finally in. The job of truly making the house yours lies in the days and weeks ahead, but there’s some steps to take in the first few hours to make sure you’re all set to stay.
- Check all the services are working and take meter readings. Test your electric, gas and water have been switched on and if not, chase this up with the relevant provider immediately. This information should be on your Property Information Form, filled in by the seller, so try to keep a copy of this to hand. You can’t just assume the previous occupants took and submitted meter readings so always take your own, too.
- Check the removal company have done their job. Fully check the inside of the van yourself to see it’s all been picked up, and glance over essential items for any sign of damage.
- Check everything that should be there, is there. Look over your copy of the seller’s Fittings and Contents Form. Move around the house checking that all items mentioned are present. If anything is missing, any unexpected items have been left or the property is in a poor state, contact your conveyancer for guidance.
- Collect the kids/dog, or invite some friends over. Put the kettle on, crack open the champagne and order a takeaway. Welcome to your new home!
If you are purchasing your first home, take a look at our first time buyers guide, full of handy information on the steps you can expect to take throughout the journey. For more details on the house buying process and the all-important mortgage process, take a look at our useful guides.
Disclaimer: The lists detailed above are only a rough guide to give you some idea of the sequence in which you need to do things. Hopefully, your move will proceed quickly, in which case you will have less time to do these things. It Is important not to commit yourself to any expense until contracts have been exchanged, unless you are confident that the move will go ahead.