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Moving House Survival Guide

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by Courtney Symes (subscribe)
Courtney is a freelance fashion, art and design writer and content creator for - an online boutique specialising in quality gifts for men. Read more of Courtney’s work at
Published January 10th 2011
If you were asked to name your ten favourite weekend activities, chances are they wouldn't include moving house. Moving is unfortunately a necessary occurrence that is impossible to avoid and usually gobbles up the best part of a weekend or two.

There are two ways of moving: getting the professionals in to pack, wrap, move and unpack at the other end whilst you get out of town for the weekend, or as most mere mortals will experience at some point throughout their lives, doing the whole thing yourself.

Moving eight years worth of junk back to Australia from the UK made me feel like a qualified 'moving expert'. Once in Melbourne, we purchased our dream apartment round the corner from the place we were renting and I was filled with confidence that moving would be a doddle. How wrong I could be. Although we had time to prepare, a poor choice of removal companies, as well as not asking the right questions left us with damaged furniture and an extensive repair bill for our new apartment block.

The removalist you choose can make (or in my experience, break) the whole encounter. Anyone that comes recommended is always good, but more importantly consider what type of move they have been recommended for. Although a direct house-to-house move is quite straight forward, have they ever done an apartment-to-apartment move where they might need to negotiate a lift, stairs, etc? Where possible, get the removalist to come to your current residence and quote based on how many items you have, as well as accessibility in and out of your building. This way they can ensure they allow enough time and resources. Don't be put off by a more expensive service, sometimes you do get what you pay for. Often moving on a weekday is also cheaper (and easier to book) than a weekend, so keep an open mind about taking a day off work.

Apartment moves are an interesting type of move. More often than not, Building Managers want to know who is coming and going and when. This is not only so they can work out who has damaged the building when random chips in the wall appear, but often so they can organise a lift for you. Many buildings have a 'goods lift' or a lift they can lock off and pad out with blankets to protect the lift and your furniture. This needs to be organised well in advance of your move as many buildings will only allow you to book the lift for several hours a day to avoid disruption to other residents.

The best place to start a move is with an action list of all the things you need to do before the big day. Whilst "packing" is an obvious action point, but there are quite a few tasks that will need to be taken care of sooner rather than later. Once you have confirmed your move date, make a list of all the addresses you need to change. Have a look through your files to pinpoint what you currently receive in the post. Use this as an opportunity to opt for online billing so you don't have to worry going forward. Obvious address changes are bank details, driver's license, magazine subscriptions and insurance policies. Less obvious ones are superannuation, travel clubs/programs (i.e. Qantas Frequent Flyer statements) store cards, dentist, doctor and anything else you don't receive on a regular/monthly basis.

Packing is a task best started early to avoid the last minute tossing of everything into boxes, which is when things are bound to get broken. Start with things that you can do without for a while such as books or summer/winter clothing. Treat this as an opportunity to also clear out stuff that you no longer use. Try on old clothing to make sure it still fits and consider how many sets of sheets and towels you really need – local charities will appreciate your donations! Car boot sales, markets and garage sales are also a great way of off-loading junk.

Ensure that you have some good quality moving boxes. Thick cardboard is essential to protect your possessions and also try to get the right moving size so they all stack neatly on top of each other. If this is not possible, opt for smaller boxes for books and larger boxes for clothing and lighter items – this will protect your back in the long run. Try to source a small trolley from your building or a hardware store to load boxes onto to move, this will also protect you from straining yourself.

Check what your removalists will be bringing to protect the furniture with – cardboard or blankets, and how many? Precious furniture can be destroyed in seconds when it is accidentally scratched or dragged. If you are concerned, wrap vulnerable items in sheets of cardboard and bubble wrap for extra peace of mind. Depending on how far you are moving, how much you have to move and how much time the removalists have, it might be worth moving as many smaller items and boxes as you can beforehand. This will save time for the larger pieces of furniture you don't want moved in a rush and damaged.

Look on the bright side:
A change is better than a holiday – moving home is like starting a new chapter of your life.
You have an opportunity to clear out stuff you've had for way too long
Reward yourself with a nice meal (either at home or try out a new local restaurant) when all the hard work is done.
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Why? because sometimes you don't have a choice
When: anytime you have mustered enough energy (and mates to help)
Where: anywhere you can buy or rent a place
Cost: more than you expect
There are a few great companies who will pack your things for you. They do brilliantly and even if you cant afford to use them, go into their office and grab one of their brochures, they show how to pack things properly.
By Jody Kimber - senior reviewer
Friday, 5th of August @ 01:46 am
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