Surviving a House Move – Tips for survival and sanity

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I started this blog at the end of last year and was enjoying the process. As well as starting to blog I was in the process of arranging and preparing for a house move.

If you have read my bio and earlier posts you will know that I took retirement from the NHS last July at the age of 55. I wanted to enjoy life rather than continue in the throws of tiredness and lack of sleep that my career was turning my life into. I took flexible retirement, where I collected my pension and could return on reduced hours. I now continue in my role on a 12 month contract of much reduced hours of 60 from 150. This provides me with a much improved and joyful work/life balance.

As well as the decision to retire my husband and I (hope I don’t sound like the Queen there with that phrase!), also decided to move house. We had lived in the same house for 30 years, since we got married.

We approached the move with much trepidation – 2 of the main questions we asked ourselves were:

  1. Where to move to?
  2. What if we didn’t like our new home.

This was a huge decision for us after so many years of happiness in our previous home. I won’t dwell on why we decided to move, however in a  nutshell the area was declining rapidly and we felt that house prices would soon plummet because of this, and secondly and more importantly  I could invest some of my pension pot into bricks and mortar, rather than it stagnating in the bank.

Once we made the decision to put the house on the market and an Agent had been selected to act on our behalf we then started to look seriously at properties we liked. I have to say I had become an almost obsessive browser of http://www.rightmove.co.uk since December 2014.

The act of selling is not without it’s trauma – we immediately had viewings and in fact had 16 in total before we agreed a sale at a much reduced price, we had lost a sale at a slightly more increased price somewhere along the way due to confusion between ourselves and our agent – allegedly!

Having people view your much loved property is an experience in itself. 3 generations of a family would regularly come and browse, politely express interest, ask if we could sell privately without the use of agents and then disappear into the sunset. One viewer thrust her young baby into her husbands arms, demanded that he stand outside in the front garden then charged through the house. As she was leaving she then admitted she wasn’t selling her home at present she just wanted to see what houses in this area looked like! Blooming cheek…..

In the meantime whilst starting our serious search, we had looked at a couple of new builds. One was the last on available on an established estate and had been sold the day before we made an enquiry. We then looked at a new build on a development on the early stages of development . We loved the show home and wanted to commit to buy a plot. We were informed by the representative that she didn’t know when any more of the show home models would be built, how much they would be and we were asked to purchase a house that didn’t have a show home anywhere in the area. We left to consider our options, feeling very demoralised and frustrated – we naiively thought that buying a new build would be easy. When discussing this with family – my nephew, who himself has previously owned a new build said we may have had a lucky escape and he would never buy a new build again. Well his words have stayed with me as he was so correct. Since we looked in May very few houses have in fact been built on the development and it looks a forgotten site. So glad we didn’t get what we thought we wanted at the time. I am a great believer in Fate and this reinforces my beliefs.

Following this unsuccessful viewing my husband tried to cheer me up and said “come on we’ll have a drive round and see what we can see”, rather than using the website. He drove around the areas I had been thinking of but nothing inspired us enough. He then drove to a different area, still close by and drove through an estate that is around 20 years old that we remembered being built and really liked at that time. I hadn’t considered this. It’s a little off the beaten track, away from Manchester Metrolink routes and only one daytime direct bus route. However, it was love at first sight. It was the isolation that we fell for – horses in fields and farmland surrounding the Estate. Bliss – just what we wanted.

So this answered our first question – Where to move to?

Whilst our sale was progressing I ‘stalked the estate’ I knew every property that was for sale – many sold very quickly. We had decided to purchase a detached property – our first. There was one house we really liked and I had my heart set on it – but one evening logging onto my saved properties on the aforesaid web site I saw the dreaded ‘Sold Subject To Contract’ message on the property listing. I was crushed yet again, there were another couple of detached houses in our price range for sale but not as nice as this, the garden aspect was a big want for us. We had lived with a sunny house and garden all these years and did not want to sacrifice this.

However, fate played it’s hand again and the next day a new detached property came onto the market, and all things considered it was probably better than the one I originally set my heart on, in the fact that the garden was much better and had a south facing aspect.

In a nutshell we successfully made an offer and bought this property. More about this later.

As for advice about anyone moving my tips for a smoother, preparation and reducing stress are:

  1. Be organised – I had a project book in which I documented conversations with everyone I spoke to by telephone regarding services etc. I documented names, dates and times of conversations. These were useful when things that were promised weren’t delivered. And I did have to refer to these notes on more than one occasion!
  2. All contact with solicitors and Estate Agents were via email or telephone conversations were confirmed with an email and filed in folders in my Email. Despite keeping records we did encounter communication problems with our chosen agent.
  3. Plan ahead – make contact with service providers well in advance e.g Sky. BT, Utilities.
  4. Use the internet – my best friend, to research how to do things, there is a wealth of information out there which I successfully utilised
  5. From my internet research I found a very useful tip regarding packing. I allocated each room in the new house a colour. Boxes were labelled with tags of that colour and were also numbered. On removal day I blu tacked a corresponding tag on room doors and my fabulous removal men duly obliged and set boxes down in correct rooms.
  6. As I packed each numbered box I listed its contents on a template I had made on my PC. This was invaluable at the other end when trying to find things! Especially when we decided to nip out for a pub lunch on our second day in the house and my husband asked the question “do you know where my tan leather shoes are?” I could duly oblige and locate them in a  jiffy
  7.  I used the impending move as an ideal time to renegotiate my Sky, phone and internet contracts. I was able to get discounts on all 3. I used the argument that as I was moving it was a good time to maybe change my provider. It worked with all 3!
  8. There is a lot of negative press around Solicitors but I have to say ours was exceptional. Kept us updated with any new information, always available to answer any queries and didn’t provide us with a hefty bill.
  9. You hear people say that you must pester your agent and solicitor all the time to keep the process moving. Having now had the experience of a house move – I echo these sentiments entirely. My best friend was my smart phone so that I could fire off emails to all concerned whilst I was out and about and on the go. I did try to keep some humour in my messages so as not to alienate anyone. However, I do think my agents must have dreaded logging in each morning to see what my latest daily email contained. It was necessary though as my buyer was very slow at moving the purchase along, despite paying lip service that he was very keen and wanted to move in as soon  possible, he kept raising issues that slowed the process down. Gentle pressure on my agent was vital – I don’t think we would have completed yet if I hadn’t. So the message I’m sending to you is – Be Persistent, Firm, and Humorous!
  10. Our move was arranged for 4th December – not the run up to Christmas I’d imagined in July when I finished full time work, I envisioned baking foodie presents and cakes for friends, all presents and cards wrapped early – not having everything boxed up before and after the move. I’m posting a photo of my Christmas prep!20151201_093834
  11. My kitchen was only just fully functional the week before Christmas due to storage issues! I had hoped to have completed the move by the end of October.  Ah well there’s always next year.
  12. On the day of the move as well as the colour coding of my boxes I kept a few vital supplies with me. I would recommend doing the same. I had a bag of supplies I needed which I will break down and then I kept certain items in the car, so they didn’t get thrown into the back of the removal van.
  13. Contents in my bag for the day, not including my handbag, were:
    • Kettle
    • Milk
    • Tea, coffee, sugar and cordial
    • Mugs for us and removal men.
    • Biscuits – one friend advised me to provide good quality biscuits – always go down well with the removal boys!
    • Passports and walletts
    • Black bin liners
    • All purpose polish and dusters and washing up liquid.
    • Soap
    • Loo roll
    • Hand sanitiser
    • Hand and tea towels
    • Blu tack
    • Room planner, coloured post it notes, sharpie pen
    • Paracetamol
    • Pen, Project book
    • Laptop with charger
    • Mobile phone charger
  14. Objects in the car:
    • My dog’s ashes! (strange I know) I plan to bury them in my new garden. These were precious to me and I did not want them lost or damaged.You’ll see from an earlier post that I had only recently had to have him put to sleep.
    • Our duvet and pillows – this would keep them clean and ready to be put straight back on the bed – the day is extremely tiring and you want  a minimum of fuss once in.
    • I also packed a small travel bag with items necessary for an overnight stay in a hotel – clean underwear, nightwear, change of clothing for both of us and toiletries. Again so that there was no rooting around in boxes, no matter how well labelled they are, to be able to get to bed and start again the next day. Also if the dreaded worse happens and you hit a snag on the day that stops you moving in to your new property – and Yes! unfortunately that can happen, at least if you have to find a hotel or beg a bed at a friend or relative, you have what you need immediately to hand.

Needless to say the move went well, our removal company and the men who came were very helpful, they even helped me reconnect my Sky TV box! We did have a blip and a delay when the funds for our purchase seemed to get lost within the electronic banking system did not arrive at our vendors for solicitors for a couple of hours. This was  a nervy time – my Removal men sat in the van outside our new property and were given cups of tea by one of our lovely new neighbours and my husband and myself were sat in a pub close to the vendors Estate agent awaiting the go ahead. A very long hour and a half! I have to admit I was close to meltdown, but it all happened eventually and our move was complete. We moved our belongings in and then took a 5 minute walk to our local for a meal and a couple of glasses of much needed beer and wine. We were exhausted. The pub landlord sold us a couple of bottles of beer to take out and even provided a bottle opener as we weren’t sure where ours was! We encountered so much friendly assistance in various ways that day and are so thankful for it.

To answer our initial second question -What if we didn’t like our new home?

Not a problem we absolutely love it! and manged to get it the lounge and bedroom fully set up and cosy for Christmas. I had booked measurement for blinds prior to our move – I cannot reiterate enough that preparation in advance is so important. This reduced delays and allowed the settling in period to be reduced to a minimum.
image My husband – King of his new Castle

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image Festive finishing touches – presents under the tree

I didn’t know I could love a house and it’s surroundings so much. So, after all the hard work and occasional pain – we are in and gradually getting fully settled. I will write again about storage and organisation methods that I have used in a future post.

I welcome any comments or stories you have about your experiences of selling, buying and moving house.

Feel free to contact me by email ellieblue1223@gmail.com

 

 

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