How to move house without losing your mind

In the last 10 years I’ve moved house 9 times. It feels to me like that’s rather a lot and I’ve managed to pick up a few handy tips and tricks in the course of my travels so thought it might be useful to share. I think you can apply these ideas to almost any relocation to help you feel – if not less stressed – a little more in control.

7 tips for moving house Decorator's Notebook blog{Decorator’s Notebook}


In the mid 1950s a chap called Cyril Northcote Parkinson published an essay in The Economist about efficiency… or more specifically, inefficiency. He based his argument on the old adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” and the theory became known as Parkinson’s Law. Anyone who’s ever done anything to a deadline will know this is almost always turns out to be true… give yourself 24 hours to pack up your home and you’ll probably manage, but that’s not to say you’ll be able to find anything at the other end. Give yourself a good few days to pack and a couple more to clean before you move.


Until my most recent move I’ve always begged old Doritos boxes from Sainsbury’s for my packing. If you’re moving into your new place straight away that can be fine, but I knew the majority of my stuff was going into storage and irregular shaped boxes that don’t stack are much less cost effective in the long run. So, I bought boxes from a local removal firm (even if you’re not using them to move they’ll usually sell boxes) – a greater number of smaller boxes is best because you’ll resist the temptation to make them too heavy and they’re an easier shape to carry. I spent about £25 on boxes but if I’d got my act together I’m sure I could’ve sourced secondhand ones on local forums or Freecycle. Alternatively, most removal firms sell ‘once used’ boxes at a discounted price. Start hoarding newspapers and bubble wrap as soon as you know you’re moving… for some reason bubble wrap is very pricey to buy.


My top moving tip is to get down to your local pound shop and pick up some of those big tartan laundry bags. If you don’t know what I mean, check out your local launderette (or tune into Eastenders). These are perfect for packing duvets, pillows and even clothes because they hold their shape, you can cram loads into them and they zip closed. Plus, if they’re packed full you can stack them up and there’s a bit of give in them to cram them into awkward corners of your van.


Spending a few quid on decent labelling kit will save you time in the long run. I buy coloured index cards which are large enough to list all the items packed in each box and can be used as colour coding for the room destination at the other end. For bags I punch a hole in the top and turn them into luggage tags that can be tied onto the handles. Don’t skimp on cheap parcel tape (you really do get what you pay for) and buy a sellotape dispenser which will allow you to bubble wrap with one hand and tape with the other. Lastly, arm yourself with a biro and a big fat marker pen.


Try and get the house you’re leaving cleaned to the point where you only need to do a last vacuum once the boxes and furniture have gone. Deep cleaning (especially the fridge and oven) always takes longer than you think so leave plenty of time. I recommend these extra products* on top of your usual ones for a moving-out clean:

Kilrock Thick Descaler Gel: the only thing I’ve found that completely removes that awful London limescale around the base of taps / plugholes

Dettol Mould and Mildew Remover: gets rid of stains on bathroom grout / sealant without scrubbing. This stuff will burn through your clothes if you spill it and skin won’t stand a chance so always wear gloves

Lakeland Magic Oven Liner: a preventative measure to make the horrible job of cleaning the oven less painful. When you do, I’ve found Mr Muscle Foam up to the task

* moving home is no place for eco-friendly cleaning fluids or elbow grease in my view and these chemicals don’t mess about – be warned and open the window!


You’ve probably been planning how you’ll use each room in your new home for months, but remember that when they’re empty, which one you intend to use as your guest bedroom / playroom / home office won’t be obvious to your removal guys / helpers. When you arrive at your new place, blu-tack signs to the door of each room corresponding with the labels on your boxes. This way everyone can work out where boxes go themselves and you don’t need to orchestrate everything. Consider labelling your furniture in the same way too.


It’s easy to forget those final essentials when you’re tired and desperate to get on the road. Make a list of your last-minute tasks and stick it on the front door so you don’t forget. Reading your meters, dropping keys to the estate agent, turning off the fridge/ boiler and leaving your forwarding address for the new owner should all be on this list.

If you’re moving… good luck!

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  1. Susan says

    Biggest tip I have learned DO NOR MOVE JUNK! If you have not used,looked at something in the last 6 months, out it goes! keep it simple, makes life easier.

  2. Amanda says

    Thank you so much for this article! I am going to move out for the first time in my life and I am a little bit in a stress. Thanks for the good tips!Regards!

  3. brett says

    Definitely agree. Use the time to spring clean while you are at it. Makes moving a whole lot easier. Its very surprising the amount of “stuff” we collect

  4. chelsea says

    Also go one room at a time and use it as an excuse to declutter. It’s also good to pack a box with your immediate essentials in like teabags so there isn’t a rush to empty all your boxes in your new home. You can relax a bit.

  5. Smith says

    When boxing up mis-matched items, pack in layers. Put the heaviest items on the bottom and the lighter ones on top. Put crushed paper on the bottom of each box for cushioning.

  6. Anna says

    Really great advice here! With a little charm it’s usually quite easy to acquire lots of cardboard boxes for free from charity shops, bookstores or Gum Tree. You’re definitely right that lots of smaller boxes is best. It’s may seem easier to throw everything into one big box but even a big box full of light linen can end up being pretty heavy!

  7. Morgan says

    Fantastic tips on moving! I particularly like the one on colour coding boxes, it is always very tricky to remember what you packed in each box!

  8. Nivas says

    The most thoughtful and helpful tips I’ve found so far. This post is golden and by sharing it you help a lot of people. When I moved the first time I wish I had this article as my guide. This is why I’m bookmarking it now and sharing it on my fb wall. Thanks for existing and being awesome!

  9. Craig Sanders says

    Thank you for the tips and advice, to me it’s so difficult to get rid of things I haven’t used or are junk, but it is necessary for big moves.


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