Without a doubt, the global pandemic has caused many people to re-think how and where they live and, with the added incentive of reduced stamp duty rates until 31 March 2021, many people are now on the move. In this helpful post, Carol Lovesey of Lovesey Organising shares her tips for downsizing and moving home.
The key to a successful move
Whether you are downsizing, relocating to be nearer loved ones or moving to a larger property, the whole process can seem completely overwhelming. The key to a successful move is to plan as much as possible in advance. Even if you are moving to a larger property there is no point in taking things you never use. It requires excess thought, packaging and energy to pack up things you don’t want, just to have to unpack them in your new home. Moving unnecessary stuff could also increase your moving costs.
Whatever your circumstances, decluttering your home can be physically and emotionally draining. Little and often is usually much easier than blocking out entire days; you may get halfway through a day and be totally exhausted.
Build “declutter muscles”
With many of my clients I try to start with the least emotive areas such as hall cupboards, kitchens and bathrooms. Working here allows you to get used to making quick and easy decisions on what to keep and what to let go. Having managed these areas you will then be able to build up to tackling more difficult places, such as studies, bedrooms and lofts where people often store things away that are just too emotionally challenging to cope with.
Just as you would when you start a new physical exercise regime, start slowly, and build up your “declutter muscles” with easy decisions. That jug that Auntie Flo gave you 20 years ago which you stashed at the back of the cupboard and can’t stand? Recycle it or sell it. Loads of chipped and cracked crockery? Ditch it.
Set yourself mini, achievable goals which will only take an hour or so. Here are two ideas to get you started:
- Check your bathroom cabinet. Get rid of all the perfumes you don’t really like, or the endless foot scrubs you never use.
- Review all the towels you’ve stashed for years with threads hanging off them. Hey presto, your bathroom storage will be done.
Think about how many rooms and storage cupboards you need to clear, draw up a list and start planning, making a noted in your calendar for each task. Once everything is down on paper (or computer) it’s less of a “monster” and easier to take control of and manage.
Categorise & sort
Depending on what storage space you have available, possessions and gadgets can end up all over the house. This means it is easy to forget what you’ve got. Gather similar items together, such as old phones and chargers, tablecloths or duvets, then review whether you need to keep them all:
- Do you have you enough bed linen for an army to sleep on? – Pass spares to a local homeless shelter.
- 30 mugs in the cupboard? – Donate some to your local community centre.
- Old phones and tablets – depending on how old they are, these can often be sold or recycled.
- Kitchen gadgets – do you use them? More importantly, do they work? If in doubt, cast them out!
As a guideline, separate items as follows:
- Keep – You have a definite use for an item or it is something you love and enjoy. Which room will it go in in your new home? If it’s just going to be stuck in a box in the loft for the next 20 years, I would challenge you to say yourself what is the point in keeping the item?
- Sell – Is the item in good condition? Do you actually have time for the selling process? Where will you sell your item? There are plenty of options for selling: social media groups, antique dealers, eBay but it can be time consuming. Do you know the value of the item? It’s important to do some research; it’s easy to confuse the emotional value we put on an item with the actual re-sale value. Be realistic on the price and remember to give anything a good clean up before photographing.
- Recycle/Charity – Better still, donate to a charity shop or check the many social media outlets which have sites for giving away items for free. Due to the current COVID restrictions, if I’m not sure which local charity is taking goods, I often ask on social media groups or phone the local shops direct – this saves trawling round with a boot full of stuff!
- Bin – Sometimes there’s no life left in things and they just need to be ditched. If you have a lot of stuff for disposal, check with your local council if you need to book a place at the recycling centre. If using a rubbish clearance firm, be sure to check they are reputable and have a waste carrier licence.
Motivation – eyes on the prize!
There will be items and furniture you come across in your home that you find difficult to let go of. It’s important to notice these feelings and question why you are holding onto the items. Ultimately, these are your things and it is your decision on what to do with them: you must do what is right for you and your family.
- Be practical – If you have a large 5-bedroom house, garage and garden, think about the property you are moving to. How many bedrooms, reception rooms, etc does it have? What storage is there? This may sound daft but people often half forget that they will have less space when they downsize. If you currently have a massive corner sofa unit think about whether it will overcrowd your new living room; do you need to sell it?
- Be imaginative – If you have too many paintings and ornaments why not take some fabulous photographs of them and make them up into a photobook or create one big collage of your treasured memories.
- Be inspired – Picture yourself in your new home: how do you want your new home to be? Have a look through home magazines or Pintrest or Instagram for ideas.
I’ve moved nine times and I know how stressful the process can be. My advice is: don’t panic, stay calm and put the kettle on, everything always seems better over a cup of tea!
Here are a few things you’ll need to consider. Please note, this is not a definitive list, it will vary depending on your own circumstances.
- Good relationships – Build good relationships with the professionals in the process: estate agents, solicitors, mortgage advisors and surveyors. Even if you are frustrated, upset or angry, stay calm because you never know when you will need them to pull out all the stops.
- Removal team – Even if you are on a very tight budget, it is my experience that these people usually work their socks off on the day. I’d suggest checking the British Association of Removers to find registered movers or get recommendations from friends and family. If you’re not using a registered remover but are perhaps working with a local tradesperson and van, do make sure they have insurance. Don’t forget to show them what things have to go from sheds/garages, etc.
- Supplies – Keep everyone well fed and watered on moving day. Most likely your removal teams will have met for a hearty breakfast before they start, but a plentiful supply of tea and biscuits goes a long way.
- Pack well, label well – If your possessions are clearly labelled with contents and what room you want them to go into, the process will be a lot easier on the day.
- Cleaning kit – You never know how the property you’re moving to will be left. Have cleaning products, broom, dustpan and hoover easily to hand. Not to mention a couple of hard-working friends or family members!
- Utilities – Make sure you know who services your new home, and sort this out as early as possible. For example, there may be a considerable lead-time for a new broadband install. Take readings on the day in your existing and new homes to update the utility companies.
- Change of address – Think about everyone you have a contract or account with. This includes banks, insurance companies (car, house, pet, medical), DVLA, TV licence, magazine or lifestyle memberships and subscriptions – they all need to be advised of your new contact details. Royal Mail offers a postal redirection service.
I hope, these have been some useful insights for you. Remember, if you are feeling scared or overwhelmed by the whole process, you can always seek assistance from your local APDO-registered professional organiser who you can find on the APDO Find An Organiser database.
“On moving day Carol helped out no end, settling me into my new flat.
Since moving, I’ve made so many new friends and have a whole new lease of life.”