Stress free moving in London - our top tips
Feeling stressed about moving house? You’re not alone. Recent research has suggested that moving is actually significantly more stressful than many other adult life events, including getting divorced and starting a new job. Meanwhile although the average Briton is said to move house only five times during their lifetime, most Londoners will find they change abode much more frequently than that due to changes in circumstances, rent hikes, and the desire to try a different area of the city.
Unfortunately living in London also makes things even more difficult, with fierce competition in the rental market and a budget that however generous, can quickly spiral out of control when faced with the difference between what you think you can afford, and what you can actually afford. The pain doesn’t end after the contracts are signed either, as the stress of moving can also last for months after the deed has been done. This is often the result of tenants settling into a new home and realising its not quite what they wanted, that their furniture doesn’t in fact fit in, or that they don’t actually like the area as much as they thought they did. Add a partner, flatmates or a family into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for a moving-induced breakdown.
Fortunately, it is possible to take the stress out of moving in London by following these six, simple tips. These will carry you through from viewings and neighbourhood research to arriving at your new place on moving day as calm and stress-free as possible. Good luck!
Get your documents together
As boring as it may feel when faced with such tedious admin, getting all of your essential documents in one place before you begin house-hunting will make a huge difference to your search. Not only will you be able to directly provide the necessary information to an agency or landlord when you find somewhere you want (and therefore reduce the chances of someone else slipping in their while you hunt for references), you’ll also avoid that panicked moment when you realise you’ve absolutely no idea when you last saw your passport or most recent tax return.
Hunt out everything you’ll need and more, including your pay slips, employment contract, various forms of ID, and apply for written references from your previous landlord and employer to confirm your personal and professional conduct is sound. Once you have everything you need, keep them all in physical folder, which you can take to viewings with you if needed. Make photocopies of everything and keep a scan on your computer too in case they need to be emailed.
Start your search early
It may seem obvious, but a surprising number of people still underestimate how long it will take them to find somewhere to live - and how fast the properties they do find can go. Start your search as early as possible, giving yourself a good few months ahead of when you need to move. The Movebubble app is a great way to explore your options and get to know the type of properties that are available in your budget, how frequently they come onto the market, and how quickly they are let.
Assessing market trends in different areas, can help you decide where you should focus your search (or if you’re being unrealistic about any aspects). By beginning early and making yourself fully aware of what’s in the market, you limit your risk of making an uninformed decision in a moment of panic, or accepting an above-average rent for a substandard place because you didn't realise what else was possible. On the other hand, you’ll also swiftly discover if it’s worth taking some unattainable features off your moving wishlist.
Get to know your new area
Take a look at the area guides section of our website, or download the app to get further information about different areas in London that you might like to consider. As accurate as an article may be, there’s no better way to truly get to know a new area than to go there and explore. Check out the local shops, the schools, the nice (and not so nice) roads while making notes about what you like and dislike. Work out what your commute would be, and how far the supermarket is from the properties you’ve been considering.
If you’re feeling brave, you can ask people in shops or on the street if they like the area after explaining that you’re thinking of moving there. Otherwise, post on a forum online or speak to friends, and try to get some accurate opinions from the people who live there about the general safety and friendliness of the area. It can also be a good idea to visit the area at night, accompanied, to see how you’d feel about coming home in the dark. Finally, keep your eyes peeled for any potential building work - the last thing you want in your new home is to be woken by constant drilling from the new development next door that you forgot to ask about!
Prepare your questions
House hunting is long and stressful, and it’s completely understandable that by the time you find a place which seems half-decent, you’re ready to sign on the dotted line. Try to maintain a bit of restraint and stick to a list of pre-prepared questions to ask the landlord or agent, while making a note of the responses so that you can go through the information later and make an informed decision.
Questions should including things like if there has been any history of damp, how efficient the heating is, how secure the locks on the doors and windows are, and what the landlord will be responsible for. Throughout your visit you should also make notes on things such as the general condition of the walls, floor, kitchen appliances and bathroom, as well as feeling for draughts around the doors and windows.
Book your house clean ahead
One of the worst aspects of moving is often the most overlooked - the time and effort it takes to clean and pack up the previous property before being able to move to the new one. Get this sorted, and hopefully you won’t be up until 4am scrubbing the floor the night before the landlord is due. Additionally, not only does getting this right ensure that you’ll arrive at your new place with everything you need, it also helps make sure you get as much of your deposit back as possible.
Check to see if your contract requires any specialist cleaning, and book this as far in advance as possible. Ideally this should be done a day or two before the checkout, so that you have time to check that everything is is as it should be and request a re-clean otherwise. If you’re using a removal company get various quotes ahead of time and book one early, making sure to find out if they provide packing materials or if you will need to, and what the situation is with parking at both your old and new properties.
Pack an overnight bag
You’ve done it. You’re successfully in your new home, surrounded by well-packed boxes, and you’ve left a clean and tidy place behind you. Just one problem…it’s nearly 11pm and you’ve got no idea where your toothbrush, laptop charger, or pyjamas are. Avoid tearing into boxes by packing an overnight bag which will see you through the first few days if necessary, including your daily essentials, a few changes of clothes, anything you need for work, and a corkscrew for that celebratory bottle of wine (which may need to be drunk out of plastic cups).
It’s also a good idea to assign a box of essentials, such as towels, a kettle, and your bedlinen, so you can easily find these for the first day and night. If you really want to go the extra mile, do some research online for the best local takeaway beforehand and treat yourself to dinner amongst the boxes after a long, arduous, but ultimately successful move in London. You deserve it!
Main image credit: Craig Sunter