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Congratulations on buying your property! With the right attention and some careful planning, moving house will be a smoother process, and you’ll be better prepared for any surprises that can sometimes arise.

Here’s everything you need to do to make your moving day easy from your Neasden Estate Agent, Hoopers.


Setting a moving date


First things first, the date.


It’s worth thinking about a “work towards” date and, more often than not, this will also be around the time of your completion date. The completion date is when the buying process finishes, solicitors confirm they’ve got the cash, and you collect the keys to your new home.

Traditionally, solicitors will try their best to complete the purchase of your new home around lunchtime. If you are selling your home, completion can happen anywhere after 09.00 depending on how many people are in the chain. The most common times for completion are either late morning or just after 2pm. You can either arrange to drop your keys into the estate agents (which most sellers prefer to do as it means you can move on to your next home) or hand them over directly to your buyers.

You can agree on your completion date just before exchanging contracts. Between exchange and completion, there’s usually a gap of one or two (although it can be as many as four) weeks to give everyone a chance to plan moving. This can be more complex if you’re part of a chain, as your completion date also relies on many other movers in the chain.

Completions often take place on a Friday so you have the weekend to move, but that’s not always the case. Speak to your solicitor to arrange the best completion date for you and your buyer or chain. Bear in mind this means that Fridays tend to be the busiest day for removal firms, so you will have to act quickly and book your removal firm upon exchange of contracts

If you’re at the bottom of the chain, i.e you’re leaving a rental property or moving out of your mum and dad’s, giving yourself an overlapping date is helpful. This means that you can move at a pace that suits you, giving you the flexibility to find competitive quotes from movers.

If you don’t have the option to overlap your move, then being organised before your exchange date makes the move date easier.

If you’re a tenant renting privately or through a letting agent, check your contract for the notice period. You might be able to work with your letting agent or landlord to come to an agreement, but the most important thing is not to serve your notice too early. The conveyancing process can throw up challenges and delays and, while they do everything in their power, it’s not a binding purchase until you exchange contracts. Speak to your solicitor to understand timings. This will help you arrange a date to move out of your rental property and to move into your new property.

Another option is to speak to your solicitor about negotiating a completion date that’s at least four weeks away from your tenancy ending. This might mean you’re paying rent and a mortgage initially, but it will give you additional time to move and a property to live in.

Don’t forget you can also talk to the estate agent. We have a Sales Progression team who make sure the sale is progressing as it should. They’re also on hand to help answer any questions you or your solicitor might have and generally advise you on what to do.


What you need to do: two months before moving


It’s likely that you haven’t exchanged contracts at this point.

So this is the prime stage to do your planning!


Shortlist removal firms


Research moving companies and shortlist ones that have good reviews and ones that you feel confident with asking for a quote. Don’t forget to ask for recommendations from your estate agent, family and friends too.

Removal companies offer a variety of services from packing to deconstructing and building furniture which cost extra, but it really does take the stress out of the day. It’s perfect if you have kids, a lot of fragile possessions to move, or if you want to make the lead up to move day a little more stress-free.

If you choose to use a packing service, they should provide boxes and bubble wrap, but double-check just to be sure that it’s included in your quote.

If you choose to have your furniture deconstructed and built in your new house, then check with the removal service how many furniture items they include in their quote.

If you’re not going to use a packing service, now is the time to start collecting boxes and bubble wrap.

As soon as you’ve exchanged contracts and agreed on a completion date, you can contact your list of potential movers for a final quote. Many removal companies have a busy diary so book once you’re happy you’ve found the right mover for you.


Declutter your home


Start the decluttering process. This will almost certainly take a lot longer than you think, so get started on this early.

Be ruthless and sort out what you will sell, give to charity or throw away. Plenty of websites make this process much easier, including Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and Freecycle.


Check your contents insurance coverage


Check your contents insurance to see if it covers “goods in transit”. If it doesn’t, speak to your contents insurance provider to see if you can add it.

There might be some caveats for this cover to be valid; for example, most insurers require you to use a licensed removal company for valid cover.

If you’re going to store any furniture or items, it’s worth double-checking if contents in storage are covered too. You may need to purchase specialist storage insurance to ensure your items are protected.


Who to inform when moving house


Create a list of who you need to inform about your move and when you need to let them know.

This list includes:

Gas, electric and water suppliers - You can notify these providers when you have a moving date. They will advise you on what you need to do and whether you have to start a new contract or easily switch over your supply.

Phone and broadband - Again, notify these providers as soon as you have a move date. Setting up broadband in your new property can take time as you need to book an installation appointment. As soon as you know when you’ll get the keys to your property, arrange an appointment with your broadband provider.

The council - For the electoral register, you will likely need to already be in the property before you can update it, as you might need an up-to-date ID to confirm your address. You can do this online through the government’s website or by calling your local council. You will also need to sort out your council tax. To do this, wait until you have a completion date and then notify them of your new address and your completion date. Your current council will charge your council tax up to your completion date if you are an owner or tenant of the property you’re leaving. Your new council tax will be activated from the completion date, and you must notify the local authority of your intention to move into their area. Check your new council’s website for more information.

Finance providers - This includes your bank, insurers, pension and credit card companies. For these, you might also need to wait until you have up to date ID or proof of address. As soon as you have a completion date, get in touch with each provider and find out what proof you need and if you need to get back in touch once you’ve moved.

Healthcare - You can let your GP, dentist, optician know your new address once you’ve moved. If you are moving to a new area you will need to register with new healthcare providers.

DVLA - You can update this information online through the government’s website. You’ll need your driving licence, the address (or addresses) you’ve lived in the last three years, your national insurance number and your passport number if you have one.

HMRC - This is often overlooked or forgotten, as most people assume that updates are passed on through their employer. Not updating your info can impact National Insurance, state pension, income tax, and other tax credits or child benefits. You need to wait until you’ve moved house to update this information.

TV license -And the last thing on your list, TV license. You can easily do this online through the TV licensing website.


What you need to do: One month before moving


By now, you should be very close to exchanging contracts and have your moving date. Speak to your solicitor and confirm the completion date before anything else.

Once confirmed, you can contact your shortlist of removal companies to get quotes. Remember to get recommendations and rely on reviews to decide which is the right one for you. Weigh up the quotes and book the movers.

Check your list of people to notify about the move. Make your way through those that you can and tick them off.

Realistically, you can start packing more than a month in advance. But remember that the conveyancing process can have unexpected surprises, so you may want to wait until you have exchanged contracts.


Packing materials


To pack, you’ll need a range of different sized boxes, tape, marker pens, labels, and wrapping/stuffing materials. Stretch wrap (think stretchy cling film) isn’t essential, but it will protect your furniture from scuffs and scratches. You can buy packing kits online, which makes this process easier.

Save small boxes for heavier items and bigger boxes for lighter things. This will help to prevent you from over-filling a box and potential breakages on moving day. Speaking of heavy items, evenly distribute them along the base of the box to spread the weight.

Wardrobe boxes are convenient as you can move clothing from your wardrobe to the box, without taking it off the hanger, and back again when you move into your new home. This turns an otherwise time-consuming job into a quick task.


How to pack for moving house


If you haven’t already started decluttering, do it before you pack. This ensures that you’re only packing the things you want and need.

Start with the things you don’t need this season. If you’re moving in winter, pack all your summer clothes, duvets, shoes, holiday paraphernalia and gardening items. Consider placing items in vacuum bags for extra space when packing.

Clearly label each box with the contents and which room it belongs in. Everyone has different ways of doing this, but you can use numbers, colour codes or simple names. If you know where specific items are going, for example, ornaments from the living room are now moving to the new kitchen, keep a detailed inventory of the item, box they’re in and where they go in the new house.

After packing away seasonal items, move onto storage areas. So that’s the attic, cellar, garage, or shed that all contain things you don’t use daily.

You can easily pack seasonal items and storage rooms in advance. But how do you pack the things you need regularly?

Take it room by room, starting with those you use less frequently. For example, that could be a spare room, the dining room or an office. Not only does this make it easier to organise in your head, but packing one room at a time will help the overall job feel much less overwhelming.

For some things, you don’t even have to pack. There’s no point emptying your chest of drawers; take the drawers out and then wrap them in stretch wrap. This stops the contents from spilling out and takes no time at all. You can do this with any kind of drawer.

Blankets, towels, bedding and clothes are great for stuffing and filling the gaps in boxes and wrapping fragile items. So keep these in a pile and slowly pack them away as and when you need them.

Glassware and cutlery can be rolled up and stuffed with wrapping paper. For sharp knives, we recommend buying knife protectors. More than anything, this will give you peace of mind that you don’t accidentally cut yourself when unpacking!

Empty plant pots, decorative pots or other sealable containers are useful for small kitchen items like cutlery, spices or utensils.

Suitcases are helpful for heavier items like books, picture frames or exercise equipment.

You don’t need to disassemble everything. Stretch wrap is incredibly convenient when moving. You can wrap it around the wardrobe and cabinets to stop doors from opening so that the unit can be transported whole. It helps to protect your mattresses from dirt, wrap around a TV to keep wires in place and secure protective covers in place. It’s so versatile and will definitely cut down on time spent packing.

If you need to disassemble furniture, keep all the screws, bolts and nuts together in a plastic bag. Tape it to the furniture it belongs with, so it doesn’t get lost in the move.

One of the last things you need to do is pack an essentials and overnight box. Your essentials box is the stuff you can’t live without and immediately need in the new house. That might be teabags, mugs, teaspoons and the kettle, snacks for the kids, a bottle of bubbly or plates, cutlery and cooking utensils. Your overnight box is the things you need for the first night in your new home. That’s bedding, change of clothes, towels, shower gel and shampoo, skincare bits and any essential electronics. This will save you time digging through boxes when all you want to do is curl up under a cosy duvet.

You have flexibility over when you start packing, but we recommend you finish packing before moving day. This leaves you free on the day to coordinate and sort out the last minute jobs in the property you’re leaving.


What to do two weeks before moving and on exchange of contracts


You’re on the home straight and have hopefully exchanged by now. With two weeks to go, this period is all about making moving day (and settling into your new home) that much easier, assuming you’ve exchanged.

Around this time you can set up a postal redirect. You can do this up to six months before or six months after you move, so as soon as you’ve exchanged contracts, you can set this up. This redirects post that goes to your old address to your new one. You can set these for three, six or 12 months at a time. It’s a valuable service and is a handy reminder of who you need to contact and change your address with. You can do all this through the Royal Mail website. It takes at least five working days to arrange the redirection.

If you haven’t already, sort out your new broadband and TV providers. While you probably won’t be able to let them into the property, you can at least guarantee that you have all the essentials ready to go the day of or shortly after you move in. Broadband is essential, especially if you frequently work from home.

One of the best things you can do to make life easier around your move is meal planning. It might seem like a big undertaking, but plan out the next month. This way, you know exactly what ingredients and food you need to keep, buy, pack or throw away. There’s plenty of meal planning and delivery services that make this a breeze, giving you the exact amount of ingredients you need for a delicious dinner. Planning will also make it easy to see what cutlery, cooking equipment and crockery you need for the next few weeks, making it easy to pack up the kitchen.

Make a list of where the essential utility points are in your new house. Make a note of where the stopcock, fuse box, gas and electric meters are. This makes it easier for you to get readings which you will need to share with utility companies and to switch things back on if they are turned off when you move in. Email your estate agent to obtain some of this information ahead of moving.


What to do: one week before moving


One week before moving involves creating a moving day plan. Now is the time to pack your essentials and overnight box.

Contact your movers to confirm what time they’ll arrive and what you need to have organised before they get there.

Revisit your list of people to notify to see if you can talk to any of them at this point, or check online as you may be able to make the changes digitally

If you have kids or pets, make plans as to where they will be on moving day. You might find it easier for small children to be looked after by a relative, a friend or they attend school while you move. If you have older children they may be able to help you move!


What to do: three days before you move


The final three days are the practical last-minute jobs. Work your way through the washing basket, packing away the clothes once dry.

Take an inventory of food in the fridge and freezer as you may choose to eat as much of it as you can, and, if you can, defrost the freezer ready for moving day.

Gather up all your important documents and valuables, storing them safely in one place. This includes jewellery, birth certificates, banking details and anything else of equal importance. You might want to keep these valuables with you on moving day instead of packing them in the van.

Unplug and disconnect any appliances you won’t need in the next three days.

If possible, arrange your boxes in the way you will pack the van. So the boxes you will unload last (because they contain non-essential items) should be loaded first and be closest to the door. If you’ve hired a removal company, they will arrange this for you on the day.

Collect up all of your spare keys, from the front and back door keys to windows, sheds and garage, and place them to one side. On moving day, you’ll need to put these in a visible place for the new owners. If you have the time you could label keys as well.


What to do on moving day


Moving day is also usually completion day which means you need to have paid for your new home. This is all in the hands of solicitors and conveyancers so you won’t get the keys until they confirm you legally own the property. Your solicitor will transfer your funds (including mortgage loan) to the seller’s solicitor. Once the seller confirms they’ve received the funds, you legally own the property.

The seller’s solicitor will tell them and the estate agent that the funds as received and the estate agent will pass that onto the buyer. They’ll then arrange the times you can pick up your keys. You will have to drop off your old keys with the estate agent who is selling your property.

When your solicitor gives the go-ahead, you’re free to drop your keys off with your estate agent and collect the keys from the estate agent of the seller.

You normally have to be out of your property by 12pm on moving day, but that depends on how big your chain is. If you’re part of a large chain, you could expect to pick up the keys as late as 4pm. So be patient, you might have to wait a little while for official confirmation.

You can still load up your moving van (or car if you’re doing it yourself) early so you’re ready for the midday deadline. Expect an early start of 8am onwards, giving you enough time to have everything packed away and ready to go.

There are small chores to do on moving day, which is why hiring a removal company, or asking for help from family and friends, is important. It frees you up to do the last-minute jobs, ensuring everything runs smoothly in the property you’re leaving before you hand over the keys.

These jobs include:

  • Stripping the bed - You don’t want the bedding to get dirty in transit
  • A quick vac, clean and wipe down of surfaces as a courtesy
  • Instructing the movers
  • Locking windows and doors
  • Taking meter readings
  • Photographing empty rooms as proof of how you left them

Once you get to your new property, check the boiler works and that the windows and doors lock correctly. It’s much easier to identify and fix problems at the beginning than a few weeks into living there. The last thing you need to do is contact the remaining companies you need to talk to about changing your address.

We don’t blame you if all you want to do now is put your feet up! Unpacking and organising often take weeks, so take it bit by bit until you’re all settled in your brand new home.


Finally, congratulations!


Congratulations on moving into your new home! The team at Hoopers Estate Agents, hope you’ve found our useful moving house checklist helpful. Keep it handy so you can keep track of what’s left to do and make your move as easy as possible.

If you have any questions about moving home in North West London, please don’t hesitate to give the Hoopers team a call on 020 8450 1633. We’d be delighted to have an informal chat and answer any questions about the buying or selling your property in Neasden and the surrounding areas.