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Relocation, location location – ten tips



As many of you know, Mr E and I have just moved house. We’ve downsized, sold a biggish house in a Kent town centre and moved to a smaller one in the London suburbs which is where we came from in the first place. Perhaps we should have called the new house “Full Circle”. Anyway, all of this – after almost 39 years at the same address – has been a huge learning curve. Here are ten things I have learned:

  1. Don’t judge others by your own standards or expect people to behave as you do. We had a buyer who failed to produce the deposit on contract exchange day and a vendor who was still running round the house packing chaotically at 8pm on completion day despite being contractually obliged to be clear by early afternoon.
  1. Hire the best removers you can find and afford. You are putting everything you’ve worked for and everything you own into their hands. Bournes of Rye – yes, I’m naming names and deservedly so – cost us £3,000 but did a fantastic job (under difficult circumstances) and were worth every single penny. Nice guys too.
  1. Go though every cupboard before you move. There is no point in paying someone to move stuff you’re going to chuck out anyway.
  1. Accept that it will take time to get the new house as you want it and to make it feel like home. We have some sort of builder/odd job man/ installer/ helpful sons with tool boxes et al here almost every day this month. Meanwhile the bedrooms, in particular, are a bit of a tip. You have to look positively towards the future. If you’re systematic it gets better every day.
  1. Be prepared to sort each cupboard twice more on arrival – once when you throw stuff in piecemeal to get it out of sight and a second time when you organise it as you actually want it. I’m planning to “do” the shed later today.
  1. Put your animals into a cattery/kennel or get them looked after by someone else for a week across the moving date. We put our cat in a cattery near our new house and it was a very good decision. When we collected him we had some semblance of a home to settle him into.
  1. Some things will go to earth in storage boxes in the new house and won’t emerge for a while. I haven’t seen my dressing gown, light-up cosmetic mirror or toothbrush charger since we left the old house. (Don’t worry – I’ve improvised!)
  1. Photograph your utility meters both when you leave your old place and when you take possession of your new one so that you have evidence in the case of disputes – a useful tip from our younger son.
  1. Your selling agent and your solicitor are your friends – stressful as it is to feel that your life is out of your own control. Get good ones (and we made a mistake initially by signing up with a crummy agent before we changed to an excellent one) and they can make your life a whole lot easier.
  1. Stock up with arnica. Adjusting to a new space and humping bits of furniture when you change your mind about where to put it is a painful business. I have bruises on every limb from walking into furniture – and one on my nose where the unfamiliar wheelie bin closed unexpectedly and bit me with its lid.



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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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