Top 10 Things To Remember When Moving House

Top 10 Things To Remember When Moving House

I’m not going to lie to you: moving is always stressful. But you can minimise the stress with organisation and planning. Here are 10 tried and true tips for making the process easier.Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Like many people, my major experience of moving house happened in my early 20s. However, over the weekend I helped my best friends shift house in Melbourne. The disadvantage of moving later in life is that you have far more possessions to move, and (in many cases) the added complication of children. The advantage is that you’ve done it all before, so you’ve got a better idea of what’s involved.

1. Start chucking out unwanted stuff early

If you don’t start packing until the day before you move, you’ll end up panicking and just throwing everything into boxes without consideration. As soon as you know a move is on the cards, start the spring cleaning process. It’s much easier to throw stuff away than shift it, but if you’re trying to get rid of a lot of stuff, you’ll want time — whether that’s to sell it, freecycle it, give it away, or (in the worst case scenario) dump it.

2. Get measurements for the new place

Top 10 Things To Remember When Moving House

Few things are more stressful than realising your cherished family heirloom won’t fit in your new living room. Try and schedule a pre-move visit to get accurate measurements of the main rooms. Also measure the width of the entrance doors, so you know what will (and won’t) fit through them. Picture by Ben Babcock

3. Weigh up using a removalist

Top 10 Things To Remember When Moving House

If you’ve got lots of massive furniture, a bad back or an interstate move planned, then using a professional makes sense. If you have a lot fewer possessions or are only moving a short distance, then hiring a truck and doing it yourself can make sense. There’s no absolute rule; just consider your circumstances. Make sure you get quotes from multiple removalists if you do go down that path. If you hire a truck to drive yourself, take photos with your camera before you use it to avoid insurance arguments over any pre-existing dings. Picture by Vivian Evans

4. Tell your neighbours your moving date

As well as providing them with advance warning that there’ll be large trucks about, there can be other benefits: they might volunteer to help, or offer to let you make coffee at their place while the moving is happening.

5. Box everything you can up

Top 10 Things To Remember When Moving House

Using boxes makes life much simpler and means you can carry more on each trip. You can buy packs of 10 archive boxes for about $20 at chain stores, or hit up bookstores for particularly tough boxes. When in doubt, use extra packing tape on the base of boxes to avoid unwanted splitting incidents. For really heavy items (like old-school vinyl LPs), plastic crates can be a better bet. Picture by John Bointon

6. Don’t use boxes or bags that are too large

Top 10 Things To Remember When Moving House

Sure, it can be tempting to throw the entire contents of your wardrobe into a jute bag and lug it to the new place. But if the bag is too large, it will weigh too much, you’ll struggle to move it and it will probably tear in the process. Better to have two small bags than one large one. Picture by wetwebwork

7. Label boxes with their destination, not just their contents

With luck, you’ll have friends and family helping out with the move. That will work much more smoothly if each box is tagged with its destination in the new home. This is especially important if the new place is larger than the old one.

8. Keep cables and devices together

You don’t want to have your DVD player in one box and the cables to connect it up somewhere else entirely. Electronic gear often goes in the “I’ll move it myself in the back of the car” category; in that case, bag up the cables together after labelling them with masking tape or bread tags, so you can easily reconnect them at your destination.

9. Have a disposal plan for your boxes

Top 10 Things To Remember When Moving House

At the end of the process, you’re going to have a lot of leftover boxes, so make sure you’ve got a plan for them. If you’ve got storage space, you can keep them and offer them to the next friend that moves. If not, a quick drive to the nearest recycling centre may be indicated. Picture by kimubert

10. Something will always go wrong

Top 10 Things To Remember When Moving House

No matter how much planning you do, something will stuff up. Despite scheduling everything in advance and only moving 600 metres away, Telstra spectacularly failed in connecting any services whatsoever for my friends over the weekend and had no idea of when anything would actually happen. (Telstra likes making noise about taking customer service seriously but this experience suggests it has a long way to go in that department.) Similarly, a promised delivery of new furniture shifted from “definitely on Saturday” to “we have no idea when”. These irritations will happen. Don’t let them ruin the whole experience.

Obviously, this is a far from exhaustive list. What strategies do you use to ensure successful moving? Share them in the comments.


  • Make sure EVERYTHING is already boxed and sealed by the time your friends arrive to help with the lifting. There is no better way to spoil their goodwill than to waste their time. (That, and to not buy everyone drinks afterwards.) If you do, you’ll find it much harder to find friends who are “free” to help next time you move

  • You can often get a decent amount of boxes for free by checking with local stores.

    I’m moving in December and we got a heap of boxes from our local pharmacy by just asking if we could pick up the boxes when they got their next stock order.

  • I moved interstate (Sydney to Launceston) last year, using a door-to-door removalist. In addition to the advice above, and expanding on Gus’ “Start chucking out unwanted stuff early” point:

    Make sure you get “price per cubic meter” from your removalist when getting a quote. In some cases, it really can work out cheaper to buy new, than what you’ll pay to actually move your goods. By calculating how much each individual item will cost to move, you can weigh up whether you’re best off selling/throwing out some items in favour of purchasing brand new at the other end.

  • Expanding on point 6: Mix the contents of large boxes. Half linen cupboard / half bookshelf, for example, balances the weight of heavy books and comparatively light linen. You do need to apply some packing logic or clear labelling otherwise the unpack process can be a bit of a nightmare.

    Also, don’t forget NOT to pack cleaning products…. You’ll need them in the old place.

  • Get a removalist if you can afford it. Use small boxes. Conserve space by wrapping breakables in skivvies and other clothing. Every group of friends who helps gets a carton. Not a drink, boys, don’t be cheap-as. A carton. Moving house is hard work and they are doing you a hella favour. And ideally give them the chance before moving day to have an early pick of stuff you are giving away.

    • I doubt Telstra is like that, when I move.. Telstra had my internet, foxtel and phone ready the minute I moved in.. without any charge or fee! Long time customer does give benefits 🙂

      Btw, the article is missing one thing… UPDATE YOUR POSTAL ADDRESS! You don’t want things being sent to your old house. Bills, online shopping, banking and etc.. update your address.

    • I have just moved over the past 2 weeks and I was happily surprised at how attentive and helpful Telstra staff were. I was assigned a moving contact and was phoned and texted several times over the course of the move. I cannot fault them in this regard.

  • Ask your removalist if they have a back load available. Very often they deliver in one city and have to get back empty. They will offer a cheaper price if they can plan your move for their back trip date.

  • If you do use a removalist, watch them carefully. Some of them take the instruction “pack everything” literally and you will open boxes at the other end to find sink plugs, oven racks and bags of rubbish still in the carefully wrapped and boxed bin. Also, empty the toaster of toast crumbs and make sure to take DVDs/CDs/games out of players and consoles.

  • In regard to changing your address, because I rent and have moved about a bit, several years ago I took out a PO Box at a convenient location and that way I never have to change my address when I move.

  • And in regard to boxes, we do a late night ‘box run’ to the local business area and raid the cardboard dumpsters. We get more boxes than we need in a variety of sizes. No-one minds because then they don’t have to pay to have them disposed of. The other place you can look is on Gumtree. People who have recently moved advertise their boxes for free – we have got and gotten rid of moving boxes this way. Then all you need is a tape gun, multi-packs of packing tape (Bunnings) and a thick marker.

  • I am really liking @Jeff’s comment right at the top of the comment thread! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a customers’ house and found out that we need to wait for them to finish packing or that we need to assist with packing. Of course if you’re doing things DIY, then it’s just your friends walking out on you that you have to contend with, but if you’ve got professionals at your house charging by the minute, then good luck to you mate!

  • I have always used a professional remover. Since I had fantastic service on an interstate move and realised that using professionals seriously reduces the stress and tension of a house move. Have subsequently got three quotes from local firms on each move and have never had a problem with the companies chosen. Can get a good feel for the service just from the person doing the quote. Has always been cost effective compared with hiring a vehicle and organising mates to lug heavy stuff around and then giving them meals and drinks in return.I can recommend you to MOVING SYDNEY

  • These tips are great and well explained. I always prefer hiring professional removals at the time of moving house, as their experience can save us from any loses during moving house. There are many things which we may forget and this is where they help us a lot.

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