Things They Don’t Tell You About Moving House


Greetings from my new home! It’s my first night and I have all my furniture in place, while piles of stuff sit unsorted at the old house. It will come, but you might guess correctly that I’m not remotely qualified to post as a guru on all things practical for moving (I just have one purely practical tip below) – and there are plenty of great resources for packing hints and beginning to approach the mammoth task of getting everything you own from A to B in one piece (or at least in less than or equal to the number of pieces there were originally). I can, however, tell you ALL about being blindsided by the very normal things that don’t make it onto the lists that are actually helpful.

Disclaimer: it’s possible I’m actually insane. Results may vary.

So you have decided to move house! Congratulations. You are now a basketcase.  

Some of this is a no-brainer. And I have no brain, so I can verify this. I didn’t want to move. Of course there will be conflicted emotions. I miss my flat. But I am also excited about my new home. But it is new. But it is new! But it isn’t home yet. But it has so much better accommodation! This is all natural and normal. I was less prepared for the complete inability to get anything done because my mind was somewhere on a cushion-related Pinterest board, or emailing utility companies about whether their website is working properly and it’s just my details that are wonky, or trying to work out when I can talk to friends and family around all this nothing I seem to be doing.


The sneezing. Oh my goodness, the – ACHOO! – sneezing.

Dust. Dust everywhere. You can be houseproud and keep your shelves and electrical equipment shiny and dust-free, but unless you have a compelling reason to keep your home hospital-fresh those little particles will get everywhere. As soon as you start moving everything around, it will fly up in clouds from surfaces, textiles and your family members. Things you just dusted will be dusty. Things completely hemmed in by other things will be dusty. There may be things you have never unpacked, sealed in plastic and stored in containers; somehow they will be dusty. To add to the emotional trauma, every childhood allergy will cram itself in your face and wriggle around in your sinuses. You will sneeze for no apparent reason. There will be a constant gritty feeling in your eyelashes. Then, when you think the worst is over, your belongings go into a dusty van filled with dust from everyone else’s dusty house and they have a big dust party. You get everything into your new house and suddenly your new house is dusty, too.


It’s exhausting.

So you’re dusty. Let’s add sweaty to the mix, too. And that’s just from the exertion of bossing around your minions. Then you will have to move everything you brought home in individual shopping bags over the past decade. At once. Into boxes, into trucks, out of trucks, out of boxes… Things need to be rationalised, while you live with stuff around you all the time, in piles, in boxes, in huge towers of debris topped by the cat. And this is how it looks even if you’re semi-organised. Packing up takes a while. Planning to pack up takes a while. Then at the very least you have to travel to the new house and make up your bed just so you can recover a bit.


Your past comes back to haunt you.

Remember those awful jumpers you decided really suited you back in 2003, despite the fact that they were hideous to everyone else? No? Well, you will. Shoes with four-inch heels will remind you that your ankles are not what they were. Cringeworthy letters and pictures from long lost friendships that you shoved in a drawer will re-emerge like a Phoenix of Awful, cardigans you swore you would fold properly later wrinkle at you in judgement, and those hideous passport photos will remind you why you used to have such a self-esteem problem. Your old home feels rejected. Spitefully, it is spewing out all of these items just to kick you when you’re down, exhausted and have dust in your nostrils. Hang in there.


It goes on forever. 

I could be projecting here. Clearly, other people move house and don’t spend the rest of their lives unpacking boxes. My parents last moved house twenty-six-and-a-half years ago and I’m fairly confident they have had the past four or five months just to relax. But from where I’m sitting here, tonight, I have just finished a huge move after weeks of planning and a few fairly taxing days, and tomorrow I get to go back to the flat and continue working, except now without the comfy chairs? Le sigh. I am just going to be stoic and make like a Weeping Angel (“We have no need of comfy chairs“)


Finally, a practical tip.

So, you sat through all that nonsense. Well done. I mean that. Reward yourself with an actual hint for moving. Despite the complaints, this move has not been a total nightmare to organise as my mother and I collaborated on a Trello board. I don’t know how the Trello people would describe it, but it’s like Pinterest for organising junkies. We love making lists, and right before I got notice that I had to move, a member of a web team showed the site to a friend and me. She claims she has never seen such a look of joyful contentment as the one on my face when I saw his Trello board. I started playing around with it and when we had to plan the removal it was perfect – we can each access and edit our board with to do lists by theme, moving sets of checklists around and keeping track of what we have still to do. I would definitely recommend it to anyone planning anything with lots of bits, especially collaboratively.

So there we have it. My sole practical contribution. That, and remember to make up your bed right away. Speaking of which…

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