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Top tips for a stress-free DIY move

Who needs a removals firm? Our 7-step guide will help you take the stress out of moving house when you’re doing it all yourself.

Guest Author
Words by: Matilda Battersby


Confident you can move house without a packing service? You probably have more belongings than you think, but it can definitely be done.

Save some cash and have a clear-out, with our guide for moving house the DIY way.

1. Sort and declutter

Before you even think about packing, rationalise and declutter your stuff. 

The less you have to shift, the better your DIY move will go.

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2. Arm yourself with decent packaging

You’ll need some (or probably all) of the following:

  • Boxes: Clear plastic boxes are useful as they won’t break. Cardboard boxes are great for bulky but lightweight items such as kitchen utensils. Get a range of sizes, always keeping in mind you’ll need to be able to lift them.

  • Tape: Calculate how much tape you’ll need and then double it. Use it to keep your boxes secure but also to tape screws, nuts and bolts onto the items of furniture they belong to. Don’t compromise on quality, you’ll need the good stuff.

  • Bags: Laundry bags are cheap to buy and great for clothes, coats, shoes and bedding. You can usually find them in market shops and stalls.

  • Black sacks: Load up on good quality black sacks. You’ll need them for rubbish, but also for those seemingly never-ending odds and ends.

  • Bubble wrap: Again, you can’t have enough. Broken glass is the last thing you need on the day of the move.

  • Covers and throws: Use blankets, throws, towels and old bedding to prevent furniture, mirrors and pictures from slipping around the van and getting damaged.

  • Black marker pens: For labelling boxes. You can’t have too many!

3. Take measurements at your new place

A top way to stay stress-free is making sure your furniture will fit into your new home. 

Ask the estate agent or owner if you can pop in to take measurements. Getting a sofa wedged halfway into a new home on move day is not fun.

Note the length and width of doorways, not forgetting door frames, and the turns in halls and stairways. If you’ll be using a lift, measure that too. 

4. Organise the right size van

Your hire company should be able to tell you the kind of van you’ll need. But, if in doubt, go bigger. That way you'll make fewer trips.

On move day, collect your van as soon as the depot opens. 

Have your driving licence to hand and don’t forget to obtain a ‘check code’ from the DVLA website

Make sure you’ll be able to park at your new home. If you need a parking bay suspension for example, you’ll need to apply to the local authority up to 10 working days in advance.

There may also be restrictions on parking and loading, so get permits sorted in plenty of time.

5. Pack efficiently

Start with non-essential items. These are things you haven’t used recently. 

You might find them in the loft, garage, spare room, or at the back of the kitchen cupboards. For example:

  • Kitchen appliances such as blenders, mixers and juicers

  • Books, photo albums and DVDs

  • Sports equipment

  • Coats, clothes and shoes that are out-of-season

  • Pictures and ornaments

Then tackle the ‘mid-essentials’. For example:

  • Pots and pans

  • Toys

  • Kitchen appliances and crockery

  • Towels and bedding

  • Electrical equipment

  • Plants

On move day itself, finish with the everyday essentials. For example:

  • Washing items and towels

  • Medicines

  • Cleaning products and cloths

  • Overnight clothes

  • Documents such as passports, driving licences and property and move-related paperwork

  • Phones/tablets and their respective chargers

Finally, pack the items you'll need constant access to in their own small box. Mark it ‘essentials’ and store it somewhere handy during transit, such as your car or the cab of the van.

6. Mark and label boxes clearly

Write in clear marker pen on each box what room it belongs to. 

Better still, list each item inside. Either keep the list somewhere safe or tape it to the box.

Always remember to tape the bottom and top of every box securely.

7. Unpack efficiently, too

Once you’re at your new home, approach the unpacking in the same way you packed. 

Prioritise the rooms you use the most, for example, kitchen first, then bedrooms, bathroom, living room, study etc.

Set up furniture with storage, like a bed with drawers in or the TV cabinet, as a priority. This will give you somewhere to put unpacked items, rather than having to move them twice.

Unpacking is more than a one-day job, so tackle one room at a time. And set yourself small targets to stay motivated.

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.