When budgeting to buy or rent your next home, you’ll need to bear in mind the cost of moving house. On top of the first month’s rent and/or deposit and legal fees, there are additional costs you’ll face, either directly (in the form of fees) or indirectly (in the form of wastage or breakages).
Here are our top tips for how you can move house and save money.
1. Streamline your belongings
The more stuff you own, the more time it’s going to take to load it all into the removals van. A removals company can give you an estimate of costs based on the size of your house (e.g. they might have a standard price for moving the contents of a 3 bedroom house), but if you have more belongings than average, you’ll face extra costs on the day.
To get an accurate figure for how much you need to move out, reduce the amount of belongings you have, and then ask for a removals survey (see 3, below):
- If you have furniture that you know won’t fit or look right in your new home, sell it or give it to charity now. If you have books you won’t read again, clothes that won’t fit, or toys that your children have outgrown, have a really good clear out.
- If you’re moving in with your partner or into a furnished property and will have duplicate items, you might decide to store them for future use. Or if you’re downsizing, you might want to hang on to certain items of furniture for your children or grandchildren to use later on. Consider renting a self storage unit for anything you want to keep but don’t have room for, and factor that cost into your budget.
2. Think about what to do with larger pieces of furniture
Most removals firms will charge to disassemble larger items such as beds and wardrobes. Anticipate this, and decide which items you’ll have the time, skill and energy to disassemble (and reassemble in your new home) yourself.
3. Get quotes, not estimates
When you’re sure that all you have in your house is what you’re going to take to your new home, ask at least three removals companies to come to give you a survey. This will generate a quote, rather than an estimate, and you’ll know exactly how much you’ll pay on the day.
Don’t just choose the lowest quote - choose the quote that you think offers you the best value for money. If you opt for a man with a van because he’s cheap, you might find you do much of the lifting yourself (which might suit you, and be better than forking out extra) but could also increase the risk of damages to your belongings.
Some companies offer lower prices for midweek moves - see what’s available and whether it’s feasible for you to move into your new home midweek (bear in mind the cost of doing so, such as needing to take time off work). Also check their policy on charges in case of delays on moving day - if the sale falls through at the last minute, or there’s a delay in getting your keys, what will they charge?
4. Check insurance coverage
Check that your chosen removals firm has adequate insurance (Goods in Transit, Public Liability and vehicular) and decide if you need additional cover for expensive items. You can get separate removals insurance, but it’s worth checking whether your existing household contents insurance covers it anyway.
5. Use up perishables
The contents of your food cupboards, fridge/freezer, and bathroom cabinets need consideration. Frozen food will go off during the move, so either eat it up or prepare to bin it before moving day. Use as many tinned foods in your cooking as possible - tins weigh a lot and take up valuable space in moving boxes!
Cleaning products can cause chaos if they spill during transit. Either take great care to pack them safely, or use them up/give them away/throw them out before you move.
6. Save money on packaging
Most removals companies will offer to sell or rent packing crates and packaging materials to you. These will be purpose-built and designed to stack well, so you might decide they’re worth the cost.
If you’re trying to keep the cost of moving house to a minimum, though, there are a number of places you can find free cardboard moving boxes
Rather than splash out on bubble wrap, you could utilise bedding, blankets, towels, cushions and pillows to protect delicate items or prevent scratches to your furniture.
Don’t use your clothing to wrap items in - you’ll only have to spend time cleaning, drying and ironing them after you move. Instead, use vacuum bags to pack your clothing - suck the air out of them using your vacuum cleaner and they’ll take up very little space.
7. Be careful not to pack too much!
If you’re moving out of a house you own, take care not to take things with you that your buyers are expecting you to leave. You will have completed a form describing the property and contents and ticked which items are being left - usually, carpets and curtains are left behind, as are any items that are fixed to the property such as units, plants in the garden, and outbuildings. If you take anything that you were expected to leave, your buyers will expect compensation.
If you’re leaving a rented property, double check that you’re not taking anything that belongs to the landlord, and take extra care to leave the property clean and tidy so that you’ll get your deposit back. Take a video of the property before you leave it, to avoid disputes.
8. Check your meters
Take a minute to photograph your gas, electricity and water meters before you move out, and take photos of the meters in your new house. That way, you’ll only pay for the utilities you’ve actually used!
9. Have a Plan B in place
If the worst happens and your new home is not available on the agreed date, but you can’t stay in your existing home, make sure you have alternative storage in place. Do you have any friends or family who could store your belongings in a garage, basement or loft for a few days or weeks? Or could you rent a self storage
unit for your furniture until your new house is available? Could your removals company deliver to an alternative address if required? Where will you stay?
10. Give everyone your new address
It costs quite a lot of money for Royal Mail to redirect your post. Make sure you give your new address to everyone who might write to you - your bank, dentist, doctor, local authority, work/school etc. If you can speak with the people who will be living at your old house, ask if they’ll kindly forward any stray pieces of post to you, then make sure you update your address with anyone you’ve overlooked.
The cost of moving house is difficult to estimate, but hopefully with these tips you can keep them to a minimum. That will leave you with more money to spend on the nice aspects of moving house, like decorating and furnishing it to make it feel like home!