The turmoil of moving house

Lifestyle Written by John Bolton, Jul 9 2014

The process of moving house is fraught with challenges, problems and emotional turmoil. There will be periods of elation, periods of depression, periods of frustration, periods of anxiety and periods where nothing much happens. The key thing is to realise that all of this will effect you so being prepared for it is key.

Having just completed a house move, I can tell you from personal experience that you are certainly glad when it’s all over. However don’t expect that on that final day when you complete the settlement on your new home, you will be kicking back with a glass of champagne as the publicity pictures will have you believe. Far from it. That day has to be the hardest and most stressful; and despite all the best laid plans it seldom goes to plan; nor does it go without incident. I have experienced the frustration of duelling removal trucks at the same house midway through the afternoon; one trying to complete the loading and the other desperate to unload. If possible I would strongly urge you to try and settle on consecutive days especially if you have a lot of furniture. If you can get your bank to bridge the finance for a day or so it makes for a far less stressful time and in relative terms the cost is not prohibitive. That is but one idea or suggestion I can offer in this complex and fraught period.

During a house move, the period of highest elation is certainly that moment when you get the acceptance of your offer on the property you want to buy or the satisfaction of the sound of the fall of the hammer on the auctioneers table notifying you that you are the winning bidder. Sure the preceding hours and days tend to be some of the most stressful; constantly worrying about how much you can offer and will your offer be accepted, but for that beautiful moment when you sign the sale and purchase agreement to celebrate that the new house becoming yours, is a time to savour. Why? Because a few minutes later the reality dawns on you of the scale of the financial decision you have committed to - be confident though that you have made the right decision; but there is no denying that sense of trepidation as to that decision.

The periods of inactivity during a house move tend to stretch out between unconditional sale date and settlement. For weeks it seems like the whole event was somehow a distant memory and then suddenly with barely a week to go all action needs to be geared to packing up and arranging the moving. It is staggering just how long it takes to pack up all your belongings and how much stuff you accumulate over the years. It’s certainly a great time to undertake a bit of judicious culling of items that have barely seen the light of day for the past few years. Ask yourself why you want to pack this stuff up only to unpack it at the new house and store it away in a new cupboard!

The periods of depression during a house move tend to occur around the first few weeks of having your house on the market. In my view it is natural reaction occurring as it does in the lead up to getting your home ready for marketing. You spend countless hours and dollars beautifying the home to the perfection it is on the day it is photographed. You excitedly talk through with the agent all the aspects of the marketing campaign and discuss the expectations of the selling price and the level of predicted interest from prospective buyers. Then a sense of depression hits as the public share their views, and sadly they tend to be brutal. It is best to be prepared for this experience. These buyers inspecting your house are not being personal, they are merely seeking to leverage buyer advantage. They will share their views on all the aspects of the house that you so love, they will low-ball their view of the value of the property and they will find fault in the smallest aspect of the house, the location or the market. Try to be objective and detached. For you this is your home, but for them, it is at this stage just a house and they do not know the house as you know it, so try and remain detached and focus on the new house that you will be moving into shortly.

The key to a successful move is to try and ensure that you do not compound these issues I have described by letting other things get in the way. Don’t choose to move at a time which coincides with other events that might be traumatic. Ensure you and the family take enough time off work to get all the jobs done and also allow sometime to enjoy the new house before heading back to work - treat it like a new member of the family and get to know it, spend some quality time getting things in order and getting to know the neighbourhood. People on average only move house around 5 times in their adult lives so you have in someways to relearn the experience each time as it may well be 8 to 10 years ago that you last moved. Try and plan ahead and allow sufficient time to complete all the necessary tasks. Write out lists and document everything. Plan ahead and ask advice. All of this advice will not stop things going wrong, it might just remove some risks from the process. Good luck and enjoy the new home!

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