Moving homes. Such a short sentence, but one that evokes such mixed emotions. What did you feel as you read it? Excitement? Stress? Joy? Exhaustion? Empathy (especially if the person is your new neighbour moving in on a rainy – or very hot – weekend).
Regardless of how you view the “Big Day”, the one thing everyone can agree on is that preparation is key.
Foce Property Investments, property developers active in the bustling Midrand market, has had 20 years of watching excited, and exhausted, home buyers move into their new homes. Having recently launched its Umthunzi Valley development, with sales of phase two well underway, Foce is preparing to welcome owners into their brand new homes later this year.
“The handover is a special, key period in the whole process. It’s why we do what we do,” remarks Franco Cilliers, marketing and sales manager. “It’s important to us that it goes smoothly and that the homeowner is left feeling as excited as the day they first signed the offer to purchase.”
To ensure this happens for those buying into Umthunzi Valley, as well as the many thousands of people moving from rental to rental, or newly bought homes, each month, Cilliers and his team have put their heads together to come up with a number of things they see happen repeatedly that make moving day difficult and unnecessarily stressful.
Plan, plan plan…
The team at Foce Property Investments agrees that planning ahead is the most important factor to a successful moving day. Have your blinds and curtains installed a day or two before moving day; having this covered on your first night in your new home will lessen the uneasiness of sleeping in a strange environment.
Top tip: Your measuring tape is your best friend. Measure your larger pieces of furniture, the space you want them in your new home as well as the sizes of space between doors and gates, and stairs if you have an upstairs unit. You want to be certain that your furniture and large appliances will fit, and if not you need to make provisions for moving day. Perhaps your movers will need to use the balcony and use ropes to hoist up your three-seater couch; or you might need to arrange storage for some pieces you won’t need (can’t fit) in your new home.
Probably the most important part of planning ahead is booking the moving company. Unless you are working with a service provider you’ve worked with before, and therefore trust, you need time to research recommended companies. Ask for references and check online for any glaring red flags. Local community pages are also a good tool to use when researching any service provider – unhappy customers are quick to complain on these pages.
Planning your move on a non-peak day will also be cheaper; the end of the month, and Saturday mornings are the most expensive. It is therefore best to avoid these days if possible.
Top tip: It’s better to put in two days of leave, either on moving day or after. This will ensure you’re not unpacking boxes after a hard day at the office.
Creatures of comfort want comfort
Foce says that it is in the process of preparing a move-in pack for all its new homeowners to make the first few days in a new home easier. Even if you don’t have such a thoughtful developer, there are a few things you can do yourself in the week before you move into your new home to make the first few days memorable for all the right reasons.
Top tip: You might not realise this, but the complex or estate you are moving into could have restrictions on the weight of trucks allowed on internal roads. Even if there are no formal restrictions the space might be limited (many older suburbs have narrow streets). It is therefore important that you find out what trucks the moving company will be using and if they are practical on the day.
When packing your belongings, mark boxes clearly so that you don’t have to search for anything on that first night when you are tired and just want a cup of tea. Better yet, pack one last box with all the essentials you’ll need on that first night, and the next morning.
As the new kid on the block, the last thing you want to do is offend your neighbours by leaving your moving refuse and boxes outside, creating an eyesore. It is very often the owner’s responsibility to have anything that does not fit into the bin removed – plan accordingly. And while you’re at it look into understanding the utilities set up so that you have power on the first day. Ask around beforehand about internet providers as having Wi-Fi hooked up has become just about as essential as having the lights on.
Foce says that the simple act of relaying basic information on the complex, body corporate and local council makes a new homeowner feel welcome in their home.
It seems obvious, but leaving a clean home for those moving in is essential. It is what you will be getting as you move into your new home, so return the favour. Leave a leaflet with essential information and some of your favourite and most trusted service providers on your (sparkling clean) kitchen counter. A home that is clean and ready to be lived in, coupled with this kind act, will be appreciated by your successor.
You will need to remain mindful of your own property throughout the day too. Moving day is stressful; the last thing you want is to leave a car door unlocked as you quickly run in to fetch a set of keys and have your laptop, camera or even car stolen.
Remain vigilant and pack your valuable possessions such as jewellery, guns and passports in a secure box that you move yourself. In some cases it might also be a good idea to replace your door locks in your new property once you’ve moved in.
Feeling at ease, and at home, after moving day will only be easier if you make smart choices on the day. Definitely wear comfortable shoes and clothing, and wear enough sunscreen. Spend some extra money and get professionals to handle the move for you, especially heavy items, as you do not want to be left with an injury after moving day.
Don’t add pressure by thinking you’ll cook on moving day. Definitely order in and have a drink. “Awarding” those who helped you with pizza and a cold one is also a thoughtful thank you.
Top tip: Schedule a housewarming before you move in. This will then become your deadline for unpacking and will help you to not still be living out of boxes three months later.
In the first couple of days it is important that you set up a “me-spot” where you can relax. In fact, it is a good idea to help your whole family set up a space that is important to them to help everyone feel secure and safe in their new home as each person settles into their usual routine as soon as possible.
At the end of the (moving) day it is important to take every moment as it comes. Enjoy the excitement and privilege of moving into your new home but recognise that the first day or two will be difficult and unpleasant to a degree. As frustrating as it is at the time, something like a box ripping open and all the contents spilling out is one of those moving-day moments that you’ll laugh about at your housewarming braai.