Moving home - Downsizing - First time buyer

Moving house checklist

4 min read

Print out our handy moving house checklist to keep track of everything you need to do when moving house.

  • Arti Dhamu, Move Specialist at My Home Move Conveyancing
    Arti Dhamu

    Move Specialist

    Published May 14th 2024

young woman going through her moving house checklist before completing on her first house purchase

Step 1: Planning to move

Before you have exchanged contracts and agreed to an exact moving date, there are things you can do plan ahead to help prep you for your move:

  • Start researching your new local area – if you’re moving to a new area, you should start looking into anything you may need locally. The government and NHS have great websites and search tools to help you find services available within a postcode, such as schools, nurseries, doctors, dentists etc.    

  • Let your conveyancer know your preferred moving dates – although you shouldn’t arrange anything, or pay any deposits, until your moving date has been confirmed (once they contacts have been exchanged), you can still agree a moving date to ‘work to’. This will give you a good indication of timings.

  • Speak to your landlord about your notice period – if you’re renting, you’ll need to provide notice to your landlord. Ahead of the move, you should check how much notice you need to give them. Generally, you’d ideally want your moving date to coincide with the end of your tenancy, however you may want several days extra to avoid unnecessary stress. However, you should only formally end your tenancy, once you have exchanged contracts, as until then moving dates could still change.   

  • Declutter - while you don’t need to start putting your entire life into boxes this early, you can save effort deciding what you don’t need in your new place. Go through your old clothes and furniture and donate unnecessary items to charity shops, sell them online or throw them away.

  • Start running down freezer foods – as freezer food doesn’t travel well, it’s a good idea to start using up the food within your freezer, and doing lighter food shops, so that you avoid wasting money on food that you won’t use up before the move.  

  • Check your holiday availability - think about potential moving dates and check if you’ll be able to take some days off. Don’t book anything until your deal is official but discuss your future plans with your employer, letting them know some last-minute leave may be in the pipeline.

  • Get quotes on your removal costs - the entire process of moving might be pricey, so get a house removals quote so you’re aware of the costs. Check the references of removal companies and their insurance limits, however hold off booking until you exchange contacts.

  • Shop around for utility suppliers. - moving house is a great opportunity to get a better deal on your gas and electric. Shop around for quotes, haggle and use comparison sites to check if you could cut down on your living costs.

  • Write a guide for the new owners – if you’re moving out of a home that you own it’s a nice idea to write a fact file/ guide for the new owners. This could include anything that you think could be useful, such as bin collection days, which keys unlock which doors and instruction manuals.   

  • If you’re planning a long-distance move – read our helpful guide on long distance moves, most tasks will be the same, however there may be more you can do to help make your moving day as stress free as possible.

Looking for environmentally friendly ways to move? Check out our top 6 tips for an eco-friendly home move.

Step 2: Changing your address when moving house

Now that you’ve exchanged contracts and set your moving date you will need to notify a few organisations and companies about your new address (as well as your family and friends):

  • Financial institutions - update your bank, and credit card and pension providers with your new address, as well as any direct debits or standing orders that will be affected by your move.

  • Existing utility companies - inform your water supplier, gas and electric provider about your moving date. Start to plan for settling the meter readings and bills – and remember to take photos of your old and new home meters on moving day.

  • Other providers - you may want to transfer some services – such as your broadband and telephone provider – so take steps with them to arrange this as soon as possible.

  • Health services - contact your local NHS doctor’s surgery and register with your new GP. This will avoid any delays if you need treatment.

  • Employer - let your employer know about your move and get your leave booked and confirmed as soon as possible. Remember to get your address updated on your company’s records as well as educational institutions such as your children’s school or college.

  • Landlord - you’re free to move out of a rental property anytime you like, but you’ll still be expected to serve your notice period and fulfil any other contractual obligations.

  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) - not having your current address on your driving licence is an offence, so make sure you update your personal information online. However, don’t complete the process before you move as you might need your licence for identification during the moving process.

  • Car insurance provider - to calculate your premium, car insurers take your address into account. Moving without updating them could invalidate your insurance, so let them know your new address. Make sure you also notify your life, health, home and content insurance providers.

  • Council tax - both your new and old local authorities need to know about the move, for council tax and electoral services. You mustn’t do this until you’ve completed, otherwise it could interfere with the sellers’ own council tax bill if the council is prematurely given notice of a new occupier.

  • Electoral register - you’ll want to update your new address so you are still able to vote in elections or referendums.  

  • TV licence - updating your TV licence is easy and can be done online in minutes.

  • Any subscriptions and services - keep any mail-order services up-to-date, as well as magazines, gym membership or any other subscriptions. You may also want to delete your old address from these so you don’t accidentally order anything to the wrong address.

  • Pets - if you have microchipped pets remember to share your new address with database companies.

To make it easier, there are services that will update your details with all of the providers and suppliers, from utilities to broadband and storage. Find out more about home setup services

Step 3: Make the necessary bookings

Stay in control of the big day ahead, by making bookings in plenty of time:

  • Get your house removals company booked - if you’ve been prepared you should have a few quotes to hand, so booking should be quick and easy. Remember to clarify their insurance cover and the duration of their service, as some may charge extra after a certain period.

  • Book any child or pet care you need - if friends and family are helping you, let them know as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

  • Book storage space - for any items you don’t want to bring to your new house.

Step 4: Get organised and ready to move home

On the lead up to your moving day, it’s a good idea to get some final bits sorted:

  • Speak to your conveyancer - to check that everything is in place and they don’t need any more documents or details from you.

  • Check your home insurance policy - to make sure it covers you to moving day and until you’re out of the house. Review what your contents insurance covers in relation to moving items out of the home and transit. If you’re moving your belongings yourself, consider that you might not be covered for breakages or loss.

  • Pack everything and label boxes - consider what your non-essential items are and pack these first. Label your boxes, listing their contents and what room they need to be in. Remember that you mustn’t simply ‘strip’ your home; check your fittings and contents form to make sure you’re only taking items that you’ve notified the buyer of.

  • Ask your sellers to provide a guide – it can be hard to find your bearings in a new house, this can be made easier if your sellers leave a guide. This could cover essential information such as where the stopcock is, meter locations, bin collection days etc.

  • Collect spare keys – contact any friends, family or neighbours that have spare keys so you can give them to the new owners.

  • Have your mail forwarded - so you don’t miss out on any important letters once you lock up your old place. Set up mail forwarding online with Royal Mail once you know your moving date; they only need five days’ notice – so don’t complete the process far in advance as your mail could end up through the letter box of a house you don’t have access to.

  • Think about cleaning – you’ll want to complete a thorough clean of the property (especially if renting), so it’s a good idea to start now. You may need to rent a carpet cleaner, tackle the oven, or you may even want to hire a professional cleaner to help.

Step 5: Prepare to leave your old house

At this point you need to finalise your moving day plans. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Get in touch with your removal company - to confirm timings. It might be a good idea to run through the directions to the new house with them, avoiding any potential issues on the day. Double-check the estate agents’ opening hours and make sure they have your mobile number so they can call you to collect keys.

  • Speak to your conveyancer - to check they’ve got your mobile contact details. Consider giving them an alternative number for a friend or relative in case you can’t be reached on the day.

  • Get the essentials for moving day - put together everything you’ll need for your first night in your new home. This should include toilet roll, spare light bulbs, tea, coffee, milk, sugar, scissors, toiletries, plates and a few bits of cutlery. You can also pack an overnight bag, containing the next day’s clothes and some basic toiletries, as well as phone chargers.

  • Have your phone fully charged - as you’ll need to be in contact with your conveyancer and the estate agents throughout the day.

  • Make sure you have all key documents - collate your new and old home insurance policy documents, car insurance documents and passports in a folder.

  • Walk around the house and do a final check - look in every cupboard and corner of your home to check everything’s accounted for.

Step 6: On the day of your move

Moving day can be quite hectic, to help reduce the stress of moving, you can take the following steps:

  • Greet your house removal team - give them instructions, guiding them through the process, showing them which boxes are fragile and what needs to be prioritised.

  • Make a note of your meter readings - for water, electric and gas.

  • Arrange drop-off and pick up for your children and pets

  • Lock all windows and doors - once the final load is ready to go, fully secure the home. Why not leave a welcome note with any useful information?

Step 7: Settle into your new home

You’re finally in. The job of making the house truly yours lies in the days and weeks ahead, however from the moment you’ve got the keys, there’s some steps you can take to make sure you’re all set:

  • Check all the services are working and take meter readings - test your electric, gas and water have been switched on – and if not, chase this up with the relevant provider immediately. This information should be on your Property Information Form, filled in by the seller, so try to keep a copy of this to hand.

  • Ensure the removal company has done its job - look inside the van to make sure everything’s been picked up and glance over essential items to check or any damage.

  • Review your copy of the seller’s fittings and contents form - check that all items mentioned are in your new house. If anything’s missing or the property is in a poor state, contact your conveyancer for guidance.

Put the kettle on, crack open the champagne and order a takeaway. Welcome to your new home!

Purchasing your first home? Watch our short video to find out more about the conveyancing process.

Disclaimer: The lists detailed above are only a rough guide to give you some idea of the sequence in which you need to do things. Hopefully, your move will proceed quickly, in which case you will have less time to do these things. It Is important not to commit yourself to any expense until contracts have been exchanged, unless you are confident that the move will go ahead.

How long before moving should you start packing?

Starting to sort and pack your belongings around 8 weeks before moving day is a good time to start. This way you can start with rooms or belongings you'll likely not need and pack little and often, making the whole process less overwhelming. Read our guide for more tips on how to pack when moving house.

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