It’s been five weeks now since I moved home. I’m still traumatised from it.
It all starts when one day you decide “it’s time to move”. The reasons vary. Lifestyle changes, bigger or smaller family requirements, monetary issues, you don’t like your neighbours, you need to be closer to work, you can’t be arsed cleaning… whatever the reason, you’re moving. So you start looking. I dunno what it was like in the days before the web, but any time I’ve done it I’ve used web sites to find a place. It’s relatively painless to do it this way, and you get to look at some nice pics of someone’s house. Then you argue with your other half a bit over what you’re looking for, what your budget is, how many bedrooms you need, whether you want a garden or a driveway or both, what areas you should be looking in, does the kitchen have a dishwasher, how much work can you be bothered doing to a place after you move in…
Once you’ve agreed all that you keep searching til you find something that matches. That sometimes happens straight away, but more often than not it takes a few days or weeks or even months. So you arrange a viewing… and then you find out it’s already sold. Well update your bloody web site then! So you go back to looking, and you finally get a viewing for somewhere that hasn’t sold yet.
Welcome to the social awkwardness that is wandering around someone else’s house. For the viewer, you’re poking your head in every room, every cupboard, looking for things you like, things you don’t like, things that might need changed. For the owner, you’ve probably spent all day cleaning and now this person is looking through your pants to see how many you’ve managed to cram in your cupboard. I hate being either side of this situation to be honest.
Does anyone ever know what they’re looking for though? I’ve done this quite a few times and I still haven’t learned to spot things I might care about. I’m looking at room sizes, storage space, appliances in the kitchen, that sort of thing. My missus was spotting things like how nice the blinds in the windows were. I’ve never noticed that, but that might be a male/female thing. In our case, we actually made a second viewing to come and see it in the daylight. That’s actually what clinched it for me that we wanted to put an offer in – I saw things I didn’t see previously because it was dark. But I’ll bet I still noticed more when I was moving furniture into the house than I did in either viewing!
So you’ve viewed, you’ve maybe second viewed. In the case of good estate agents you’ll soon be phoned to find out what you thought. Some of the poorer ones don’t. I know one I arranged just before we put an offer in on this place we’re in now still hasn’t got back in touch. But most tend to phone you. Especially in a recession because they’re generally desperate for the sale. This is when the phony war begins. You want to buy the house, they want to sell you it, but neither of you will admit how much because the other will pounce and either try to raise the price or give you less money for it depending on what side you’re on. I absolutely hate all the nonsense that goes with this bit of the move. I despite “offers over”, “offers in excess of”, “offers in the region of” and all the other things that aren’t “fixed price”. Just bloody tell me how much you want me to buy the house for. If it’s too much I’ll tell you what I’m willing to pay. If that’s too little for you then we’ll go our separate ways. But no, you need to guess what they really want, put an offer in less than that because you definitely don’t want to give them it, get that rejected, decide whether you want to up your bid, probably up your bid, see if that suits them…
Lets put this in perspective. Since I moved out of my parents house I’ve owned three places. The first place, my flat, the sale went like this.
“Offers over blah? I’ll give you blahblah.”
“Well, we can’t accept blahblah, but if you up it to blahblahblah we’ll sell you it.”
“Aye, that’s cool with me, lets go with that.”
Sold. It was THAT easy. I absolutely loved how easy it was. Interestingly, it was the first place I’d gone to see, the only place I’d put an offer in on. I was delighted. I was in that flat two years and I loved it. It was mine and only mine. Of course, when the missus finished her Uni course it was time to move up and get a place of OURS instead. That wasn’t so simple a buy. We put two offers in on a place, both got rejected. We walked away. We literally gave up on getting it. They certainly weren’t telling us what they wanted for the place, we were supposed to guess. Two weeks later (I think it was that long) they got back to us and said it had gone fixed price to something slightly above our second bid. Did we still want it? Of course, and that was our first house together done and dusted. I’ll not bore you with the details of where we are now, but needless to say it too was not as easy as buying my flat.
So, you’ve secured the agreement to buy the house. Great, now comes all the toing and froing with the paperwork. What stays when they move out, what are they taking with them, all the other boring legal conditions that the lawyers have to go through as well that only they ever understand. Meanwhile, you go sort out the money, which means dealing with a bank.
Banks suck these days. They sucked before, but they suck even harder now. They don’t want to loan money to anyone now, they just want to steal it from you. But that’s another rant for another day. The mortgage department, assuming they want to actually loan you money, still insist on you getting a survey done. This is despite the fact that the sellers now do the home report for you that should cover what a survey used to cover. Better still, when you bank do this… all they actually do is read the home report and charge you for the privilege of doing that! I even had to pay an arrangement fee for the mortgage itself! I’m giving you enough money for this thing, why do I need to pay you an arrangement fee?! Oh yes, and they actually took it twice because they took too long to arrange the mortgage in the first place. I did get one of those back. Eventually.
So, the sale is done, the paperwork is done, the money is arranged… everything regarding the house itself is actually done and on the specified date it will be yours. Done, right?
Wrong. Now you need to not only cancel every single thing you have at your old house, you need to set it all up again at the new place. Gas and Electricity is never set up like you want it. Cancelling your own is fine, but when you move to the new place it’s set up like the previous occupant wanted it. You want to change that? Tough, you can live with it for four to six weeks while they move everything across. I’m still waiting to have mine moved now! A couple of weeks til that happens yet because they made a mess of it when I first signed up the day I took the keys!
The phone line. That was annoying. I was with BT. The previous occupants, BT. So it should just be a quick handover, right? Wrong. I’m supposed to tell them I’m moving in weeks in advance. I didn’t tell them I was moving in til after I took the keys in case there were issues with the money. So when I told them they told me it would be a week before they could connect me. So no phone. With no phone, I couldn’t tell my broadband provider what my new number was either, so I couldn’t get the line activated for a further week after the phone! Two weeks without internet in the house! Why do these things take so long? The phone connection is one guy going to a box in the street and plugging something in! The broadband connection is the same thing! How does that take a week?!
Council tax. Here’s another one. In my case it was a bigger faff because I had moved from one council to another. But you need to tell them you’ve moved out. They’ll charge you until you do. You need to tell the new one you’ve moved in. These councils ALWAYS take so long to do their side of the paperwork that you miss a payment. When you miss a payment, all the other payments for the rest of the year end up costing you more. You know the worst time to move? Just before the council tax new year which comes at the start of April. So any time in March is a bad time to move. Apparently that extends into February. Yes, we’re in that very position and have now missed the first payment day. We’re paying extra for the rest of the year now. Yay. This would all have been simpler if I could just have updated my own details on the system, but oh no. You have to print off the form from their web site and send it in. Get with the 21st century people!
That’s not all though. No, we’ve also moved into a different constituency for the upcoming general election. That’s a different form again! Same issues! I have absolutely no idea if I’m going to be able to vote when the election finally gets called! I’ve done the paperwork, but I haven’t had it confirmed yet. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
Then there’s the other headaches of changing your address on every single thing you have. Credit cards, bank accounts, subscriptions to magazines (I still haven’t changed my Celtic View because they don’t tell you how!), insurance details, driver’s license, TV license…. you name it, you’ll need to change the address on it.
I hate all the paperwork. As it was, the money got held up at one point and I literally spent the day before closing running around chasing lawyers, banks and signing paperwork here, there and everywhere. It was a workday! I was in work for about three hours that day, made all the worse when the bank called me to tell me they’d forgot to get me to sign something and could I come back in! I worked from home at the end of that day and ended up working until about 10pm that night! I’m really lucky that my work are so understanding. I really don’t see how people do these things and still have time to do their job.
I’ve ranted nearly 2000 words now and you know what I haven’t covered yet? The actual physical process of moving!
At some point before the moving day you draw a line. A line where you have to decide to pack up almost everything and live out of boxes. It’s usually a few days before hand depending on time off work and such. At this point you pack up a lot of the stuff you have… and you realise just how much stuff you have. I’m fairly sure most people have, at some point in packing, picked up something and thought “I don’t even remember buying this”. Or “I don’t remember what this is”. Or “I wondered what had happened to this”. Or “I haven’t seen this since the last time we moved”. If you ever want a good spring clean and a chance to throw out stuff you don’t use, move house. Any other time you’ll put it away again thinking “I might need it”. At this point in time you’re more inclined to think “it’s one less thing to put in the van”. If you’re really lucky your missus will pack your stuff and she’ll throw out stuff you forgot you had. That way you’ll never miss it. I’m fairly sure this has happened to me this time round, but I couldn’t tell you what it is. That’s the beauty of it, I’ll NEVER know so it’ll NEVER bother me.
The night before the move, you’ll pack up pretty much what’s left. I have, on more that one occasion now, slept on just the mattress having broken up the bed ready to put in the van. Then, the day of the move, you discover just how bloody awkward lots of things are to move. Big screen TVs. How are you supposed to transport them without the packaging they came in which you didn’t keep because it’s bloody massive cardboard?! Top tip – duvet covers work REALLY well. Mattresses. They are massive things that don’t fold or break up. Especially the massive, ridiculously heavy Tempur thing we have! They’re a pain to get up and down stairs, round corners, you name it, it’s awkward. You also remember why you built big units in the room they were intended for. Yes, they don’t fit round corners too well.
Anyone know a good way to load all this stuff into a van? My soon to be father-in-law does. He’s been there for both our major moves and I’m eternally grateful to him because he is a workhorse who never stops. He knows every single little trick you could need for moving, from getting things round tight spots, to how things can be broken up and put back together later if necessary, to how to load the van. It must be another thing you learn at secret dad school along with DIY and all the other things I’ve never even began to understand how to do. I sure as hell wouldn’t know how to pack the van!
So, you’ve loaded the van. Anyone else get kinda freaked out by the fact that everything that WAS in your whole big house manages to fit into something on four wheels? It makes me laugh. You complain for ages how you don’t have room for anything, yet if you compress it all down it fits in a van. Brilliant. So you drive the van to the new place. I’m a bloke, I love to drive a van. I’m also a bit of a girl in that I let my soon to be father-in-law drive cos I might break the stuff in the back if I drive so I only drive empty vans.
You get to the new house, and you remember… you need to take all the stuff out again and basically go round all new corners and up all new stairs with all that stuff that was awkward the last time. Sigh. Surely there’s an easier way to do this? Nope. You suck it up and get on with it. You promise yourself you’ll try out a new takeaway instead of cooking tonight. You’ve no food in anyway. And you set about building and unpacking.
Except you don’t. Like I said at the beginning, we’ve been here five weeks and we still have a pile of stuff in boxes. I’ll be honest, there was a couple of boxes in the shed at the old place that we hadn’t unpacked from the move from the flat! There’s always stuff you don’t quite unpack. You just get to it eventually. Because you’re here for a while, and that stuff will still be there. Of course, don’t count on finding anything for weeks yet. My favourite so far here has been a pack of envelopes. I went on a hunt for these things to post some change of address paperwork a couple of days after we moved in. I found them in a pile in a room. Great, I know where they are. Two days later I went looking for them where I’d left them. Of course, the days between the missus had decided that room was her next target to arrange and put away. To this day I STILL haven’t found those envelopes again. They’ll be about somewhere, I just have no idea where! Best yet, she doesn’t know either!
Moving is quite possibly the most stressful thing you do in life, and it can’t be helped. In the end, it’s worth it otherwise you wouldn’t be moving house. I love this new place, but what a nightmare it was getting here. Of course, the fact we were ALSO planning wedding stuff at the same time can’t have helped the stress levels! But isn’t that just another rant for another day…