Simon explains how house moving day can be a stressful, uncertain, but ultimately rewarding experience when you are living alone.
In a previous article, I discussed the numerous decisions that need to be made when you’re moving house alone. Having successfully tackled those issues and purchased a property, I recently reached the pivotal point of the entire moving process…Moving Day!
Despite all my preparations and planning, I hadn’t quite realised how stressful and emotionally draining the day itself would be. Allow me to explain.
Approaching Day Zero
For a long time, I enjoyed preparing for my house move. For a start, I was solely responsible for deciding what items of furniture to take with me and what to chuck away or sell. I found it a cathartic experience, and in most cases, I decided to get rid of my possessions in order to make the move a genuine fresh start.
On top of that, I found the ‘admin’ side of things relatively stress-free. Having to occasionally chase solicitors and agents was a tad annoying, especially with nobody else to share the task, but overall it was not too much bother.
Unfortunately, as the big day approached, anxiety began to take over – Would the exchange happen on time? Had I forgotten anything? Would someone in the chain suddenly pull out? With nobody to help allay my fears, the tension mounted, causing many sleepless nights.
If you are moving alone, I can highly recommend using a friend as a sounding board for all your anxieties. With hindsight, I would have done something similar to help share the metaphorical load.
To make the actual moving day slightly less hectic, I booked a house clearance for the day before. This meant that all of my unwanted possessions would be taken away, so on the day of the move, the removal firm merely had to take the items I was keeping.
It seemed a flawless plan, and indeed in the lead-up to the big day, I was relatively relaxed in terms of moving furniture and possessions. I got a friend to help with a few tip trips, but the majority of the work I could do by myself.
The issue that I hadn’t considered was the emotional strain of seeing your house being emptied. On the morning of the move, after my house had been stripped bare, I had to go around for a last-minute clean. I’m not usually one for getting hung up on the past, but I found this a hugely emotional experience. I’d lived in the house for ten years, so it was full of memories (good and bad). Seeing those memories reduced to empty rooms and literal piles of dust was a bit too much for me. Ideally, I would not have tackled this on my own. Not because I needed a shoulder to cry on but having somebody to take my mind off the procedure would have been hugely helpful.
The waiting game
By 11:30 am, I was sitting in my car outside my new property. At 4:30 pm, I was sitting in my car outside my new property. During this five-hour period, I made numerous calls to solicitors and estate agents and was repeatedly told that everything was slowly happening and not to worry.
Unfortunately, remaining worry free is not my forte. I was panicking to a massive degree, even though I was fully aware that the conveyancing process in the UK is farcical. By 3:30 pm, I had managed to convince myself that everything was going to fall apart, I was looking at local hotels and reading articles of moving day ‘horror stories’. Not to mention the fact I was racking up a huge ‘overtime’ bill from the removal company. By 4:00 pm, I was totally convinced that I was effectively homeless. All rational thought had left me, and I was feeling a mixture of anger, sadness and panic.
Then the phone rang, the move had been completed, and I could collect my keys.
I’d love to see that I immediately felt an immense rush of euphoria, but in truth, I was still on edge, as I needed to get the unloading underway and work out various pieces of admin. I’m writing this three weeks after the move, and I honestly have no idea how the following couple of hours panned out.
What I do know is that at some point – after the removal company had left, after I had made various phone calls (partly admin, partly social) and after I’d rung the local pizza delivery service – I slumped on my garden furniture/temporary sofa and felt a wave of relief wash over me. I also felt a mixture of pride, accomplishment and joy, but the relief was clearly winning in terms of my emotions.
What have I discovered?
A large part of my pride was in the fact that I’d accomplished the move almost completely on my own. But on the flip side, the negative aspects of the experiences were because I was doing it on my own.
The sadness of seeing my old house for the last time, the panic of waiting for the completion to go through and the annoyance of the admin would all have been less negative had I been sharing the burden. Obviously, I don’t mean that I need to buy a house with another person next time, but having a friend to help distract me and to take away some of the hassles would have been hugely welcome. Certainly, I will be offering my services next time a solo living friend of mine moves house.
Clearly, moving house is a pretty seismic life event and not something that happens on a regular basis. But many of the lessons from my experience do translate to other areas of life. Living alone means we have to tackle a lot of big issues on our own, we have to go through a lot of emotions and deal with unwanted complications. But in a lot of cases, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a bit of help. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to chip in. This doesn’t mean you need them to contribute a lot of time or money (or even effort!), but just by being there, they can help significantly.
As for me, I’m now firmly in the home improvement phase, aka the fun bit! And living alone is making it an altogether more exciting venture. But that’s a story for another day…
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