Removing the stress from switching homes
With rent prices starting to drop, you might be thinking about moving house. But even if you’re just relocating down the road or from one emirate to another, it can be a hugely stressful experience – in a 2015 poll by energy company E.On, 61 per cent of respondents cited moving house as more stressful than a relationship breakdown, a divorce or starting a new job.
First off, set the date well in advance. If at all possible, try to organise it so that the contracts for your old and new places overlap. More-generous landlords will be happy to comply, and it means you won’t have a mad rush trying to get everything done in the space of 24 hours. After that, follow these tips to make sure your next move goes as smoothly as possible.
Decide whether you want to get a moving company to do everything – from packing, transporting and even cleaning. This will affect the cost of your move, and some people might feel more comfortable packing their own belongings.
Either way, choose a reputable company. You can opt for a man with a van – there are plenty advertising their services on Dubizzle and the like – but this generally amounts to false savings. Enlisting the services of a proper moving company will reduce stress and cost in the longer term – even if you don’t own any antique furniture or a priceless art collection.
Get quotes from at least three different removal firms, but don’t only consider price when making your choice. Is the firm reputable and has it been used or recommended by people you know? Ask lots of questions when you contact the company: how many pairs of hands will be there on the day? Are there any hidden costs? How long will the process really take? And will your possessions be insured by the company while in transit?
Farouk Najia, chief executive of Dubai-based moving company Wrap It, recommends contacting moving companies at least two or three weeks before your move. He also suggests: “Selecting the right movers based on reviews, comments of clients through their website and conversations with customer service; understanding the terms and conditions of the quote sent to them, checking on the type of trucks, materials used; and agreeing on a timeline for starting and completing the move.”
In terms of costs, Wrap It would, on average, charge between Dh1,750 and Dh2,550 to move the contents of a two-bedroom property, depending on the size and volume of items. With moves within an emirate, it’s unlikely that distance will be factored into the cost, but you will pay extra for transportation if you are relocating from one emirate to another.
According to Jeanine de Vos, marketing co-ordinator at The Box, which offers both relocation and storage services, moving the contents of a two-bedroom apartment within Dubai would cost about Dh2,000, while a move from Abu Dhabi to Dubai would come in at about Dh2,500.
Some of the other costs that might affect the cost of your move include: “How easy it is to access to the apartment or villa; whether there is a lift available which can be used during the moving process; distance to the loading area and/or lift; and whether handyman services are required for dismantling and installation,” De Vos says.
If you’re doing the packing yourself, start accumulating cardboard boxes as soon as possible. You will need lots and lots of them – far more than you think. You can buy them from Ikea (Dh19 for two) or ask your local supermarket if they have any spare. Even if you’re bringing in the professionals, always pack up any valuables and items of sentimental value yourself, says De Vos.
Create a dedicated “packing HQ” in your home – so you know exactly where to find your boxes, marker pens, sticky tape, bubble wrap, to-do lists and emergency numbers.
Label every box you fill and be as specific as possible – “Kitchen misc” will not be helpful when you’re looking for your kettle on day one in your new home. If the whole family is contributing, make sure you develop some kind of coding system that everybody can use.
Whoever is doing the packing, try to be intuitive. Television remote controls and electrical cables should be packed with the TV, for example. A useful tip is to take pictures of wire settings in the back of televisions and other electronic goods so that it’s easy to set them up again once you’re in your new home. Don’t overpack your boxes. It doesn’t help anyone if they’re too heavy to move – or if all the contents come tumbling out the moment you lift them up.
Use your existing luggage. You will likely have a number of suitcases lying around, so use them to transport clothing, sheets and towels. Fill one suitcase with all the essentials that you will need for your first few days in your new home – basic toiletries, a couple of changes of clothing, bedding, your child’s favourite toys and so on, to save yourself the trouble of rifling through boxes for those essentials when you first arrive. Keep important documents, such as passports and birth certificates, in the glove compartment of your car so they don’t get misplaced.
Check in advance with a tape measure whether all your belongings will fit into your new home. There’s no point lugging that L-shaped sofa all the way to your new apartment, only to discover there’s no space for it. Similarly, think about how you will get all your possessions into the new property – this is less of a problem with villas, but some apartments might have elevators or door frames that are too small for larger pieces of furniture. Do your calculations and speak to the doorman at your new building if you foresee a problem.
Either way, you should inform the management companies of your new and old homes of your proposed moving date: “Liaise with the management company of your building for the gate pass and move out permit,” De Vos says.
View your move as the ultimate opportunity for a ruthless clear out. Get rid of anything you don’t need – donate it, sell it or give it away.
Find out from your current landlord whether you’re expected to clean the property you’re vacating before you leave – otherwise, cleaning services might be deducted from your deposit. Similarly, if you have painted walls or hung things up using nails, it’s worth checking whether you will be penalised if you don’t repaint or fill the holes.
Finally: “Don’t forget to defrost your freezer in time for the move,” De Vos says.
Get someone to look after children and pets – the last thing you need is them getting in your way on the big day. Then divide and conquer. If possible, have someone at the old house and someone at the new one for the duration of the move. This means there’s someone to direct the movers at every stage of the process – and while one of you starts unpacking in your new home, the other can do a final check and clear out at the old place. Don’t even think about cooking on the day of your move. Treat yourself to some delivery to celebrate.
Your first priority is curtains. There is nothing more annoying than waking up at the crack of dawn for the first few weeks in your new home. Ideally, try to measure the windows and order curtains before you move – otherwise, make it the first thing you do in your new home. Next up, change the locks, because you have no idea who has a key to the property, although do check with your landlord first.
Unpack as soon as you can – and unpack everything. It will be tempting to leave a few boxes until later, but this often means they will be sitting around for weeks, if not months, getting in your way until they’re sequestered to a storage area and forgotten about until your next move. Give yourself a deadline – three days should do it.
Finally, start letting people know you have moved. You will need to inform your bank and your child’s school, for a start, and any other organisations that require updated information. Then there are things such as newspaper subscriptions. Start making a list of people to contact as early as possible.
Updated: July 21, 2016 04:00 AM