It's all about being organised and making use of what you've got or can get cheaper/free.. Grab a notebook and a pen for starters, they'll keep you sane throughout so you'll always know where your head is at!
So you've found somewhere you like and you're going to go and view it.. Write down any questions you'd like answered or anything you want to check for so that you don't forget any of them when you get there. (Do they accept pets? What kind of heating is it and can the provider be changed? Is there a phone line? Is it available short/long term? Parking? Can you hang anything on the walls? Will all of your furniture fit?- Try to picture where things may go, roughly) Personally, we like to view a property once to have a good look round then go back a second time to measure up, once we know it's definitely all going ahead. Before you go back to measure up, write a list of exactly what needs measuring/checking so you don't forget anything.. The gaps available for kitchen appliances, measure for blinds/curtains, check for cupboard/storage space, measure room sizes (if you want to figure out where furniture will go beforehand), where the phone/tv points are etc.
Once everything is finalised and you know it's definitely happening, you'll need some boxes. Luckily for me, my mum got me some from work but most supermarkets and shops will happily give them away if you pop in and ask.. You definitely don't need to buy any, it's an unnecessary expense. In your notebook, split 2 pages in half and have 3/4 weeks, 2 weeks, last week and last day sections then in each section, jot down when things will need packing.
3/4 weeks: DVDs, homeware - pictures, candles, ornaments, cook books, bread maker.
2 weeks: Shoes, printer, Xbox, some kitchenware, cushions, throws.
1 week: Curtains, lamps, light shades, toaster, clocks, mirrors.
Day before & last day: Dinnerware, kettle, food/drink, sky box, remotes, home phone, router.
This way you can see if you're going to run out of boxes or not before it's too late plus it's a lot less stressful to spread the packing out rather than doing everything at the last minute. You can leave boxes open for just in case too. I like to get hold of bubble wrap for any breakables.. You may be able to get some of this for free but it's fairly cheap in discount/bargain stores if not or plenty of newspaper (like the ones you get through the door that nobody ever reads) and carrier bags will do the job just as well. I like to make sure everything is well packed.. I don't want my things damaged or even scratched - like glass rubbing against glass - I prefer to be extra cautious.
If you can, ask friends/family to give you a hand moving. We're lucky that Aaron is able to borrow a works van for us to move everything ourselves which means it doesn't cost anything but before he worked there we paid a friend of his that has a van to help - far cheaper than using a company. My parents have always helped us move and between the 4 of us, it's never taken too long due to me being so bloomin' organised, which in turn helps keep the stress levels down for everyone else!
Where clothes are concerned, taking everything off the hangers, folding them up then having to unfold and hang everything at the other end is far too time consuming.. Especially if you have as many clothes as I do! I tend to tie something (like rope or bin bags..) around the middle of a bunch of clothes - I usually split my triple wardrobe into 3 or 4 - and through the hangers then put them into a box or bin bag, that way you should be able to just pull them out, untie them and hang them up. Easy peasy :) Don't forget to write on your boxes too, you'll be grateful for this, trust me.. I write what it is for my benefit and where to put it (kitchen living room, bedroom), for everyone to follow which makes it easier for me to unpack!
Another thing I do is write a list of anything I can or need to sell before moving and anything we'll need to buy for the new place. Also, I have a list of things that need doing before we hand our keys back like filling holes we made to hang mirrors and pictures, cleaning, taking meter readings.. Seeing how many lists I have going on during all of this may seem a bit much but I'm the one that's having a stress free move and know what's going on with absolutely everything. There's no chance of forgetting anything and I can cross things off as I go along. It's well worth doing in my opinion.
Packing to move is a great excuse for having a good sort out. If you haven't used it in the last 6/12 months and it holds no sentimental value, do you really need to keep hold of it? Aaron can be a bit of a hoarder whereas I hate clutter so I can be pretty ruthless.. It helps to think if you're going to have space for it at the new place too so if you're not then either bin it, sell it or give it away.
Lastly, don't forget bills need organising too. Whether you're setting bills up for the first time or doing a home move, things like Sky, phone and broadband will need to be set up at least 3 weeks before you move to ensure they're able to get an engineer out the next working day if needed and you're not left waiting... and bored. Don't forget to look online for any bargains or if you're brave, haggle on the phone. I got us a great deal with our fibre broadband for staying and taking a new contract with the same provider :) Other household bills (water, gas, electric, council tax, TV license, contents insurance..) can be done nearer the time, I tend to do it the week before. You should submit meter readings the day you leave/the day you move in too to avoid getting an estimated bill. I also change over any advantage cards and Ebay within my last week.
Wow that was long! If any of you are planning on moving then I wish you all the best and hopefully this may have been helpful for you :) xxx