As with so many things, preparation and planning are vital. Unless your move is a last-minute necessity, start looking at the logistics well in advance. Even if you’re not usually a list-maker, you’ll probably want to keep some notes and records for this, especially since there are some aspects about moving in London that you wouldn’t generally have to face elsewhere in the UK.
Choosing a removals firm
So what do you need to take into account when you’re planning to move home? The first thing to do is to make a list of potential removals firms. It’s often a good idea to use a local firm. London traffic and residential parking restrictions can be tricky to negotiate, and a local firm should have the knowledge and experience to deal with this.
Next, check them out online. Do they feature in any of moving horror stories, or do they have plenty of positive reviews from satisfied customers? Use this information to whittle down your list of prospects.
You should make contact with the remaining firms and invite them to send round a surveyor to assess the size of the job. This is essential; it will result in you getting an accurate quotation, and them sending enough movers and a big enough van on the day. On that subject, be sure they have a van large enough to move everything in one go – you don’t want a fleet of vehicles, or a single van shuttling back and forth between addresses.
Ask what packing materials they will provide. This isn’t just boxes or crates supplied beforehand, it applies to protection for large items of furniture, packing for pictures and ornaments, book boxes, blankets for furniture, wraps for mattresses and provisions for moving your precious audio visual equipment. If you have any specialist equipment or musical instruments (such as a piano) do they have the experience and equipment to cope with it? If you’re interested in using a packing service, ask about that, too.
Confirm they have insurance in place should the worst happen, and make sure it is sufficient for your needs.
Once you’ve booked your firm, make sure they will have adequate access to both properties when they need it. If each home has a driveway that’s great, but the chances are you will need temporary parking permits. Apply for them well in advance, and make sure they comfortably cover the time needed to both load and unload.
Danger areas on moving day
Your previous efforts should mean enough movers and packing materials turn up in a van of the appropriate size, and that they are able to park for long enough at both properties, but there are still some other issues to consider.
Make sure the movers know where they are going. It’s a fairly fundamental part of the job, but it’s always worth double-checking to ensure there’s no confusion over things like flat numbers. What time are they expected to arrive? Do you have their contact number, and do they have yours, so you can each get in touch if something happens?
Another consideration is how safe your possessions are in their journey from one home to the next. You don’t just have to worry about damage – although if they whack your antique dresser off a door frame you will have that to deal with – you also need to think about theft. If your things are left unattended in the garden, on the pavement, or in an open van as they are being loaded or unloaded, then they aren’t secure. London streets are busy, so make sure nothing is left unattended at any time.
Moving doesn’t have to be a bad experience and a little planning and preparation can go a long way to making sure things run smoothly. Just remember to ensure you have enough tea and biscuits for yourself and your movers.
Updated: January 2021