Moving home checklist

Moving home checklist

Slash costs & make moving easier

It's just before you complete and move in. You're frantically packing boxes, sorting final bills and booking moving vans. But what else do you need to know about the place you're moving to? This guide throws you 10 last-minute questions, as well as moving tips and ways to start saving immediately on your new household bills.

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  1. Top 10 last-minute questions to ask sellers

    To make your life easy, it's best to get as much information about the property you're moving into before the seller moves out – the kind of stuff you may not have learned when viewing the property. Remember to ask the previous owner these questions:

    • Where's the main stopcock (to shut off the water)?

    • Where are the gas and electricity meters?

    • Do any surfaces need special cleaning products, such as wooden floors?

    • What day are the bins collected?

    • Do you have any old tins of paint in the same colour as the walls?

    • Do you have any instruction manuals or warranties on electrical items?

    • Where did the kitchen and bathroom tiles come from?

    • Which company supplies the energy, broadband and home phone?

    • Where is the thermostat?

    It's a lot to remember, so why not write them down and take them with you so you don't forget?

  2. Compare removal costs

    If you're moving without any furniture (for example, from your parents' home, or you've been renting a furnished property), a car and a couple of mates will suffice. Even if you think you have a lot of stuff, hiring a van for a couple of hours might work out cheaper than a removal company – try TravelsupermarketEnterprise Car Club or Zipcar.

    For those who are taking all of their property and furniture with them, you'll probably need to enlist the help of a removal company. To get five local quotes instantly, head to Reallymoving.com. Also check that the company belongs to the British Association of Removers.

  3. Redirect your post

    If you don't know who is moving into the property you are leaving, use the Royal Mail's postal redirection service to ensure that any bills or other mail you've not changed your address on still reaches you.

    You can get post redirected for three, six or 12 months, and longer if you're still getting volumes of post through after your initial period is up. It costs from £33.99 (for three months), but if more than one person needs their mail redirecting, the price is greater.

    Remember that if mail isn't redirected, you need to call the sender and either update your address or ask to be taken off its mailing list. It's important to do this – any bills you don't get and therefore don't pay can damage your credit record, or result in you being traced by a debt collection company. Stray letters can also increase the risk of ID fraud.

  4. Clean your new pad before you move

    The property could be manky when you arrive, so if possible, tackle the grime before moving day. MoneySaver mrs_montgomery says:

    When you move in, the place will be FILTHY. If you buy it new it will be full of chips of plaster and dust.

    "If you buy it from someone else, the cupboards will be grubby and the walls covered in big dirty moving-men fingermarks and scrapes from where they've carried their furniture down the stairs.

    - mrs_montgomery

    For loads of MoneySaving cleaning tips, see the Old Style MoneySaving forum.

  5. Top tips to make moving day go smoothly

    Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do, but a little planning can help ensure you're not tearing your hair out on the day:

    • Label all boxes with which room they're due to go to, and a description of what's inside. Put these labels on the top and side of the box so you know what's inside when they're stacked.

    • Put screws and bolts from bits of furniture in freezer bags. Then stick the bag to the relevant bit of furniture with masking tape.

    • Flatten some cardboard boxes. Then lay them down to protect your flooring.

    • Move your furniture into the new house first. Otherwise you'll end up moving boxes around again to make room.

    • Make sure there are lightbulbs. You don't want to have to go to the shops mid-move or not notice until suddenly it's too dark.

    It might seem like a bit of extra work beforehand, but you'll be thankful for it when it comes to unpacking at the other end.

  6. Get free sofas, beds, TVs, fridges and more

    Furnishing your new pad? Hundreds of top-quality goodies are available daily for free. It's all about web communities, and the big names are Freecycle and Freegle.

    What's the catch? There isn't one. Instead of dumping goods or eBaying them, people harness the web's power to offer them to their local communities. So as well as kitting up for nowt, the environment benefits as unwanted items aren't flung into landfills.

    Of course, there is some moth-bitten tat. But there's also top-quality stuff too. Bagging the best is all about the etiquette – you need to give yourself time to do your research and keep your eyes peeled. For a full step-by-step guide, see Freecycle & Freegle tips.

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  7. Save £100s on your gas and electricity bill

    Don't stick with the previous owners' energy supplier any longer than you have to. Those on providers' standard tariffs can save £100s a year by switching.

    You can still compare, even if you don't have previous bills from your new home. Just tell our Cheap Energy Club some info about it and whether you're a high, medium or low user. It'll show the cheapest tariff for you – some even give cashback for switching. This won't be 100% accurate as it makes some assumptions, but it'll give you good options, likely to be far cheaper than the default standard tariff you'll be put on when you moved in.

    Finally, don't forget to take meter readings when you move in. Then you'll know you're not being billed for the previous owner's usage.

  8. Register to vote

    When you move, you don't automatically get registered to vote at your new address. If you aren't registered, you don't get a say on who represents you.

    Being registered to vote can also help boost your credit score, as if you're not on the electoral roll it's unlikely you'll get accepted for credit. This is because credit reference agencies use the register to confirm where you live in order to counteract fraud.

    The registration process now requires that, rather than one person registering all members of a household, each individual needs to register themselves. You can register on the Gov.uk site.

  9. Deal with old residents' post the right way

    You open the front door on moving day and there's a pile of post that isn't yours on the doormat. You can't open it (legally) and shouldn't chuck it.

    Your best bet is to write on it 'return to sender, not known at this address' and pop it back in the post. That way the sender will know not to send any future mail, and can try to find the new, correct address from the recipient.

  10. Slash your boiler cover costs

    If there's a central heating boiler in your new pad, then consider getting cover for it. There's nothing worse than arriving home when it's cold to discover the central heating's packed up and there's no hot water. Everything else flies out the window while you frantically search for someone who'll fix it – and it won't be cheap.

    Companies play on this fear by charging serious money for boiler and heating cover, but you can avoid paying big bucks. Don't stick with your energy provider, our Cheap boiler cover guide may save you £100s.

  11. Bag free £1,100 insulation for your new pad

    If you receive certain benefits, there's wads of free cash on offer to install loft or cavity wall insulation. These can cut bills by £530/year. Combined, these normally cost up to £1,100. But to fulfil energy efficiency obligations, some firms do it free.

    You usually have to own your own home and be receiving certain benefits, such as pension credit, universal credit, child benefit, carer's allowance or disability living allowance. For the full lowdown on what's available and to check providers' eligibility criteria, have a read of our Free insulation and boilers guide.

    Another quick way to check if you qualify is to call Simple Energy Advice (for those in England) on 0800 444 202, Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282, or Nest (for those in Wales) on 0808 808 2244.

  12. Check 'n' challenge your council tax band

    Up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland may have been in the wrong band since the early '90s. If you live in one of those homes, you can get your band lowered and a backdated payout – often worth £1,000s.

    First you'll have to see if your neighbours in identical or similar properties are in lower bands. Then you can use the web to value your home for free, and convert it back to its 1991 price. We've got the full step-by-step reclaiming process in our Council tax bands guide.

  13. Rent out your spare room for extra cash

    If you have a spare room and fancy making some extra cash, you could always rent it out. If you do, you've two options to legitimately reduce tax, but you must choose one of them:

    • The Rent a Room scheme: The Rent a Room scheme means you can take in a lodger to live in a furnished room in your home. It has a special exemption, meaning you won't have to pay tax on the first £7,500 you make each year. This is a huge tax break for most people and really ups the gain. Better still, as a landlord you'll be expected to ask for a month in advance, which means ready cash comes in quickly.

    • Deducting expenses: HMRC also allows landlords to deduct certain expenses from any rental income, such as property maintenance costs. This can be a bigger saving in some cases. See Gov.uk for full info.

    If you don't want to rent out a room full-time, you can play guesthouse. Airbnb and Wimdu let you list your spare room online, and take in travellers looking for a cheap place to stay. You can set the nightly cost, undercutting the local hotels, and you might just get to work on your language skills too.

    For 60+ other ways to bring in extra cash, see our full Boost your income guide.

  14. Protect your property against scammers

    It might sound unlikely, but one homeowner had a nasty surprise after his property in Luton was sold by scammers without his knowledge (he was living elsewhere at the time). He only made the discovery when neighbours noticed movement inside the property, which turned out to be the new 'owners'.

    While such incidents aren't common, it's a warning of what could happen if you fall victim to identity fraud. Fortunately, you can simply sign up to an alert service to mitigate the risk:

    • In England or Wales – sign up to HM Land Registry's property alert system. You can choose up to 10 properties to monitor, and you'll be notified any time a search or application is received by HM Land Registry in relation to one of these properties. You don't need to be the owner of the property to monitor it (so you could do it to help out elderly friends or relatives who aren't online). Sign up on the HM Land Registry website.

      Or alternatively...

      Homeowners in England and Wales can also prevent HM Land Registry from registering a sale or mortgage on their property without their consent. To do this, a restriction needs to be added to the deeds of the property. This involves either you or a solicitor filling out an application form and sending it to HM Land Registry. Restriction applications cost a £40 fee if you live at the property, or they're free if you live elsewhere. Send the application along with any fees due (payable via cheque or postal order to 'HM Land Registry') to:

      - HM Land Registry, Citizen Centre, PO Box 75, Gloucester, GL14 9BB

      Download an application form from the Gov.uk website

    • In Northern Ireland – register an 'inhibition' on your property. This is very similar to adding a restriction to the deeds of a property in England and Wales. An inhibition prevents the Land Registry in Northern Ireland from either registering a sale or mortgage on a property without your consent, or from doing so without first giving you notice (you decide which). The inhibition can be cancelled in future if you want.

      You can apply for an inhibition directly yourself. To do this, you'll need to fill in an inhibition application form and an application for registration. Both of these, along with a cheque or postal order for £90 (payable to 'DoF General Account'), should then be sent to:

      - Land & Property Services, Land Registers, Lanyon Plaza, 7 Lanyon Place, Town Parks, Belfast, BT1 3LP

      More information can be found on the NIdirect website.

    Sadly, we're not aware of a similar service that applies in Scotland.

  15. Can you buy the freehold to your place?

    Considering buying a leasehold flat? Some freeholders charge £10,000s in management fees for things you could do for a fraction of that. Luckily, in England and Wales, owners are often entitled to buy freeholds at a fair price – reducing outgoings and potentially adding to the sale value.

    Buying freehold, if you can, costs about the same as extending your lease by 90 years and you can usually then extend the lease for free, just paying legal fees. For a full how-to, read our Buy your freehold guide.

    As inspiration, here's MoneySaver westernpromise's experience:

    We saved £700 on insurance in the first year. We bought a share of the freehold because the freeholder was charging us £1,000/year for buildings insurance. When we bought our own, it fell to £300/year. The freehold cost £1,500 per flat, including legal fees.

    We also gained control over maintenance expenses. Before this, the freeholder would dismiss suggestions that she was forcing us to overpay and just hand us a huge bill.

    - westernpromise

  16. Give yourself a full money makeover

    Moving home is the perfect time to assess your finances. You'll be signing up to new services anyway, so could save £1,000s on your previous bills by ensuring you grab everything cheapest.

    For starters, have a read of our Cheap broadband guide, then try Digital TV cost haggling and Cutting your water bills. Those are just for starters. For a detailed checklist of more than 30 quick ways to cut bills, see our full Money makeover guide.

    Looking for more home-moving help?

    We've got lots of other helpful guides:

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