Is ‘Housemin’ a new word? I’m totally calling it, if so. You may remember from last week that Chez Mouse Moo is moving HQ, which is very exciting but equally sodding stress-a-go-go.
The main reason for the move is that after writing this post about school places, I felt a bit sick about the prospect of my logistical endeavours just to get to work for 8.30am. From the good old catharsis that comes from writing stuff down, it was suddenly obvious that something would have to change. So, in an unusually gung-ho burst of proactivity, we changed it. At first, I was tripping over myself with excitement about all the lovely things I could buy for the new house. Battery-operated candle for a decorative hurricane lamp? I’ll have two of those. A string of butterfly shaped fairy lights to make my kitchen look all Nigella circa 2013? Hell to the yeah.
Then it got a bit serious as we started to mull over insurance, removal quotes, “repairing” the “personal touches” at our current house, contracts, moving dates, and everything else that gets thrown into the mixing pot. Did you know that two thirds of “people” now quote moving house as being the most stressful thing evs? Les Dennis wouldn’t even stake a prize on that survey stat, it’s so obvious. The amount of things to consider is ridiculously hefty. So, I thought I’d put out a ‘very abridged list for you. Now, whether this actually serves to help anyone is up for debate, chances are it’s just me word vomming as a delay tactic because I need to ring someone about council tax and I cannae face it. But anyway:
According to a study carried out by Santander, one in four families will move house in order to obtain a place at a sought-after school. Furthermore, one in six will rent a second property or purchase a second home to get in the right postcode. I previously scoffed at such a “system cheaty” decision, why on earth would you take such a drastic measure just to get your child into a school? Then I realised that my family did it with me, when I was a year into primary school. Purely because my school was horrendous, the neighbouring schools weren’t actually that neighbouring, and there was a really lovely cluster of schools about 3 miles up the A259. It was fine, I thrived. Cough. Now, the schools around my soon-to-be old house are really good. But the before/after-school club options are massively unworkable for my family – I may as well take on a job as a driving instructor for all the time I’d be sat in a car. The two schools that are closest to our new house have direct after-school club links with our existing nursery, which was a massive sway for us when deciding to move.
It’s worth printing a map of the two-mile radius around the house you’re considering. Mark on all the schools, nurseries, pre-schools, as well as places you might go to for family activities, like parks, libraries, leisure centres and community halls. Then add in GP and dentist surgeries, and local amenities (by which I mean pubs). If you’re left with a densely biro’d sheet of paper, you’re probably on to a good one.
I’ve lived in two houses in my adult life that still had single glazing. God almighty, they were some harsh winters. In one house, we had a small colony of ladybirds who managed to scuttle in through a draughty crevice and litter our windowsill with yellow poo. In another, admittedly a student house, a sodding brick actually came through my sash window one Friday night and landed about three feet from my head. It was a case of mistaken identity and a row about a girl, I think. Anyway, apparently triple glazing is the new big thing now. I spoke to Ideal Window Solutions, based in Hampshire, about the benefits. A-Rated double glazing can see savings of over £7000 across a 20-year life span… but triple glazing is 40% more effective than double, meaning a pretty hefty whack of thermal efficiency. Noise-wise, triple glazing goes a long way to maximising the acoustic performance of your house, cancelling out the “anti-social” rowdiness that’s common in my city. Plus thicker glass means greater resistance to any rogue bricks, one would hope.
So once you’ve looked around your prospective new house and sussed out exactly where your favourite wooden carved elephant will sit, have a careful look at the windows and doors. Even if they seem robust, ask your agent if they have a copy of the FENSA Certification available, which will tell you if the windows and doors comply with current thermal performance standards as set by Building Control. Also look out for “shot” glazing, where the panes appear misted and cloudy from the inside. These can often be fixed topically without needing to replace the whole window, meaning more money for elephant statues.
Now, I’m not a lazy person. Seriously, I hardly ever sit down. But, having moved house when Mouse was three months old, there is no way in hell I’ll ever do it again without paying for a removal firm. I still have mild sweats remembering our “move team” which consisted of me, my husband, a van he borrowed from work, and my then-62 year old Dad. Oh and Mouse, who basically rolled around on the carpet, chewed on rawl plugs, and cried a lot. We had about 100 boxes, which was not enough. We ran out of packing tape. We broke our wardrobe. We chipped our bedframe. We couldn’t get our sofa through the door. For days, and days, and DAYS we were up to our pissing eyes in half-unpacked bags, suitcases and cardboard crates. I remember we took Mouse to her Baby Sensory class two days post move and the class leader patted me on the shoulders in a sort of “my thoughts are with you at this dreadful time” fashion.
This time, I’m hiring in the full works. Did you know that a packing service isn’t actually THAT much more expensive than a straightforward removal service? I mean, yeah, it’s still basically a small fortune. But picture this: you wake up, on the dawn of move day, with your house in exactly the same condition as it has been for the last X amount of years. You’ve not so much as cleared out one drawer. Your kitchen is still full of food. You pack a little day bag, with some snacks and your phone charger, and load up a small box with your valuables (er, so the iPad). And off you jolly well go. In troop the removal firm, who sweep through your house like an insured hurricane, packing up all of your crap and taking it to the new house. It’s all done in a day, and they come and take away the boxes after you’ve unpacked. Sheer brilliance. I’ll let you know how many cups get broken but I reckon it’ll be money well spent for the sheer ease, especially now we have two children roaming around.
Selling Old Tat
This is a tricky beast. Once you’ve decided to move, you can’t control your hawker eye from glancing over every single item in your house and debating whether to keep it, or buy new. I routinely like to minesweep our belongings and send about 20 cubic meters to the charity shop, but sometimes it’s nice to try and flog some of the more high ticket wares. I stuck our moses basket and rocking stand on a local Facebook selling page, and it sold within 30 minutes. Cash on collection, no haggling, no messing. This is genius, thought I. On went two bouncer chairs, a Poddle Pod, a Toddle Pod, a beanbag, a crib, some decent toys. NOTHING. Not even a sniff of interest, bar a lot of “whereabouts in XX are you?” and “how much is this plz” despite very clearly stating both of these things AT THE HEADER OF THE ADVERT. I reinstalled my Gumtree app and got sod all from that too. What’s wrong with these people? Why don’t they want to buy things?
I can’t face doing a boot sale. I really, really can’t. But maybe it’s four hours of hell for a credible monetary yield? Anyway, my advice is to get on the NCT / nearly new / money for semi-old rope sales bandwagon every single year. Do not hoard. Crucially, don’t over-buy in the first place, like muggins here.
Wish me luck, anyway. I’ll let you know as soon as we’re in and sorted, although I bet we’ll have no broadband until June. #firstworldproblems
-SJW December 2016