Moving home is one of the most stressful things we do, and so many factors have to be in place at the right time it’s amazing any of us ever move at all! Obviously the big decision is choosing the right property, but then where do you start with the practical stuff? Selling up, appointing a solicitor, arranging your mortgage, changing postal address/schools/support networks, even whether to do the packing and transportation to the new place yourself; everything involves choice and consequence.
If time is really tight, or packing scares you, all good house-movers now offer this as part of their package. You will still want to do some aspects yourself, but in general they clear and pack room by room to a good standard and quite speedily (they don’t need to go through photo albums they haven’t seen for a decade do they?!). However, this type of service does mean strangers going through your things and in a time frame that works for them rather than you. Also, this is a service which really adds to your costs. Many people find that hiring a van and doing the packing and loading themselves is a more affordable, and more satisfying option.
As a general rule, always assume you have more to pack than you think you do when you look around your house, flat or room. Some practised ‘movers’ who hire from us each time say that they always guess what they have and they add another third. Then speak to a hire company which offers a range of van sizes and tell them what size house you are moving from and to. A good company will always advise you, and allow you to look over, or even measure their vans for yourselves.
If you are moving locally then consider going for a van you judge will be too small for the entire move, and then plan to make several trips. There are a number of advantages to this: you can deliver ‘room by room’ which makes cleaning the old house, and unpacking at the new one much easier. Because you have a small enough van you can also park at both addresses with minimal hassle or assistance (often getting much closer), and although you are doing more trips, the fuel used will be comparable to fewer trips in a heavier, less economical vehicle. If you are moving any beds, sofas or fridge/freezers then the minimum you will manage with will be a short-wheel base van, but go to a hire company with a few key dimensions to hand and be prepared to think outside the box!
If you need to go further between addresses or don’t have a lot of time to get out or in, go for a larger vehicle. A good rental company will have advice on the size your licence will allow you to drive (see our blog: ‘What van can I legally drive with my licence?’), but don’t be surprised if you’ve lost some categories when you applied for your last photo-licence. If you are now only showing ones beginning with B in the car and van categories then you can drive up to a 3.5tonne Luton. Anything over 3500 kg (as some Extra-Long Wheel Base vehicles and Box Vans are) requires a C1 category.
Box Vans (or Lutons) with tail lifts are generally considered the easiest vehicles for loading with heavy items, as the tail-lift acts as a moving platform to raise both you and the furniture up into the van. Do be careful to request this though at the time of booking as some Lutons have opening doors instead, and the platforms are not fitted as standard. The other consideration with these vans is that the platform will take space behind the van to raise and lower (and must be done on a flat surface), so these are not always convenient for road-side loading or unloading where parking is tight.
If manoeuvrability is a consideration then an Extra-Long Wheel Base van can be a serious alternative to a Luton. If these are also high-top and low-loading then they will have similar capacity to a 3500kg Luton, but because they are lower to the ground than a standard van most items can be slid in or out without needing to be raised above your natural carrying position. Better models have fold around doors so they can be pushed open to the sides of the van giving you maximum door space and complete protection from the breeze slamming the door into the family heirloom you’re unloading. An Extra-Long Wheel Base van will usually also be cheaper to hire, and from an ease of driving point of view, is all part of one vehicle so less likely to wallow, and better on fuel economy.
Finally, whatever van you go for, make it fun. Don’t pack your favourite CDs; drive with them from one home to the next, the more motivating the better! Also, label up all your boxes by room, but why not draw a flower for the room with the garden view, a box for the box room, and a toothbrush for bathroom items? Take all squash-able things by car to save room for boxed things in the van, and pack precious items in between your clothes in each suitcase or bag. There’s nothing nicer than knowing your favourite perfume has made it to your new home too! Drop your hire van back as soon as you can to clear your drive and your conscience, and sit back with a takeaway, money saved and a job well done.