There are some things in life that not even the most Super of Super Mums can prepare herself adequately for. Believe it or not, there exist such monstrous things, the horrors of which, no amount of list building, psychological support, mindfulness or strong black coffee can protect us from. These things include death, divorce, moving house and children’s birthday parties. Having come close to slitting my wrists with a cake knife one too many times, thankfully I haven’t had to deal with divorce (just yet), but I have moved house very recently. And that, my friends, is the inspiration behind this Alternative A-Z of moving house. A compendium of insider information, which will either put you off moving house entirely, or will arm you with some nuclear-strength, metaphorical weaponry, with which to protect yourself and your mental health.
Note to reader: This is another of my “don’t do it, but if you must, then please read on” style posts. If you choose not to do it, don’t come crawling back in 5 years time, priced out of the market, with your #foreverhome lost and your heart full of regret. If you do however choose to go ahead, then good luck. But don’t say I didn’t warn you
A is for anti-depressants. If you don’t need anti-depressants by the end of this read, then you are made of stronger stuff than I am.
B is for broke. After stamp duty, agent fees, legal fees, removal costs and the gd’dam rest, moving house is going to leave you without a pot to piss in. You may have a shiny new roof over your head, but accept it, you’re going to be broke for the next ten years.
C is for chaos. As if almost overnight, your calm, comfortable and fairly collected world is going to turn in to utter chaos. At every point along the moving house journey, be it in the run up, on The Day itself or in the aftermath, there will be chaos everywhere. Physical, mental and emotional sodding chaos. #Justsaying.
D is for divorce. Some compare the magnitude of stress induced by a house move to that of a divorce. I say forget comparisons and prepare for the worst. Expect blazing rows with your Beloved. Count on being sent to Coventry. Brace yourself for battle. But ultimately there really is no need to worry. If you are joint mortgage holders, then your #foreverhome can still be yours. Well partially at least.
E is for energy. And not of the Bristish Gas kind. Yes, you will have to contend with energy providers pushing pens around a million miles away, but that’s for later. Here and now, I’m talking sugar. I’m talking carbs. I’m talking about filling your fridge with sandwiches and chocolate and sweets, or if you’re extremely popular, homemade goodies generously donated by family and friends. Forget the calories – this whole ordeal might even be worth it, if only for the food.
F is for friend, or could it be foe? The truth is that during your house moving experience, it will be hard to distinguish between friend and foe. Moving house essentially boils down to a mercenary business transaction of bricks and mortar, between a chain of people making money at your expense. Whoever claims to work for you, is also working against you. And whoever appears to be working against you, may well be working for you in the end. Sun Tzu advised to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. 2500 years later, my advice is thus: keep everyone on side, but side with no one. (You can quote me on this in another few thousand years).
G is for gin. Or guns. Or gambling. Whichever vice you are driven to during your house-moving hell, remember rehabilitation is a long and arduous process, but ten years on, #itwillallbeworthitintheend.
H is for hoarder. Collector, saver, gatherer – whatever roundabout way you choose to describe it, most of us are in denial when it comes to being hoarders. But when #thebigclearout commences, preferably months in advance of moving day, you’ll realise that actually, you have been “hoarding” stuff all your life. For example, your A-level French literature coursework. No one is ever going to read it. And your children’s indiscriminate first painted scribbles? It will tear you apart but trust me, now is the time to tear them up too.
I is for “It will all be worth it in the end”. If there is ever a cliché that you will be sick to death of hearing, it’s this one. As if “soothing” words such as these, can miraculously magic away all the anguish and tears. Your friends may mean well, but you’re only interested in the here and now. And right now, there is no sodding end in sight.
J is for Jack of all Trades. Like it or not, by the end of your house moving escapade, you will have become a Jack of all Trades. If it’s not hanging wallpaper, it’s fitting toilet seats. If it’s not assembling furniture, it’s laying carpets. However dire you are at DIY, now is your chance to branch out and #trysomethingnew. How utterly unappealing.
K is for kibosh. If ever you’re at risk of something or someone kiboshing a deal, it’s now. House moving is a hairy scary business. DO NOT expect it to go to plan. In fact, if you manage to find your shiny new palace after one year of searching, at least two cases of being “gazumped” and one agent swap, you’ve done exceedingly well.
L is for losing something. Somewhere along the way, if it’s not your mind, you will almost certainly lose something you own. Forget labelling boxes, compiling spreadsheets and planning locations. The loss is inevitable. And although the item may be as seemingly insignificant as a cable, when you are missing the only cable linking you to your TV, then the situation becomes somewhat of a crisis.
M is for Mid-life crisis. Irrespective of how young or old you are, A) this tiresome process will age you indefinitely, and B) you will experience a mid-life crisis. Period.
N is No time for Nostalgia. A week in advance of Move Day, you might find yourself floating off into brief, pre-emptive states of wistful nostalgia. This may well be the last time you sink into your magnolia roll-top bath. It might be the last school run you make or the last Sunday Roast in your country-style kitchen. This could very well be The Last Sodding Supper for all it’s worth. Because quite frankly, who cares? It’s only bricks and mortar. So spare yourself (and everyone around you). Please.
O is for Offers Over. This has to be the singular most double-edged piece of Estate Agent bullshit I’ve ever heard. It is nothing short of a cunning trick to lure scores of unsuspecting buyers in with an attractive price, make them fall in love with the property and then fight over it, with “Offers Bloody Over” the asking price. And Asking Price? Well, there’s another piece of Estate Agent jargon that you can quickly disregard. However that said, when it comes to selling your own house, “Offers Over” works out quite nicely. I did say it had a double-edge.
P is for Pokerface. Buying a house is not dissimilar to a game of poker: it requires gambling, tactics and skill in order to secure the winning hand and ultimately the “pot of gold.” It’s all very well placing your bets strategically, but deal one wrong card or reveal yourself too soon in “the game” and you’ll be sure to lose out miserably.
Q is for a Quadrillion boxes. Your world will soon become contained within a giant, indeterminate mass of 3D cardboard, AKA The Brown Box. The contents of which will remain lodged within four equally brown walls, until you can face delving inside the brown-ness. Accept that you will not escape The Brown Box, even when flattened, for a very, very long time.
R is for Removals. For Goodness sake, you are about to spend a small fortune on your new pad, you may as well splash some extra cash on hiring glorified shleppers, AKA removal men, to do the dirty work for you. Unless you are keen to break your back hoisting your whole home up and out and out and in again at the other end, then trust me, they are worth every shiny, round penny.
S is for Sense of humour. You once had a sense of humour. You no longer have a sense of humour.
T is for Tick Tock. Do not underestimate how long it will take you to find your #dreamhome, secure your #dreamhome, get a mortgage for your #dreamhome, pack up and move in to your #dreamhome, unpack your #dreamhome and finally feel at home in your #dreamhome. It takes bloody ages. So you might be done by the time the kids are ready to move out.
U is for Ultimatum. Moving house would not be half as exciting without at least one ultimatum to contend with along the way. One sinister threat to #breakthechain if you don’t comply with X, Y or Z. This is usually known as “calling one’s bluff.” Trust me, the only way forward is to ignore the empty threats and carry on regardless. Oh and don’t hesitate to reciprocate the favour, should you need to “push things along” a bit.
V is for Viewings. There’s something rather thrilling about poking your nose into other people’s properties. But after a year of viewing every single house that pings into your inbox, within a 10 mile radius of where you actually want to live, you may well tire of the deceptive photos which turn matchboxes into mansions. You may not have found your #foreverhome, but by this point you have probably earned yourself a PHD on the subject matter of 19th Century architraves, cornicing and coving.
W is for Waterworks. Expect tears. And lots of them. At every stage.
X is for Xenophobic. If you have a fear of strangers, then allowing random quasi-interested parties in to your home, only to snoop through your cupboards and inside your knicker drawers, will understandably be your idea of hell. With this in mind, maybe now is not the time to be selling your house? Invest your money instead in some counselling perhaps and then re-consider your house move.
Y is for Yawn. This whole process can be v.e.r.y l.o.n.g.w.i.n.d.e.d indeed. Yawn. Yawn.
Z is for Zebra. Because moving house would just not be the same without a Zebra. Stuffed or not, it’s irrelevant.
And that folks, is my humble opinion on moving house. It sucks. But #apparentlythisisnormal and #itwillallbeworthitintheend.
Now where’s the gin in this rather large pile of sodding boxes?