Aussies are officially a nation of movers. The Australian Bureau of Statistics says we move on average at least four times in our lives, and with so many renters in our cities, this figure could easily be doubled.
The most common type of move is a local relocation, within the same or a neighbouring suburb, and data also shows the majority of us will stay within the same state for our lifetime.
But no matter how far or even how big the move is, the pressures and pitfalls can be just the same.
DIY or go pro?
While paying professional removalists to do the job is a stress-free option, it is somewhat expensive, with average costs ranging from $2000-$5000 and many variables affecting the final price.
With the pros, you have properly packed boxes, a guaranteed timeline, the right equipment to move large and heavy items, as well as a contract.
The Australian Furniture Removers Association (AFRA) has members who are accredited, proficiency tested, police checked and under contract to abide by the standards. There’s also a tribunal service to deal with issues.
A recent AFRA survey revealed that nearly 40% of respondents chose a removalist because of the price.
‘Everyone wants a fair price, but there are risks with opting solely for the cheapest provider, and unless they are a member, there’s little you can do if something goes wrong,’ says AFRA Executive Director, Joseph Lopino.
Doing the whole job alone or with a few family members or friends also comes with problems.
‘In our experience, people aren’t good at estimating how much stuff they have. Time and effort is also hard to judge, so consider carefully what you are physically capable of,’ he says.
You may have to hire a vehicle that will end up doing multiple trips, plus equipment and packing materials.
Choose the right removalist
There are lots of good removalists who advertise locally but may notbe accredited by AFRA. Use word of mouth to check them out, asking for testimonials from previous clients.
Understand the costing structure and the difference between a fixed price and a by-the-hour deal, getting a quote in writing upfront.
Be wary of a deal that seems too good to be true and ask where they are travelling from, as charges typically start and finish when they leave and return to their base.
Make a plan
‘The biggest mistake people make is failing to plan. It can all be left a bit too late and this affects stress levels and, inevitably, the cost,’ says Joseph.
Decide how the move will be done, then research your options. The AFRA website (afra.com.au) has free tips and checklists you can download.
Hiring a packing and unpacking service can be money well spent, and prices start from $30 an hour.
If you do it yourself, start packing at least one month before the move and shop around for the right boxes.
Sturdy well-packed boxes make filling the truck much easier, saving time and money. Most homes will need small, medium and large boxes.
Pack and tape each box so they won’t crush when stacked, or fill the top with foam or bubble wrap. Put heavy items in the smaller boxes and lighter objects in the larger boxes.
Moving and storage
An option for movers who like to take their time is to have a secure storage container delivered to the house.
You pack it yourself at your own pace, then it’s collected and delivered to the new address.
It’s quite a cost-effective system, with a container for a two-bedroom house costing from about $250 a month.
The only requirement is a flat area on ground level that’s large enough to accommodate the container at both addresses.
There are a few companies offering this service, including pods.com and uloadit.com.au.
Laptops, TVs and other electronics need protection from humidity and damp. Remove the batteries, coil and tape the cord to the appliance, then seal it tightly in bubble wrap.
Put the appliance in a cardboard box big enough for it to sit upright, fill with packing peanuts and seal tightly. Label the box with a this-way-up arrow and store off the floor.
Clothes and linen
For long-term storage, clothes and linen need to be spotlessly clean. Fold or roll, then pack in plastic storage containers with tight-fitting lids. Don’t overfill, as fabrics need room to breathe.
Add sachets to the boxes to protect against mould, silverfish, dust mites and moths. Look for a recipe online to make them using lavender, bicarb soda and spices like cinnamon and cloves.
Books and papers
Paper is susceptible to mould and mites, so use small boxes made of thick cardboard or plastic.
Lie books flat and cover any fragile ones with paper towel and bubble wrap. Use boxes with a tight seal and keep them off the floor.
Don’t store paper in plastic bags or old food boxes, as this can attract insects and encourage mould.
ORGANISE A SKIP or a council pick-up for junk, and donate or sell everything else you don’t want in the new house.
HAVE THE RIGHT MATERIALS to hand, including marker pens, scissors, tape and bubble wrap. Use greaseproof or baking paper instead of newspaper to wrap items so they won’t need washing at the other end.
START WITH STORAGE AREAS such as the garage, shed, closets and bookshelves, as these don’t contain everyday essentials.
LABEL EACH BOX with the contents and the room it is destined for.
TAPE TOGETHER ESSENTIALS such as the remote to the TV, the modem with the computer, cables and chargers together, and legs and screws with the sofa.
FILL EMPTY ITEMS like suitcases and leave drawers full if the contents are lightweight, taping them closed instead.
USE THE CAR to take valuables and clothes on hangers laid flat in the back.
PACK A BOX with essentials like the kettle, food, drinks, towels, toiletries, toilet paper, soap, light bulbs, chargers and any medications.