How to move house in the Winter
Moving house in the winter is not ideal. However, the process of buying a house in Belgium can take anywhere from a few weeks to months before you finally complete. Depending on when your completion date falls you may have no choice but to move in the winter.
Nonetheless, there are a few positives about moving at this time of year. If you plan on hiring a removals company it may be cheaper as they’re not as busy and may be more willing to negotiate on price. You will also have a better chance of securing the date that you want.
Many people don’t give any extra thought to moving in the winter and treat it similar to moving in the spring or summer, but there are a few things you should consider to help make the day go as smoothly as possible. Moving day can be stressful enough!
1) Hire professionals
It’s hard enough to get a few extra hands to help when moving in the summer, so in the winter we would encourage you to hire a professional moving company. They will be experienced in moving in such conditions, packing belongings safely, and driving larger vehicles on potentially slippery roads. It may cost a bit more but they will be able to do it in half the time. Do make sure that they are a reputable removal company.
2) Stay Warm
Make sure you have gas and electricity ready to start supplying your new house. Contact the necessary utility companies to ensure they’ve been set up correctly and will be working on moving day. If at all possible, try to contact those still in the house and ask if they can leave the heating on low. If the house is vacant see if you can get access early to turn it on. This will also reduce the chances of any pipes freezing.
Plus, if you do this a couple days in advance and discover that the boiler in fact is not working you will have a better chance of getting an engineer out to fix it.
3) Start Early
Unlike summer months when the sun doesn’t set till later in the day early evening, in winter it can set as early as 4.30 pm. You really don’t want to get stuck carrying boxes in the dark so it’s imperative you start as early as possible. As mentioned previously do check that the lights are working including any outside fixtures that will light up any pathways. It may be an idea to bring spare bulbs and a hand held torch.
As you will be starting early, some may be tempted to pack the van the night before. In terms of safety this is not recommended but it you do, bear in mind what will be in the truck overnight as the temperatures may drop below freezing and are probably not insulated. Keep any liquids, plants or anything else that won’t survive sub-zero temps in the house till the last minute.
4) Keep paths clear
There is a good chance that there may still be ice or frost on the pathways at that time of the morning. Carry some sand or salt in your vehicle and make sure that you treat both the house you are moving out of and the house you are moving into. You really don’t want to be slipping whilst carrying boxes, or worse one of the removal people get injured as this will really slow down the move.
5) Protect your flooring
It rains a lot in the winter so there is a very good chance you may have to move in the rain; this means there will be a lot of wet feet in your old and new home and if you have used salt/sand on the paths that can also be traipsed into the houses. You can use offcuts of carpet, cardboard or plastic sheeting to protect you floors and carpets. If at all possible secure it to the floor to reduce the chances of slipping or tripping. Again, make sure you do this in both properties.
If it is raining (or it is forecast to rain) plan ahead to get the removals truck parked as close as possible to the front door of both properties. This may mean going out under the cover of darkness and placing traffic cones or some sort of sign to ensure that they have a space to park when they arrive. Do check out if there will be any parking restrictions when you plan on arriving or if you need to arrange parking permits.
To reduce the number of wet feet coming into your properties, we’d suggest splitting your removal team or friends in two groups if it’s raining or snowing. This isn’t pleasant for one of the teams, but get them to work in relay, one group staying outside bringing things to the front door whilst the other receive the boxes from inside and put them in the correct rooms, which should be easy if you labelled the boxes!
If this is not possible make sure you have a door mat and a selection of old towels that can be used to dry off people and boxes.
6) Purchase good weatherproof packaging materials
It’s tempting to use supermarket boxes - which you may get away with in the summer - but cardboard boxes don’t fare well in the rain. In the winter you are going to need buy boxes that are sturdy and won’t fall apart on you and packing supplies. Also, don’t be shy with the tape because when tape gets wet it doesn’t stick as well. Go over seams and joins with more tape than you would normally use. You really don’t want the bottom falling out of the boxes or water getting inside and damaging your stuff.
We’d also recommend getting a tape gun which makes short work of sealing boxes and for a handy bonus, no more searching for the end of the tape or trying to locate a pair of scissors.
For larger items such as sofas, armchairs and mattresses invest in heavy duty polythene covers which will protect them from getting scratched but will also keep them dry.
7) Pack an essentials box
Keep your helpers happy. Make sure you have a kettle packed in your essentials box along with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, sugar, mugs, teaspoons, pastries and a few pot noodles and offer them hot drinks regularly. Moving is hard work though, so pot noodles may not be enough and depending on how organised you are perhaps you could knock something up in the slow cooker. Simply plug it in in the new property so people can help themselves during the day. Or better yet, if there is a café nearby grab them some bacon sarnies for breakfast.
8) Layer up
If you and friends are doing the move yourself, dress appropriately. As we said earlier moving house is hard work and you will quickly build up a sweat. However you will cool off when you stop for a break so layering will allow you to adjust according to the temperature.
Moving in the winter can be miserable but hopefully these tips and planning ahead can take some of the pain out of it. Wishing you all the best on the big moving day and hope you settle into your new home quickly.