We all know moving house is stressful. Some studies rank it as being almost as stressful as a bereavement. But stress can just be the start.
According to research conducted by west London removals firm Kiwi Movers, almost a third of people who’ve moved house in the last five years have injured or hurt themselves doing so. The most common complaints were back injuries, bumped heads, scraped knuckles and pulled muscles.
As well as injuries, house movers regularly have to deal with loss and damage to their belongings, not to mention stress-induced conflict with loved ones and unnecessary moving expenses.
To help house movers eliminate some of these more common challenges, Kiwi Movers has assembled a team of highly qualified experts to pool their knowledge on relocating the easy way.
Plan your move like a military operation
“Planning is everything” says Matt Lowe, civil engineer, British Territorial Army officer and Director at Kiwi Movers. “With the right plan, you can identify hurdles, save time and shave hours off of the time it takes you to move. This of course will save you money, as well as hassle.”
Begin the planning phase no less than one month ahead of your move date. Start by throwing out clothes you haven’t worn within the last six months and get rid of as much paper as possible.
Document important stuff like bills and official letters by snapping them with your phone, but get rid of as much unnecessary paper as possible. This will save you at least one box’s worth of packing.
You should also stop buying frozen food at this stage. About a week before your move, you will hopefully have used up the remaining contents of your freezer. If not, invite some friends round to use up the leftovers. Who doesn’t love a good feast of potato waffles and IKEA meatballs once in a while?
Other tasks to complete before moving day
- Tell the council, TV licensing, utility and broadband suppliers, employer, bank and anyone else who sends you important letters that you’re moving, when you’re moving and, of course, your new address.
- Book your removal firm as soon as you have a removal date. Removal firms get booked up weeks, sometimes months, in advance.
- Ask about rate structures. Some firms, including Kiwi Movers, offer by-the-hour removals, which can work out cheaper than booking a crew for the whole day.
- De-clutter. Get rid of as much unnecessary stuff as possible. Don’t be sentimental about it either. Start with duplicate items. Most households have more hand-whisks than they actually need.
- Then get rid of anything that’s going to need replacing within a year, such as tatty furniture or appliances on their last legs. Better to get rid now and have a new one delivered to your new home, rather than lugging the old one on the day and replacing it shortly after.
The physics of moving heavy stuff
Now that you’ve decluttered your stuff, it’s time to shift what’s left of it. Before moving house, everyone should be aware of their physical capabilities. A lot of injuries come about from people lifting too much, or lifting heavy items when tired.
According to the Niosh Lifting Equation, a healthy adult should be able to carry 51 lbs (23 kg) of weight. But this doesn’t account for tiredness, stairs, or the extra stress to the body of carrying awkwardly shaped boxes along narrow hallways.
Texas-based scientist Dr. Greg Moakes has more than ten years’ hands-on experience in the field of materials science. He thinks many house movers encounter problems when they fail to respect the unique physical properties of each item.
“It’s easier to move 20kg of books than it is to move a 20kg mattress. You can split the books into smaller batches, stack them, carry them on a dolly or lift from an elevated surface to give yourself a host of advantages.
“But a mattress is just one big floppy slab of weight that drags, snags and scuffs at will. People are more likely to get injured moving a mattress up a flight of stairs than carrying a heavy box.”
While it may take a little more time to team up on seemingly easy-to-carry loads, it will save time and stress in the long run. It’s far better for two people to lift something together with ease, than for one person to injure themselves trying to whizz a box up the stairs and then be out of action for the rest of the move.
Speaking of avoiding injuries, it’s easy to complete a house move unscathed with just a few simple precautions.
Scott Roberts has worked in the fitness industry for five years. He recommends a pre-move stroll for getting the job done without any drama.
Top Tips for Having a Stress-Free Move
“To avoid injury, people need to concentrate on lifting with correct technique and not rushing things. Keep the back straight and lift with the legs rather than the back when picking items up from the floor, and do a sufficient warm up beforehand.”
Even if you’re pressed for time, Scott warns against rushing into it: “Do not go straight into lifting heavy objects as soon as you get out of bed. Spend ten to 15 minutes waking your body up and getting active. A simple walk around the block can get the heart rate up, before moving on to some more specific drills.
“Bodyweight squats and hip rotations will mimic picking objects up from the floor and any rotational movements you may do. This is where most back issues occur.”
One final scientific note of consideration comes from Professor Sir Cooper, an expert in organisational psychology at the University of Manchester. Professor Cooper stresses the need to consider privacy, mood and anxiety when planning where to put your furniture: “Position seats and chairs so people don’t have their backs immediately facing room entrances or areas of high foot traffic.”