Moving House Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Moving House

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One piece of advice if you so choose to move house: don't even think about it!

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things that you can do. Well they are wrong: it is the single most stressful thing that even the most stressed of individuals can stress about even while having a stressful day in a stressful job while being harassed by a stressed out boss. And this definition has only just scratched the surface.

First, there is the organising of the transport: on the right day, from the right address, to the right address. The best solution to the transport problem is to take advantage of some understanding relatives with a large van, which can save much of the hassle.

Next, there's packing your stuff: the single most soul-destroying act that it is possible to experience. It's just like taking your life apart memory by memory, and points out exactly how long it has been since you hoovered behind the sofa, just where that half-remembered kebab went, and why there was that funny smell in the second bedroom. Moreover, could somebody, anybody, please tell us where that thing in the bottom of the freezer came from?

Then one of the biggest mysteries of the universe makes itself evident, every time you turn your back and walk into another room. Your stuff magically unpacks itself, so you end up packing three times more stuff than you actually own, and you'll swear that whatever lives under the sink multiplies whenever you're not looking.

Finally it's all in the van, and you are on your way to the new dream home. This is when you are flung head on into the next circle of Hell. You arrive, the journey was less hassle than you thought and this has cheered you up no end. You look forward to sorting out your new life, unpacking the memories and installing them permanently into your new pride and joy. You unload, place the boxes in their respective rooms, and open one. In the next few minutes you'll be heard to say one or more of the following:

  • Why did I put that in there?
  • What's this?
  • I didn't know I had one of these.
  • Why is the wok in with the stereo?

Having sorted out all the boxes - well, some of them, and once you've found out that the mouse was in with the hi-fi, you can get your computer going. You think there's nothing left to do but sit back and relax.

But, hang on, where's the cat?!?

Changing Your Address in the UK

Before you move you'll want to let everyone official and unofficial know that you're changing address. It's not something you want to wish upon your best friend, or even your worst friend's best enemy for that matter.

Let's say you start off by making telephone calls to everybody about the change. Bad idea. Most companies have decided that they can't possibly accept this as a method for changing your address - you have to give them written notice.

Okay, so let's pretend we do just that then. What happens? Well, since we've been good administrators, we've naturally given ample time for the address change to take place before we've actually physically moved, let's say a month or two in advance. But most recipients will update your profile immediately which will, depending on where you are moving to, have some rather amusing effects; such as mail arriving in your house-to-be before you do, forcing you to set up a pre-move mail forwarding service back to your old house1.

If, on top of that, you are a parent trying to move out of the country, the Child Benefits Agency will - on immediate reception of your two months' advance notice - instantaneously cut off all the remaining benefits payments. Otherwise you might actually get too much. The child benefits officer will explain at great length the great advantage of cutting it off immediately, because that will ensure that you get too little instead.

Finally, just to make your day, somebody will tell you that 'No, I'm sorry you can't change your address if you move abroad, because our computer system can't handle foreign post codes'. This is when you reach for a stiff drink.

So, as a final word of advice - if you ever think about leaving the UK, don't tell anyone about it, just go!

1Which, of course, you will fail to have cancelled until you have spent two postless weeks in your new abode.

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