Would you like to know how to move home, without going insane. Moving home is one of the top life stressors, but it should not be that way. Whether you rent or buy, moving home should be a simple case of packing up belongings, and moving on. Of course, much of the stress is often due to estate agents and letting agents.
The obvious way to make moving less stressful, is to have less stuff. Simple living is not about living in a white box, but about going through your house, garden, garage, shed, loft, basement, car and storage – and gradually streaming down anything you no longer use, love or need. This leaves time to do the stuff you love (walks in the park, reading in the garden, strolls by the beach, quality time with loved ones, more sleep etc). Then you’ll find moving quicker and more relaxing – as you won’t get into a muddle.
Read The Art of Happy Moving (the author has moved 10 times in 11 years). This upbeat guide covers finding the best place to live, home staging and moving with with children or pets.
Moving Home Checklists
The simpler your life, the easier moving is. It also means less chance of forgetting something important:
- Confirm the date of move, and give notice
- Buy removal boxes, and order removal vans.
- Cancel utility supplies (take photos of meters)
- Arrange donation/collection of unused furniture
- Sell, donate or recycle stuff you are not taking
- Cancel newspapers, milk etc.
- Send out new address cards
- Learn quickest relaxing route to new property
- Pack essentials like a kettle and mugs for arrival
- Arrange to collect new keys, and drop off old keys
- Register with a doctor, dentist & vet.
- Set up home, broadband & home insurance
- Confirm new schools registration
- Get car serviced, check breakdown cover
- Redirect your mail
- Register with local council
- Charge mobile before leaving
If Moving with Pets
- Use familiar beds & toys, to help settle them in
- Keep food and bowls nearby, for arrival.
- Ensure new ID is up-to-date on day of move.
- Look up best local dog walks, near new property.
- A familiar friend may wish to pet-sit, while you move
It’s easier to find pet-friendly homes by giving references from previous landlords, paying a higher deposit and offering to replace carpets at end of tenancy (often many ‘non-pet-friendly landlords’ change their mind:
- Let’s With Pets is a site run by Dog’s Trust. It also has info for landlords, on why pet-friendly rentals find more tenants.
- Pets Lets (London) finds pet-friendly properties in good locations, and can also insert pet clauses. Run by Russell (who sorts legal stuff) and his sidekick beagle (who sniffs out places to eat!)
Alternative Ways to Rent or Let Your Home
- OpenRent charges low fees, to cover legal checks & deposits.
- Monday to Friday offers mid-week rooms, for Rent-a-Room income.
- Movebubble (London, Manchester) filters for pets, disabled, gardens (Movebubble One include bills or zero deposit).
- Reposit lets renters pay one week’s rent (covered by insurance).
- Marks Out of Tenancy is a landlord review site. Obviously it must be used responsibly (landlords can reply).
- Yorkshire’s My Landlord Cares supports tenants with paperwork, local parenting and has lower fees. New View Residential (Cambridge) donates profits to animal shelters and hospices. Homes for Good (nationwide) offers fair rents and handypeople.
- Property Guardians rent empty offices or warehouses, for lower rents (usually for a few months). Ideal for basic cheap accommodation.
- On benefits? Shelter & Citizens Advice have tips. Find social housing at HomeHunt & Sanctuary Housing.
- Share & Care matches (vetted) people who need rent-free accommodation, in return for company and chores.
- Trusted Housesitters vets people to look after homes while owners are away (to look after house and plants, and sometimes pets). See toxic houseplants to avoid near pets, avoid foliage near windows to stop birds flying into windows and how to make your garden safe for pets.
Alternative Ways to Buy or Sell Your Home
An ethical estate agent? Why, things are looking up.
To find alternative ways to buy or sell your home, can free you from the stress of using conventional (or online) estate agents. Some small independent agents no doubt do a good job. But many have a reputation for being ruthless (legally they must tell you the truth). Many people are fed up of paying thousands to someone who just takes a few photos, makes a floor plan and sticks your home on Right Move. Someone call selling your home ‘a game of psychological poker’.
Private sales are popular (as long as you keep safe, it’s not that much hassle to show someone around your home – and you have to do this anyway with online estate agents, unless you pay an added fee). But most online sites have relatively few visitors (most people search on Right Move). So here are a few ideas, to think out of the box.
- The HouseShop lists homes privately. It’s free with a small fee for featured listing. It has 30,000 visitors daily (tiny compared to Right Move) but can’t harm. Beware of scammers (don’t pay or sign anything without legal help, and take someone with you).
- Brickworks (London) is an ethical estate agent that offers fixed fees (any geographical area) with no cold calls. It has good reviews, and 1% of fees helps homeless charities. There was a non-profit estate agent in Cornwall that gave back to the community – nobody used it.
- Be careful with companies that promise to sell your house fast. Most take at least 30% of the value (usually knocked down further after you’ve signed, and their ‘surveyor’ has been round to evaluate).
- Also be careful with online estate agents. The main one has awful reviews from people who have paid thousands upfront, then nothing (no incentive to sell your home). If you choose an online agent, forget the main ones (that spend millions on ads) choose simpler affordable ones like Doorsteps (from £99 if you do a lot of the work yourself) and Strike (free). Both have better reviews and a more honest set-up. Instead of charging you to sell your home with add-ons, their services are free or cheap – their income is from commission on mortgages, conveyancing and moving services.
Questions to Ask Estate Agents
Whether you use a high street or online estate agents, ensure you are not taken in with ‘estate agent speak’. Home Owners Alliance has a good set of questions to ask estate agents (make a list to take with you and don’t be frightened to get it out; if they are asking you to give them a lot of money, you have a right to ask):
- Why is the owner selling?
- How long has the property been on sale?
- Has the property not sold at auction? The value will crash.
- Are there are plans for the local area?
- How did the agent decide the price?
- Is the property easy to sell? Homes with subsidence or above commercial properties (especially food) are often impossible to sell, as banks won’t lend against them.
- Can you speak direct to sellers? You are legally entitled.
- Have there been neighbour complaints?
- If selling, ask for a Good Will Charter so both parties pay a deposit. This is lost, if the sale does not go through.
These ethically-made key fobs & chains are far better, than choosing ones made from plastic or leather. Many people wrongly believe that leather is always a by-product of the meat industry. In fact, a lot of leather goods are made specifically for fashion, often in countries with little or no animal welfare laws.
And although most vegan leather is not yet totally biodegradable (Mirum is an new greener plant-based leather coming onto the market), it’s a lot less polluting than the tanning process, and obviously kinder to animals.
Watson & Wolfe Keychain Wallet (also sold at WEARTH London) features a compact trifold design, 9 card pockets, 1 pocket for notes, and an eyelet for attaching a key/belt chain (not included). This is good, as you don’t want to drop any keychain that’s not totally biodegradable, in case it drops down a storm drain, and goes into the sea.
This vegan leather zipped key case is made from luxury vegan leather and lined with recycled plastic bottles. It features a spacious zipped compartment for cards and coins, and also has a key chain, which can be stored inside. The key clip can attach to the wallet or inside of a bag or belt loop. In beautiful eco packaging, with optional embossed initials. The Card, Coin & Key Purse features a spacious zipped compartment for cards and coins, and a key chain to store inside.
Corkor Key Chains (Portugal) are made by a small family company. Cork does not require trees to be felled (in a world of plastic wine corks, the industry keeps forests intact). Unlike leather, this won’t crack or crumble and is naturally repellent to water, scratches and stains. Just soap and water does the trick.
This keyring made from recycled newspaper is beautifully coloured and unique. Designed to help reduce the amount of unwanted global waste. Available in numerous colours, or just opt for a surprise. You can’t choose the exact colours, but you can choose the most prominent ones, and they will do their best, to send you something that you love.
This reusable straw on a keyring are extendable and have a cleaning wand. Sold in 4 colours, these pocket straws are made from metal, so avoid for children, while on the move or people with dexterity issues. The coloured case attaches the straw to your keys, the inside of your bag or anywhere else. In red, blue, pink and purple.
This pretty recycled silver key ring is made from recycled sterling silver, and packaged in a recycled cardboard box. A charming addition to your recycled jewellery from maker Smoke and Ash, or just give as a nice gift, to keep on them at all times. Available in 8 styles from classic larger styles, to a steel split ring.
Where To Donate or Recycle Keys
There are likely millions of pairs of unused keys throughout England. You can just recycle unwanted ones at the used metal banks. But it’s better to donate them to local charities, that can sell the scrap metal:
- Send keys (and stamps) to Stamps N All to help Barn Owl Trust.
- The Canaan Trust (Nottingham) collects old keys to help homeless people, by selling the metal.
- The Giving Keys (US) gives jobs to homeless people, who recycle donated keys into jewellery.
Gray to Green Communities is a call to action on housing and the climate crisis. Residential buildings in the western world account for around 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, and is not just bad for the planet, but also putting the physical and financial health of residents at risk. And the modern housing system means that a renter who works 40 hours a week and earns a minimum wage, often cannot afford a nice safe and healthy apartment.
This book is a manifesto on building green affordable housing. Her work resulted in the first standard for green affordable housing in the US, and the book could do the same here. Giving examples of developments already built, people are housed in better housing, while helping their health and the planet at the same time.
About the Author
Dana Bourland is Vice President for the Environment at JPB Foundation, and has been involved in creating several affordable green housing projects.
To build your own green home is something that many of us would like to do, but probably won’t. But if you are the creative kind and find some land, then it may be an option. Green homes use breathable natural materials, and are actually pretty cheap to build, if you are just going for a small house with some land, rather than some ambitious Grand Designs type project. Read Barn Club, a tale of a community in Hertfordshire who ‘raised a green barn’ (a bit like they do in the Amish film ‘Witness’).
Building a Sustainable Home is a good overview of the green building movement. Learn why green homes are better, and how they also save energy, water and bills. This also is an ideal introductory book for architects. The main green building materials are:
- Straw bale. This is the waste leftover from the farming industry, and yet is burned that creates climate change, instead of being used to build naturally insulated homes. When plastered with lime, it’s as safe as wood and a popular cheap quick way to build (you can even buy straw bale bricks). Read A Complete Guide to Straw Bale Building.
- Cob is a mix of clay and a few other materials, and is another cheap and simple way to build a home. It’s often used to make outbuildings. Cornwall has many pretty coloured cob buildings. Read Building with Cob (the authors are experts in natural plasters and run their own company Clayworks which sells naturally-coloured clay plasters).
- Hempcrete is again waste material and makes a good way to build a home. Also read The Passivhaus Handbook on how to build an energy-efficient home. The book Green Home Building gives a good overview on all the different types of green building materials.
- Most green buildings are very energy-efficient. You can reduce energy through insulation, double-glazing windows etc. Green Spec and Green Building Store both offer green building materials.
Green Buildings Worldwide
Let’s not be like Trumpians, and consider only our own small patch of land. Greener buildings are also needed worldwide, especially in a world of growing freak weather. Homes for a Changing Climate looks at homes worldwide are being built, to adapt to climate change. These buildings can withstand floods, high winds, intense rainstorms and rising sea levels.
The Houses We Build looks at the problems we face around the world, with housing. How can we build enough safe, comfortable and energy-efficient homes, without contributing to climate change and habitat destruction?
These interesting ideas for community building, are very empowering. If you live somewhere that lacks say a community centre or a community shop and the council and politicians won’t help (and big business doesn’t care) – why not act yourself? All you need are a few experts and some willing volunteers and there are lots of possibilities. Also see how to build your own green home.
- Barn Club is a tale of one man who moved to the English county of Hertfordshire, and discovered a landscape rich with nature and wildlife, particularly elm trees. This inspired his woodworking skills. And with the help of the local community, they hand-raised a barn (just like the Amish folks in the film Witness).
- Build Up is an organisation that puts young people in charge of construction projects, that benefit the community. Instead of the ‘proper adults’ doing the serious stuff and building skateboard parks for teens, the teens get involved in creating the kind of town they want to live, with lots of green space and beautiful functional buildings.
- Housing Reclaimed is the story of organisations like Builders of Hope that take homes slated for demolition and use free recycled materials and local skills to do up homes, to make safe affordable housing.
- Rebuilding Centre (Oregon) is a local non-profit. People can donate building materials and anything that would go to waste, and it’s used to train local people up in skills to build affordable homes.
- Design Like You Give a Damn is a book by and for architects, with a showcase of 100 projects worldwide that address the need for basic shelter, housing, education, health care, clean water and clean energy. From smog-eating concrete that public policy that is re-painting Brazil’s slums, this book looks at how to create change.
The best brands of natural house paint are made with nontoxic ingredients, are plant-based and contain zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Many ‘green paints’ say they have low VOCs. This is not green paint, as green brands have zero. This is called greenwashing. Most paint is made with crude oil or plastic (acrylic). Natural paints are made with plant extracts, earth minerals, chalk and linseed, and let walls breathe, so mould does not get trapped in the surface (especially important for people with medical conditions like asthma). WHO says that painters have a 40% higher chance of lung cancer, and most major house paint brands are tested on animals (including Dulux, which uses a lovely dog to advertise its products).
Since time began, people have used paint to decorate their homes. You’ve likely seen the beautiful blue doors in Morocco, which are used to help houses stand out in a sea of white buildings. Some say the blue is said to resemble the sky and heaven, others that it was simply attractive to tourists, so they painted more blue doors!
Paint is not just decorative. If you build a straw bale house and plaster it with lime, then often the colour is pretty dull. Adding a breathable paint helps to seal the walls, as well as make it nicer to live in. Wooden areas often have varnish rather than paint, which soaks into wood, to protect it.
Tips for Beginner Decorators
If you are new to decorating, start out with a few simple tips. Decorating is quite complicated, and if you don’t know what you are doing, or get too ambitious, it can become very frustrating, especially if you are adding wallpaper to the mix. See the furniture you are going to keep, then develop a palette from there. The site Design Seeds is very helpful for this, offering beautiful colour combinations to choose from. You don’t want more than one or two colours, just find a couple of neutrals, and a nice accent colour, then take it from there.
Remember that around 70% of painting walls is the prep work. So more sanding and plastering, and only paint at the end. Also investigate if there is lurking asbestos under Artex ceilings, before you start.
- Use good quality tools. Below are some eco-friendly ones, but go with good ones that will last years. Using cheap brushes usually means ending up with hair filaments in the paint, and then they will transfer to the wall. When brushes are not in use, keep them in buckets with a damp cloth.
- Likewise, use a good ladder that is safe and stable. If you are not confident with any of this, it may be worth finding a trustworthy decorator to do the job for you. TaskRabbit is good (locals with skills who can do the job for a good fee at short notice – just read the reviews, pay, then leave a review.
- Cover everything up. That means using masking tape and proper quality dust sheets (not those flimsy plastic ones, they will get stuck to your feet and paint will go everywhere). Keep pets and children out of the way (especially near squirrel mixers).
- Cut in first (paint the corners, ceiling edges, around windows/doors and above skirting boards.
- When you paint, start from the top of the wall, dip your brush in a quarter to the pot (then tap the brush), to avoid drips on your hands. Finish one wall in one day, as if you half-finish it, you will have marks the next day, and will have to repaint. Always ventilate rooms, even if using eco-friendly paint and leave it for a few days.
- Use a 7 inch (17cm) medium roller for walls, and a slimmer one for around radiators. Soak roller first in mild biodegradable detergent and water, to remove fibres that could end up on walls.
- Experts say the best way to paint walls is the W/M technique. You paint the letter M, then paint the letter W (using a roller) to get the best coverage. If you do get paint on the windows, leave it to dry and remove later with a window scraper.
- Never empty paint down waterways. Take it to the tip to dispose of safely. Donate unwanted paint to Community Repaint, and community groups will use it to do up local eyesores.
Non-Toxic Removal of Artex
You can buy nontoxic Home Strip and Trade Strip from Eco Solutions (it also sells Grime Go!, a unique surface preparation cleaner for walls). All items are water-based and some can remove Artex ceilings and graffiti from walls (call in professionals for expert removal, if you suspect asbestos in walls or ceilings).
You may have to contact the council to check if you have asbestos as it’s a serious health hazard (applied to walls before around 2000). If safe to remove, use X-Tex Natural Artex Remover. This is safe and easy to use, and uses water-based non-flammable technology. Just paint over (keep area wet at all times, use foil if leaving overnight), then it falls off onto old newspaper below. Dispose of at the local council.
If the Artex is painted, you’ll need to remove the vinyl silk. Apply a light coat, then score with a blade, then add another coat to work into score marks (remove with a long-handled blade scraper, takes just 30 minutes). The same company makes Trade Strip (for professional decorators) and Grime Go (removes grease, oil, dirt, paint splashes and adhesive residues).
Zero Waste Painting Tools
Some paint brushes are made with sable and other animal fur. Eco Ezee offers eco-friendly painting tools with bamboo handles and recycled stainless steel ferrules (the bristles are a mix of recycled material and synthetic bristles, to avoid animal hair).
This company also sells paint kettles and paint trays made from recycled materials (but you can wash them after use). And biodegradable dust sheets. You can find them online, or at some of the paint brand stores below, if buying everything together.
The Best Brands of Green Paint
Choose matte to conceal dodgy walls, eggshell for a slight sheen, silk for a washable sheen (kitchens and bathrooms) and gloss (nontoxic) for wood and metal like doors and radiators.
- Clayworks (Cornwall) makes pre-coloured clay plasters developed by a couple of experts, who have written books on natural plasters and cob buildings. Packaged in brown paper bags, these are ideal for cob or straw buildings, and conventional walls. It’s best to have one their trained experts to apply. Leftover powder can be stored or composted, although you should use a dust mask when mixing.
- Edward Bulmer Paint is one of the best, founded by an esteemed interior designer and environmental campaigner. These paints have no plastic film, and he offers 90 beautiful colours, along with natural oil thinners and decorating materials.
- Natural & Organic Paint Company offers many natural paints. The founder recommends Graphenstone for Interior Walls as the best everyday paint, along with exterior lime paint and varnish with a primer. Another good brand is Earthborn Paints, but casein paint/filler (and furniture wax) are not vegan.
- Unearthed Paints (US) is made from a combination of beans and peas, to make it vegan-friendly. It’s a powder sold in a brown paper bag, so you can store extra in the garage,.
Zero Waste Nursery Paint
NHS say that it’s best to avoid decorating if pregnant, especially during the first trimester, when a baby’s organs are developing. If you do paint after that, only use eco paints, don’t eat or drink in the room and wash hands afterwards, in case you accidentally ingest any paint. VOCs can cause harm to you and your baby (it’s what gives people headaches). So ideally don’t paint and have your partner do it using one of these brands (same applies to pets). Air room for a day or two, before use (to allow sanded particles to settle too).
- Earthborn Paints offers a nice line of mostly vegan paints.
- Edward Bulmer Nursery Collection comes in 12 soothing colours. Tough and durable.
- Natural & Organic Paint Company sells a baby-safe paint (the founder is not a fan of most baby-safe paints, saying most are greenwash).
Little Knight Paint offers a nice range of paints that are made in Northamptonshire, by a man who has recently bought 14 acres of beautiful countryside, so no company can build on it. Sold in easy-to-recycle tins (the plastic handle is designed to be easy to remove), the paint contains a certified antibacterial addictive, and their toy and cot paints are certified safe, so licking or nibbling won’t harm.
Zero Waste Wood & Metal Varnish
- Little Knight Exterior Metal Paint is good for furniture, fences, gates, railings, garage doors and guttering. It’s touch dry in 20 minutes. To use, remove loose materials and rust, then lightly sand before applying straight to the metal. Non-flammable and heat-resistant up to 80ºC.
- LifeTime Wood Treatment is the nontoxic alternative to creosote. This invention from Canada (sold here) claims to be harmless to all creatures (and the planet). Ideal for furniture, outdoor furniture and fencing, this is organic and biodegradable. It’s sold as a powder that you mix with water, so leftovers can be safely kept in the garage, for future use.
- Stain Oil Wood Paint Treatment is one brand of linseed oil paint. This is used for interior and exterior wood and metal, and very popular in Scandinavia, where it’s very cold and windy. This resin-free paint literally soaks into wood and can be topped up each year, without blistering or cracking. It is very flammable so soak linseed rags in water and keep away from naked flame. Linseed paint can spontaneously combust, so always dispose of safely. This brand offers several colours, which can be mixed and matched to make 100 combinations.
Nontoxic wallpaper & wallpaper paste are ideal, if you use this over house paint. Conventional wallpaper is covered with all kinds of toxic glues, and cannot be recycled, after use. Ensure the papers are from recycled or sustainable papers, and printed with water-based inks. Also see natural house paints.
Nontoxic wallpaper & wallpaper paste are ideal, if you use this over house paint. Conventional wallpaper is covered with toxic glues, and cannot be recycled. Ensure papers are from recycled or sustainable papers, printed with water-based inks. Remove old wallpaper with SimpleStrip (a blend of biodegradable detergent and enzymes, that can be used up to 50 times).
To apply wallpaper, less toxic brand are Earthborn Wallpaper Paste (also works with fabric wall coverings), Veruso Lino (made with wood fibre) and Farrow & Ball (mixed with water, each tub can hang 5 rolls of wallpaper).
Veruso Lino is the world’s first compostable wallpaper (in neutral colours, it features partly visible plant fibres for a delicate structure). Free from artificial dyes, when you change the walls, just remove it and pop it in the compost bin, along with their wood-fibre powdered organic wallpaper paste.
Little Greene (above) makes luxury wallpapers in several designs and colours, made with sustainable papers and printed with nontoxic inks, and use nontoxic wallpaper paste.