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Preparing for the big move

Once you’ve had your offer accepted and have a moving day confirmed, it’s time to start preparing for the big move. Your moving day is usually the day when money is transferred and you get the keys to your new house. This is also referred to as completion.

Here are a few things you might want to think about:

Four weeks before

If you're in rented accommodation, you'll need to give notice to your landlord. You may have to do this further in advance than four weeks, depending on your tenancy agreement.

Search for TV, phone and internet deals for your new address. Some suppliers may have a two or three week lead time, so get your order in while you're waiting to move.

Redirect your mail and tell friends and family you're moving. You can redirect your mail for three, six or 12 months, so there's plenty of time to make sure you've changed your address on everything you need to.

Organise how you're going to move. If you don't have a lot of furniture to take, you can simply hire a van for larger items and move by yourself. If you have a lot of belongings, start getting quotes from removal companies.

Start de-cluttering. What don't you need? What can you sell on eBay? What can you sell at a car boot sale? What could you donate to a local charity?

If you're buying new furniture, order it to be delivered to your new home shortly after you move in. Doing this now will save you waiting on big items, like sofas or beds, when you're already living in your new home.

Two weeks before

If you haven't already, it's time to start packing. Start room by room, packing the things you don't need for a few weeks.

Although redirecting your mail will make sure you don't miss anything, you still need to change your address. Let your bank or building society and your work know of your new address and don't forget to update your TV licence, credit cards and utility bills too.

Cancel any deliveries you may have, such as milk or newspapers. If you have a gardener or window cleaner, let them know you're moving.

Tell your council you're moving and register your new home for council tax.

Day before

Finish off any cleaning that still needs to be done. You'll probably want to give your new place a clean too, so make sure you've cleaned your old house before then.

Do a walk-through of the entire house to make sure nothing has been missed and everything is ready to go.

Round up all the keys to your current home. Make sure you get them back from family and friends too.

Make sure you either have the keys to your new home already, or you've arranged to collect them from the estate agent.

Colour code or name your boxes so you know which ones go in which room. This means you can get them in the right place first time.

Pack a bag of essentials such as clothes and toiletries. You might also want to put to one side some items from your kitchen, such as your kettle, some cutlery, tea bags and mugs.

On the day

Read the meters at your old house before you go and send these final readings to your suppliers.

Check you haven't forgotten anything and everything is locked up and secure.

If you've hired a removal company, check there's no damage to your belongings after they've unpacked.

You might also have some last minute questions for the seller, so ask them while you can. Where is the thermostat? What day are the bins collected? Where are the gas and electricity meters?

You're in!

Read the meters at your new house. Contact your utility providers and let them know both readings, so your bills are accurate from the outset.

Update your details on the electoral register.

Register with a local doctor and dentist.

Now's the time to enjoy your new home. Once you've unpacked, take the time to settle in and get to know the house and the neighbourhood.

How can I reduce my household bills?

Switch energy providers

If there was a provider for the house before you moved in, don't feel you have to stick with them. Shop around and see how much you could save by switching.

Pay by Direct Debit

If you aren't already, it's worth investigating if there are any advantages to paying by Direct Debit. Some suppliers will offer you a reduction for paying this way.

Save on your Internet

Get your home phone and broadband from the same supplier. Most suppliers now offer bundle deals, which can reduce the cost even further.

Check multiple comparison sites

There are a number of sites available – don't rely on just one. Some might only check a selection of providers, so buy using a few. You'll get a more accurate picture of what you could be paying that way.

Shop smart

If you're not being smart about what you're buying or where you're buying from, then weekly or monthly food bills can add large amounts to your monthly outgoings. Sign-up to loyalty schemes and earn rewards for your shopping, or try shopping at a few different supermarkets to see how prices and quality differs.

Don't be afraid to ask

If you're not happy with what you're paying, call up your supplier and tell them. Ask what else they can offer you and what options you have.

Home improvements

You've bought your first home and now you want to make it your own. Home improvements come in all shapes and sizes, so it's best to plan for them. It's important to consider when will be the best time to make these changes and when will you have the finances to do so.

Here are some questions to get you started:

Do you need help?

Depending on what you want to do, you might need professional help. DIY is great if you're skilful at it, but if you make mistakes it can often end up costing you more than if you'd hired a professional.

Do you need planning permission?

This tends to be needed for bigger projects such as extensions, conservatories or knocking down walls. It's worth making sure you don't need permission beforehand.

Do you need additional finance?

For any home improvement you're planning, you should work out an estimate of what you think the work will cost. For smaller improvements, you might already have the cash available. However, for larger projects, you may need to save or consider a loan before you can go ahead with any work.

What will add value?

Improvements like new kitchens or bathrooms, a landscaped garden or a loft conversion can all add to the value of your home. You might not be thinking of selling right now, but it's important to consider what options you might need in the future.

Don't spend too much

If you've set a budget for the work, make sure you stick to it. The improvements you make have to be worthwhile and not cost you more than the value you're adding.

Plan for problems

You might underestimate how long it will take to complete some of the improvements, especially large projects like a new bathroom or kitchen. To make sure things are done properly and to a high quality, don't rush.

Get quotes from multiple sources

This will allow you to compare any differences in material and cost. Make sure you're clear whether VAT is included, as you don't want any unexpected costs.

Set aside extra cash

Even with a good plan and a good quote, some home improvements will cost more than you originally thought. Consider putting an extra 10% on your budget, just in case something goes wrong.