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Putting industry advice to the test: Do these five tips really ease the stress of unpacking?

“Turning a house into a home”, the meaning of this, and the very hard work behind accomplishing it, becomes glaringly obvious the first night in a new home.

Once the movers delivered the last carefully packed box into one corner of your new house and quietness descends on unfamiliar surroundings the real work begins.

Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, provides five tips to get you through the labour-intensive process a little easier. Considering my recent experience in the field I thought I would put the tips to a Steynberg Reality-O-Meter Test (SRT) to see how effective they really could be in lessening the very heavy load.

Divide the work

You have friends and family who are willing and able to help – get them involved. Ideally, it is best to start with the larger jobs first, such as placing the furniture and then working down to the smaller things. Try and set up at least one room as quickly as possible so that the helpers have a place to put their feet for a much-deserved break during the process.

The SRT-result: This comes down to asking. We didn’t ask family or friends for help this time, but have had many helping hands when moving across cities once before.  In terms of voluntarily offering help; my sister-in-law offered to watch our three-year-old, a great help in itself, and much less stressful on our daughter.

How to party your way through moving

Make safety a priority

Fixing a door

The first few days in a new home can feel a little strange. Making sure that everyone feels safe in their new environment will help them to feel settled sooner. Check all the doors and windows to ensure that they lock properly. Also, make sure that each family member has a set of keys to the property. Additionally, ensure you know where the circuit breaker is and how it works.

The SRT-result: Yip, yip, yip. These are definitely some of the first things we sorted, and it helped making this strange place feel a little less strange, definitely a realistic tip.

Get the paperwork done

Don’t wait until the last minute, get the paperwork done sooner rather than later. Update all your accounts and utilities with your new details. Fill out a change of address with your bank and employee and ensure that all the relevant service providers and creditors have your new address on record. Remember also to make the time to change the address on your driver’s license. Don’t pressure yourself to do all of this in one go, but the sooner you get them done, the more settled you will feel.

The easy-to-forget admin you need to take care of before your move

The SRT-result: We are notoriously bad when it comes to this sort of household admin so I am going to try and stay objective, but this is definitely very low on my priority list during the first month in a new home. Definitely a task for a little later, in my moving process anyway. The fact that we don’t receive any important documents via the post anymore, but rather all electronically, doesn’t help in this task’s placement on the priority list.

Make it yours

painting a home

Changing the colour of the walls and putting up your personal items will make the house feel like a home and can make the rest of the unpacking a much more pleasant experience.

The SRT-result: Sage advice. Once I had our bookcases unpacked I could feel a sense of calmness return to our family. I really think this is important, even more so when little ones are moving homes. Restoring a sense of stability as soon as possible is essential for everyone’s peace and comfort.

Take time to breathe

There is no rush; it doesn’t have to all be done at once. Take some time out to have a family dinner, watch a movie or go on a social outing. Or just relax, step outside to meet the neighbours and take time to enjoy your new surroundings.

The SRT-result: Yip, another little nugget of golden wisdom from Mr Goslett. It’s been a month and we still have a couple of boxes to unpack. Does it bother me? Yes. Do I want it done? Yes. But while we should have been unpacking boxes we’ve been on a wonderful date night to the Live concert, we’ve been on playdates and birthday parties, my husband enjoyed a boys’ night out, I’ve rediscovered my love for an old hobby taking up some of my valuable house sorting time, and just yesterday we spent a lovely day with friends instead of sorting out those last few niggly boxes. And then not even mentioning all the hot summer afternoons spent in our new garden instead of unpacking.

Do I want it done before December? You bet I do. But guess what, this strange, new property is feeling more and more like home every time I relax and laugh with my family instead of stressing about a move that has occupied my mind for the last six months at the very least.

End result of the SRT: These are great tips and for the most part realistic. Bottom line is just relax, go easy on yourself, and most importantly: Enjoy your new home!



Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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