Move countdown

1 week before M-day

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The start of this week is when you should get the majority of the packing completed. You should hire any further removal boxes that you are going to need, get your head down and get on with it. You should also arrange the exchange of keys and collect yours at the earliest opportunity.

Start collecting things for a bare essentials pack. This can contain anything you think you might need on the move day or a couple of days later. Read the 'Bare essentials checklist' for a full breakdown of what this should contain. Don't forget to pack one or two luxuries so you can appease your kids or spoil yourself when you get in. You could put all of this in the boot of your car, but if the car gets nicked then you'll be left without all the things that you urgently need once you've moved. We suggest you use a quiet corner of the bedroom.

Make a map and write some directions to your new house for friends, family and the removals company. You should send two copies to the removers (and carpet fitters if they are separate) as early as possible. Attach a floor plan and a guide to the colour code system you have used for packing, if you have used one. It should also have brief instructions for the removal people - what time to pick up, an approximate arrival time, any special packing or transit instructions (Don't flat pack the dog or throw the porcelain dolls around please). Check that your floor plan accounts for all the major items.

Get up to date with all your local service and utility accounts. Cancel the milk and newspapers and pay the balance, return any outstanding videos, library books or rental games and settle any outstanding bills with them. Pay or prepay any final utility bills that arrive and confirm that meters will be read and services connected in time for your arrival at your new home.

Finally, have a frozen food party where you cook everything that's left in your freezer. This will be most fun if it is a hot summer and the entire contents of your freezer can go on the barbecue. If it's winter, be hardcore and do it anyway.

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