Once we’d made our list of areas to focus on, we chose to pick them off one by one, in an order logical only to us. A normal couple would probably look into the legals and administration, and make sure that everything is above board and all the paperwork is completed.
We’re driven by the thrill of seeing physical, tangible and measurable progress. Literally to the point that the pen was touching the paper on the contract, I had picked up a box and started throwing random belongings laid around the living room into it. So we chose to look at what we needed to take with us, get the international removal company…ahem…boxed off.
Because we were moving into a fully furnished flat, we knew that we wouldn’t need to take a sofa, bed, fridge and freezer, washing machine etc. with us. We did have a cot and a change table for the baby which we wanted to take with us, but outside of that, we weren’t taking bulky furniture with us which meant we would pretty much be focussed on getting a quote for the removal of boxes only. With the exception of our laptops and PS4 we weren’t taking any electrical items with us. Armed with this knowledge we started looking at all the rubbish that we had accumulated in just a couple of years of being in the house.
After a momentary panic (think Simba in the Lion King realising a stampede is headed his way) over what we were actually doing, it became really easy to declutter. There were so many things that we weren’t attached to. Comedian Michael McIntyre talks about having a man drawer, filled with old mobile phones, batteries with varying degrees of energy still left and takeaway menus . Well, every drawer downstairs seemed to be man drawers, from the kitchen to the conservatory and through to the living room. And still there was only the one radiator bleeding key in the entire house! We had boxes of old clothes that we had either grown out of (i.e. got too fat for) which we could easily throw away. We also decided we weren’t going to take any crockery, cutlery, glassware, etc. The thought process is that these could easily break in transit, so why risk it in the first place.
We had an obscene amount of books and DVDs too. We are (or rather were) book hoarders. We took a hardline stance on books and asked if we were going to ever ready them again, or if we were just book snobs who were essentially displaying all the words we’ve ever read to visitors? We sold and donated a significant amount of books in a two month period.
With DVDs, unless they were collectors edition cases (or part of my marvel collection) we threw away the cases and put the discs into wallets – we must have saved a lot of space in packing doing that.
Luckily, we were able to get some DHL boxes for free and once we had finished decluttering and packing, we found that we had about 30 boxes, a cot, a high chair and a nice kitchen breakfast unit that we wanted to move to France.
While we were going through the decluttering and packing (which took several weeks, condensed into a couple of paragraphs above…we could do with a montage), I did a google search and found a website called Reallymoving.com which is your bog standard price comparison site for Storage and Removal companies. I entered all of the information such as dates, where we were moving from and to, and size of the move. The web form was really simple, and asked how much we wanted to move, with options ranging from “a few boxes and suitcases” to “entire home contents”. We landed somewhere in between so I chose “clothes, some furniture and personal items”. Of course, I’m not naive enough to think that ReallyMoving.com were impartial in our search and will have been earning referral fees, but it was easy and simple, and when you’re planning a move to France, easy and simple is just what you want. I wanted someone else to do the shopping around for quotes for me. Could I have got better results from searching myself? More than likely, but as with price comparison websites for insurance, etc. these type of sites are the way of life now and make it easy.
Reallymoving.com sent our details off to a few removals companies, and we got a very quick response from a company called Simpsons Removals, who have an office in nearby Chesterfield. Now, before I go any further, I need to state for the record that feedback you can find online relating to Simpsons is fairly negative. Our experience was a good one, but I want this to be a fair reflection of the business.
We initially got a quote for a shared load, meaning that our items would be transported on a scheduled lorry, along with items and deliveries for other customers. The initial quote was for 100 cubic foot on the lorry. When we took the measurements of our boxes it came out at 200 cubic feet, so I asked for a requote. We received a quote back for 240 cubic feet. This quote came out at circa £1k. For what we wanted, we felt this was a more than reasonable quote, and in order to secure, we had to pay a deposit. We paid the whole balance up front which meant we secured the move. We had a date of 11th September 2017 for the van to arrive and pick up all our boxes and items, and take them to the depot to store before the scheduled lorry set off at the end of September.
We were told to make sure that the boxes had all contents listed on the front, so an inventory could be made at the point of pickup. We were also told the dimension of the lorry and to check whether the lorry could get near the property in order to determine delivery address. If the lorry couldn’t get near we would have to (at our cost) agree a mutual meet and shuttle the items between the mutual location and storage.
The truck could get nowhere near us, so again we had to rely on very helpful Mother-in-Law and partner to agree to take our furniture at a mutual location and then get it to us bit by bit. Simpsons were very helpful in agreeing to this and confirmed that they could meet at the preferred location.
A week before we were due to fly out to France, we received an email stating that the truck had been delayed leaving the UK due to driver illness. Furthermore, Simpsons advised they could not, at that point give us a date the truck would leave, nor when it would arrive. We were facing the very real prospect of having none of our items for weeks. To be honest, that is something we can live with. It’s the uncertainty of not knowing when something is going to happen. So I did what I do best and composed a long and strongly worded email.
Within a day, we had an apology and a new delivery date. From that point we were kept up to date on progress and in the end items turned up a week later than planned but to the revised schedule.
The breakfast table arrived missing a wheel.