The misery of moving house

Working out what to part with is one of the main challenges we face when moving

Working out what to part with is one of the main challenges we face when moving - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Moving house is known for being one of the most stressful things you can do, right up there with divorce and redundancy.

My mum and dad know this only too well, having just moved for the first time in 34 years. Frankly, I’m amazed they’re still together (turns out sorting and shifting more than three decades’ worth of stuff is no recipe for marital harmony).

Having lived in seven houses in one five year period, I know how easily things can be acquired. For four of these five years we lived overseas, having arrived with only the clichéd couple of suitcases. Four years and four houses later, we needed half a shipping container to carry our excessive amount of not-entirely essential items back home to Blighty. Should we have sold them and saved a fortune on shipping? When the sofa arrived in Herts a month after we did, covered in mould, and the fridge had changed colour and acquired a massive dent, we were thinking… yes, probably.

We’ve been in our current house for nearly five years, and I can see the rot beginning to set in. Not needing to leave has caused our cupboards to bulge with too-small kids’ clothes, and the loft to burst with bags of cards, letters and photos. We’ve got space (just) so it’s staying. All of it.

Not everyone is this way, of course. My mum’s always been good at keeping clutter at bay, but when she and my dad came to make their big move a couple of weeks ago there was a lot that needed to go. What had been a safe haven for my GCSE coursework and mountains of music magazines was no longer so. My siblings and I were getting our stuff back, or it was going in the skip.

My ex-joiner dad is, like me, a hoarder, and the large garage – his massive man cave – had long since become too full of wood to house anything resembling a vehicle. While mum stripped the family home in readiness for the move, dad pottered around the garage achieving… not much. Are there any stats on divorce following house moves – a special stressy double-header? I’d love to see them if so. My mum sent me a text on the day of the move saying she could “literally kill” my dad, who was still individually inspecting pieces of skirting board while she and the removal men moved out around him. He somehow made it out alive, as did much of the wood, which is now filling the new, much smaller garage.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here it’s that little and often is the way to go when it comes to household decluttering – but can we ever change the way we live entirely? When I’ve finished re-reading those old issues of Smash Hits and NME I’ll let you know...