Before the move
Do
de-clutter.
As regular readers of Country Mouse will know, the Editor has moved three times in the past two years, and he recommends the following mantra: if, in the past year, you haven’t seen it, used it or missed it, chuck it. By sticking to this credo, he’s managed to reduce his family of five’s belongings by a third.

Don’t
 leave clearing out the attics and basements to the last minute, assuming that they will be full of junk that will all go in the skip. Charlie Wells of buying agents Prime Purchase (01608 810662) knows of one Old Master that ended up on a bonfire because an attic was emptied in haste. Tackle this at least a month in advance of the move-longer if you want to sell things on eBay (www.ebay.co.uk) or post unwanted items up on Freecycle (www.freecycle.org), where, if you have a local group, someone might be interested and will come and pick them up.

Do
 measure your furniture if you’re downsizing to a smaller property, as room sizes can be deceptive. Make sure it will fit through doors or up staircases if there isn’t a large window through which the furniture can be hoisted.

Do get at least three quotes from removals companies-international moves will require the services of a national mover, but local companies can be very competitive and often offer a more personalised service. There can be as much as a 20% difference in prices if you shop around, and you need to be aware that prices fluctuate throughout the year according to the season. For those with the necessary energy, you can reduce the cost by doing the packing yourself.

Do
 make sure you’ve negotiated a good length of time between sale and completion so you can organise everything and get paperwork in order, says James Grillo of Chesterton Humberts (020-7594 4740).

Do
 buy a building-insurance policy that will come into effect from the exchange of the property.

Do 
book engineers to come and set up your new telephone, broadband and satellite-TV
connections in the first few days at the new house.

Do 
register with websites such as www.moveme.com, which is an online calendar that will send reminders about things you need to do in advance of the move, and www.iammoving.com, which offers a free change-of-address service. Ask Royal Mail (www.royalmail.com) to redirect your post. You need to give three weeks’ notice, and it costs from £40.85 for one year.

Do
 organise a pre-completion inspection to make sure there aren’t any nasty surprises on moving day, such as the previous owners leaving bulky furniture that you’ll have to get removed or taking any items that were negotiated in the sale. A sundial, for example, is unlikely to be wedded to a garden, but a purchaser may well assume it is. ‘I know of water troughs in paddocks that have been removed,’ adds Mr Wells.

On the big day

Do 
either dispatch your own cleaner to the new house or have it cleaned professionally before the furniture is delivered. Be aware that many companies don’t work on Saturdays.

Don’t
 forget to gather up four-legged friends. Dogs are hard to leave behind, but Mr Wells has, on three occasions, had vendors who have agreed to complete on a certain day, then had to ask the new owners’ permission to return to the house to retrieve their cats. Mr Grillo advises booking your pets into kennels on the day of the move to prevent potential protest escapes.

Don’t let the removals men leave before first agreeing with them how many beds need to
be reassembled (and where) at the new house.

Do 
ensure the utility companies come and take the final meter readings (or you can do this yourself by supplying the meter reading online). Make a note of the figures as well, just in case.

After the move

Do take time off immediately after the move. What you don’t do at the beginning, you might never get round to doing.

Don’t 
be lazy about the post. Every time you receive a letter posted to the old address, write to the company to alert them to your new address.

A final word of reassurance from the Editor: ‘Like childbirth, moving house is quite stressful, but it does eventually stop and you’ll be really pleased with what you’ve achieved.’