Thursday, 3 January 2013

Moving house guide week 1: Start tackling the mail

So I arrived home from two weeks at my parents to find a pile of letter behind my front door which were a prompt reminder of one of the many tasks I need to face up to for a organised house move.

Heaven? Maybe not... the Christmas cards that we hadn't received before the holiday were lovely. The bills, well, not so much!

However, this has provided me with an opportune moment to start noting all the people and companies we receive mail from. I've created a page to fill in over the next few months to reduce the pain of changing our address.

Of course you can opt for mail-forwarding by Royal Mail, or the equivalent service in your own country. However, it is not foolproof. Last time we moved, I set up mail-forwarding, paying about £45 for the privilege, only to find that about half of our mail went missing. Luckily for us the people that moved into our old flat sent it to our old letting agency who forwarded it to us, but it included items such as a cheque book! I could not believe that both the bank (who were told 2 weeks before we moved house of our new address) and the post office could mess up so badly! So this time I will be more careful.

This starts  with filling in my mail-tracker sheet for the next 2 months, composing letters 1 month before we move and sending them off 2 weeks before. The bank will be getting a visit from me the week before I move house this time, plus we will have a 10 day overlap on our properties probably, though this isn't confirmed yet. Luckily I'm also friends with my current landlady, so hopefully she will be kind enough to forward things along to me.

My top tips for tackling the mail forwarding problem are:
1. Write down notes of the company/contact/membership numbers of all incoming mail as soon as you know you will be moving house. Get a copy of my mail tracker here.
2. Identify sporadic mail. Go through filing to identify companies who write to you rarely, such as banks who you only get online statements from.
3. Stop the spam. Stop as much spam as possible, but don't rely on them stopping. Any mail with your name and address on it can potentially be used to steal your identity. So if you receive an item regularly contact the company and ask them to stop sending, but if you still receive the item, accept it and change your address instead.
4. Write letters. About a month before your move write letters to the relevant companies detailing your move date and new address. Print the letters out, put in envelopes, write on the address, but hold off sending until 10 days before your move date. Remember; letters are your friend. They will save you precious time not spent on the phone or in a shop/bank branch in the run up your moving day. Sometimes personal visits and telephone calls are necessary, but most of the time they are not. Mail merging also saves you a lot of time if you know how to set it up and you already have your addresses in a database.
5. Compile lists. Categorise companies who may/will not accept letters as a change of address notification by telephone/email/online and set aside a time in your move-week to tackle this list. It should be minimal as most companies are happy to deal with a letter. However, never trust a bank to do it by letter, always go into a branch if possible. Remember that you may not have a phone line in your new property when you first move in, so try and tackle this before you move rather than after, even if you have been assured by your Utlities company that they will have the phone operational the day you move (in my experience this is very unreliable!).
6. Set up mail forwarding. Once you are between eight and four weeks away from your move date contact your mail forwarding provider. In the UK this is Royal Mail. You can apply anywhere from up to 3 months before your move date, and the sooner you do it, the less there is to worry about it nearer the time. Royal mail need a minimum of 5 working days to set it up.
7. Print forwarding labels. I don't know what other countries are like, but in the UK if you write 'please forward to.... blah blah blah' on an envelope that has been incorrectly delivered and pop it in a post box, unopened, Royal Mail will forward it to the new address. In fact, it is a criminal offence in the UK to 'stop mail being delivered', i.e. if it is delivered to you by mistake and you bin it! In the past if I have moved out of a property and have friends who still live at the address (this happened a lot as a student) I have printed labels with my forwarding address on and given these to my old flatmates when I move out. This way they just pop it on the envelope, over the original address, and the hardest thing for them is popping it in the post box. As we are friends with our landlady we will be using this tactic once again for this move.

Thanks for stopping by,
Let me know what you think... leave a comment or send an email to passthecaffeine {at} gmail {dot} com

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