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Dealing With Moving House Stress

Written by Reviewed by Marc Benger

6th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 26th Feb 2020) 14 minute read

Moving to a new house can be an exciting life event for many people. Whatever your circumstances are, moving house is an opportunity to start fresh, meet new people and try new things. Booking a house removal company can ease you through the process providing much relief, helping it become a positive event. 

If you’re moving from a 1-bedroom flat to your dream house or you’ve had a work promotion and are upgrading your home, it's going to be an exciting move. On the other hand, if you're moving because of an unfortunate circumstance then it's understandable if you do experience moving stress. 

Moving house stress can lead to a variety of mental health issues like an increase in anxiety or even depression. Research states that “more than 1 in 10 people” will experience “a disabling anxiety disorder at some stage in their life” and moving house can help worsen these disorders. 

Compare My Move have compiled 9 tips to eliminate any moving stress you may face, including why it's important to use a removal company for added aid. We're asking, is moving house as stressful as it seems? And, if so, how can you reduce its effect? Read on to see what we discovered.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Why is Moving House So Stressful?
  2. The Main Causes of Stress
  3. How Does Moving Affect Children?
  4. Is Moving Home Stressful for Pets?
  5. How To Cope With Stress When Moving House
  6. Enjoy Your Stress Free Move

Why is Moving House So Stressful?

If you have a preconceived idea from the majority of negative articles that moving house is going to be stressful, then it will. There will inevitably be a psychological effect of moving house as you’re uprooting your life, leaving behind important relationships and going through a physically strenuous process. However, if you’re worried, then first identify the areas of the process that have the potential to bring on anxiety.

Reasons you might feel stressed when moving:

  • Change of routine
  • Thought of packing
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Leaving friends and family
  • Feeling unprepared
  • Physical labour 

Research has previously shown that it can affect not only adults but also children too. It was discovered that children showed “poorer mental health in periods following a residential move” than those who were stable and not constantly moving house. Clearly, moving house can have a huge impact on families and people’s mental health, proving that it is a stressful event to go through. 

So, what can we do to prevent any moving house stress? With planning, sensible choices and our 9 top tips then you should be able to stay on top of the moving stress.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety

If the process of moving house becomes too stressful, it can often cause or increase anxiety. Don’t let the stress of moving allow your mental health to suffer, remain calm and stay organised. Keep an eye out for any signs or symptoms of anxiety to help you maintain a positive mental state

Symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Agitation and increased irritability 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Overthinking or excessive worrying
  • Lack of concentration 
  • Stomachache 
  • Paranoia 

It’s important to keep your anxiety in mind throughout the moving process as, if it increases, it could also lead to other psychological issues such as depression. If you feel like your mental health is at risk, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You could book an appointment with your local doctor or ask friends and family to help with the move. 

Don’t push yourself too far. If the event becomes so bad that you begin to experience panic attacks, it’s time to consult a doctor. Remain calm and try to stay organised to reduce the risk of further issues. 

Is Moving House That Stressful?

In January 2018, Forth undertook a survey to find the top 5 causes of stress amongst British people. They found money, work, health concerns, failure to get enough sleep and household chores were the main culprits. With common tasks such as household chores considered more stressful than moving to a new house, then there's no reason to worry. Use our checklist for moving house to help tackle the stress.

Top 5 causes of Stress


However, research conducted by E-on in 2015 revealed that “six in ten people voted moving home as their most stressful life event” making it the most stressful event for 62% of the 2,000 adults questioned. The stress of moving house affects everyone differently - for some, it may be a task you’re used to, whilst for others, it’s a source of extreme anxiety. Assess your own situation and prepare for what you believe will be the most stressful tasks.

The Main Causes of Stress

The table below shows the main cause of stress in each area of the UK.

AreaMain Cause of Stress
Wales, Scotland, North East, North West, South East & South WestMoney
Northern IrelandWork & Money
London, West Midlands & Yorkshire                             Work
East MidlandsHealth Problems

Data from Forthwithlife.co.uk

Similarly, the official Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale ranked 'major change in living conditions' as only 28th on the list of most stressful life events. To compare, moving house is apparently less stressful than marriage, retirement and outstanding personal achievements, which are all usually considered as positive events.


The Holmes and Rahe Stress Points

How Does Moving Affect Children?

Many people will remember moving multiple times during their childhood. But, sometimes, it’s easy to forget how much the moving process affects children. It’s not just a change of house for them, sometimes it’s also a change of school, friends and even family arrangements. Throughout the chaos of moving day, don’t forget to check in on your family regularly, especially when moving with children.  

Keep an eye on their behaviour throughout the process. If they begin to exhibit signs or symptoms of anxiety, it may be time to intervene to help them cope with the stress of moving house. You have to remember that moving often comes with some sort of loss for children. Whether it’s their attachment to the physical building or the loss of certain friendships, it can seem like a bigger event for them than you. 

If your children are already prone to anxiety or are naturally introverted, then it may affect them more than others. In 2010, a study by the Journal of Social and Personality Psychology discovered that frequent moves in a family can not only affect a child’s behaviour and performance in school, but it can also have long-term effects as the participants were then unable to form long-term friendships in adulthood. 

However, every child is different and, as their guardian, you know them best to determine how much they can handle. Help them through the process step by step and ensure they’re aware of the event well in advance. 

Ways to Help Your Children Through the Moving Process

Moving house doesn’t have to be a stressful process. There are ways to reduce anxiety and help you and your children through the event with as little disruption as possible. Here are our top tips to help your children beat the stress of moving house:

  • Communicate Clearly - make sure you’re clear of what’s happening and when. Your children will be just as lost and confused as you, so communication will ensure that everyone is aware of what needs to be done and by when.
  • Talk it Through - make it clear that you’re available to talk through any issues and answer any questions they may have. If they’re concerned or scared, make it known that you’re there as a source of comfort. 
  • Maintain a Routine - children thrive under routine. If you keep a strict structure and routine throughout the majority of the move, they’ll feel much more relaxed. 
  • Take Them to the Area First - take your children to their new home, school and the surrounding areas so that they have some form of recognition. Nothing is scarier than the unknown so don’t make it a mystery. 
  • Make a Game of it - packing can be tedious. Turn little tasks into a game - take toys and their favourite things with you during the journey. Keep them as entertained as possible. 
  • Stay Calm - children feed off of the energy around them. The calmer you are, the more relaxed and stress-free they’ll be. 

Is Moving Home Stressful for Pets?

Other family members to consider when moving house is your pets. Even the calmest animals can feel the stress of moving house. Not only is it a change in routine and physical space, but they can also pick up on the stress you’re feeling too. When moving house with pets, don’t forget to be attentive to their needs and to reassure them when things become disruptive. 

Signs of stress in animals (particularly cats and dogs) include:

  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Shaking
  • Hiding 
  • Tail between their legs
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of interest in their environment
  • Excessive panting or saliva
  • Flattened ears
  • Pacing

How to Help Reduce Moving Anxiety in Your Pets 

There are a number of ways to help your pets beat the stress of moving house. You can slowly ease them into the transition and help them through the chaos. Remember that animals pick up on the atmosphere around them - if you’re stressed, they will be too. Here are just a few ways to help your animals deal with moving anxiety:

  • Use a plug-in diffuser to release calming pheromones
  • Stick to a routine 
  • Check the new garden for escape routes and dangerous plants
  • Consider leaving your pet with a friend or family on moving day
  • Create a safe space for them to sit and watch
  • Take them to the area beforehand
  • Take out furniture that has the scent of previous pets
  • Be reassuring and keep their favourite treats on hand 

Don’t forget that once you’ve completed the move, it will take a while for your pet to become settled. There may be a few toilet-based accidents and they will need to get used to the new environment, so be patient. They have to adjust just as much as you. 

The benefits of a healthy and happy animal are endless. If they are calm and content during the process, then they can also help you with your moving anxiety. There have been large amounts of research exploring how animals can benefit human’s mental health and so their unconditional love could also help you through the stress, impacting your experience in positive ways. 

How To Cope With Stress When Moving House

Here are some of Compare My Move’s best tips to reduce moving stress by helping you make sure that you’re fully prepared for moving day.

1. Start Packing Early

Start your packing early by planning what you’re going to take with you to your new house, what’s staying behind/going to charity or a tip and what can go into storage. This will help reduce some of the pressure as you’ll have done most of the hard work already.

Make a start by:

  • Working your way down the house
  • Packing up room by room
  • Packing clothes you wear the least – if it’s Winter, pack all your Summer clothes away first
  • Packing the books you won’t be reading in a hurry into a suitcase
  • Organising kitchen utensils that aren’t essential for every day
  • Packing important documents such as birth/marriage certificate together - label the box clearly
  • Packing photographs/photo albums/photo frames first as these aren’t essential
  • Labelling boxes clearly so you can find everything quickly

2. Meditation

Moving house requires a lot of physical labour as well as emotional strain, which is why it often causes so much stress and anxiety. Will Williams, founding teacher at Beeja Meditation, describes it as "a classic example of a ‘positive’ life event putting so much strain on the nervous system" that it causes us to feel "overwhelmed" and "emotionally very challenged". One example he has provided us with to help beat the stress of moving is meditation. 

Williams describes mediation as "incredible for calming the nervous system down and giving you so much extra bandwidth that you can take these big life events in your stride, enabling you to enjoy your achievements and keep your relationships happy and nourished even when there is so much on." It is one form of professional advice to help you through the process and reassess the situation, helping you see things more clearly. We highly support the idea of meditation as a form of coping with stress, no matter what the situation. 

3. Plan Ahead

Many people fall victim to moving stress if they haven’t planned properly. You will need to think well in advance about all eventualities and make a list of everything that needs doing so that you can plan accordingly. If you compare conveyancing solicitors beforehand, you will save a lot of time, stress and money.

You will need to:

  • Book time off work
  • Book your removal company early
  • Think about moving with pets
  • Have a deep clean
  • Sort out a new school if you’re moving with children
  • Stop buying a food shop a week before and don’t forget to use up everything you have
  • Cancel bills in your current house
  • Change your address for important documents/deliveries
  • Set up essentials like gas/electric/water/WIFI in your new house so it’s all ready for when you move in

You can check out our full list of moving tips where you will find a wealth of handy tips to prevent moving house stress.

4. Use a Removal Company

Using a removal company for your move is going to really reduce your moving stress and anxiety. It’s not advised to do everything yourself, removal companies are designed to take the pressure off by doing all the hard work for you. Most home removals offer a full packing service and storage facilities which further helps to reduce moving stress. Why not get a house removal quote and start planning your move now?

A removal company will:

  • Be fully experienced in moving heavy items to avoid damage to walls and floors etc
  • Lift, load and unload the boxes
  • Offer a full packing service to avoid moving stress
  • Offer to disassemble/reassemble your furniture
  • Offer storage services

If you’re worried about the costs, then put aside some money in advance so this isn’t another concern to think about during the move. Even better, you could save up to 70% off your move by using Compare My Move.

5. Focus on the Positives

A simple way to deal with your anxiety is to fight the negativity and concentrate on the positive aspects of your move.

Positive aspects may be:

  • You’ll get a chance to start fresh in a new area
  • You’ll have a blank canvas to decorate 
  • You could have more sunlight in your new garden
  • Moving near friends or family
  • Opportunity to make new friends
  • The commute to work might be shorter

6. Get Help

Whether it be from a friendly removal company or your friends and family, getting help is essential in tackling the moving stress.

Some ways to get help:

  • Get your friends/family to help pack – making it fun will be easier for you
  • Let your family help clean your house in return for some pizza and beers
  • Let a verified removal company do all the packing, lifting and loading for you
  • Accept help from your neighbours if they offer 
  • Using Compare My Move to compare removal quotes and save money

7. Pack a Bag of Essentials

With everything else you need to think of, it’s highly likely you’ll misplace important items like toiletries in the first few days of arriving. Packing a clearly labelled bag of essentials and setting it aside will help to tackle moving stress.

Things to keep handy for the first few days include:

  • Medication
  • Toiletries such as toothpaste, shower gel, soap, face wash
  • Toilet roll
  • Underwear and a change of clothes
  • Phone charger/laptop charger
  • Toys for children or even pets
  • Anything that you use daily

8. Get Rest

A major factor of stress is fatigue. It will be an extremely busy and tiring time so it’s important you don’t push yourself too hard throughout the moving process.

Look after yourself by: 

  • Making sure you’re getting enough sleep – without sleep, you won’t have enough energy to move house
  • Taking regular breaks from packing
  • Taking your time – if you start early you won't have to rush 
  • Eating well

9. Move on a Friday 

Compare My Move's research has shown that our most popular day for moving is a Friday. 

Other important data to consider:

  • Monday is the most popular day to plan your move with us
  • Moving on a Friday will give you the whole weekend to get settled in
  • If you're lucky to move on the Friday before a bank holiday, you'll have an extra day
  • Booking early reduces competition and help you get the time slot you desire

Enjoy Your Stress Free Move

Whatever your circumstances may be, moving to a new house can be stressful if you don't prepare well enough. Use our tips as a checklist to make sure you have everything planned for your move - more importantly, use this to help reduce any moving house stress. 

When you're ready to move, make sure you fill out our quick and simple form to connect you with up to 6 house removal partners to choose from. 

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

Marc Benger

Reviewed by Marc Benger

Co-Founder and Director, Compare My Move

Co-founder and director of Compare My Move, Marc Benger has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.