With a new job on the horizon, Brian and Carol decided it was time to fly the coop and find a new home with an easier commute. The pandemic brought a number of stressors and difficulties, ensuring the move wasn’t a simple one - not even for these experienced movers. From virtual viewings to a secret houseguest, Brian and Carol’s moving experience is definitely a rollercoaster compared to your average house move.
In 2020, Carol had found a new job working in a care home whilst Brian remained as a “sales director for a company that makes solar irrigation pumps for Third World countries.” Whilst Brian’s work predominantly results in a lot of travelling and working from home, Carol’s is much more stationary and so the change in employment meant their home in Maidstone was no longer suitable. “It doesn't really matter where I live,” Brian explained. “But it does matter where my wife lives for an easy commute for her to work.”
With their children moved out, it meant that it was just the couple and their dog left living in the home. “We have grown-up children and there are four children and eleven grandchildren, but they’re all grown up and left a long time ago.” It was the perfect opportunity to consider downsizing and finding a new layout that would suit their needs. “We like a lot of space [even though] there’s only the two of us, but we've got quite a big family and we like entertaining,” Brian told Compare My Move. “So when we were house-hunting, it was more the type of property, [but] the area was obviously important, had to be within a certain radius of work.”
It didn’t take long until the couple found a beautiful Victorian home approximately 40-miles away. It seemed absolutely perfect and it fit the couple’s specifications exactly. “So it's an older style property, 4-bedrooms and lots of space downstairs, huge conservatory and big dining room, big lounge and enormous kitchen area. But it’s about 120 years old. So it's a big old Victorian house.” Brian stated that both he and his wife have always favoured older properties due to the added space and traditional features - with the short commute and Victorian attributes, it was obvious that this was the home for them. However, it wouldn’t be quite that simple.
Carol and Brian are experienced renters as they also have a home in Spain - renting gives them the freedom to travel between the two properties easily and so they knew this was the route they wanted to take. “...We lived in Spain for 12 years and came back to the UK 10 years ago and decided to rent rather than buy at that stage,” Brian continued. “We owned houses previously and sold [them] off and went to Spain. And then, when we came back, we decided to rent rather than buy another house.” However, with the global pandemic and British lockdown causing disruptions, the pair of experienced movers would soon face a number of challenges that even they didn’t expect. It was time to call in reinforcements.
Compare Removal Company Costs
Save up to 70% on Removal Costs
The move was booked for June 2020 - with the lockdown still in full-affect, Brian and Carol knew that organising a removal company as soon as possible would help them immensely further down the line. Compare My Move proved to be an invaluable tool to get the couple started. “I'm quite a fan of comparison websites for all sorts of things...with the previous move we had a bad experience, I hadn't used a comparison site. I just shopped around, found a couple of removal companies, spoke to them, got some quotes and chose one. And it didn't work. So, I thought, let's just try a comparison site [instead].”
Brian continued, “So it certainly made it much easier because the movers sort of come to you, don't they? And give you their quotes...So, yeah, it was very, very easy to use.” With one simple form, they soon found the professional removals company, Bournes Moves. Bournes Moves is a moving company based in East Sussex who have been a Compare My Move partner since 2016. The company was first established in 1875, ensuring they have plenty of experience in the industry. This is shown through the impressive 5-star rating they have achieved since joining.
With impressive reviews and a very successful quotation, the couple decided to choose Bournes Moves as their moving team. And so, with moving day organised, they could continue with the property purchase and get one step closer to their completion day.
However, as well as reduced communication along the property chain, one of the biggest differences they faced was actually the virtual house viewing. The couple were shown around the home via a video as social distancing rules didn’t allow them to physically visit the property. “Well, initially, it was fine,” Brian said. “It turned out afterwards when we got here that we hadn't been shown everything properly and there were some problems which have to be resolved. So it was a little traumatic to start with, shall we say.” This is where the couple’s moving story gets a little bizarre.
When Brian and Carol were virtually shown around the garden, it seems that one section was purposefully avoided. During the physical viewing, they encountered an unusual surprise. “When we got there, the day we got there to collect the keys and the furniture was all packed up and on its way, [the landlady] was showing me around and we walked around the garden and somebody popped their head over this little gate in the garden and said ‘Hello’,” Brian explained. “The landlady introduced me and I said, ‘Who is this exactly?’ She said, ‘Oh...she lives in the chalet.’ And there's a chalet in the garden! And this woman was living in it!” Yes, you read that correctly, there was someone living in the garden!
Despite nothing being revealed during the virtual viewing or even in the contract, Brian and Carol had found themselves moving into an already occupied home. “I mean, initially, we didn't unpack because we thought we were leaving. The initial reaction was, well, if they can't resolve this, we're going to have to find something else and we'll move again. So that went on for about six weeks, I suppose before we settled it and decided we would stick with it.”
It took a lot of work and communication but they soon managed to resolve the issue and have the home to themselves. However, the disorientating experience has definitely left both Brian and Carol questioning their move. “So when we first moved in, it was a very, very long term rental as far as we were concerned. And now every couple of weeks, I'm looking on the housing sites, seeing if there’s something else around.”
Luckily, this unexpected delay didn’t stop Bournes Moves from ensuring an organised, efficient and professional move. “Moving day was amazing,” Brian told us. “They turned up early which was quite a surprise. I'd had a bad experience previously with a moving company that...had broken down and they were borrowing a van from somebody else. So they weren't going to be there until about four hours after the original start time, which was horrendous...So I was desperate to try and avoid something like that this time. But Bournes were really, really good.”
The team were incredibly professional and ensured the move was completely safe and adhered to covid restrictions. “I mean, the precautions, the moving company were very professional and they sort of gave us a sheet before we moved about how not to offer the guys cups of tea or sandwiches, they have to bring their own. And if we were going to be in contact with them, we have to wear face masks and all the rest of it. It was just what you'd expect, really.”
“They turned up and the guy in charge had a word with me and told me exactly what was going to happen and how we had to adhere to the covid rules and regulations, all the rest of it. And he really just took over and he said he just wanted it to be as stress-free as possible for us and to just let them get on with it. So we did and they were just super professional, really, really good.”
Despite the surprise guest turning the day on its head, the move itself went perfectly thanks to the Bournes Moves team. “They did everything that you could possibly expect. And it was such a good job, both ends. It was really, really good. They worked like Trojans. I wouldn't want to,” Brian laughed. “They work too hard.”
Brian explained that the unusual circumstances have left them feeling a little uncertain of the home and so they would likely be moving again when possible. Luckily, they already have the perfect team of movers to help them out. “I mean, as you know, we are thinking we will probably be moving again and it will definitely be Bournes. I won't even shop around next time. I would 100% use them again.”
After reflecting on the previous move, Brian finished the interview by stating, “I think out of all the house moves I've had, including moving to Spain and back, this was probably the one that stands out in my mind. If you ask me, which was the best, the most professional move ever? It would have been this one.”
If you’d like to join the many happy movers Compare My Move has helped over the years, then simply complete our online form and you’ll be connected with the best in the business. Whether you’re searching for conveyancing, surveying or removal quotes, we can connect you with our hard-working and experienced partners who can get your moving journey started in no time.