After both of their grown children had moved out, Gerry and his wife, both retired police officers, decided that their home was far too big for just the two of them. They wanted to downsize and find a cosier place to call home, somewhere that wouldn’t feel as empty and difficult to manage. However, with the global pandemic affecting the housing market and the way in which homeowners could move, they soon discovered that it wasn’t going to be a simple journey.
“We were downsizing from a 4-bedroom semi to a bungalow as our children have left home and we are getting older and wished to have a more manageable sized house,” Gerry explained. “Basically, my son’s autistic, he moved three years ago into supported accommodation and my daughter moved in with her boyfriend to live around the corner.” After Gerry’s mother sadly passed away, he was able to buy her home for his daughter, ensuring the family were still close together. “So there’s just two of us in a 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom massive house…”
Gerry and his wife knew they didn’t want to search for their new home too far away. With their daughter and in-laws in the area, it was vital they found somewhere nearby. “We were looking very much in the area that we already were...not too far at all.” Luckily, after a bit of searching, they found a beautiful bungalow only a few hundred yards away. “My wife’s mother and father need constant help and my wife is their carer, so we wanted to be close to them. We’re actually a hundred yards closer than we were before,” Gerry laughed.
The couple soon found a snug, 3-bedroom bungalow that was the perfect fit for just the two of them. “I think they call them Dutch bungalows - 2-upstairs bedrooms, 1 downstairs. It’s a semi-detached bungalow, so front and back gardens.” It was exactly what they were looking for. However, despite the property being perfect, the buying process was not. With the move planned for November 2020, it would soon become clear that the global pandemic and British lockdown would greatly hinder their property purchase.
With communication at a halt and many offices having to work from home, Gerry and his wife encountered a number of issues that would delay the move. “Well, I think it was basically lack of communication between solicitors. Our solicitor was waiting all the time, we weren’t [using] a mortgage either,” he explained, highlighting the importance of comparing conveyancing solicitors. “The elderly lady who was living there, we actually got information from her removal people that she said we could have the keys around about 12 o’clock.” However, despite the seller’s willingness to complete, the estate agents could not confirm whether the money had been received and so, they were left waiting.
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“So, I ended up standing outside the estate agents at half-past 4...Eventually, they opened the doors and handed me the keys saying it’s gone through,” Gerry continued. “Other people along the very small chain let us down.” Whilst the process was greatly delayed and incredibly stressful, one company definitely didn’t let them down - Ashington Removals and Storage Ltd.
As the house move would have to be handled safely and professionally to avoid the spread of COVID-19, Gerry and his wife searched for local removal companies online. “The site gave us a good list of local removal firms which we were able to contact and get quotes for our move. We then checked them all out via previous customer reviews. We were able to choose the right company for our move.” The reviews were especially essential for Gerry, as he explains, “I never order anything without looking it up first and getting customer feedback etc. I think it’s to do with the fact I was a police officer for 30-years and you can get so easily ripped off...But no, I found [the website] really useful, yeah, without a doubt.”
Gerry and his wife originally wanted to find a local, independent company so that they could support them throughout the national lockdown. However, Gerry explained that the ones they found nearby were insufficient as one didn’t have the van space to complete the move, whilst another appeared “unprofessional”. Through Compare My Move, they found another option. “We ended up with Ashington Removals...north of Newcastle so it must be something like 35 miles away...they were quick to come out, really pleasant and realistic.”
Ashington Removals and Storage Ltd are a family-run removals company based in Northumberland. They have been partnered with Compare My Move since October 2014, receiving an excellent 5-star rating from our users. They offer professional removal services at competitive prices and have the necessary training and experience to ensure a safe and socially-distanced house move.
“So glad we used Compare My Move, it certainly helped us in choosing our removals firm. We were not aware of the Conveyancing or Surveying service which is offered, but we will consult them next time we move without a doubt...The removal firm was the calming influence on the day. Their experience and advice were invaluable.”
Ashington Removals and Storage Ltd were incredibly helpful and ensured the couple were as organised as possible in the run-up to the move. “It was [the removal company] who suggested to come the day before,” Gerry told us. “[They] half-packed us up. Then they came sort of late morning on the day that we were moving. They were ready at half-past 1 to move [us] in and they were parked outside the address…” The team of movers were very thorough and efficient, helping the couple easily pack up and move out.
However, the delays with the estate agent meant Gerry and his wife couldn’t move in at the time they had originally planned. Both they and the removal company were left waiting for the keys to be released. “Everything escalated from there.” With the removals team far from home and the couple waiting to unload and finally unpack, time was ticking. “The removal people wanted to get back to Ashington which is a fair distance from here. But they were great!”
Despite being delayed by quite a few hours, Gerry finally resolved the issues presented and was given the keys to his new home. The moving company remained patient and polite, staying beyond the time they were planning to leave. “We’d run out of space and they were already over their time. It was nearly 8 o’clock at night when they actually left us! But they hadn’t rushed it, they were there until the end,” Gerry explained. “I could not thank them enough for the way they were.”
Despite the timing concerns, all the appropriate COVID measures were taken, ensuring a safe and legal house move. “We all wore masks and socially-distanced. I have a dog as well so we had to keep the dog in the car or in the garden, away. We just let them get on with it really.” After a long, frustrating and difficult day, the couple were very grateful for the company’s well-needed help. “As I said, I was expecting a really stressful day, we got a really stressful day,” Gerry laughed. “But it could’ve been a lot more stressful if we hadn’t had a decent removal company.”
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Since moving in, Gerry and his wife have enjoyed making their new bungalow a home. “What I like about it most is, over the last 3 months since we’ve moved, we’ve been able to get lots of builders in, lots of electricians and completely modernise it.” Lockdown has most certainly presented the couple with plenty of opportunities to renovate and update the property. “It’s two-thirds of the way done. So it’s like, not just a new address but a new home that we’ve been able to put our new tastes on. Completely different to what we had before in the big old house.”
Both Gerry and his wife are still incredibly grateful for Compare My Move and Ashington Removals’ help in ensuring their stressful day was made easier. If you’d like to join our many happy movers, then don’t forget to compare removal quotes by completing our easy, online form. We can even aid you when comparing surveying and conveyancing quotes, helping you reduce the chance of the many delays that Gerry encountered during the process.