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The costly affair of moving house

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By John Kariuki | April 1st 2015

Kenya: It is common to see people moving house. The reasons for doing so are varied, including job transfers, retirement or the inability to live with certain neighbours. As you decide to make the move, bear in mind the hidden costs that could destabilise your financial plan.

A common but an expensive miscalculation is when people move out in a huff without taking into account basic things such as how they will continue getting their regular supplies of milk and fresh vegetables from the supply chains in their old estates.

Often school-going children have to be picked up and dropped off at new points, sometimes at changed times and extra cost. And it gets more expensive to adjust the further one is going from the previous home. This is because it entails enrolling children in new schools where there could be ongoing development projects, the cost of which are passed on to new parents.

New parents could also be stressed by fees payments because the school administrators may not accept installment plans too soon, unlike in their children’s previous schools.

In fact, everybody from the kiosk operator to the new landlord may not willing to extend credit facilities to newcomers. So, if you are moving house, you must be ready to pay cash for all goods and services for some time. Besides, all these settling down hassles eat into your savings before you settle in the new place.

Antony Wachira, an estate management agent, says it is not easy to move house as some people may imagine. “But by taking into account all the contingencies involved and planning for them, moving house is bearable,” says Wachira.

He adds that the first thing a person must do when moving house is to verify that all services are in place and paid for by the previous occupant. In his work, Wachira has seen people forced to take liability for unpaid water and electricity in their new houses before these services are reconnected.

“There are tenants who leave and usher in others through a 'local arrangement' without approval from the estate managers. And in such cases, the new tenants must bear any outstanding service bills belonging to the previous occupants,” says Wachira

He says modern practice is that before an agency clears tenants to move out of a house, they must clear all service arrears and end their water and electricity contracts. New tenants sign new contracts in their own names.

Wachira advises people moving to new places to do a reconnaissance of the house with a view to noting down the most immediate repairs needed. Get the estate agent to take you through the house you are interested in and together note down what kind of repairs are needed.

Bypassing this crucial stage can be expensive. Some tenants routinely get into houses with faulty gates, electrical fixtures in disrepair and leaking roofs and water taps, says Wachira.

“Unless they fix some of these problems themselves, the estate agent is put in a tricky situation of repairing a house already occupied,” says Wachira.

This estate agent warns that frequent house changers should anticipate changing door locks often. “A typical rental house with two outer metal doors requires at least Sh5,000 to change the locks and cut new keys before one can move in,” he says.

Moving house can damage many valuables like your valuable utensils and electronic goods such as television sets, especially if they are hurriedly packed.

This means an extra cost to buy new items once the newcomers settle down. Wrap fragile items in old newspaper or bathroom and kitchen towels before you put them in crates and boxes. Rugs and blankets can be used to cushion such crates and boxes during the actual moving.

If there is no garage in the new place or if the compound is too small to park your car, this creates an added cost of paying for security.

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