One of the hardest parts of moving house is the packing. Let’s be real – you’ve got a mountain of possessions and it’s all got to be gathered up, put in boxes, transferred safely without breakages and unpacked again at the other end.

It’s enough to put you off from moving altogether.

But don’t worry – we’ve got some great tips for you here to make your packing as hassle-free as possible.

It’s time to declutter your home.

Before you even start to pack everything, it’s time to decide if you really need to keep everything. Moving home is a great time to finally do that huge declutter you’ve been thinking about.

Start with one room at a time – or even one cupboard if you find it easier – and separate everything into keep, bin or charity piles. Have bags with you, so that you can take everything straight to the recycling or the car boot, ready to be dropped off at the charity shop. If you’re organised, you can start putting the ‘must-keep’ items into packing boxes at the same time.

Save on packing materials.

Before you fill your home with cardboard boxes and bubble wrap, take a look at places like eBay or Facebook Marketplace for second-hand moving boxes. If someone else has just moved into your neighbourhood, they are likely to have a pile of boxes they want to get rid of. But before you start saving up all your Amazon boxes, remember that stacking everything in the removal van will be easier if most of the boxes are the same size, so it’s not a case of any old banana box will do.

Although your delicate ornaments are best secured in bubble wrap, you can always use towels and sheets for other, sturdier items that you don’t want sliding about in boxes. You have to pack the sheets anyway,  so it’s a cost-effective solution.

Pack the heaviest items first.

It sounds very logical, but as you eye up the huge bookshelf full of heavy paperbacks, you understandably want to leave that job till later. Tomorrow even. But we’re afraid that the books must be packed first, in sturdy smaller boxes.

We recommend smaller boxes because a stack of books get very heavy. But, if you create a pile of small, equally sized boxes, they will form a nice solid base for everything else to stack on top of – like little cardboard bricks.

Save space with rolled clothing.

If you’re an intrepid traveller, you’ll already know that you can fit far more in your backpack if you roll your clothes. It isn’t the best approach to easily creased fabrics, but the majority of your wardrobe can probably be rolled before packing, which will reduce the number of boxes you need.

Don’t pack everything.

If it’s already in a box, or a drawer, why pack it into a different box? If you’re taking the whole dresser, just pull out each drawer, wrap it in clingfilm so nothing falls out – and it’s packed. It save you having to unbox it all at the other end, too.

Label everything. Everything.

Labels are your friend. The more clearly you label a box, the easier it will be when you are searching for the TV remote. As well as summarising contents and which room each box should be moved into, you can also decide if it’s an ‘urgent’ unpack immediately or ‘can be left till next month’ box. After all, unless you are moving in December, you don’t need to unpack the Christmas tree till last.

Use a professional moving company.

It will be cheaper to pack everything yourself – but it will be faster and less stressful to pay a professional company to do it for you. As expert packers, they will have you all wrapped up and ready to move in a day, and the removal van carefully stacked to keep the furniture at the bottom and the china wedged in the corner.

Utilise self-storage as a safe stop-off point.

The benefit of putting the majority of your home into self-storage during your move is that you can sort the essential items first. Put the sofas and beds up, unpack your kitchen and settle the kids’ into their bedroom with plenty of space in your new home, because those less-used items like the books and the lawnmower can wait in self-storage until you have the time and enthusiasm to unpack them.

And, if you’re downsizing, it gives you plenty of time to decide what you want to keep in your new home and what can go on eBay. For further information about how we can support your move, contact us at 0121 250 5055 or

Plan your pet move in advance.

There are a few things that you don’t want underfoot on the day you pack the removal van. If you can, leave the children with friends and the animals with the grandparents. If that’s not possible, see if there is a kennel or cattery nearby that will keep your pet overnight for you.

If your pets are more exotic – or delicate – such as an aquarium of tropical fish, it may be an idea to get proper advice from your vet or pet shop on how to transport everything safely. It can be done, but it will take planning.

Pack a box for moving day. 

Kettle – and lead. Cups. Coffee, milk and a spoon. A ready-made pot of chilli and a bottle of wine for the evening.  There might be a few other items you will want as soon as you arrive in your new home – like the toiletries and a pair of scissors for opening boxes – but we think we covered the essentials.

Plan for your first night in your home, making sure everything is within easy reach. You’ll be a lot happier at the end of a long day. If you need any packing materials, check out our Box Shop for all your moving needs.

Give us a call – we’re ready with your self-storage options.

You might think we’re a bit off course suggesting you use self-storage as a tool during your house move – why unload everything twice – but it’s actually a very popular way of taking the stress out of moving. And with our flexible, low-cost, short-term contracts, you’ll find it’s easier than you think. Just give us a call to find out more.

If you watch the financial news regularly, the idea of getting on to the property ladder may feel like a distant dream. But, putting aside the doom and gloom, it doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think. Buying your first home is exciting – you just need a little preparation and you’ll on a firm foundation to find the perfect place. 

How to improve your credit score

If you are currently renting, it might feel that every penny is going to your landlord’s bricks instead of into your own. It’s frustrating, but with some adjustments, you can still save for your deposit. 

The first thing you need to do is calculate your finances. As a guide, there are mortgages available that require you to put down as little as a 5% deposit on a property. Mortgage lenders will also want to be sure you have a good credit score and can afford the monthly payments. So, start by obtaining a copy of your credit score and see where it might need some help. You can get this from Experian or Equifax online.

Your credit score is based on your history of borrowing. You can improve it by tidying up your finances, closing down any credit cards you don’t use and ensuring you pay your bills on time. Register on the electoral roll to prove where you live and check there are no mistakes on your credit report. All of these things help boost your score.

Tips for understanding your expenditure

The next step is to identify how you can start saving towards your deposit. You’ll need to understand your financial picture by taking an honest look at what you spend.

  • Calculate all of your outstanding debts. Do you have credit cards, overdrafts or loans? Work out your monthly payments and the interest you are paying on each. You may be better off consolidating everything into one payment. 
  • We often stick to the same credit card for years for convenience. However, interest rates change and offers are available all the time. It might be worth transferring your balance to a card with a lower rate, even when you consider the transfer fee. 
  • Go through your monthly statement for at least 3 months and be honest about which purchases were a necessity and which were a luxury. By looking at a longer period you can account for times like Christmas or key events and still have a fair assessment of how much you spend.
  • Think of ways you can cut down on unnecessary spending. Are you paying subscriptions to Netflix, Prime, Spotify and so on? If you were to cut down on one channel a month, that could go straight into your savings or clear your debts faster. Or, instead of eating out every weekend, plan dinners in with friends, with everyone contributing to a course. 

Decide which type of property is right for you

The exciting part of stepping on to the ladder is exploring which property you might choose. Will you choose a flat or a house? Do you want to be close to work or is the commute a consideration? Do you prefer to be in a lively town, or close to the countryside? And, how much space do you need? It all depends on your current circumstances and your future plans, as much as your budget. 

Buying isn’t always the best option. While owning your own property will be a good investment in the long term, renting can be a better proposition if your finances are not in the best shape. With a rental, you won’t have house repairs or maintenance to worry about. It’s quicker and easier to move into a rental than buying a property, as you won’t have legal costs and other expenses. And, if you don’t like the area you are in, it’s also easier to move again. 

However, when you own your home, there are other advantages. You can decorate as you choose, have all the security of knowing that no one can ask you to leave, and as the house increases in value, you benefit rather than the landlord. 

It’s not always as hard as it might seem to get yourself into a buying position. There are various schemes in place to help first-time buyers get started, so it’s a good idea to do some research before you begin house hunting. 

For more house owner tips, make sure you read our blogs. We’ve been supporting house moves for years, storing your belongings when you’re in a chain, downsizing, in short term rental or merging two households into one, so we’ve got plenty of tips and ideas to help you navigate your way to your perfect home.

So you’ve just been offered your dream job overseas, and you can’t wait to get started. But there’s something big you need to consider. What will you do with your home?

Renting out your property while working abroad

The obvious answer is to rent your home out. That way it’s continuing to pay for itself and hopefully bringing in a little income while you are gone. There are a few things to decide, though, and that may well depend on how long you will be working abroad for. 

When you’re likely to be gone for a few months, you might decide to put your home on a holiday website such as Airbnb or Travelnest. That gives you flexibility in how long you allow other people to stay in your home, from weekend breaks to month-long rentals. 

Travelling abroad on a long-term basis.

If you plan to be much longer, choosing to let your property to tenants on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement can be a simpler choice, with rental agreements commonly running from 6 months to years. 

You will need to read up on the regulations or ask a professional agency to assist you.  Becoming a landlord has a lot of legislation that you need to understand, including:

  • Amending your mortgage to a Buy To Let mortgage.
  • Ensuring your property is fit to rent out, with the appropriate Gas Safety certificate, Energy Performance Certificate and Electrical certificate. 
  • Adding carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms as required. 
  • PAT testing any electrical equipment.
  • Performing appropriate checks on prospective tenants including referencing and identity checks.
  • Joining a Deposit Protection Scheme

Letting your property furnished or unfurnished

When your home is a holiday let, your guests will expect the home comforts to be in place, such as beds, sofas and tables, a wardrobe to hang their holiday clothes in and a kitchen equipped with the basics; cutlery, fridges and a microwave.

However, your home is likely to be filled with personal items from your life that you won’t be taking abroad. Will you leave these out for your guests’ use, and run the risk of them becoming damaged or lost? 

If you’re letting your property as a landlord, your choice is a lot simpler. You might choose to rent your property as furnished, but even so, that includes furniture and, possibly, white goods such as fridges, washing machines and dishwashers. It does not include your small items, so you will need to pack away everything you own, from pictures on the walls, clothing and ornaments, to saucepans, plates and books.

An unfurnished property is exactly that; empty. In many ways, this is the simpler option, as you don’t have to arrange PAT testing for every electrical item your tenant may use, and you don’t risk any damage to anything you own. 

Storing your belongings for safekeeping

Now you need store your items. While a friend or family member may be able to accommodate a box or two, anything more will be using space that most people don’t have spare. Using a self-storage unit is a simple and cost-effective storage solution – and it offers you peace of mind. Our indoor storage option has state of the art security and, being indoors, your belongings are kept safe from damp and rodents. 

Storing the contents of an entire house may sound daunting. However, you might be surprised how little space it actually takes when boxed and stored properly. Beds, tables and other large furniture can usually be taken apart and stored as ‘flat pack’, clothes folded, books and ornaments packed away into boxes, and there will always be items that can be donated, sold or thrown away.

When you come and speak with us about our storage options, we can also advise you on the best way to stack your items. If there is one thing that many people forget, you always end up with plenty of room at the top. Carefully packed, a storage unit can be filled from floor to ceiling, with the heaviest items at the bottom. 

As a guideline – the contents of an average one-bed apartment would fit into around 50 sq. ft. – or a 5×10 unit, while contents of an average two-bedroom home would need 100 sq. ft. of storage, or 10×10 unit. 

Thinking about unit sizes can be confusing, but it’s something we do every day. Just give us a call on 0121 250 5055 or email us at and we will be happy to advise you on how much space to rent, and our flexible contract terms. With locations in both Stratford upon Avon and Sutton Coldfield, Cookes has the perfect storage solution for you.

You’ve made the decision to move house, or perhaps you’re buying your first home, and you’re considering buying a new build. It’s an exciting and stressful time. As you look around new developments, explore carefully laid out showhomes with designer interiors and are offered a range of floor tile and carpet options, it’s easy to get carried away by the sales team. But before you go ahead, here are a few things you need to consider before buying a new build.

New builds have a lot of benefits. 

There are a lot of benefits to buying a brand-new house. If you buy off plan, you do get a choice of fixtures and fittings. All the paintwork will be brand new, so you’ll save time and money in redecorating from the start.

One thing you should consider before buying a new build is as the first person to live in the house, everything is brand new. You shouldn’t have to worry about repairs or potential unforeseen expenses such as replacing old boilers, repairing broken fence panels, or fixing up dodgy DIY jobs by the previous owner – all things that you might find in an older property.

New builds should save you money in energy bills as well, as they are built to modern standards, with better doors and windows, better insulation and so on. And of course, all new houses should have some form of guarantee, including a 10-year NHBC warranty.

There are some potential downsides to new builds as well. 

Developers are popping up new housing estates everywhere at the moment. So, before you buy, look at some of the older estates and see if the houses are in a good state. Join some local groups on social media; you’re bound to find some for each development which will give you an idea of how the current owners feel the developer has looked after them.

Another thing you should consider before buying a new build is the common issue of a lack of space, both inside and out. The showhome may be beautifully presented with comfy-looking beds, but the smaller bedrooms rarely have wardrobes. Where will you fit storage? And the kitchen may feel luxurious, but is there enough cupboard space for your utensils and worktop space for your air fryer?

If your garden is a beautifully laid out lawn, have you got space for a shed in which to keep the mower? A common problem in every street is parking. Once all the neighbours have moved in with two cars or more per household, will you need to use your garage for your car, or as a place to keep bikes and other outdoor equipment?

In general, an older property will have larger rooms and a bigger garden. Streets often seem wider and have more front parking – or even front gardens, which new estates don’t always offer.

New build or older property, which will you choose?

Choosing your next home will depend on your priorities. But if space is key, don’t give up on a new build just yet. There are ways to maximise your storage.

Consider turning your garage into your walk-in storeroom. Some good racking and organisation and you’ll be able to get everything you need in there. It’s easier than clambering up into your attic space for the Christmas decorations every year, and a lot more practical, as modern roof spaces are not really made to support a lot of storage.

If you are moving into your new build from another property, have a declutter as you pack. Do you really need to lug all your old stuff to your fresh new home? But if the thought of moving, packing and decluttering at the same time is all just a bit too much, consider renting a self-storage unit instead. You can move everything into that for a few months as you settle into your new build, and then unpack one box at a time, giving you the chance to decide if it’s an item to keep or pass on to charity.

And when you don’t have a garage or shed space, then a self-storage unit could be a longer-lasting solution. With flexible contracts and plenty of smaller units to choose from, you can easily turn one into your permanent shed away from home, keeping seasonal items, outdoor sports gear and even your DIY tools safe, dry and easily accessible for the next time you need to put up a shelf. With low-cost storage solutions, you’ll find it’s probably a cheaper option than buying the new build with the double garage!

At Cookes we are always on hand to help you calculate the size of storage unit you need, and understand how to make our flexible contracts work to your advantage. If you’d like to come and look around to see just how easy it works for you, drop in, email us at or give us a call on 0121 250 5055. Alternatively, you can check out our size calculator to find your best fit.

After a long and cold winter, it’s finally April and the weather is getting a little bit warmer. The trees are blossoming, and the sun is shining. When the air is not so cold, you want to open the windows and let the warm air into your house. But to really refresh your house, opening a window isn’t enough. Therefore, we’ve put together a successful checklist for spring cleaning to help you prepare your house for the warm weather.

First, you may be asking yourself: why do I need a checklist?

Having a checklist, whether it’s written down or just in your brain, helps you keeping things tidy and organised – just like you want your house to be. This will help you define what you want to do for each room, and it gives you an idea of a timeline. Deep cleaning should also be an integral part of your house, in order to keep it tidy and organised.

Have a goal

You should be thinking of what’s the aim of this spring clean? Is it to identify what piece of furniture you want to donate? Is it to declutter? Change the layout of your house/flat?

Divide your tasks into categories

After you’ve figured out what you want to do, we recommend dividing your tasks in different categories. This way, you don’t feel overwhelmed. You can divide your activities this by day, or by room. For example, for each room you can select what you want to:

  • Clean
  • Donate
  • Store away
  • Recycle/repair

We recommend coming up with a realistic timeline, avoiding stress. Spring cleaning should be enjoyable, and it should be about bringing your house back to life.

Identify what products you need

You may be thinking, I already have bleach, mould remover and cleaning wipes. While this is true, spring cleaning is a good idea to identify what products you’re missing and which one you want to replace. Maybe you want a new bathroom cleaner spray. Maybe you want to use more plastic free and green alternatives.

In addition, it’s important to make sure your vacuum cleaner is running and that you have good mop at home.

Wash pillows and duvets

Washing pillows and duvets can be quite impractical, and you may not have a lot of time to do so. If you want to go ahead with it, we recommend doing it during spring cleaning. If you have a lighter duvet for the warm months, this is the best time to take it out.

Don’t be scared of emptying your drawers, donation is an option!

Are your drawers very messy and cluttered? Spring cleaning is the best opportunity to sort them out and identify what you want to do with your belongings. Throwing away is not always the best options, as we would encourage you to donate/resell as much as you can. This can be old Christmas decorations, plates, cutlery, dvds, old toys and of course clothes.

Don’t forget about the deep part of the cleaning

Dusting your furniture, donating, removing mould, and cleaning your mirrors is key to a good clean. But the point of spring cleaning is to do a deep clean. A successful checklist for spring cleaning included unclogging the sink and drains, cleaning behind the toilet… It also included throwing away expired make up, taking care of your garden if you have one, and most of all…make the most of it.

And finally…

If you’re not ready to let go of some of your belongings, or have no space to store your winter stuff, storage might be a good option for you. With plenty of storage rooms with different sizes, convenient prices and industry leading security, Cookes Self Storage will look after your belongings. And you don’t have to worry about a single thing. To enquire about self-storage, call us on 0121 250 5055 or email us at .

You’re moving out of your parent’s house and into your first home or maybe you are moving into Uni halls… but you don’t know what to take and what do you leave? Don’t worry, you are not alone! We can guarantee that everyone has had to think about the ‘what do I take with me’ problem!

You might be thinking about all the new things you can get for your home, but you’ll soon find your parents on the doorstep with a car full of your childhood toys and teenage clutter. You might not see the need for them now, but one day you may well treasure those memories. So, what sort of thing should you hold onto and what should you let go?

Things to keep

Family photographs

You may not be that interested in pictures of yourself playing on a beach you don’t remember age 3 – but one day you’ll find yourself wanting to know more about your parents holidays before you were born, or your grandparents wedding. Go through them with your parents, and have them write down who each person is on the back, so you have the information when you want it.

Old toys

Just like clothes, toys often come back into fashion as trends renew. Marvel figurines, Matchbox cars, Furbies, Tamagotchi and Pokemon cards have all come back around as must have toys over time. If you are still holding on to original versions of these, they may well increase in value. The last thing you want to do it is throw out all of your childhood toys now, only to discover you had a rare and valuable Barbie. And even if they aren’t worth anything, your own children may enjoy playing with them in time.

School reports and pictures

You may have skipped out of school on the last day, glad you never have to think about it again. Perhaps you won’t for years. But then you’ll have a school reunion, or bump into someone you knew, and you’ll want to peek back at the memories.

Awards, certificates and trophies are all nice to keep, but perhaps one of the best things, though you might not think it now, as your school reports. In 20 years time these can be a great source of entertainment, although you might want to hide the teacher’s comments from your own children.

Things to recycle


There may well be some favourite clothes you just can’t bear to leave behind: a snuggly hoodie or band T-shirt. But the majority of clothes you wore as a teen probably don’t need to go with you to your new home. Sort out the ones that no longer fit, or are a bit too worn, and see what you can give to charity.

Books and magazines

We certainly do accumulate a lot of paper in our lifetimes. But do you really need to keep it? Take a look at your bookshelves, and see which treasured paperbacks you are really likely to read again, and which ones you have outgrown. Comics and magazines are the same. It’s all extra weight.

Finding space

Now you’ve decided what you need to keep, you still might not have space in your new place for all the boxes. Don’t throw things out just because you can’t find a cupboard for them, if you know you’ll regret it one day. With your own small self-storage locker, you’ve got just enough space for your childhood treasures, secure and dry, until you’re feeling nostalgic.

Still not sure how much space you need? Call us on 0121 250 5055 and we’ll talk through your requirements and design the perfect package for you.