If you’re wondering how long it takes to move into a house, being forewarned is to be forearmed. With an outline of all the key steps involved in the moving house process covered, we will try to provide an outlook of what to expect in this article. 

From mortgage approval through to physically moving in all your treasured possessions, there are essential steps that must be taken when purchasing a property in the UK. Before starting out with your online searches and making offers, you might need to consider your current living arrangements, work commitments and possibly booked time away as such considerations may affect the schedule that your new property transaction might take. 

There will also be external forces at play and variables out of your control that could affect the overall time it takes you to actually pick up the keys; from delays with the mortgage company or overly busy solicitors, other parties in the property chain and understaffed local authority search departments.

While asking how long does it take to move house can be akin to enquiring about the length of a piece of string, this post will give you some idea about how long you can expect your home move to take, and the steps involved in the process.

How long does it take to move house in the UK?

Here’s the short version. Moving house in the UK can take anywhere between six weeks and six months. So you could, in theory, move in less than two months – but in practice the current average transaction time in 2022 is 23 weeks!

This is assuming the sale goes through relatively smoothly. If a buyer or seller involved in the chain pulls out, then things might effectively have to start all over again. 

As a general rule of thumb, the longer the chain, the longer your move is likely to take. This is because all parties involved need to complete each necessary step, often before you can proceed to the next stage. 

10 steps to moving house

Here are all the steps involved in purchasing a home. Right through from considering the logistics of the move to actually taking possession of the property.

1. Rent or buy?

If you’re a potential first-time buyer, then the first thing to consider is whether purchasing a place to live in is the right move for you. A huge factor here is cost. There are many upfront costs involved when making this choice, and you may also need a sizable deposit.

Owning your home does give you more control and a real stake in your own future, but you will also be responsible for any ongoing outlay. Rental values are also on the rise, so despite recent interest rate hikes you may still see buying as better value right now.

2. Set a budget

This is another biggie. How much can you afford to spend? Don’t forget to factor in all the costs associated with the purchase, including stamp duty, removals and any furniture you’ll need.

Finding out how much of a mortgage you can get is the ideal initial step in setting your budget, so don’t delay getting the ball rolling. 

3. Choose your new home

Once the finances are in place, it’s time for the fun to start! While viewing properties can be tiring, it can also be very exciting. Finding the right home can take time, so do bear this in mind. 

If you are considering apartments or flats, make sure you fully understand the difference between freehold and leasehold – and the implications of each. 



4. Hire a conveyancer

Once you’ve made an offer that’s been accepted, you need to find a conveyancer. Ask friends or family for recommendations, or enquire with your estate agent, who will have experience of dealing with local firms.

Make sure your chosen specialist gives you a full breakdown of all expected costs at the outset.

5. Book a survey

Your mortgage provider is highly likely to demand a survey. This is to ensure the property is worth the sum they’re lending.

You can also pay for a more in-depth survey if you want to get a good idea of the home’s all-round condition. This will cost more, but can be extremely worthwhile as you weigh up your choices. 

6. Pay a deposit

A deposit equal to the value of 10% of the sale price is usually required as the next step. This may come from the sale of your current home, if applicable. 

Otherwise, you’ll need to raise this sum somehow before going ahead with your purchase. 

7. Exchange contracts

Once you reach the point of exchanging contracts there’s no turning back – not without considerable penalties, anyway.

You could lose your 10% deposit if you pull out after this point. As could your buyer, if you have one. An approximate completion date should also be decided at this point; typically this could be as little as a few days or longer than a month.

8. Prepare to move

Once the legal wheels are truly in motion, it’s time to sort the smaller stuff. This can include finding a removals firm and switching on (or over) your power, broadband, TV and water supplies. 

Don’t forget to tell everyone you’re moving home, and keep electronic or paper copies of any correspondence for your own records. 

9. The day of completion

This is it – you’re all set to take possession of your new home at this point! You’ll probably have to wait in situ until the funds have been transferred to you if you’re selling a house or flat at the same time.

For first-time buyers, the keys probably won’t be released to you until the funds have been received from you and/or the mortgage lender. Moving can be fraught with delays caused by removers and road traffic, or financial transactions from lenders. It’s best to be prepared for this and have a go to meditation routine at the ready!

10. Settle the account

It’s not only about settling into your own four walls after the sale has completed. You’ll also need to settle up with your solicitor and pay any stamp duty that’s due. 

Your solicitor is responsible for arranging all this, as well as informing the land registry. An itemised bill will then be sent to you for payment. 

How long does it take to move house in the UK – final word

Once you’re aware of all the steps that are involved, it’s easy to see why moving house within the UK can take up to five months – or more.

However, it can take as little as six to eight weeks – so don’t despair. Being financially prepared in advance and using an experienced estate agent and conveyancer really can help to speed up the process, so make sure you place your future in the hands of those with the right expertise.

Whether you want to buy or rent, why not check out the current list of attractive properties Stanfords has to offer in southeast London?