Moving is stressful. There is no way around it. Even for my friend who packed up her house back to front, loaded it on the moving van in the order of rooms in her new house, then unloaded back to front in the new house and was done unpacking in a few hours, there was still a lot of stress involved. While that is a new level of organized and commitment to the moving process, not everyone can achieve that level. For most of the one in six Americans who change residences each year, moving is a lot more hectic.
Moving is emotional. Moving is messy. Moving is change. We all know these are parts of life and how we deal with them can mean the difference between healthy and happy, or sick and sad. Either way, whether you are moving for a positive change in your life (new job, new spouse) or less upbeat reasons (divorce, financial setback), it is still stressful. For most of us, our home is our safe haven. It is where we go to unwind, eat, and spend time with family or with ourselves. It is the place where we can put the rest of the world on hold and just be.
When you move, you are bringing the chaos of the world into that safe haven. Not only do you have to deal with all the old secrets you stuffed into the back of your bottom drawer, but you have to tear up the cozy nest you have created.
There are steps you can take to make it easier, whether it is a local move across the city, an intermediate move across the state, or a full blown move across the country. A few pointers are ubiquitous, no matter the size of your move: be organized, plan ahead, throw out things you never use, look at it as a step forward.
However, each type of move has its own sticking points.
Across the City
This seems like the easiest kind of move, so many people might discount the need for planning and organization. Too many times I have just started throwing things in the car and making multiple trips back and forth. I have a few single shoes whose mates I’m sure were lost due to this haphazard method of moving.
Unless you have a lot of really large heavy furniture, chances are you will opt for do-it-yourself moving when going just few miles. This is not a horrible idea, but don’t let this fool you into not organizing or planning. If you can, arrange for a little overlap in locations. When DIY-ing the move, you could conceivably pack up one room at a time and move each room separately. You would save on boxes and you could organize the new place as you go. If nothing else, this gives you a little breather. You aren’t stuck to a hard and fast, do or die deadline, which is probably really good for my fellow procrastinators.
However, there is something to be said for hiring a local moving company. Having someone else load and unload the boxes and furniture is really appealing. Contrary to popular belief, it really isn’t too expensive to hire a local moving company. Surprisingly, when researching this article, I discovered that the prices between countries weren’t even that different. The cost of moving in Australia, is not that different from the cost in the U.S. If you pack everything before they arrive, so all they are doing is moving furniture and boxes, it is reasonable. This is also a good option if you can’t arrange for any overlap.
Either way, try to limit the amount of chaos that your kids and/or pets experience. If you are moving in stages, plan to pack up the room where they can feel safest for the very last. Then have a room for them set up in the new location before they head to the new residence. If moving all at once, it can be harder. Pets can stay in their kennel or carrier while moving things out. Children, depending on the age, can either be actively involved in helping pack and move, or if younger, maybe they can stay with a friend or relative. Either way, make sure they are reassured that they are loved and will be moving with you.
Across the State
Just like the middle child, this move is the most confusing. It is definitely harder than moving across the city but doesn’t have the culture shock and long travel times of a move across the country. The positives of this type of move include that it is probably close enough you will have been to the new areas a couple of times to be able to scout out things ahead of time. When you arrive, you will know where a grocery store, hospital, and the vet is located. You can probably get recommendations from your current service providers (vet, doctor, hair stylist) for new people. You might even be dealing with same utility companies, so you can just transfer your services instead of closing and opening accounts. All of this can make maneuvering the new city easier.
By the way, if you are a really organized person, that story I told in the beginning, about my friend . . . that was an across state move. She actually packed one day, drove the next and unpacked that day. It took her two days to pack, move and unpack. From her overly organized example, there are a couple of things to learn. One, label all your boxes by room. If you have a den in your old house, but the loft is where all those items will go in the new house, label the boxes “loft.” That way, it is completely clear where they will be going when you arrive. Another option would be to color code boxes with tape or marker. Secondly, try to organize everything in groups. If you can keep all the kitchen items together, it will be much easier to unload them into the correct room and make unpacking much easier.
Across the Country
Other than moving to a different country, this is probably the most complicated move. Not only will you have to become accustomed to a new residence and a new neighborhood, you will also have to get used to a new area of the country. Even with the internet and television shrinking our world and lessening the differences in culture between parts of the country; there are still many regional idiosyncrasies. Differences you will have to learn to accept include things like different store chains, different driving laws, and even different food styles (can you say Chicago versus New York style pizza?). These things make a move exciting, but can also cause a lot of stress.
There are a couple of ways to help minimize the stress. First, you should definitely hire a cross-country mover. It can be expensive, but they will make sure all of your possessions get there safely. Before hiring a mover, make sure you know your rights and responsibilities, and research the reliability of a company.
Second, make the move across the country a family vacation. This is a great time to have some family bonding time. When you get to your new home, there are going to be a lot of stressors among new place, new job, new schools, new friends. Take this time to make some new memories with your family that will provide a positive, not stressful, start to this new chapter. If you have pets, it will also make the move easier on them. Instead of being shuffled around by strangers, they can travel with their family.
The easiest way to do this is in an RV. If you don’t have one, they are pretty reasonable to rent. You can visit parts of the country that you have always wanted to see. It will also give your children some perspective on why things will be different in their new home – every state has something unique and special. Just like their old home was special, their new home will be, too. Preparing for a long RV trip is similar to moving: plan ahead and be organized. The great thing? It will be easy to keep out those things you will need right away when you arrive at your new home.
Whether you are moving yourself, with a spouse, or a whole family complete with children and pets, moving is stressful. If you can embrace the change, organize yourself and be mentally ready for the different challenges of each type of move, you will get through it, with as little angst as possible.