Everybody seems to know the theory that next to death and divorce, moving home is one of life’s most stressful experiences. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare but billing a home move as a traumatic experience is a sure-fire way to make certain that’s exactly what it feels like. Every tiny issue, the smallest hiccup, becomes a major crisis in the story of your move, another reason to tear your hair out and lose precious sleep.
If you’re buying or selling, it’s obvious that there can be a lot of bumps and diversions in the journey to your new home, but those renting are not immune to worrying. The actual physical upheaval is just the same. The uncertainties about the new surroundings and neighbours are still there. There’s still a burden of admin tasks that need completing. Even if you’re getting to be an old hand at the business of securing a tenancy, sorting your deposit, packing and unpacking your belongings, moving home is still a major life change, and it’s important to keep a sense of perspective and to look after yourself.
Often home moves arise because of a change in life circumstances: a death, splitting from a partner, redundancy, a new job, another baby on the way, and as the dynamics in a household change, even the smoothest relocation can feel like it’s getting out of hand. You’re unsettled and there’s nowhere you feel settled. Under these circumstances, it’s easy to forget your normal routines, yet keeping on with your usual workout, taking that lunchtime walk, eating well and getting enough sleep are the kind of things that will help you keep calm and cope with the changes.
Moving home can be seen as a fresh start and a time for positive thinking but choose positive thinking tempered with realism. If you’re expecting your new home to look pristine when you unlock the door, you may be disappointed. If you expect to see a place you can make into a home, that’s what you’ll have.
The move itself can be perfectly organised and free of hitches, but it might not be. The more time you put into upfront planning and preparation the better. You might not get much notice of when you’ll be able to have the keys, but even before you’ve started to view properties, you can be decluttering and thinking about how you’ll handle the logistics. Make lists of the tasks you’ll need to complete and tick off things when you can. Talk to your pal with the van, speak to the removals firm, visit the local playgroup, ask friends if they’ll be able to help mind the dog or haul some of your unwanted items to the recycling centre.
If you’ve got an outline plan, when you’ve got a date, you’ll be less likely to forget things or get in a panic. You know what needs doing and the best order to tackle the list. Complete the things you can in advance, sort utility providers, eat up what’s in the fridge and freezer. Check the route to your new place and make sure the van can get access.
Ask for help from friends and family, but make sure that everyone has a specific job so that they’re not always asking you what they should do. If you’ve got kids, give them a few responsibilities to help them feel they’re involved and to help them feel at home.
Don’t get overwhelmed by it. Take a break. You don’t have to cook a marvellous meal in your new kitchen. That will wait. Get a takeaway. Unpack in your own good time when you’ve worked out where things should go. Expect a few teething troubles. Expect to feel tired. Expect that something might not survive the move but know that you will.
In a while – a few days, a few weeks – you’ll start to feel at home. You’ll know your new neighbourhood, be meeting new friends and discovering new opportunities. Yes, moving can be stressful, but often it’s our attitude to the challenges we face that gives us a problem. If, rather than getting wound up by a missed phone call or a delay in sorting your Wi-Fi, see a move as a new chapter in your life and as something waiting to be explored.