Four things to keep in mind when moving home
Packing your life into boxes and moving them into a new home will never be relaxing, and when your move involves getting to know a new area and/or starting a new job, that stress is compounded.
So, while it may not be feasible to ever completely remove the stress of moving, here are some ways you can make the experience more manageable.
Moving involves days of packing, lifting, disassembling and rebuilding furniture, and typically not enough sleep, water, or healthy food. The toll it takes on you physically is dramatic, but the mental impact must not be understated.
Understandably, we develop strong emotional bonds and ties to our homes, neighbourhoods, and local communities. Letting go of these is difficult at best and traumatic at worst. Additionally, humans are hard-wired to resist change, because the familiar feels so safe, while the unknown is comparatively terrifying.
It’s easy to see then, why moving house is also detrimental to our mental health, not just our physical wellbeing. Psychological preparation can help with this, however.
Firstly, view the move as the positive step that it is. Most people have good reason to move. They may be moving for a new job, or to move into their dream home, or to move in with their partner, or to move away from a bad situation. Focus on the motivation for the move, rather than the move itself, and accept that moving houses is a step towards something better.
Leaving friends and your community is difficult, but consider the move an opportunity to expand your social circles and networks as you meet new people in your new area. Thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with those far away, so you don’t have to say goodbye forever.
Approach packing with the mindset of only packing the most important things. Most people have grand plans every few months to declutter their home, removing everything that doesn’t spark joy, Marie Kondo style. The reality is that very few people actually begin, let alone complete such an undertaking. Moving house offers the rare opportunity to easily get rid of all the excess things you never use.
Finally, accept that your move will inevitably involve stress and anxiety. Trying to resist or fight that will help nobody, so come to terms with it and acknowledge that it’s simply a temporary part of the journey.
Start as early as possible, and be organised
This one seems obvious, and yet far too many people still fail to plan properly. Give yourself a full eight weeks minimum to get everything sorted, because not only is moving always more effort than we think, but there are also plenty of things we fail to plan for.
Packing is awful mostly because we try to do it all in a few days, but there are typically boxes of things we can pack well in advance. Out of season clothing, spare linen and manchester, along with books you don’t plan to read soon are just some of the objects in your home that you can go without for a few weeks before a move. Getting on top of this early will make the big pack much more palatable.
As soon as you know your move-out and move-in dates, arrange for utilities to be disconnected at your current house and connected at the new one. It seems more often than not something goes wrong with utilities when you first move into a place, so have a backup plan in mind. Try to avoid bringing any food that will perish, in case you can’t get the fridge hooked up or powered immediately. Most mobile phone plans come with ample data, so missing out on a couple days of WiFi shouldn’t be dramatic, but if you don’t have data ensure that you have some other way to send and receive emails (or check Instagram) in case your new NBN connection isn’t firing on day one.
There are always tiny jobs that add up and exponentially add to moving day stress, usually because they all come up at the last minute, so here’s a short list of reminders and tips to help avoid some of them…
Setting up mail redirection is a given, but there are always some letters that fall through the cracks. Pick up some stamps and envelopes from the post office, address them to your new home, and leave them on the kitchen bench with a note for the new residents, asking them (politely) to use said envelopes to forward any mail that ends up at your old place. Beyond that, all you can do is hope the new residents are kind enough to not steal your mail.
Take photos of your meter readings on the day you leave so that you can compare that to your last utilities bill to make it much easier to dispute any discrepancies that may arise.
While you’ve got your phone out, take some photos of the cabling you’ve got set up behind your computer and home theatre/speaker systems, because for some reason it’s impossible to organise them as neatly the second time around. Having a photo to guide you will make that setup much simpler. Of course, if your cables are currently a terrifying bird’s nest of failed organisation, consider the move an opportunity for a second chance at electrical neatness.
Nobody holds onto the instructions for the IKEA furniture, and despite your best intentions, reassembling them at the other end will not be as easy as disassembling them was. Take photos or videos of furniture as you take it apart and the rebuilding process will go far smoother. Also safe-keep the nuts and bolts in a zip lock bag and sticky tape them to the piece of furniture; you’ll be glad you did.
Take some time for yourself, and enjoy the move as much as possible
Hopefully you’re so organised that in the days leading up to your move, you have a spare evening or few hours to set aside for some well-deserved you time. Give yourself a break, take a walk around the area you’ve called home for the past months or years, visit your favourite café or restaurant, but try not to feel too sorrowful. You have the opportunity to find a new favourite café or restaurant, and you’ll likely enjoy plenty of good food and coffee as you sample the local fare around your new house.
While it may not be possible to enjoy moving house, it doesn’t have to be all stress and angst. Much like the new year, moving presents an opportunity for fresh starts and new resolutions. Make a commitment to yourself to not accumulate clutter, or to never let the dishes stack up in the kitchen.
Moving won’t be easy, but give yourself plenty of preparation time, attack it with a plan, take it one day at a time, and your reward will be a new home filled with new opportunities.