That pesky job. The one with income that lets you do fun things like pay bills and eat. It can also propose a move cross-country and change everything you know to be part of your normal routine. For us, there was no question or decision on what to do. My husband no longer had a job in Chicago, so we no longer called that home.
While it is easy to romanticize the notion of moving far from home and starting over, the truth is that it is just plain hard.
We’ve moved twice in the past 3 years. From Chicago, IL, to Camp Hill, PA, to Dallas, TX. We are still trying to get settled here in Texas, but I definitely learned some good ways of survival from our last move.
Here are 12 steps to survive a relocation:
- Do your research on your neighborhood. There are so many resources online that will help you to figure out what area is right for you. For us, it came down not only to schools, but to good swim teams as well. We needed a solid USA Swimming team and a high school with a strong team. If you can, try to not only rely on information online. Find a local that is willing to share personal insight. We actually visited with coaches of possible swim teams and that helped tremendously in figuring out exactly where to settle.
- Explore the new area by foot or bike. Once you’ve moved in, it’s time to get out there and learn the lay of the land. Of course driving around is easier, but you miss so much. Going out on a walk, run, or bike ride lets you see more. Things start to look more familiar with each trip out. Take the time to know the ins and outs of your immediate area.
- Introduce yourself to neighbors. This can be tough. Ideally, everyone rings your doorbell dropping off goodies and setting your kids up with their kids. Hate to say it, but it just doesn’t happen. Each time we’ve moved we had ONE family come say hello. If you see someone outside, go ahead and walk over to introduce yourself. For my personality, that is really difficult to do. I rely on my husband for that. It may not go any further than an introduction, but you have to start somewhere. Once you’ve broken the ice, you can at least expect a wave as your newly introduced neighbor drives by.
- Join local online forums. The easiest place to find this is Facebook, and for me it has been entertaining if nothing else. My neighborhood also has a group called Nextdoor with other close by neighborhoods and it is a great place to get information from locals. Anything from doctors, to handymen, to restaurants, to stores, good travel routes is posted. The locals always know the spots to go and to avoid.
- Tell people you are new. This seems obvious, but really no one will know you just moved here if you don’t tell them. I tell EVERYONE. Whether it’s the friendly clerk at the grocery store, the guy that loads your groceries for you, the appointment setter at the doctor’s office; you will be amazed how much people want to engage with the newbie when they feel you are looking to them as the expert.
- Don’t plan a trip “home” right away. This might seem kind of weird or coldhearted, but there is no chance of making your new home feel like “home” if you are literally present at your old one. Give it enough time so that when you visit, it is a visit and not a heart-breaking trip of “I wish I still lived here.”
- Join a group. Find a gym, church, book club, running club, PTA, basically ANY place that has you on their list will give you that cozy feeling of belonging. It’s somewhere you are expected to go. Not only does that feel good, but you will start making connections with others that have the same interest. Same goes for the kids. Get them on a team right away, even if it is midseason. The bonus with that is everyone on the team will know they are new, unlike if it were the start of the season.
- Update your drivers license and license plates. It doesn’t seem like there’s much harm in letting this one ride out, but that plate and DL is something you see all the time. It’s a constant reminder of your life before. The place that WAS home. Once you are updated, it is a visual reminder that you belong in your new state.
- Plan a night out. Spend some time looking at local ads and online. Pick a show or restaurant to go to. I don’t mean just “grab dinner.” Really plan to do something that you enjoy. Make new memories. Getting out and doing something you used to do in your old home will make this feel more like home. I always initially miss the old places, but surprisingly the new places quickly take over.
- Be sad. You miss home. You left your friends. No one knows you here. You get lost all the time. You can’t figure out the traffic patterns. Everyone talks funny. There’s no one to invite over. There’s no one that invites you over. It. Is. Hard. Cry it out. Have a drink. Look at old photos. Cry some more. Spend the day on the couch watching Bravo eating ice cream (Not that I did that). There is nothing wrong with missing what you had.
- Start a project. It doesn’t have to be huge or anything major, but start something. Even if it’s just a new book to read. As the days go by and you see the progress you are making, it will help you feel more accomplished and settled. It also will give you a reference point when you are done. Remember when we moved here and I decided to refinish the cabinets all by myself? I actually say that all the time. It’s a 100% visual measure of progress.
- Give yourself credit. Think about what you actually have accomplished, even if it’s just unpacking boxes. Tell yourself you are doing a good job. You are surviving. Unless the kids have run away, they are also enduring the changes. Let them know how proud you are of them. Celebrate the small stuff like getting somewhere without using your navigation system.