I was enjoying the sunrise from our 6th-floor apartment one day when my mother came next to me and stared long into the distance. “What would you think if we sold our apartment and moved to a new place?”, she asked me. That idea had never crossed my mind before. I was singing in a handbell choir at the time, and, fortunately, we were on a tour around the country when my parents sold the apartment and moved all our belongings to a new place. Being away spared me of the emotional stress of moving, although it must have been very stressful for my parents. I didn’t know what moving was supposed to feel like until we moved for the second time.
According to the US Census Bureau, roughly 35.5 million Americans move each year for various reasons. An interesting fact is that most of them do not move too far: 62% of movers in 2017 didn’t leave their county. Top 5 states people move away from are Illinois, Alaska, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia. Where do they move? To Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and Montana. When it comes to the reasons behind their move, Americans are more likely to relocate to a new or better home (16%). Some 7.3% move after purchasing a new home and only 3% move to attend a college.
What added to the stress of relocating in our case was the fact that my parents have always relied on friends and relatives for transportation. Their schedule became our schedule, so we were always in a hurry. But, did you know that the top 3 moving companies have more than 15,000 trucks and vans? There are approximately 7,000 licensed movers in the US and 1,000 more in Canada. Plenty of wheels for a smooth move!
Three months are the busiest for moving companies: June, July, and August. And most people choose to move on Friday. It’s because they can put everything in place by Monday, and start the working week fresh. I think that moving during the weekend lowers the stress of moving. However, no matter the day of the week, for some, moves remain very stressful.
Before we discuss the stressful side of moving, let’s look at how to make moving fun with minimum effort:
Sell your house fully furnished!
What better way to spare yourself the pain of moving than to leave everything in its place? Sell your property with all the furniture and home appliances for some extra cash. Most of them are outdated, probably, and will not fit in your new interior partition, especially if you ordered a lot of made-to-measure furniture. Fully furnished houses don’t show up on the market too often, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t find the right buyer. Fully furnished houses sell best around popular vacation destinations, in college towns or in neighborhoods with lots of rental properties.
Invite an interior designer or a photographer to help you with home staging. Let your kids come with their own ideas too, and use the good ones! If your house has a vintage feeling, maybe you could use some virtual home staging to attract younger buyers.
Why is moving so stressful?
For us, it was stressful because we were not well organized. Or maybe we were not sure enough that we had to move until the due date. And then… we had to figure everything out fast.
You may find yourself in the same situation. It is okay to feel stressed when changing places. You have so many questions in your mind like “How will I move that double door fridge?” or “Who will carry the washing machine down the narrow stairs?”. You may be terrified of heavy lifting or of going back and forth. But, wait!, moving in modern times is handled by moving companies who do all the heavy lifting for you, under your supervision, of course. However, there are more reasons you may feel stressed during a move:
You didn’t start early enough
Every time we moved, my mom would start packing on the day we were supposed to return the keys. She had no idea how to make moving fun!
Usually, you have to move out of your house by a due date, so start planning as soon as you know that date. Organize everything to avoid the mad rush of last minute packing! Deal with a certain category of goods every day: one day for books, one day for clothes, and another for shoes… Sort them and prepare some bags for charity, or put them for sale. You may also want to organize a garage sale. Plan it and spread the news in your neighborhood or share it with your friends on social media platforms. Keep in mind that you may only hold a garage sale twice a year! Depending on your locality, you may need a permit, too.
You don’t know what to give up to
I cannot tell you how annoying my parents were when they were carrying so many useless things from one place to the other. They couldn’t throw anything away. I knew that there was no point in asking anyone of them if they wanted to keep something. The answer was always “Yes!”.
Moving is the best exercise for saying “no”. If you open your drawers and find things that you haven’t seen for at least one year, you probably don’t need them anymore. Out of sight, out of mind! You can do without them. You are not on a “How many boxes can you fill?” contest. And you’ll not win an Oscar at the end of your move, even though you might deserve one. So why is moving so stressful? Because you want to keep everything. Imagine, though, that you will never have a better chance to declutter. Look at the bright side!
You might damage something
So you have just bought a new smart TV and a large silver mirror. Did you keep their original packing? Great! If not, you will have a tight heart when handling them. Make sure you use bubble wrap for your most expensive items.
Don’t be stingy! Use the appropriate packing for everything, so you don’t pour money down the drain while moving. Stock up on packing boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and styrofoam. You can never go too far on the packaging! The best places to find FREE moving supplies are:
- Grocery stores
- Home improvement stores
- Large retailers like Costco, Walmart, Target
- Liquor stores
Let the employees know that you need free boxes and check when they expect the next shipment. Stack boxes like russian nesting dolls to fit more in your car. Keep the small boxes for your books and magazines!
Also, make sure you book a reputable moving company. They should take care of all your expensive gadgets. If you have home insurance or renters or condo insurance, you may already have some protection for your goods during a move, but you may also talk with your insurance company if you want to cover specific risks. The moving company must be insured, so this adds extra protection for your damaged items.
After you have moved, consider hiring a cleaning company to clean up the place. The new owner or the landlord will appreciate this, for sure.
You might lose your friends
Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there. If you only change neighborhoods, this might not be such a big problem. You will still get to meet with your friends like you normally have. But when you move to another city, then this change in your social life can be hard to overcome. It adds so much emotion to your move. Fortunately, Skype is no longer the only way to stay in touch with people who are miles away. There are plenty of phone apps used for video calls. However, with a new schedule or on a different time zone, maintaining a friendship will be challenging. You have to admit that only those who care about you can hear you when you are quiet.
You don’t have the right attitude
Every change is stressful. Try to look at the move as a new beginning, not an ending, especially if you move in a better/bigger place. The emotional stress of moving can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking, and even more so for the little ones. When we moved the fourth time, my mother burst into tears. I know how hard it must have been for her… But I forgave her. All our moves have been lessons so precious for me – more precious than 4 years at Harvard, I would say.
“Is moving stressful on a relationship?”, you may ask. Well, if your move is the result of a foreclosure or a real estate auction, your relationship with your partner may suffer as one of you may feel remorse or guilt. Moves are a stumbling block for marriage. This is the worst time to blame yourself or your spouse. Some conflict is completely normal in relationships. However, be prepared for more arguing until you settle down again. And if possible, don’t fight in front of your kids.
How do children deal with the emotional stress of relocating?
Moves are hard on children, no matter the reasons behind it. They have to change the school right after they’ve got comfortable with it. They have to make new friends. They need a new routine. Check how they are doing at school regularly. Get involved at school and try to make the transition easy for them by befriending a family from your child’s classroom. “Moving schools can be as traumatic as having a parent hospitalized for a serious medical illness”, says Dr. Karl Alexander in a study published in the Journal of Educational Research in 1996. So, if you feel like your child is losing interest and falls behind academically, show him support and understanding, and if necessary, see a therapist together.
Depression in children is not always easy to diagnose, but if your child is less active than it used to be and uninterested in anything, these should ring a bell. Low self-esteem is another issue that affects children as they compare to others or as they feel they don’t meet your expectations. Be patient with them and allow them time to recover and get back on track.
Enrolling at a new school also exposes your children to bullying. They are new and somehow different (maybe the accent, a skin condition, outdated gadgets or clothing and so on), so chances are they will be the subject of many bad jokes. Discuss bullying with your children and ask them if they have been bullied. Most bullying happens in middle school. According to stopbullying.gov – 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying. No more than 30% of students notify an adult about such experiences. Communicate with your children and help them get over it… Find solutions together!
Fortunately, computers and phones make it so much easier to maintain friendships after moving. For children, a great way to connect with their old friends would be through online gaming – let them play games together (non-violent ones, if possible, such as Words With Friends2, World Creator, and QuizUp) or invite friends over to play on a video game console. While video games have both positive and negative effects, make sure your kids don’t cross the line. Video games help with quick thinking, making fast analysis and decisions, perseverance, problem solving and logic, hand-eye coordination, and concentration. Keep track of the time spent playing, though, if you don’t want to see more Fs.
So, as you can see, parents pay a key role in making a move easier and funnier for children.
So, how to make moving fun, after all?
Yes, moves can be turned into a funny experience for everybody. To reduce the emotional stress of moving, all you have to do is to address all the above issues.
Start early and ask for help
The sooner you start, the better. Invite your parents or friends to help, if they live nearby. Give them a lesson on how to move without stress. Have everything packed and ready to load at least one day before leaving. If you don’t have a due date, make one, or it will take forever.
Give your kids something to do in the meantime: let them map out their new room, or choose the colors, the carpets, the furniture. Get them involved. Give them hope!
Declutter and renew with ease
Don’t take unnecessary things with you. Leave the past behind, and start fresh. A new move is the best excuse for shopping sprees and we all know that shopping is a cure for the stress of moving to a new place.
Make your life easier by ordering some shoulder dolly lifting straps. It takes two to tango, remember? You don’t have to be afraid of heavy lifting now. You can choose between a two-person moving harness or a forearm forklift – they both reduce the strain on your back and legs while moving furniture or heavy objects. But if you hire a moving company, then you won’t have to touch anything.
Store your little fortune safe
People moving to a smaller place are more likely to wonder how to move without stress. Worry no more! Self-storage is the answer!
For the things you are not sure what to do with or where to put them, you may rent a storage unit. Self-storage is a huge business in the USA that employs more than 170,000 people. With its roots in Texas, in the mid-1960s, this industry’s expansion is backed by consumerism. There are more self-storage units than McDonald’s and Starbucks locations combined. The available storage space has more than doubled since 2015, with more than 36 million square feet, according to Statista. Americans spend $1.2/sq. ft. on average.
9% of U.S. households rent a storage unit, but you should hurry because the vacancy rate is only 10%! You can find a self-storage facility in most large cities across the country. And if you’re not sure what happens to your storage unit after you stop paying for it, watch the “Storage Hunters” TV series. You will have a blast!
Self-storage can get quite expensive in the long run, so why not invest in a She Shed? You may pile up all your things in there until you find the time to sort them, but shortly, you can give that place its original destination. Besides this, a She Shed will also increase the value of your property. Great idea, isn’t it?
Throw a goodbye party
You are not moving on Mars, so don’t push your friends away before and after you move. After playing all your favorite party games, hold a toast at your goodbye party and tell them that you will always be there for them. Now is the best time to invite your friends to visit your new place. Make a group on Social Media or on various phone apps, and keep in touch! You may also want to film your moving experience and put it on YouTube! It could be really fun!
Have the right attitude!
Don’t let the mistakes of the past bring you down. How to make moving fun during a foreclosure? Be excited about the move yourself! Don’t blame yourself and don’t blame anyone. You are not the first person who moves, nor are you the first one who undergoes foreclosure. The educational system has never prepared you for this, so take it as a lesson your teachers skipped. If your children will ever blame you, take them aside and explain to them the whole situation. It’s everybody’s fault… yet nobody should suffer. It’s a lesson of forgiveness, after all.
But if you happen to move for good reasons, then you must be happy and proud. Don’t yell at your family members! Don’t rush them! Keep calm! Let them take in the whole experience. Let them await with anticipation and get excited about the cradle of their new life…
I’ve survived 7 moves in my lifetime. The last time I moved was after my wedding. Do I want to move again? Well, at this age, all I want is stability and a daily routine, and so far, our love nest has provided these things. But I look at my parents and I can’t help to wonder… “Where will they move next?”. They don’t really plan for retirement so their last move to a senior care home should be also the best move ever.
I think the older you get, the harder it is to move. You start to grow roots in that place… You call it “home” for so many reasons. For the elderly, the emotional stress of moving can be exhausting, especially if they suffer from mental illnesses. So how can we make moving fun for them? This is another challenge, so if you have any ideas or a real-life experience to share, we would love to find it, so please leave a comment!