Your Complete Guide to Moving: Advice on Packing, House Hunting, and Moving with Kids.
Moving is one of life’s major stressors. It’s hectic. It’s disruptive. It’s exhausting. From finding a packing system that works to locating the perfect neighborhood to breaking the news to your kids, it seems as though each step is just as stressful as the last. While moving can be unsettling, there are ways to help make the transition a little less painful and a little more successful.
Helpful Moving Tips
Since you'll be too tired to unpack at the end of moving day, pack an overnight bag containing all of the essentials, such as a change of clothes and toiletries. Also, pack the items you’ll need first in a clear plastic bin so it sticks out in a sea of brown cardboard boxes. Include items like paper towels, trash bags, eating utensils, power strips, toilet paper, and tools.
Label each box with its room and a list of what’s inside. Use a color-coding system by assigning a color for each room and labeling that room's boxes accordingly. For example, use blue tape for bathroom boxes and red tape for kitchen boxes. Be sure to label the sides of the boxes so you can read them when stacked.
For shorter moves, hire a babysitter and/or pet sitter. You don’t want to worry about causing kids or pets to become overly stressed or losing track of them. Consider the benefits of hiring a professional mover. For example, if a friend breaks your valuable items, you’re out of luck. But professionals are insured, so they compensate you (although, they’re extremely careful and efficient, so they’re less likely to break something to begin with).
Moving with Kids
Making a move with children a success starts with how you tell them. Timing, environment, and attitude are all essential elements to remember when telling children about an upcoming move. Tell children right away; delaying the information can worsen their anxiety. Be patient, positive, and honest. Allow kids to express positive and negative feelings, and remember to be respectful, not dismissive.
Remind your children that change is normal and exciting. Go over the transitions and changes they’ve already successfully handled, and reassure them that you’ll always be there, no matter what else changes in life. Allow your kids to say goodbye to friends in a special way. Think of the people and places they want to see before leaving, use photos to create memory box or scrapbook, and throw a goodbye party with friends.
Team up with your kids to research the new neighborhood and school and make a list of things to explore in the new town. If possible, bring children to visit the new neighborhood and school. Younger children may need support in making new friends after the move. Encourage all kids to join clubs and after-school sports or activities and to invite friends over, and set an example for your children by putting yourself out there too.
Be aware of the hidden costs of buying a home. Besides the purchase price of the home, you’ll need to factor in the cost of homeowners insurance, property taxes, and more when planning your budget. If you’re interested in a neighborhood, take a walk through it as though you lived there. You’ll quickly discover how noisy it is, the density of traffic, and what your neighbors are like.
Once you start looking for a home, try touring at least 10 homes before putting in an offer on one. “The first few houses may seduce you aesthetically, but may not really have what you need,” says HGTV. As you walk through each home, write down the pros and cons, and score it on a scale of 1 to 10. After a long day of house hunting, your memory may be a bit blurred, so the checklists are good reminders. Never skip the home inspection, whether you’re getting a fixer-upper or something brand new. When putting an offer in, make it subject to a home inspection.
There’s two themes that you may have picked up on if you’re trying to find ways to make moving less stressful: planning and patience. No matter which stage of the moving process you’re in – packing, preparing your kids, or house hunting – you’ll need to have a plan in place and lots of patience. Try to focus on the positives that will come from the move (while you practice patience with a plan), and you’ll find yourself embracing this new chapter in your life.
Brittany Fisher has spent more than 20 years as a CPA, and is currently working on a book about financial literacy (due out in 2018). She also runs Financiallywell.info.