I think I’ve talked about it everywhere on social media, but my boyfriend, Grimoire (our cat) and I are moving from London to Canada (in case you hadn’t heard). When we got to talking about how many times we’ve moved, and my boyfriend said about 3 or 4 times. I had to think for a minute. I’ve moved interstate and internationally, and have lived in cities, suburbs and small towns, near the beach and in the forest. I’ve moved a total of 23 times!
I’d never actually stopped and counted it before, but it’s a lot! Some of those times were pretty turbulent, and as anyone can tell you, moving home is one of the most stressful things you can do. This is one of the reasons that I think I’m pretty good at handling change, because I’ve had practice, but I also learned some lessons the hard way. These are my tips for big home moves or other life changes.
- Pack Early: Packing is stressful, because you’re going to have to go through all those random things you’ve accumulated since you’ve lived in your place. My advice is to start packing as soon as you know you’re moving. That way you can break it down into manageable amounts, do a little at a time, and not get overwhelmed. It also means that you can sort as you go. Start with the areas that you don’t use everyday, for example, I start with my books. Sometimes when I realise how much of something I have, then I can make the time to go back through it and donate or throw out more things out.
- Throw out what doesn’t bring you joy: This is a Mari Kondo tip, throw away what doesn’t bring you joy. I think about it like this, who am I going to be in my new space? Do I want to dress the same? Am I keeping a bunch of bikinis that take up space, but moving to a mountain area? Let go of what you don’t need so that you have room for new things. But also, think about all those things that you don’t want to bring into your new life. If you have clothes that don’t make you feel amazing when you wear them, ditch them. If you have gifts from an ex or reminders of sad times, do you really want to take that into your new space?
- Create a to-do list and break it down: depending on whether you’re moving across town, interstate or internationally, your to do list may be more or less complex. But to make it easy, go online and google moving to do lists, print one out, and then break it down into manageable tasks. Don’t think about the whole move, just do the task you assign yourself for that day/week. Just sort and pack the bathroom today. Just choose which shoes are coming with you today. And also, make sure you delegate. For some of us, we need the reminder to not do it all on our own.
- Your friendships will change: I find this so odd each time I move, but some of the people that I’ve been the closest to, I never hear from once I’m not right in front of them, and then other relationships became richer and deeper after I moved. Just be prepared for things to change. I think when we move, there’s a fear that it’s harder to make friends the older we are. And so it can feel scary to move, what if you make no friends? You know what? It’s total bullshit. You’ll be making new friends your whole life, and as long as your open to making friends and not desperately needy, you’ll always be making new ones, whether you stay in one place or move.
- Relax, you can’t plan for everything: use your to-do list, get to everything on that list. But you know what? The thing that you’re worried about won’t happen, but the thing you didn’t think of will. You can’t plan for that, so relax, let go and trust the universe, God, your ingenuity, whatever, that you can get through this.
- Buy one new thing, take one old thing: This is a personal one, but a tip that I find really has helped me over the years. I always buy something new for my place or myself before I go and pack it, so I have something to look forward to, and the move feels real. I can then see myself in my new life/house. This time around, I’m moving from the UK to Canada, and I bought myself new cute pajamas to wear in my new place while I have that jetlag the first few days. They’re cozy, warm, soft, and stylish, and I’m looking forward to slipping into them. The old thing? Well, all your stuff will be packed and you’ll be in a strange place for the first time. I always take a little glass bowl in my luggage that belonged to my grandma. It makes wherever I am immediately feel like home, so you don’t get that odd out-of-place feeling.
- Friends and saying no: this is a funny one. Once it gets close to your move, people will want to hang out with you one last time before you move. And they will come out of the woodwork. And they will have no idea how little time you have to spare and they will say that they’re not available for your leaving dinner. lol. I’ve had people who I haven’t seen in two or three years want to meet up and have a drink or coffee. Not only do I not have time to meet them, but I’m moving, so I don’t have the money to spend on going out either. People do this every time, and every time I have an attack of guilt, no one wants to be a bad friend. But sometimes you have to set a boundary. If you have time and you can do it, meet them, but it’s OK to say no when you can’t. And you don’t have to meet up with someone you haven’t seen in years just because they suddenly want to. lol.
- You don’t know someone til you live with them: Or should that be you don’t know someone til you’ve moved with them? Either way, someone who may be incredibly fun and lovely as your friend or boyfriend, etc, can be do different to live with. I’ve had the WORST housemates and landlords, and sometimes wondered how I didn’t see the problems coming. One lovely lady who I rented a room from evicted me for not spending Christmas Day with her. Another who seemed really nice in the room viewing was actually very aggressive when she was drunk, which she was everyday. Take a friend with you when viewing places to live because they may see things that you don’t, but also, don’t beat yourself up if your housemates are awful. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry and we can’t see every problem coming. And also, if you’re moving with someone, expect them to be at their worst during the move. People are odd when they’re stressed from moving and being our of their comfort zone. Remember to have a sense of humour and be forgiving.
If You’re Moving Internationally:
International moves have their own set of stresses and excitement. But here are some extra tips to deal with it all if you’re thinking of going to a new country to live.
- Paperwork will always take longer than you think: I’ve been lucky with moves, from Australia to the UK, and now the UK to Canada, I’ve been able to do all the paperwork on my own. These two moves have been alright, but if you’re planning on going international, start filling out forms about a year before you’d like to move. Even Express Entry programs that purport to take 6 months, take longer end to end. Don’t get too worried if things take ages, it’s not necessarily a bad sign. Also the earlier you start the less pressure you’ll be putting yourself under.
- It’s easier than you think: While the process itself can be finicky and need some really random bits of paper, it’s not that hard to move internationally. Talk to be people who have done it, not to people who want to but never actually got around to it. The first will give you handy hints, the second will tell you only how hard it is and why you shouldn’t.
- You can totally do it, and you should: Moving away is scary. Moving internationally is twice as scary. Or is it? Being outside of your comfort zone is unsettling, but is really mind opening. I’ve never regretted it, and feel like I’ve learned and grown loads over the course of my life. People will say that they can’t afford it or other reasons, but it’s not as hard as you think. If it’s not for you, no problem, but if you’ve had a dream to do it, you can actually make it happen.
- You will miss random things that you don’t even notice now: It’s always made me laugh the things that I miss that I never thought of when I was home, and the things I don’t miss that I thought I would. In the UK, I missed meat pies less than I thought, but sigh over musk sticks and Cherry Ripes. I miss the sound of cockatoos as the sun goes down more than I miss Australian beaches. And I never thought I’d miss fruit and vegetables, but in the UK, I really have. There are certain stores and markets from home that I miss, and yet, I love new things here that are different than home. Oh, and milk tastes different in every country you go to!
- You will get an accent, and everyone will comment on it: I’ve always had a weird accent. When I started primary school, people thought I was British, and in High School, some people thought I sounded Canadian. And at that point I’d never left Australia. Now, living in London for almost a decade, British people think I’m Canadian, and my Australian friends think I sound British. ha ha! I think we all take on a little the manner and way of talking of where we come from and where we are. But just know that people will tell you all about your accent all the time.
Final Top Tip: You will not stress about the big things and collapse over the little ones.
Moving is super stressful. But the funniest part is the way stress manifests. Dealing with visa paperwork felt like a breeze to me because I don’t mind forms. And then I had a massive melt down about some boxes I needed to ship when there was minor problems about organising it. I FELL APART, and had to get my boyfriend to help me out. I kind of laugh at myself now thinking back about it. I’ve had it so under control and organised for about a year, but it’s a random thing that tripped me up. Just expect to get stressed about something random, that it won’t always be the big things that get to you. Remember to laugh and yourself and be forgiving. Life is too short. And it will all be worth it when you’re chilling in your new place.