Challenges of Moving From a Long Term Residence
Written by Sarah Lynch on February 10, 2017
Maybe it’s the home you grew up in, or the house in which you raised your kids or that place you’ve lived for the past 15 years while waiting to land that dream job. Whatver the place, whatever the reason, suddenly it’s time to move. The house is sold, the lease is ending, and you need to pack up your belongings and integrate them into a new space.
Moving is certainly one of life’s more stressful occurrences1. Everything from sorting, packing, arranging movers (or help with loading and finding transportation if you’re doing it yourself), finding new space, and sometimes changing jobs, churches, and friends contribute to the stress of moving. There are unique challenges when moving out of a place where you’ve lived for a long time. I recently sold the family home of nearly 40 years, and encountered a wide variety of issues in the process. Here are a few of the things I found helpful.
- Redecorate. Yes, your home is your own, and you love it. That pink striped wallpaper has been your friend forever, and is part of what made that room yours. Now you need to convince someone else that the space can be theirs. Minimize your personal stamp on things by neutralizing colors, packing away collections and photos, and decluttering spaces. A few boxes and a few dollars for a gallon or two of paint will go a long way.2
- Up your “curb appeal.” If you’ve got a house, spruce up that front yard by adding some flowers and a door wreath. Make it look appealing and welcoming. And remember: you’re not necessarily doing it for yourself, but for whomever might buy. That favorite bush that’s been dying in the front yard? Get it out of there.
- Get a dumpster. That’s right: a dumpster. And be prepared to fill it up. Unless you’re bordering on neurotic in your neatness or have absolutely zero storage space, you’re going to find all kinds of things tucked away in storage that you had thought were long gone. In fact, there will be more junk than you could imagine. I found, among other things, my rock collection, a biography I wrote in first grade, and six Sterlite boxes of old newspaper ads.
- Enlist help. Friends and neighbors will want to spend some time with you. OK, some will just be downright nosey, but most of them will truly want to spend a little time with you before you take off, and helping out is a great way to do it. For the price of dinner or a bottle of wine or sometimes just a hug, your friends and neighbors will come, and it’ll make a difficult task more fun.
- Don’t be embarrassed. Everyone has stuff, some of it has been around forever. Be ready to laugh about what you find. Is it a reminder of that bad ‘80s hairdo? Or that embarrassing moment when your mom stood up and applauded after you completely flubbed your lines in the school play? Cherish the memories that get turned up.
- Be ready to cry. Some of those memories will be sad or painful. And some of the things you find, while very sentimental, will need to go. Keep the tissues handy, and get those friends to help you let go of the stuff.
- Enjoy the journey. Remember: it’s all an adventure. Approach it as such rather than as a chore, and you’ll find it flies by, and becomes another great memory.
- “Changes in residence” is listed at #32 on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. For a list of other stressful life situations, see http://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory/