My parents were school teachers. They believed that they would retire in the school system in which they worked and that they would live in the same house all of their lives. My parents believed they would work in the same field, in the same county, and have no change in their lives that meant a move would be initiated because of an employment change. Those days of predictability, certainty, and security are gone for most folks, including my family. Our family has lived in seven states and eight if we could count the state we lived in twice. Over the years, we have lived in thirteen different houses or apartments plus two other places we maintained when we had a commuter family.
Each move delivers varied emotions and responsibilities. I think each move has a personality of its own with a story line like no other move. For me, there was always the acceptance that the move was ahead and that change was visiting my house. The decision to move was a decision that we controlled even when others believed the decision was inevitable because the job change occurred. Once we decided to move, the clock began running on the checklist of things that must be done before the scheduled move day from the current city and the list of things that must be done in the next city to prepare for the day my family and our belongings would arrive in the next city (keeping in mind that the things and the family may not arrive in the next city at the same time).
The most recent move brought some logistical issues that I had never encountered before simply because the move was from one coast to the other, from the southeastern region to the far western region of the country. I was relocating to a place that resembled nothing that I considered familiar to me. I was leaving the humid south for the dry dessert. I was leaving an area with a melting pot of cultures and moving to a place with less cultural diversity. I was moving from a place with seasonal concerns about tropical storms and hurricanes to live in a state where droughts and fires were common. I had to keep redirecting my attention from the longing for the familiar to the task at hand – organizing and staging for the move.
Over the years, when I learned that we would be moving the first thing I did was contact the chamber of commerce in the new city to request a new resident packet. The new resident packet always contained information about the city, including the events the locals enjoyed most, information about shopping in the area, facts about the schools, and a detailed map of the city. I would read about the city and use the map to chart landmarks and street names to guide me directionally until I felt more comfortable driving around the city. As intimidating as learning a new city was when we made the first move, it became the least of my concerns during later moves. In more recent years, the internet has provided a new and welcomed method to learn about the targeted city. I was able to visit the local chamber site then link to many other sites to gather information about my new city.
The checklist for the moves involved finding out whether the new employer would fund the move and if so how much was budgeted for the move. The preliminary questions also included learning whether or not the employer had a moving company under contract a list of the guidelines of the contractual agreement with the company that would pack, load, and move us. You should find out if the new employer will pay the cost of transporting your vehicle(s), whether the company will pay for your family’s travel to the new city, and whether the move will include boats, livestock, or pets. Call you insurance agent ahead of the move and inquire about insuring your property in the new state. A call or search of the DMV site in the new state will also help you prepare for obtaining a new driver’s license and registration for you car(s).
Then, there was the paring down of things accumulated over the time we were in the last to determine what really needed to make the truck destined for the western desert. The most recent move challenged me because most of our belongings were in a storage unit in Florida. The unit housed almost everything that had been in our home in a midwestern state and those items that my husband used when he lived in a studio apartment the season prior in a southern state. Because this move was of the cross-country variety, it would be more expensive than the regional moves we experienced in the past. Additionally, we knew that whatever we left would be left forever. This was also the first move in which we had to consider leaving a kid on the eastern side of the country to finish college, helping the other kid transition to yet another high school, and consider how life with a pet would impact the particulars of the move.
My trip to scout the new city had to be planned strategically. It had to occur during the college spring break of one kid so that she could stay at the house with the other kid who was still in high school. This trip to house hunt like other previous house hunting trips meant having a limited amount of time to search for housing and visit schools. I had to get back to my kids. So, before I left home I checked out the rental properties in the zip code of the high school that my husband decided would be the best option for our son. I spoke to a realtor and gave him the list of properties that I wanted to see and the days that I could house hunt. I also relayed the date we needed to move into the rental and the amount we budgeted for rent payments. I had two days to find a place, visit the school to secure all registration materials for enrollment and sports, and take a driving tour of the city.
The best advice I have for the actual move is to build a good working relationship with the person who the moving company assigns to be your trip coordinator. That person will assist you in coordinating the pick up and delivery of your shipment. My coordinator was magnificent! She reviewed the contract line by line with me to ensure that our shipment costs would not exceed the budgeted amount. In addition, she removed unapproved charges placed on our bill by one of the shippers. Moreover, she made certain that we received emergency funds to purchase food, a television, kitchen supplies, and hardware for our table after I called her to report that the movers left all of our televisions, all of the kitchen supplies, and the hardware for the tables in Florida. The items we labeled as the most important items in the shipment had been left many states away when the crew ran out of space in the moving van. What a mess! This mess upset my perfectly timed cable television installation for almost a week and it was NBA Finals season so my son was not happy.
If you ever have to move, I hope that something I wrote better prepares you for your move or provides a tip or two to enhance your relocation experience. You should also know that no matter how well you plan something will happen during the process that you could not have planned or expected. When those unexpected things happen address them as best you can and move on handling the things you can control like lining up the boxes in a specified location creating aisles between the boxes so that you can walk between the boxes when the time comes to check box numbers in an effort to ensure all of your property was delivered. Also, make sure you use the help of the crew to help you place furniture so that you won’t have to do it after the movers are gone. Make sue that you walk out to the truck near the end of the delivery and engage them in friendly conversation while you scan the truck for anything they may have left on the truck.
Make the best of the challenges that will come and find ways to enjoy the time that you must wait for the challenge(s) to be resolved. My children said that it had been a long time since we played boardgames and just hung out without technology. Since we had no television and no internet access, we opened the boxes of boardgames. We played, we laughed, and did a lot of trash talking. I can assure you that in the months and years that follow the move and the challenges it brought, you will laugh and shake your head when you think about the craziness that made the move frustrating. I promise.