Posted on August 25, 2016
We have just left the Midwest and moved to Tennessee. Husband and I have been married for 16 years this month. This is our fifth state in those 16 years. We have lived in 7 cities within those 5 states. We also purchased our 5th home and we are just shy of 40. I realize military families have it much harder and move even more frequently, and I applaud you and thank you for service, but it’s still a lot and it’s still hard, so let me have my moment!
Our first move was easy. Straight out of college into an apartment. We had nothing except some mismatched dishes and crates that doubled as furniture. During our time there we did accumulate some decent furniture and small appliances, you know the things you register for when you’re 23 and think you MUST have and then get rid of when you make your fifth move because you STILL haven’t used them?
From there, we bought our first house a couple towns over. We were 24, still didn’t have much. That move was almost fun. It was our first house!! We bought stuff, we decorated, we (I) painted murals on our nursery walls! We had our first baby while living in that house…and then 6 months later we were preparing to move.
I don’t remember much of that first big move honestly. I did have a new baby and was just finishing up my thesis so it’s a bit of a blur. Here is what I remember though, we had an offer on our house even before we put it on the market. And we didn’t take it. We thought we would sell in no time and for more. We moved into temporary housing and stayed, for many months. Without selling our house. Paying a mortgage and rent. With moving boxes as furniture. So, I begin with Moving Tips 1-3.
Moving Tip #1: You don’t have to take the first offer you get on your house, but give it serious consideration. It may not be for as much as you think is should be, but be realistic and don’t let your memories of the house cloud your judgment on its value.
Moving Tip #2: Really, you guys, I know it’s all over HGTV and all, but it is so much harder to sell an empty house. People can just not envision how a room can be set up, or window coverings, or whatever, sometimes in an empty room. Plus it’s easier to see flaws.
Moving Tip #3: You really don’t NEED as much as you think you do. We seriously stayed in Clemson, SC in basically student housing, three of us and two dogs for like 6 months. We each had a box of clothes, a computer, a bed, some dishes, and a TV. A cardboard box served as our nightstand. Another one as a coffee table. And yet another as an entertainment center. With the most recent move, we all lived in a hotel for over 2 weeks (yes, all 6 of us). We each had one travel suitcase for clothes and our toiletries. That was it. And even when we move into each house, I am much less sentimental. It is not necessary to keep every single paper your child did in kindergarten or every outfit they ever wore. It’s just not.
From Clemson, SC we bought house number two about 20 minutes away. Oh, and we were expecting baby number #2! (On second thought, maybe you should keep more activities with you?!)
Moving Tip #4: Find people. I took #1 to swim lessons at the Y, where I met another mom, who told me about a MOMS Club. This group of women were so amazing! We babysat each other’s kids, had play dates, had Mom’s Night Outs, brought each other meals…. I am still friends with most of these women to this day. Since then, whenever we move, I try to join a PTO or some kind of group of women. It’s a great way to meet people, get to know the new area, and stay sane. Join a gym, a Bible Study, go to your kids’ baseball practices and meet another mom. I’m an introvert, but everyone needs an emergency contact for your kids’ school registration!!
From SC, we moved to North Carolina. There we stayed for 7 years. We had two more babies. Big kids started school. I was very involved in PTO and sports and all. Leaving NC, was the hardest of all. We had put down roots. But the actual move was the best.
Moving Tip #5: Hire packers and movers. Yes, we are very fortunate in that my husband’s companies always cover this for us. But never again will I move myself. Not worrying about packing and boxes and finding people to lift heavy furniture is so worth every penny.
Moving Tip #6: If you can, try to coordinate closing dates on houses so you can go straight from one to another, or with just a few travels days in between.
Moving Tip #7: When buying a house, write in your offer letter that you want the house professionally cleaned. I hate cleaning other people’s crumbs out of cabinets and hair out of the shower…. Not that I keep an impeccable house, but at least they are my crumbs and hair.
We left North Carolina and spent two years in Ohio. Made new friends and some great memories. This move came about very quickly so we didn’t have much time to think or take it all in…or say proper goodbyes.
Moving Tip #8: Spend time with the people you are leaving behind. I tried to allow my kids as much friend time as they wanted in the last few weeks in Ohio. Boy #2 spent about 5 hours with us the last week we were in Ohio! But I don’t think I stopped and thought about the fact that I had people I would like to spend some time with before I left too.
Moving Tip #9: Kids come first. I know that should go without saying, but really, after the kitchen, we unpack the boys’ bedrooms. We try to get them involved in sports or clubs as soon as possible. We want them to settle in and feel “at home.”
We have been in our new home a little less than a month. Most of the boxes are unpacked and we are starting to feel more like we live here. But there have been some bumps along the way.
Moving Tip #10: Everything in your new house will NOT work properly, so just be prepared to go with the flow. Our dishwasher leaked all over the floor as soon as we started running it. There was no hot water in one of the bathrooms…things happen. They are inconvenient and frustrating sometimes, but that’s the way it goes. Don’t get me wrong, I have lost my crap on more than one occasion over these little issues, but every house has issues, so we just have to deal.
Moving Tip #11: Don’ put too much pressure on yourself. It’s okay if your house isn’t unpacked in a week. It can take a month to figure out how you want your furniture set up. Or what color you want to paint your walls. It will all come together in time. Sometimes it’s more important to go explore or do homework with your kid than make your house is “perfect.” You will never find or have the perfect new house, but any house can feel like home if you fill it with the right people.
And finally, Moving Tip #12: Don’t forget the wine. Really. We spent 2 weeks in a hotel with a family of 6. The wine was a must in that room. And many days after, like when the dishwasher leaks. Or even better, go try out a new local restaurant and have a glass of wine there. Soon your new house will feel like home. You will establish new roots there too. All of the changing of banks and addresses and filling out of paperwork and all of that crap will get done and you will have survived. So take your time, enjoy your adventure, and maybe bring a glass for the wine too.