Making the Right Move

Summer is prime time for moving. Making the right move for yourself, for your family, or for your career, is sometimes learned in retrospect when we make the wrong move first. Moving is stressful. It ranks right up there with death, divorce, and catastrophic illness as one of the major life stressors. When my family moved to Houston in August 1982, it was our fourth move in five years. I enrolled our daughters in their fifth school system since starting kindergarten.

I ended up needing medical attention for the symptoms that erupted from the stress of all that. And, I wrote my first book as a result of that move. As one friend put it, “Someone might as well gain from all that pain.” With five additional books into the weird and wild world of modern publishing, I learned why authors are advised not to sell their first book. While I remain proud of the effort, Married & Mobile: Making a Move That’s Right for You had some room for improvement.

Make the Right Move for You

Writing the book was the right move for me at the time. I learned a lot, including how to work with editors and book promoters. And, once I put forth in writing all the myriad of competing emotions instigated by all those moves, I felt much better about myself and the world around me.

I didn’t write another book for 22  years. It took a hurricane the size of Katrina to motivate me to try book publishing again. By then I’d moved back to Ohio and then back to Texas, adding several additional new addresses along the way.

I’ve learned a bit about moving and how to mitigate the stress of it. I’ve never heard of a move that didn’t include stress. But there are things we can do to mitigate it.  Married & Mobile: Making a Move That’s Right for You is out of print and somewhat out of date given the dramatic changes in the way people work these days. However, I think there’s some good wisdom contained in it. For example:

Moving is a Pain

It is normal and natural to experience at least some pain as we relocate from what is familiar to what is new and largely unknown. Modern technology makes it much easier than ever to connect with friends and family who don’t live where we do. That helps. But it’s not the same as hanging out together. There are things we can do to manage the pain, such as being gentle with ourselves when we do experience pain. Emotional pain is nature’s way of honoring the significance of the people and places left behind. Leaving them wouldn’t hurt if it didn’t matter to us.

Counting the Cost

Even if you have only a dorm room size stack of things to move, and you go with the pizza and beer bribes for friends route for moving the stack, it is still expensive. Things like utility and rental property deposits, gas, and rental fees for a truck add up. If you’re selling and buying you have all sorts of interesting and creative fees to cover, on top of the down payments for a new house. It is going to cost money and it might take months, even years to truly recoup the investment.

Then there are all those unanticipated costs. The furniture that worked perfectly in the last place doesn’t fit in the new place. No matter how carefully you inspect a place before you move into it, you’re going to discover something that is missing or needs to be repaired or replaced. Count on it.

Resistance is Natural

If your other family members – that may well include a dog or cat – are well settled where you are, be prepared for their resistance to the idea of relocating. No matter how rosy a picture you paint of the new place and new opportunities, rebellion is likely to occur. A house-trained dog may forget everything about proper behavior. Younger children may revert to behavior they outgrew several years ago. Older children may resort to fighting, sulking, arguing, and storming away from efforts to communicate.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move. Moving gives us a new perspective on life. Moving gives us new people to become friends, new experiences to try, and new opportunities to investigate. But at first, it can feel very strange to let a stranger cut our hair, or talk to a new doctor about an issue the other doctor knew well.

Make Your Own Welcome Mat

In all my moves, more than I care to disclose, I can count on one hand the number of times neighbors came over to introduce themselves. If you want to know your neighbors, plan on introducing yourself to them. If you don’t get a warm welcome, it probably has nothing to do with you. Enlarge your definition of neighbor and keep reaching out.

Also, find some way to engage in the community beyond whatever job or situation instigated the move. Find people who enjoy what you enjoy and get to know them. We all need community. It is up to the newcomer to meet the community.

Keep Moving

No, not by packing and relocating again. Rather, after you’ve unpacked the essentials for daily living, go forth into the new location and explore. Try new places to eat. Find out what the locals do for entertainment. Visit area parks, museums, and special events.

Whatever brought you to the area, it is now home. Make yourself at home. If a move is part of your plans for the next few months, good luck. If you want more tips on how to conquer the pile of brown boxes and get yourself established as quickly as possible, I have all the remaining copies of Married & Mobile. I’ll gladly relocate a copy from my home to yours for $6 to cover the cost of shipping and mailing. For your copy, e-mail me at my HowWiseThen website below. I’d be happy to move them along, you know, just in case I decide to move again someday.

Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts about moving. If you found this helpful, past it along to a friend. If you got it from a friend, you can get your own articles at

Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures covers the Pilgrim’s escape from England and much more of the interaction between them and the Pokanoket people. Available wherever books are sold in paperback, eBook, and audio. (Supporting local Indie Bookshops)
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One Comment

  1. Excellent advice, Kathy. Glad to say we’ve done most of that. Good reminder though to keep reaching out. Right now,

    I am rooting two plants to grow in pretty pots to be taken over to the two newest arrivals in our community as we go over and introduce ourselves. Sounds like they should be shocked at the effort.

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