Change can be helpful, allowing us to grow as individuals and families. But it may also be shrouded in uncertainty, and fear of the unknown can be very stressful. That’s why moving is right up there on the stress scale with life-changing events such as death and divorce. What’s more, if the move is triggered by any of those other life-changing events then anxiety levels rise even higher.
Naturally, the thought of leaving friends, schools, neighbours and familiar surroundings in favour of starting again in a less certain neighbourhood and environment is worrying. Will the schools be any good? Will you get on with the people next door? How easy will it be to commute?
In addition, the moving process itself can be testing, working with building societies and solicitors to exchange contracts, organising removal firms, packing up the house, and the many other sundry tasks that have to be done, and at a time when you are trying to work, take the kids to and from school and get on with your everyday life.
But there are things you can do to mitigate some of these stresses and strains of moving. It’s all about taking control.
Buying and selling involves multiple parties – agents, solicitors, surveyors, buyers, vendors – and the feeling of being out of control is one of the main causes of stress. It’s crucial therefore to be proactive. Don’t wait for your agent or solicitor to call you; call them and do it at the beginning of the day so action can be taken immediately (dealing with problems later in the day, when everyone is tired and looking forward to going home, is never a good idea).
Give them a time-scale for responding to your query (‘So I can expect you to get back to me within 48 hours’) and hold them to it. Never issue threats, but if a sale is proving particularly slow, don’t be afraid of reminding interested parties that you do have other options. If missing the beginning of the new school term is a deal-breaker, for example, say so. You need to feel that it’s you who is in charge here.
Meticulous planning and research is another good way of gaining control. When you decide to buy a new house, make sure you frequently visit the neighbourhood you are considering moving to, checking out the shops, schools, transport, and so on.
You might want to meet your prospective neighbours on some pretence or another, such as finding out about schools or buses or some other local issue. They’ll also give you a sense of who else lives in the road and whether it’s the right place for you and your family.Finally, far in advance of moving day, get all your removal tasks sorted. Don’t feel you have to go it alone: ask family and friends for help with child support or other tasks so you can focus on the move without too many immediate distractions. Just as meditation probably won’t help you with the stress of moving, so a laissez-faire attitude doesn’t work when trying to deal with ‘removal upheaval’— again, it’s all about control.