You leave so much behind when you relocate to a new city: your favorite gym, the neighbor who gives you homemade shortbread at Christmas, your kids’ favorite teachers and best friends. Then there is the practical need to hurry up and get everything packed, especially when you're moving cross country.
A long distance move can be exciting, but it is never easy, especially if you need to get going during the holidays. For parents, there is also the concern about kids in school who need to adjust midyear. But we talked to some experienced movers, including a professional in the corporate housing industry, who offered suggestions that can help.
“A positive, adventurous attitude is the key to the success of a move. Expect that things will not be perfect and embrace the opportunity to experience new people, new cultures and new skills,” said Lee Curtis, President of ABODA, which relocates employees for Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks.
If you are moving for a job, there are plenty of relocation experts who can help the process go smoothly. “Most large companies will assign a relocation specialist to help you along the way, said Lynn Carter, a Sr. Human Resources Manager at Yahoo! and veteran of moving for work– first from Los Angeles to Omaha, then back west to California’s Silicon Valley. “These specialists are great and so necessary because you really need to leave it to them so you can focus on your job.”
Folks like Lynn who relocate for a job represent 19 percent of all moves, according to a 2014 U.S. Census Bureau report. A relocation service can find a temporary, furnished, pet-friendly apartment, in a neighborhood that matches your lifestyle. Depending on the company, they can pack up your household, help you sell your old home and find a new house to buy.
“As someone who has moved across the country a number of times, I can tell you the most important relationships I counted on were a local housing/real estate agent and a great moving and storage company,” said Lee, who also made an appearance as a judge on the TV show “The Apprentice” in an episode on corporate housing. “If those things are set, the rest falls into place.”
Lynn suggests leaving as much as you can to the experts. “The stress level is very high during these times. All you can do is focus on what’s in front of you. Allow the experts to do their jobs and allow yourself to enjoy the experience of moving to a new city and exploring.”
In addition to providing assistance for the physical aspects of moving, relocation experts provided by an employer or one you contact on your own, can also provide help in adjusting to the cultural changes. There may be programs for acclimating to the area and answering questions about neighborhoods. Parents will need to consider choosing a school district and schools. Carefully assess the options against your own child’s current school and success factors. What type of environment would be the best fit? Talk to as many parents as possible; meet with the principal.
“Take as many visits to the city as your company will pay for or you can afford,” said Lee. “Go on the weekends and during the week, speak to people you meet, go to the grocery store at 5:30 p.m. and look around because those people will be your neighbors.”
Whether you move yourself or get a lot of help, make sure you have what you need in the first few days for easy access: work and casual clothes, sleepwear, toiletries, cooking and eating utensils.
“Prepare for not having your things right away. It could be many weeks before they arrive so make sure you have the basic necessities with you,” said Lynn.
With so much to do and everything being new all at once, it’s easy to feel out of control or even scared of a big cross-country move. Lee recommends taking a deep breath and embracing the new experience. “Don’t fall trap to staying in your house, get out and see the new community you’re now a part of.”