The Psychological Aspect Of Moving

Celia Manley

Pulling Up Roots

There is more to moving than simply packing your belongings and shipping them to a new city. Moving means great changes in your life and your family's life - new home, new friends, new schools, a new job, and possibly a whole new lifestyle.

Such changes can be filled with uncertainty, anxiety and apprehension. But it can also be exciting, filled with adventure, new opportunities and a chance for personal growth. Although it is not easy to leave a familiar place, consider these tips to help you say goodbye:

Have a party for the specific purpose of saying goodbye to your friends. Hold it a month or two before your actual move. Make this a strictly informal time with an atmosphere that is warm and friendly. This will probably be an emotional time, but it also helps you realize these people will remain your friends, even though you will be separated by distance.

  • Have lunch with old friends and coworkers during the few weeks before your move.
  • Plan a backyard barbecue for the neighbors a month before you leave.
  • Host a family potluck get-together.
  • Take cookies and say good-bye to a meeting of your church group, civic organizations and youth sports teams.

Your children need their own party to say goodbye to their friends. Let them plan the party, but make sure it is designed to be a light and festive occasion so it will be something they will look forward to with excitement. It will help them to emotionally prepare for the move.

Young children may want to take cupcakes, cookies or fruit and vegetable snacks to school, day care, or a play group. Preteens or teens may want to plan their own evening going-away party. Teens may enjoy treating friends to a day at a local amusement park

Say goodbye to your community by visiting all the family's favorite places one last time. Plan a family picnic or trip to a favorite recreational area, park or lake. Go see all of your favorite museums, landmarks and local attractions. Have a few nights out at your favorite restaurants, nights spots or clubs for the express purpose of saying goodbye. And, remember, there will be plenty of places in your new community that you will like equally well!


Plan Your 1st Visit

You will probably make at least one house hunting trip to your new community. Since you’re going to a new town where you don’t know anyone or your way around, prepare for this trip carefully to keep it an upbeat, positive experience.

  • Read books and travel literature about your new community
  • Look at local maps
  • Read about landmarks
  • Look through the information in your Relocation Package sent by your Agent.


Take a camera and shoot pictures of:

  • Possible new homes
  • Local ball fields
  • Schools
  • Neighborhood children playing
  • A backyard tree that would make a great tree house

Anything of interest that will build your children's enthusiasm about the move.


Children & Relocation

Tell your children about the move and the reason for it. Tailor your explanation to their age. The youngest children only need to know that a parent has to work at a new office in a new town.

Older teens will want, and deserve, to know more. Tell them the advantages of moving (new sports, a better school, entertainment). Be prepared for negative reactions.

Give them a chance to express their feelings and be honest about your own feelings. Gently tell your children about any sadness you may feel about leaving or uncertainty about a new home, job or city. This helps reassure them that they aren't alone in having worries or concerns.

Give them some influence and control over some aspects of the move. A toddler can "pack for a teddy bear" or "help" you do serious packing. Don't overload young children with unnecessary details.

Make a scrapbook containing pictures of your current home, friends, and other mementos of your life together.

Help older children prepare a list of phone numbers and addresses of close friends, relatives, and other important people in their lives. Knowing they can stay in touch is an important part of a successful move.

Include children in a preview trip, if possible. Explore the new neighborhoods, schools and town together. If the children can't be included in the home finding trip, take pictures of your new home, the schools they will attend, parks, and other facets of the new location that will be interesting to them.

If you can, try to meet families in your new neighborhood before you move. Being familiar with people when you move in will help your children feel more at home.
Set aside time each day during the relocation to sit down and talk/read/play with your children.

Allow children to maintain contact with special friends after the move. This can include having friends from the old neighborhood come visit if distances are short, or allowing your child to call friends in your old location periodically. Encourage them to write or e-mail their friends.

For more information on moving with children and moving in general, read SMART MOVES: YOUR GUIDE THROUGH THE EMOTIONAL MAZE OF RELOCATION by Nadia Jensen, Audry McCollum and Stuart Copans. To order a copy call 1-800-895-4331. The ISBN is 1575250861.


Pets and Moving

Most pet owners feel their pet is a member of the family. Remember that your pet can feel your anxiety and may show unusual personality traits at this time. Try to keep your routine as normal as possible. Remember, a long trip can be even tougher for an animal than a human. Take this into consideration when moving your pet, and everyone should arrive on the other end safe and happy.

Cats and Dogs may be shipped by air or taken along in the family car. If you are flying to your new destination, check with airlines regarding size requirements to take a cat or dog into the passenger cabin with you. If you are transporting your pet in the baggage department, talk to your veterinarian about up-to-date shots and a health certificate. You may want to ask for tranquilizers to give your pet just before heading to the airport. Make sure to put a piece of clothing with your scent on it in the animal's box so it will feel more at home during transportation. If you’re driving, be sure to pre-check with hotels and motels along the route to make certain your dog or cat will be welcome.

Hamsters, bird and other small animals can be easily transported in your car. Make sure they have enough food and water in their cages and are out of drafts or extreme temperatures. It is a good idea to cover their cages with a cloth to keep them quiet and restful.

Fish are very difficult to transport. In general, it is impractical to move an aquarium with fish in it. A gallon of water weights 8 pounds, so a small ten-gallon aquarium will weight almost a hundred pounds when filled. Plan on giving the fish away with a promise to restock the aquarium when you arrive at your new home.