Who says moving has to be stressful?
Whenever you hear about factors contributing to people’s stress levels, moving house tends to be quite high on the list. So I guess moving abroad should be even higher...
Nine months ago my husband and I decided to move to Spain. We had been considering a complete lifestyle change for a couple of years now but just before Christmas last year we made the decision not to wait until “the time is right” and just do it.
So we are doing it. We are making it happen in just over three weeks now. When the decision was made, we promised ourselves that we were going to make it an enjoyable experience. We opted for an adventure, as opposed to pulling our hair out.
So far, I am pleased to announce it has been a stress-free process and we intend to keep it that way until the end. I thought it may be useful for others to know how we have managed to achieve that. Some of my tips are pretty obvious but perhaps others might not be.
Firstly, I am a big fan of lists. We started making our lists pretty much as soon as we made the decision to move. At the beginning, as you may appreciate the number of lists was a little overwhelming and led to creating a list of lists! But it is not just about the lists. It is also about a systematic, methodical way of working through the lists. It really helps if the whole family works as a team and everyone is clear on what they are responsible for. So I guess effective communication is quite fundamental. Both, during the initial brain-storming session on what is to done and throughout the process, so that everyone is aware what progress is being made. This may make it sound like a military operation but being organised and communicating with your team does pay off and results in reducing potential stress.
I believe a massive source of stress involved in any house move comes from having to rely on other people to get things right. It is therefore important to identify where you will need involvement from other people (e.g. selling the house, booking a ferry/storage, van hire, etc.) and allow twice, or even three times, as long as you think you will need to get those tasks completed. It goes without saying that you should have all the confirmations in writing, check the details, get other people to check the details, and then check again. Also, make sure your travel documents are valid. It is easier to overlook than you might think. But if you realise your passport is about to expire, it is not a big deal, as long as you have enough time to renew it. This is just one example of why you need to allow twice as long (or longer) as you think you will need to get everything organised. No drama.
Somebody has asked me: “how do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of?” That is a good question, and I have to say it has been an interesting process deciding. Once you have lived somewhere for a while, you tend to accumulate so much! Another reason why you want to allow ample amount of time to get ready for the move. As we are only taking one van load of possessions, we have had to be quite ruthless. One of the main factors to consider is the cost of relocating and storage vs. replacing an item once you get to your destination. It is not always obvious so worth looking at the actual figures. Another question to ask yourself is of course is: “if it’s been sitting in the loft for the last X number of years and I didn’t even know I had it, do I really need it?”
If you anything like me and my husband, it could potentially stress you out to have to throw things out. We cannot stand waste, which why for the last three months we have been working really hard to re-purpose as many things we no longer want or need as possible. I am really pleased to say that out of mountains of stuff we have needed to dispose of hardly anything has been thrown in the bin. Most of our unwanted items have been donated (charity, refugees), eBay-ed, freecycled, or recycled. This means that not only do we have zero guilt (source of stress) but we can actually feel good about doing something positive.
We have started to pack now, again trying to be logical and systematic to make things easier when we get to Spain. It is getting more and more exciting now! Cannot wait! I will report again when we have got to the other side. Hopefully, everything goes smoothly but even if it is not all plain sailing I have some fantastic stress-busting methods, which I will share next time.