When You're on the Move

If you're on the move, you're not alone. In an average year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 43 million Americans relocate.

In the shift from the friendly familiar to the uncertain and unknown, these simple ideas can prepare you for the move, keep your family sane in the process and help you put down roots once you arrive in your new community.

Prepare for your move

Know where everything is. Use a spiral notebook, index cards, or a database program on your computer to make an inventory of your packed boxes. You may need to find a favorite toy or important document before you unpack everything.

  • Clean before you pack. Weed out books and records (do people really still have vinyl?) you don't want any more. Discard broken toys and donate the ones your kids have outgrown. Donate outdated clothes to a local charity.
  • Make claims easier. If you use a moving company, take photos or videotape of costly items before the move in case you need to file damage or loss claims. Record serial numbers of electronic items.
  • Keep important documents on hand. Don't forget to gather medical and dental records, prescription histories and insurance policies, in addition to other paperwork you'll need in your new town. And keep them in an easy-to-locate place.

Learn about your new community

  • Know where you're going. Search online for your new city's Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Request flyers and mailings about the community's cultural and sporting events, libraries and schools.
  • Compare your old and new communities. The Web site http://www.bestplaces.net/ lists more than 3,000 communities and offers comparisons in nearly 100 categories (including how many Starbucks exist in a selected metro area). Research the schools. Check out homefair.com for a free report on public schools in your new community. Get information on school sizes, student-teacher ratios and average class sizes for thousands of schools across the country.

  • Get a jump on directories. When setting up new phone service, request copies of phone books in advance of your move. Many directories contain community pages with history and current activities, as well as local health care and city services.

Keep your family together

  • Allow time to say good-bye. Children as well as adults need time and opportunity to let special friends and places know how much they'll be missed. It's OK for kids and mom and dad, for that matter to shed tears over the departure.
  • Remember the good times. Take photos and create a scrapbook of favorite memories of your old home and neighborhood. This can be one family book or separate books for each person's favorite things.
  • Eat together and eat well before, during and after your move. You may need to eat out while packing, traveling and unpacking, but try to make healthy choices among fast-food items. Make eating out (or eating take-out food at home) a family affair.
  • Watch for signs of stress among family members (and even your pets). To ease stress, provide familiar items in your new location; permit your children (and yourself) to call old friends in your previous location; explore your new community together with one or more family outings.
  • Keep things positive. Kids take their cues from parents if you put a positive spin on your new home and community, your children are more likely to do the same.

Make new friends

  • Look for local affiliates of places you left behind. Find a local church of the same denomination and local chapters of clubs and organizations you belonged to before.
  • Check out the nearest business district a mall or main street. Look for individuals/families like you and (gulp!) be bold enough to strike up conversations.
  • Join a park and recreation sport. Or enroll your kids and meet the parents at practices and games.
  • Join the YMCA or a local health club. Get in shape and meet new people.
  • Expect Good Things. In conversations with new neighbors and friends, don't fixate on what was "so great" about where you lived before. Focus on the positives of your new community.

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