For better or worse, we live in an extremely mobile society
Home Away from Home – For better or worse, we live in an extremely mobile society. The average American moves many times in his or her lifetime. People move for many reasons: a better job, a calmer pace of life, warmer weather, or to be near relatives. We will give you guide- lines to help you evaluate whether or not you should move. If you decide to move, moving to a new locale may put stress on your relationship. In this chapter, we’ll out- line ways to minimize that stress. And we will also give you ideas on settling into a new place.
➤ Evaluating whether you should move
➤ Common concerns when moving
➤ Ideas to help reduce the stress of moving ➤ Hints for settling into a new place
➤ Exploring your new community together
The Big Decision
If you’re like most couples, the decision of whether or not to move is a tough one. There are so many factors to consider. If both of you work, you would each need to find a new job. Maybe you would be moving closer to family and friends or maybe you would be leaving them. Your economic situation might be better or worse in a new locale. If you have children, you have their education to consider as well.
Usually, if you’re thinking about moving, something is prompting you. In most cases, work is the motivat- ing factor. You might have been offered a promotion in a new city, or your current job is being moved to a new place. Or you might be looking for a different lifestyle: a change in climate, cost of living, or city size. The important thing is to think the decision through very carefully. It’s a major life change.
The following questions will help you to consider your reasons for moving. If you have already decided to move, you can skip over them and head to the later section, “We’re Moving!”
- What is your main reason for moving? Is it a preference or a necessity?
- Will both of you be able to find satisfactory jobs in the new city?
- Will there be a change in your economic status in the new place? You need to consider cost of housing and living as well as your salary.
- Will you be leaving friends and family who are important to you? Do you think you will be able to reorganize support in the new place?
- Will your leaving have an impact on other people (i.e., family members who rely on your practical and/or emotional support)?
- Can you anticipate hidden costs to living in the new place (i.e., higher tele- phone bills or transportation costs)?
- Will the climate be better or worse in the new place? Is this important to you?
- Will the new locale be a city that is similar in size or much different (i.e., a much bigger city or a rural area)?
- Do you have special needs as a couple that can be met in the new place (i.e., place of worship, medical needs, etc.)?
- If you have children, are you satisfied with the schools where you would be moving?
We hope your answers to these questions will encourage you to consider issues you might have overlooked.
Should We or Shouldn’t We?
Jack was offered the opportunity to move to a new city 500 miles away. He would be given a promotion and his salary would increase by almost 50 percent. At first he was very excited and couldn’t imagine turning down the offer. He went home to tell his wife, Sally, so they could celebrate.
However, while driving home he started to realize that there were really a lot of factors to consider. When he got home he told Sally about the opportunity and suggested that they go out to dinner and talk about it. They went through the “Moving Questionnaire” that you just took. Here are their answers:
- They would be moving so that Jack would have an opportunity to have a promotion and make more money. They did not have to move, because his company was willing to keep him in his current position.
- It was not clear whether Sally would be able to get as good a job in the new city. She had been with her company for seven years and had a lot of security in the company. Sally didn’t particularly love her job, so she wouldn’t mind working somewhere else, but she did have a good salary and reasonable working conditions.
- Jack would be making substantially more money, although Sally would likely make somewhat less money. Housing would cost approximately 10 percent to 15 percent more than where they currently lived. The general cost of living was approximately the same in both places. Overall, they would probably have more money than they currently did, but not as much as they initially thought.
- Jack and Sally would be leaving Jack’s sister and her family, as well as his mother. They saw them every few weeks. But when they thought about it, they had really enjoyed having the family around. Another factor to consider was that Jack and Sally were planning to have kids in the next few years. It would be especially nice to have family around then.
- Jack’s family would miss them, but no one was currently relying on them for support.
- Jack and Sally realized that they would spend close to $1,000 every year on tele- phone bills and plane travel to visit Jack’s family.
- The climate would be somewhat better in the new place. It would not be as cold in the winter and there would be less snow. Sally did not like winters and would prefer them to be milder. Jack didn’t have a preference.
- The new city was bigger than the one they currently lived in. It had more cultur- al resources, but also more congestion and a higher crime rate.
- Jack and Sally felt that the new city would have a church they would like. They couldn’t anticipate any other special needs that they would have.
- Jack and Sally didn’t have children yet. The schools were good in some of the neighborhoods where they would be living.
When they looked at their answers, they realized that the only real advantage to the new city was Jack’s job, both the opportunity for promotion and the salary increase. When they considered the increase in housing costs, Sally’s possible decrease in salary, and the money that they would have to spend to keep in touch with friends and family, the salary increase seemed much less than 50 percent. They realized that it was not a good enough reason to move. Jack was excited about the chance to have a promotion and do more challenging work. But Sally and Jack realized that they wanted to be near family when they had children.
Marriage Q & A’s
Q: Doesn’t moving because you were given a raise usually mean more money?
A: A salary increase doesn’t automatically mean that you will have extra spending money in your pocket each month. You need to consider both of your incomes, as well as your expenses. Conversely, a salary decrease might not mean that you will have less money. Your expenses might be lower in a different place, resulting in the same amount of money left over every month.
Jack talked to his boss at work and let him know what he was thinking. He was won- dering if there was a chance that he would eventually be promoted if he stayed at his current job. His boss said that he was a very valued employee and that he would probably be promoted eventually. But he cautioned him that the salary increase could not match the one they were offering in the new city. After much deliberation, Jack and Sally decided not to move.
When you and your spouse are thinking about moving, remember to consider all of the factors so that you can isolate your real reasons for moving. Always keep in mind that you are a team and that you need to jointly decide whether to move.
If the two of you have decided to move, you are probably feeling somewhat over- whelmed with all of the things that you need to do. You need to pack all of your be- longings and find a new place to live. There are so many unknowns: Will you make new friends? Will you like your new jobs? Who will be your neighbors? You might even be wondering if you’re making a mistake.
All these feelings are normal. There are, however, some things that you can do to re- lieve your stress. Here are 10 stress-reducing tips that can make moving easier for the two of you:
- Rent for at least six months in the new place. You don’t need the extra stress of buying a house. And if the move doesn’t work out, it’s much easier to leave an apartment or rented house than a home you own. The exception to this would be if you are moving back to a place the two of you lived before and you are sure you’ll be staying for at least three years.
- In a separate box that you mark “Urgent— Open First,” pack a bottle of champagne, two glasses, photo albums, and a cozy blanket. It will help you feel at home in your new place. Drinking champagne while looking at a photo album of your honeymoon can make the piles of boxes look less imposing.
- Separate your photo albums from your nega- tives. You might even have friends or family keep your negatives and forward them when you are sure that your photo albums have ar- rived safely in your new home. Losing those memories would be a big loss.
- Make sure you notify the post office of your new address. Your mail will be forwarded for one year. You can notify businesses of your new address as you pay your monthly bills.
- Magazines are generally forwarded for one month. If you have magazine subscriptions, inform them of your new address in writing or by phone.
- You can save yourself the trouble of mailing out a huge pile of moving cards to everyone by including your new address in your annual holiday cards.
- Keep copies of addresses and phone numbers in several different places. You es- pecially don’t want to lose contact with old friends and family now.
- Arrange to have your utilities (water, power, gas) and telephone turned on one or two days before you arrive. That way you can be assured that they will be working the moment you arrive. The small amount of extra money you will spend will eliminate the possibility of having your first day without a telephone or hot water.
- If you have children, register them for school as soon as you know that you are moving and what neighborhood you are going to live in. You can’t always as- sume that they can go to the school down the street or that it’s any good. By registering your children ahead of time, you will be able to tackle any problems that arise in a timely manner.
- Pace yourself. Unpacking and settling in is a big job and takes days, if not weeks. Give your- selves permission to take time out to be togeth- er. Explore your new surroundings. Take a long walk around the neighborhood or see a movie.
Making Your House into a Home
You’ve unpacked all of the cardboard boxes and put them out to recycle. Your favorite wedding photo is sitting on the mantle above the fireplace. You’ve stocked the kitchen with your favorite spices. Your dishes are neatly stacked in cabinets above the sink. But somehow, the two of you still feel unsettled. Even though everything is where it should be, you feel like nothing is in place.
You’ve found out the hard way that settling into a new place is much more than unpacking. It’s feeling at home, knowing your neighbors, having friends to invite over for dinner, knowing who you can trust at work. If you have children, then it’s knowing other families who have children the same age as yours. Of course, all of these things take time. But there are ways to speed things along so that you can feel settled as soon as possible.
If you don’t know many people in town, you can’t sit around waiting for people to welcome you. Be direct. Give yourselves a welcoming party! Invite everyone on your block or in your apartment building. Keep it simple.
Put Xeroxed, handwritten invitations in people’s mailboxes. Have it in the afternoon with drinks and chips. No one will expect you to serve a feast. In fact, they will be impressed that you did it at all. You’ll at least briefly meet your neighbors (at least the ones interested in meeting you). And people who can’t make it to the party may stop by and say hello.
You will have accomplished so much with relatively little effort. Rather than wait for a chance meeting with all of these people, you will have told them a lot of things all at once—that the two of you are new in town, that you are friendly, that you are interested in your neighbors, and that you welcome a future relationship.
It’s Party Time
Linda and Paul moved into their new house and felt frustrated that they had only met one of their neighbors. They wanted to feel like part of the neighborhood. They had two children, aged six and nine. It was summer and school hadn’t started, so their kids hadn’t made new friends yet, either.
They decided they would invite everyone on their block over for a Sunday open house. They put invitations on everyone’s doorstep. Linda and Paul kept things sim- ple. They went to the grocery store and bought chips, dips, and cut-up vegetables. They bought several types of cheese, cut them in small blocks, and put them out with crackers. They used paper plates and cups, and plastic utensils. That Sunday they were very nervous and were wondering if they had done the right thing. When the first person rang the doorbell, they were immediately relieved. The family introduced themselves and apologized for not meeting them sooner. They commented that they had been very busy this summer and had been out of town a lot. They were very glad to have a family on the block, and even had a child who was nine years old who would be going to the same school as Linda and Paul’s nine-year-old.
By the time the day was over, they had met people from over half of the homes on their block. Several of them had children close to the ages of their own. Their kids were immediately happier and had friends to play with for the rest of the summer. Their neighbors now invited them to dinner and were interested in getting to know them better. By taking the initiative, Linda and Paul made a huge step to feeling more at home. By making a small investment in time and money, they integrated them- selves into their new neighborhood.
Exploring Your New Neighborhood
When people move to a new location, they often don’t spend time exploring stores they use frequently for their errands. They often just use the stores that are closest to their house. For instance, they will go to the supermarket nearby and assume that is where they will shop. They will develop their photos at the local drug store without comparing quality.
You need to feel secure in your day-to-day life before you can feel settled in a new place. It’s so important to trust your hair stylist, as well as your grocery store, and know the best place to have your photos developed. It might seem unimportant or a waste of time to check out several supermarkets or have your photos devel- oped at different places. But it’s very important and a good use of time. In fact, it’s a critical step to helping you feel at home. Think about how much time you devote to your errands. Use the following list to de- cide what is important to you:
➤ Grocery-shopping: What is important to you in a grocery store? The produce? The selection of nonfood items? The availability of money- saving large sizes? Check out several grocery stores to see which one best suits your needs. Don’t just go to the one closest to your house and assume you’ll feel at home there.
➤ Photo developing: There are many different places to have your photos processed, from the corner drug store to the mall to an expert photo lab. Consider issues like convenience as well as your particular needs when it comes to having your photographs developed. How choosy are you about your prints? Do you usually get two for one prints? Is one-hour developing the most important considera- tion, or is the lowest price key for you?
➤ Haircut: This is a tricky one. The person who cuts your hair is a very important person in your life. It’s important to like him or her and like the way he or she cuts your hair. Ask your neighbors, co-workers, or even a stranger in the line at the video store (whose hair style you admire) where they get their hair cut and what they like about their stylist. If you don’t have anyone to ask yet, visit sev- eral shops and chat with some stylists. You can find out if they listen to what you want and are open to new clients.
➤ Clothes shopping: If you moved to a city with the same department stores as where you used to live, then you have a good place to start. Otherwise, spend some time browsing the local mall. Go when you don’t need to buy anything in particular so you won’t get frustrated. Evaluate the store’s styles, brands, and prices. Figure out where you feel the most comfortable. Then, when you need something, go right to that store.
➤ Dry cleaner’s: Do you do a lot of dry cleaning or just the occasional sport coat? Is a very fast turnaround time important to you? What about extended hours? Do you often need mending or altering done? Again, you can start by asking your neighbors their preferences. It gives you something to talk about, and they are usually happy to help out. The first time you use a place, only give them one or two items. If you are not happy with their work, you can go elsewhere.
➤ Parks: If you have kids, it’s critical to have a few parks that you really enjoy going to. It’s a great way to meet people, and it will help your children feel at home. Make it a family adventure. Pack a pic-
nic lunch, bring your favorite old blanket, and make an afternoon out of it. Try out sev- eral different parks until you find one that you and your children really enjoy.
➤ Specialty items: Did you have a favorite bakery where you used to live? Or a boutique where you could buy cosmetics? Or a sporting-goods store? Again, this is a time to explore. Look through the phone book; then take an after- noon and check out several different places. It’s fun to browse when you don’t need to buy anything in particular.
Sit back and take a minute to think about what activities you most enjoyed where you used to live. Did you enjoy trying different restaurants, playing golf, or listening to live music in coffeehouses? Dive right in and do those same things immediately!
Now think about where the two of you received most of your social support. Did you mostly spend time with friends from work or people in your church, temple, or syna- gogue? Did you have a group of friends to go bowling with or have a weekly poker game? After you identify two or three activities that were important to you, try to replicate them as quickly as possible.
Make an effort to acquaint yourself with a new person from work each day. If you can’t find a bowling team to join, start one! If you like to read books, join a book club. If you were a member of a church or religious organization before, get involved! It’s very simple. You will meet people you have things in common with if you put yourself in the right situation. Don’t be shy. Your effort will really pay off to help you settle in as quickly as possible.
Marriage Q & A’s
Q: How can I help my children feel at home?
A: If you have kids, it’s critical to have a few parks that you really enjoy going to. It’s a great way to meet people, and it will help your children feel comfortable. Make it a family adventure. Pack a picnic lunch, bring your favorite old blanket, and make an afternoon of it. Try out several different parks until you find one that you and your children really enjoy.
Linda and Paul were very busy settling into their new house. In the fall, once school had started for their children, they realized that they needed to do more than just talk to their neighbors and go to work. They decided to join a church, and looked at several within five miles of their house. They joined the one that was the farthest, be- cause it felt the most like the one that they had liked where they previously lived. It was smaller than the other churches, but people seemed really involved and there were wonderful programs for their children. Within a month of joining the church and getting involved in church activities, they felt more at home than ever. Paul also started playing basketball once a week after work, which gave him an outlet that he
had not had before. Now they were meeting interest- ing people all the time. They were busier than ever and were really feeling like part of their community. They knew that they had done something right when one of their children told them, “I really like it here. I have so many friends and there are tons of fun things to do.” When they thought about it, they felt that way, too!
Giving It Your Best
When you and your spouse move to a new place, give it your best. Really try to meet your neighbors and get involved with community activities. Get to know your neighborhood and have fun exploring to- gether. You will be on the way to making this new place your home.
If after doing everything you can to make the new place work for you, you still feel that it’s not meeting your needs, then it’s time to rethink your decision. Go through the first section of this chapter, and re-evaluate why you would move and what would be better in a new place. You might decide to stay put or move to a new place. You might even decide to move back to where you came from! The important thing to remember is to not get so caught up in the details and logistics of the move that you forget the goals you are trying to accomplish by the move in the first place!
The Least You Need to Know
➤ Carefully think through whether or not moving is a good idea. There are many factors to consider, such as salary, size of city, housing costs, and climate.
➤ Take special care when packing personal mementos and belongings. They are the things that you cannot replace.
➤ Meet your neighbors by throwing yourselves a party. People will appreciate the invitation and will enjoy meeting you.
➤ Spend time choosing your grocery store, dry cleaner’s, and hair stylist. Feeling comfortable with the day-to-day things in your life will help you feel at home.
➤ Get involved in your new community as soon as possible. You will have a chance to meet people with similar interests if you involve yourself in activities you find interesting.