Manage relocation anxiety in 7 steps

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: moving IS a big deal. Whether you’ve only moved once or you move all the time, moving inevitably leaves you with change.

It is how you deal with this change that will ultimately determine whether or not you are successful with your move, which is why knowing how to manage change is an important skill to have in the event of a relocation.

People who move a lot (and do so successfully) usually have a host of opportunities to encounter situations that put them outside of their comfort zone. New houses, new countries, new people, new schools, new neighbourhoods, new taxes, new cultures… the list goes on and on.

Yet the important thing to note is that the reason these people appear to transition between places so seamlessly is mainly because they have usually had a lot of practice doing so.

It does not mean they are less affected by change than the average person. It just means that they have developed more positive mechanisms for dealing with that change. This allows them to adapt more quickly.

Believe it or not, despite having lived in 6 countries and travelled to 25+ more, I still get the jitterbugs at times when the world feels like it’s turning at 100 miles a minute and big changes are coming.

I’d like to think I’ve been fairly successful in my transitions so far though, which is why I thought I would share some of the steps I take before, during and after my relocations to help smooth over the transitions.

Please feel free to add some of your own experiences in the comments below, should you wish to share too!


 Before moving

 1. Research the place you are relocating to

Surf the internet, join forums, talk to people, get connected with a travel agent. Whatever you can do to find out information about the place you are going to will invariably help you in the long run.

Anxiety often sources from a feeling of insecurity, a feeling of things being unknown, a feeling of not having any control over a situation. The more you can, therefore, build your local knowledge of a new place before you physically move (Cultural differences/ Local amenities/ Practical travel options etc.), the more prepared you will be to hit the road running from day 1.

2. Find your new home pronto

House-hunting can be pretty stressful, so one great mechanism for managing relocation anxiety is to focus on finding a place to stay well in advance of actually moving (2-3 months before is a good bet).

This way, you’re giving yourself time to find a suitable location and property that you’ll love as well as allowing yourself to manage changes in stages by not having to think of packing under pressure and physically moving at the same time as needing to house hunt.

3. Tie in with your social network

It’s always great to know somebody in a new place regardless of how loose the connection may be. Knowing somebody in a new town can remove a lot of the anxiety, because it means that you know somebody who can potentially help you make the unknown known at a much faster pace than if you had to figure everything out independently. If your contact has been living there a while it’s likely they’ll be able to let you know the safe and unsafe neighbourhoods to house hunt in and the good and bad restaurants when you arrive. They might be able to let you know where to pursue your hobbies and they might even ask you to join in with their own social group too.

If you don’t know anybody, however, don’t fret! The world is a small place, so it might just be that somebody else in your social circle will know somebody instead. Send out a tweet, put out a Facebook request, join the Couchsurfing message board and hey presto, you’ll have new contacts in no time! As an example… When I first moved to Scotland I didn’t know a soul yet a few months down the line it turned out that even though I was living in the middle of nowhere an old friend from University ended up being less than an hour away and one of my best friends’ ex boyfriends was the local doctor in my wee (small) town… Fancy that, eh?

4. Part with any unnecessary baggage

When you relocate to a new place you have the opportunity for a new beginning. Why not make use of that and start over completely? How many things do you have that you don’t use but hold on to just for the sake of it? Certain objects have a way of bringing us down and making us hang on to past events through the memories they evoke.

Anxiety can often be related to the fear of losing the familiar, yet it can also come from a feeling of having too many things to co-ordinate and look after. So why not simplify your life and only take with you what’s absolutely necessary?

After college I made it a rule to only keep as much as would fit in 4 suitcases and no more. Anything on top of that got sold or given to charity and believe me when I say it makes mobility a whole lot easier! These days I’ve added a fridge and a washing machine to my list of possessions, but given the fact that they cost me all of £75 combined (acquiring bargain hunting skills is truly a must) I’ll definitely be weighing up the cost/effort equation before taking those with me on my next move!

If 4 suitcases is squeezing it a little tight though then keeping to the size of a medium sized car is a pretty good rule too. This means that you can rent a car instead of a van when you move which will inevitably turn out cheaper than an entire man with a van/truck jobbie.


Leading up to moving day

1. Have a Checklist

Image by Guy Kilroy

When moving day comes it can sometimes feel like you’re running around like a headless chicken making sure that you’ve packed everything, rented the moving van, contacted all the right people to cut your gas, electric, water, local subscriptions, given your keys back etc. etc. etc. You will, however, feel vastly more in control of the whole situation if you know exactly what needs to be done.

Write the actions down and then tick them off one by one and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment all the way through. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even take the exercise one step further and nominate a time and place for each action so as to schedule your move to a tee. If nothing else, a list will let you check whether you’ve missed anything, and if you have, then you can take action to correct the oversight.

2. Plan your arrival Day

If you’re arriving in a new place in the middle of the night then you’ll probably be too shattered to do anything by the time you arrive, but if you’re arriving in the morning you should really make a plan to explore the neighbourhood for necessities asap.

Grocery stores, post offices, fitness clubs, socialising opportunities etc. They’re all important to finding your feet in a new place. Find the staple places that you need to live and enjoy life on day one and you’ll be set to get out and about without getting lost from the start. It’ll also prevent you from starving over the first few days. If I can give you one tip in relation to this point… Google is your friend my dears!


Once you’ve arrived at your new home

1. Get excited!

Finding something about the move that is exciting can take a lot of the stress out of the situation. If you’re driving cross country to a new place why not take the opportunity to explore the country a little in the process? Make a pit stop halfway at a safari park. Stop for dinner in a quaint little town on the way. Anything and everything can be exciting about a relocation trip if you just let it be!

Are you moving for a job? Get excited about that. Are you moving closer to a friend? Get excited about that. Are you starting a new business? Get excited about that. Are you volunteering for something? Get excited about that.

As cliché as it may sound, the world is what you make of it most of the time and how you choose to think about situations can greatly influence how they make you feel. Get excited and you’ll soon see there are so many things to look forward to on this new chapter of your journey.




What experiences have you had of relocating? What caused you anxiety during your moves? How did you deal with relocation anxiety? Feel free to share your thoughts and stories below!



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