Surrounded by boxes. Writing multiple to do lists. Searching the chaos to find that one little thing you know you have, but aren’t sure where it is. Moving can be a real pain. I’ve gone through a few moves in my life, twice internationally, and three times between houses. My last move was just this month, and although they have all turned out fine in the end, it can be a struggle. These are some things I wish I’d know before moving:
1. Check the customs rules
I moved internationally to Dubai, and one of the aspects I wish I had known more about was the customs rules and procedures for shipping items. The rules around preparing inventories, labelling items, transporting batteries and other particulars can be complicated between countries. My items got heavily delayed from not providing a clear inventory for customs, so I would advise anyone to speak to others, work with professional companies and get clear guidance on any key rules.
2. Ask for help
I often always underestimate my moves and never feel like I have that many possessions…until the cupboards are emptied and you try to fit everything into boxes. If you are like me, you like to have a structure and do things your way to keep everything organised, however with moving it is such a massive task, that it is important to ask for help. Friends, family, colleagues. Even having an extra pair of hands just to move your boxes will half the workload. It is also moral support, to keep you from getting too stressed. This equally applied to family’s who move, get help from people who aren’t part of the family so you have some clear-headed support to level out the stress.
3. Keep an essentials box
Moving is chaotic, and no matter how organised you are, it takes a while to get unpacked and into a routine in your new place. You need to get your head around where everything goes and your process for dealing with things. Particularly for moving day, keep a small essentials box with you personally that has items you would need right away. Important personal documents, keys, chargers, toilet paper, hand towel, water, snacks. I would also suggest door stoppers as it can be useful to make a clear path for moving all the boxes in and out.
4. Get involved in your community
Moving can also be lonely, when you get to a new place and don’t know anyone. If you are close to where you lived before, make sure you invite friends and family over quickly to spend time with you. If you are in a new place, look for different groups, classes, part-time work, social activities or other opportunities to engage and meet new people. It can be really scary, so start by finding things that interest you and hopefully friends will follow. My closest connections when moving to a new place have come from education or working part-time.
5. Take time to engage in the culture
When you move somewhere new, even a new area in the same town, there is a different culture of the people living there. If you are moving abroad, understand the traditions, rules, language, food and find how you fit into this. When I moved to Dubai, having an understanding about the religious customs was critical, and more practical things like how people deal with the scorching heat or what different signals on the road mean (FYI – flashing your lights in the UK is an invitation for a driver to proceed, in Dubai it means watch out…here I come!). Take time to walk and explore the area, visit shops and parks, and find out what people do. The more you explore and get to know about where you are, the more you will feel like you belong and the nerves and isolation from being somewhere new will easily disappear.