How to Relocate, the Alternative Guide
Post from March 2, 2010 (↻ June 10, 2021), filed under Everything Else.
If there’s one area of expertise I’m only involuntarily linked with, it’s moving. I moved 25 times so far (including the one taking place right now), spanning cities, countries, and now continents; my career stats mean .81 relocations per year, or 1.24 years per relocation. These are some lessons I learned, some recommendations I can give.
Change is good. Everything will be back to normal at some point. It’s all about how you think about the move and the changes that come with it, and how you perform.
Expect to Pay
Moves cost time and money. Moves can mean double rent and fees and what not. Expect it. Accept it. Double rent probably sucks the most, but if it helps you marking the most important item on the agenda “checked”—new apartment or home—, by all means, even double rent can be worth it. Yet, there is no real ROI for moves. The money will be gone. Pulverized.
Get Rid of Stuff
Let me tell you a quick story. A few years ago I helped working through and cleaning up a house a family friend left after he passed away. It was jam-packed. We literally threw away tons of stuff. It was a lesson. When I returned to Oldenburg where I lived back in 2002, I went through my share and laid the foundation for my now minimalist household. Get rid of stuff not to do your descendents a favor, but to make moves easy, and to acknowledge that your urge to collect doesn’t necessarily mean the best use of resources.
Stay (or Get) Organized
As a teacher once hammered into our brains—and he has been a great teacher, and usually right—, “organization is not everything, but without organization, everything’s nothing.” If that translation makes sense. Stay on top of things by documenting what you’re paying who for what, or how much who pays you. This can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet and listing your insurances and memberships along with contact data and maybe what you’re paying or getting. Once you move you go over that list and give people a call or mail them to let them know your new address. Keep the list up-to-date. It will prove useful in more cases. Create more lists if needed, as with simple docs with your moves’ action items.
Don’t lose time. Tackle your duties at the earliest convenience possible. Once you know you’ll move, get an ad out to find a new tenant for your apartment, cancel contracts, clean up, do something. Create a list of action items as mentioned. Do it, and you’ll do just fine.
❧ What else is there? Moving is perhaps the quickest way to find out who your friends are, especially if you move over long distances. In my chosen home region I had times where it felt like I had a 1,000 friends. Buddies, sure, still cool to meet and hang out with whenever I’ve been back visiting. The great people I can call my friends emerged over my moves, and the moves made me realize how much they are real friends (I love you, guys!).
I’m Jens, and I’m an engineering lead—currently manager for Developer Experience at LivePerson—and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have a question or suggestion about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message. Thank you!
These are wise words, I would fully subscribe to most sentiments but closest to my heart is item 3 on the list.
I was massively shocked when I moved – shocked to find that I am in fact a hoarder, which I had always denied. So during my latest move, I shed ~80% of possessions. I probably still have too much, but all I know is that when my shipment box finally arrived a few days ago, I felt very happy and finally at home, to be surrounded by some well-loved and familiar things. There’s such a thing as being too minimalist, IMO. You need to find a balance and weigh up whether the cost (item 2 😉 is worth it to you.
On March 18, 2010, 8:11 CET, Wendy said:
This is a good post. I have moved a lot, too, and I am always dismayed at how terribly expensive it turns out to be - utility connection fees, movers or rental trucks and packing materials, and loss of productive time all add up.
The biggest stress for me is getting settled in a new place. I am not good at organizing household items. A new kitchen is overwhelming - where does everything go?!?!
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