6 weeks after my husband came home telling me we were moving on short notice to Boston. We stepped off a plane with no place to call home, no friends in the area, and a desire to settle in and make it familiar. Holding 2 kids and 17 bags, we were ready to call Massachusetts home.
Because who knows if he’ll walk in the door again to tell me his job is moving him again.
How to make a new house and city a home in no time if you don’t know how long you’ll stay
Something strange happens to a family when they don’t know if they are going to make their current situation a forever home. When they’re not near other family and when a strange city is the one you may or may not place roots in.
There’s a strange feeling of planning for the future, but not know where the future will take you, if anywhere.
I remember when we first moved we acquired only a mattress and washer and dryer. A “friend” we had just met came over to help move and I will never forget him saying “you just can’t wait to get your own smells in your own home”.
As odd as it sounded, he was right. The smells of food cooking, sweat from kids playing in the backyard, and the sweet warm smell of cozy blankets and furniture to fill the house.
Both moving on short notice and getting plugged in once there are difficult. After a year of living in Massachusetts after our 1700 mile move and feeling like this house is more home than any I have ever lived in, I think we somehow did some things right.
Get connected (even before moving)
Whether you have a great group of mom friends or you go to church, find something similar online. Maybe you won’t “click” immediately (or even at all), but you’re making an effort. For us, we fit right in within the first month of being there and have really solid friendships even a year later.
We actually invite people into our house weekly.
It helps make it feel more like a home if we’re “doing life” with others and life is happening there.
Let go of emotional attachments to material things
For us, moving on short notice meant we ditched the majority of our belongings. Of course we held on to family heirlooms, photos, and the things we really loved or couldn’t replace.
It was hard.
My husband and I had to admit that it was just stuff and that even if we had memories associate with each item, the things we had didn’t dictate if we would keep the memories.
So we went through and gave away, threw away, and gave away our things. We packed up a 2,400 square foot house and fit everything that was left into a single moving container. Not a single appliance, bed, couch, or any large piece of furniture made the journey.
Beyond just downsizing and decluttering to then have a fresh start, we had to realize that moving across the country meant there were bound to be broken things or damaged goods. And I had to emotionally let go of what “could happen”. In fact, we decided to even leave the truly important things with family.
Just get in the car & drive
Not only does this acclimate you and your family to the area, but it helps you feel like when you get back home, it’s a place of comfort and a place that you can call your own.
My husband took his first two weeks off from his new job to adjust with us. We drove around for hours both looking for houses and adjusting to the area.
It also helped us feel like we were moving as an entire family unit instead of feeling like we were displaced.
Unpack & put photos up on the walls ASAP
If you don’t pack up your furniture and don’t bring a lot with you, it’s a lot easier to get settled faster, leaving more time to connect with your new community.
But it also means you can make it feel like a treasures place to live sooner with art, pictures, and family faces hanging on your walls.
What’s your best tip to get settled quickly after a big move across country?
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!