If you are in the process of moving, regardless of whether it is for a good reason or a rather sad one, try to cut yourself some slack because you are going to be stressed until it is done.  For almost two decades now, I have had to coach people through a move– sometimes it is my prenup clients about to get married, sometimes it is my clients about to divorce.  Either way, here are things you need to consider carefully: 

(1) What is important to you? Make a list of what is important to you in terms of where you live, and write down why those things are important.  You may even rank each item from 1-10 in terms of how important it is– for example, being near my son’s school is #1 on my list and it was a 10.  In other words, this was a non-negotiable for me.  Some of the most common considerations include price and location, as well as amenities such as a gym, pool, or garage. Do you need to be close to a metro or near your work?  Do you like being near the city or  further out?    
(2) What’s your budget? You have to create a realistic budget.  Before you start looking at places, you need to know what you can afford.  You need to list all your regular monthly expenses and calculate your net take-home pay to cover those expenses.  As part of this exercise, if you are merging with someone you have to talk about whether you will share expenses 50/50 or pro rata– and are you going to keep separate accounts or create one joint account? Who will manage the accounts and bills?
Now if you are joining with someone, you need to keep the lines of communication open.  Moves and family transitions are very stressful, even under the best scenarios, so there may be some tense/upsetting moments. You have to be able to talk candidly about issues as they arise, and if you are having problems communicating, be open to getting help.  If the issues are financial, go get advice from a neutral financial adviser.  If the issues are more about how you address problems as a couple, sign up for a premarital couple’s class or see a couple’s counselor for a few sessions.

If you are divorcing, my experience is how you handle a move depends entirely on your situation– is it amicable or is it hostile?  In an amicable split, most are able to tell the other person in advance that  are moving out, then they agree on a date and try to reach an agreement on what items will stay behind.   Items that are staying should be clearly marked for the movers, who should be warned in advance that not everything is going on the truck. 

Now, if someone is afraid of their safety, or feels the other person is going to cause a big scene during the move, then it is best to plan a move when that other person is at work or out of town. In these cases, you may want to recruit a friend or relative to be with you as a witness and/or to take pictures to confirm how you left the place, in case someone later tries to claim that you trashed or destroyed things that were not yours.

In the end, just keep in mind that this source of stress has a definite end date– just focus on the light at the end of the tunnel, and be nice to those movers!  I recommend getting them snacks and soft drinks to make the whole process easier, and afterwards invite some friends to a house-warming.  It’ll be a great incentive to unpack quickly, and you can all celebrate that you got through such a big task.  

Moving sucks, no matter what.  But don’t stress out too much, it’s the only way to get to a better place.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.