We have lived a nomadic life forever. Being a fauji kid, I moved every 2-3 years, and always thought I would prefer a somewhat more stationary life in my future. Instead, my husband and I now lead the same nomadic lifestyle, only on a larger scale – we move countries and continents every few years looking for interesting research and scientific positions. In the past decade we have lived and worked in three continents and four countries. Having just moved to the seventh city in the fourth country since we met, I kept close track of how we navigated the process, and this is what worked for us!
1. Acknowledge the change
No matter how well tuned the relationship is, moving your whole life to an unknown place is stressful, with many unknowns and challenges. Even when outsourcing the moving process, it is important to take a moment to stop and acknowledge the fact that your lives are about to change. We realised this and prepared to be flexible, because we accepted there would be uncertainty, stress, and things simply beyond our control.
We accepted there would be uncertainty, stress, and things simply beyond our control.
2. Unity is strength
There will be many different things to be taken care of: finding a house in the new city, applying for a visa, arranging documents, closing accounts, planning finances, packing, etc. It is indeed a blessing if you are with a family – there’s more than one person to help with everything. As long as you are part of the team, you will win!
3. Start early
The sorting and moving process could potentially test your limits, but you will realise that there are things you definitely want to keep, those that you could do without, and some you definitely don’t need. Plan and negotiate on how to downsize.
Plan and negotiate on how to downsize.
The ‘to-keep pile’ will progressively become smaller if you do it individually and then as a team. In our case, we each got to pick an item we wanted to retain. We negotiated, we talked out loud about why those things were important for us – I loved a purple couch, and my husband loved a reclining chair.
4. Sell, gift or donate
It is rewarding to see you need a lot less. We donated a lot of things; clothes that my maid was extremely excited about, a monitor that went to a friend’s NGO. It felt good to keep less. We ended up selling the purple couch and gifting the reclining chair to my father in-law. Being able to sell a lot of things we had accumulated over time, we in fact made a decent amount of money from the sales. We kept track, and set aside that sum as resettlement funds.
5. Divide and rule
We divided up our responsibilities – my husband took care of the moving out (everything from closing the lease to moving the stuff out) and I took charge of the moving in (from visas to housing). That way we didn’t step on each other’s toes, and the other one really knows the best.
6. Trust each other
Your partner and you may not have the same exact mechanism of getting something done, but you have to trust that the other person will do their best. It often helps to remind or offer to crosscheck, but trust you must.
Related reading: 10 important components of trust in a relationship
7. Take a bow
You’ve accomplished a lot. Take a moment to acknowledge your progress, no matter how small it is. You finally managed to sort through the bookshelf, the kitchen, helped the maid find new employment, or agreed upon something difficult. We both won and lost a little – but we celebrated each small step along the way. A glass of wine, a book, anything you enjoy to acknowledge the progress.
8. Explore together
Even before we got there, we spent time looking at Google Earth images and street views of our soon-to-be home. It was exciting, and we felt familiar (albeit very little) with the new surroundings.
9. Plan a reward
After the move has been completed, or even during the move – when you have moved out but not yet moved in – a short indulgent reward could be a great incentive. Last dinner at your favourite restaurant, the movie, a short weekend trip- whatever works for you.
10. Settling in
Remember to use the money from the sales for resettlement in the new place. The first house-warming gift we bought were plants, and went a long way in converting the new house into a cosy home.
Having a plan to tackle the move played a big role in maintaining peace in our relationship. Although we both had weak moments, it was a much smoother transition than what we had imagined. A healthy mix of responsibilities with laughter, wine, and sex got us through the move without packing away the love in a box.