Why Is Moving So Stressful?

By Cristina Padres

In the past decade, I have moved almost a dozen times. I’ve moved alone, with my husband and two cats, and most recently with my baby son.  I’ve had easy moves as well as ugly, complicated ones. The details of each move might be different, but something that remains the same is that the minute a move looms into my future, I get stressed.  The fact is moving is stressful no matter what. There are many tight deadlines to meet and logistics to consider. Chaos is also part of the equation, as well as change and the disruption of routine.
 In my first moves, I found interesting the emotional toll moving had on me. I remember sitting at my therapist’s office and telling her I felt guilty I was having such a hard time with my move, when there were far more terrible situations I could be experiencing. She looked at me calmly and asked: “Did you know moving is amongst the top five most common causes for emotional distress?” That day, almost a decade ago, I didn’t reply anything, I just took this very valuable piece of information, stopped resisting and started accepting stress as part of any move, as moving boxes are. I’ve notice being aware of what exactly stresses me out might alleviate the stress and if that doesn’t happen, at least I might be able to handle it without taking it out on my family. 

The packing and unpacking 

One of the most visible stressors in a move is the actual packing of belongings. It takes time and is labour intensive. The best way to deal with the stress of packing is tackling it. Do what works best for you; you might want to spend the next couple of weeks packing two to three hours a day or a couple of days doing nothing else. The important thing is to get it done. There’s clearly less stress if you are ready for the movers before they show up at your doorstep.
 Then there’s the unpacking. By this point, I feel my life revolves around putting and taking things out of boxes. I try to unpack essentials first: kitchenware and clean towels and sheets. This gives me a sense of normality. After unpacking the necessary items, I only unpack a few boxes a day. I know my new home is a work in progress and it takes time, but by then, I need a break from packing and moving. Also, it’s time to start enjoying the new place.  

The Chaos and Disruption of Routine 

As the packing progresses, chances are your life and routine will be affected. It might be simple things, like a certain pan you can’t use because you already packed it or, once you move, finding a good dry cleaner. During this stage, I feel as if someone had pressed the pause button on my life. It’s hard to let go of routine for even a few days, but I’ve learned that rolling with the punches will make it easier for me. It’s the little things that I don’t notice (or pretend are not important) that stress me the most.
There is also the chaos; the physical space of my soon-to-be ex place stops looking like a home and more like a warehouse.  And once the move happens, there is chaos at the new place. It affects my wellbeing, but the process of moving takes time. I might not be able to do much, but at least I’m conscious it affects me.  

The Unknown 

I always get these nagging questions in my head just before moving: what if there is something about the new place I don’t like or what if I don’t like the neighborhood? Greg Pearson, realtor with 18 years of experience under his belt, think it is common for people to question or second guess whether they have made a good decision when they buy a new home. “Doubts and fears are normal. In my experience, if we have taken the time during the selection process to make a wise purchase, we tackle them as they arise and put them into context and proper perspective,” he says. It is okay to have doubts. Your new home is going to be different for sure, but it will give you the chance to create new memories and have new adventures.

A note from Greg:

"Cristina touches on the "reality" of what many people face during a move and after. Moves are often related to a life change of one kind or another, some pleasant and some not so much. The role of your Realtor goes far beyond simply writing an enforceable contract. We can also assist in alleviating as much of the associated stress as possible. Yes, we are your advocates in protecting your interests and helping you make informed decisions. But far beyond that, we want your experience to be a positive one, which takes into consideration all aspects of your move. Don't be afraid to lean on us for emotional support but also provide you with the contacts and resources we may have at our disposal."