Moving Stress and How to Deal With It

Moving. The word, the thought, the work – can take us to a place of despair. It’s like the biggest weekend homework assignment of your life. Depending on how much you need to move, of course. If you’re not a tiny house dweller or true minimalist, chances are you have a house full of stuff that needs to be organized, packaged, moved, unpacked, reorganized and put in place in your new home. Big and small. 

And moving your lifelong collection of stuff  isn’t the only stress moving can bring to the surface. What if you’re moving to a completely different city or state? Will you adapt and like the new surroundings, will you make new friends, will your children make new friends? There’s a lot that can go through our minds when we think about change. Some people enjoy and look forward to change, while for others it may bring on stress and anxiety thinking about leaving their comfort zones. Here are some ways you can help yourself and your family to take away and alleviate some of the stress from moving:

Simply put, change your mindset. This doesn’t mean not to acknowledge all the responsibilities or tasks that go along with a move, but try to look at these things differently, in a positive and productive way. If you think about going through all of your belongings and only taking with you what you truly need and want, and getting rid of stuff you didn’t even remember you had, this is a good thing! An opportunity to let go of the old and lighten your load. Declutter, donate, re-purpose. Changing our view on the benefits of moving can greatly improve the process.

Organize and prioritize. Don’t wait until the last minute to do everything. Make a list of all of the tasks you need to take care of like changing your address, changing utility company information, canceling subscriptions. Prepare for packing by making a categorized list of your items, what kind of boxes and containers you need, labels, tape, markers, etc. Having all of your tools at the ready will avoid the stress of not having them when you need them. 

Research your new city. If you’re moving to a completely new location and don’t know much about it, do some digging online! Check out the popular local restaurants, look for nature trails and parks, find the closest coffee shop to your new address. Community meet-up groups are a great way for new people in town to meet and make connections. 

Hire a professional moving company. If you are able, hiring professionals to help with you packing, loading, trekking and unloading is a huge weight off your shoulders. No stress of asking friends and family to use their weekend in the most dreadful and strenuous way possible, and you’re able to focus on all the logistics and personal planning you need to tend to. Whether you hire for the full gamut of the moving process, which can include movers coming into your home and actually packing for you, or just the day-of work of transporting your furniture and boxes, the professional help is one we’d recommend if it’s in your budget.

Don’t take too long settling in. We get it, moving is exhausting, and the thought of now going through the stress of unpacking and putting away all that stuff is one we want to put off and avoid. You should give yourself a little time to rest and decompress, however, getting your new home in order will allow you to sit back, relax and get comfy in your new place. You know you’d feel much better sitting on the couch and having a view of a finished and decorated room, rather than 3 boxes in the corner and your framed art standing against the wall. Wouldn’t it be nice to open a cupboard and grab a glass, instead of pilfering through which (hopefully labeled) box it’s in? Getting settled will help you feel grounded and ready to take on this new chapter of your life.

We hope some of these suggestions help you if you’re finding yourself stressed out about moving. It’s obviously not the most fun thing in the world, but it doesn’t have to be the absolute worst, either!

Big City Livin’ or Small Town Life

Where you live plays a huge part in who you are as a person in the world. There’s an undeniable difference in the rhythm of a big city versus a small town. That rhythm alone – the pace at which people plug along day after day – affects so much about a person. In movies the Big Shot Big City Lawyer is always in a rush, and the Small Town Simple Farmer can’t be hurried along for anything. And it’s true; people in larger cities move faster. You can always tell a tourist from a dweller on the streets of NYC or Hollywood.

Granted, these assumptions are very general and not everyone fits “the mold” of where they live. These are the people most likely to migrate to a coast or inland, to find a place more suited to them. But why is this the way it is? What creates this rhythm? Let’s ponder…

Distance and Space Between

The most notable difference between big and small cities isn’t their size, necessarily, but how much is crammed into the area. Seriously, just think about the irony that in a large city like Los Angeles where every centimeter of space is being taken up by someone or something, there’s less space to own, let alone exist, than in a small town like Kingfisher, OK where the nearest shopping mall is over an hour away in Oklahoma City. And Los Angeles is in the midst of massive development everywhere; tearing down old, flailing buildings and making way for high-rise, high-occupancy buildings with fine dining and shops on their first floor.

This isn’t to say smaller towns of 50,000 people or so are deprived of all civilization. It’s still the 21st century. They have shopping centers and more densely populated areas. But they also have space between things, yet nothing is more than 10 minutes away. It makes tasks like going to the grocery store less daunting.

Volume of People and Things

Further down this difference line we get the number of people and things sharing these small or large seeming spaces. Add this one factor to the example we just used of grocery shopping and this mundane, necessary task changes instantly. Unless you’re there the moment the doors open to Trader Joe’s on a Tuesday, there will never be a time when it’s “not that busy”. As the day goes on, it only gets worse. And it’s not just the crowds of people you have to muddle through, it’s the cars and traffic. Grocery shopping in a smaller town might take an hour if you’re buying a lot and taking your time browsing the aisles. Step out for a total of 10 things and you’ll spend half an hour sitting in traffic just getting there and back in a larger city.

More people in a smaller amount of space lends itself to an array of habits and feelings like you never have enough time for anything and so your life is a constant grind of go, go, go! There’s a heightened sense of urgency among big city dwellers that doesn’t exist in smaller towns.

As far as things and things to do, it’s not that there “isn’t anything to do” in a small town, there’s just only so much to do. Listening to Cory Booker speak about his time as Mayor of Newark, NJ, he spent a lot of time trying to attract businesses to his smaller town. Newark’s a town of close to 300,000 people and it was a tough sell because the investor’s didn’t believe that the smaller town could sustain a business of their size. Booker was able to get businesses there and the city got a nice little boom, but think of towns that are smaller than that. They aren’t likely to have luxury movie theatres like the Arclight or a Starbucks on every corner. Theatres with spoken word, original plays, or open mic comedy nights don’t exist. There’s one local, community run theatre – if you’re lucky. Orchestras and museums aren’t in every small town. The Arts are the last to flourish in smaller towns.

Again, though, it isn’t that they don’t exist, they just aren’t a huge portion of what there is to do in a small town. It’s encouraging to see more small boutiques and coffee shops pop up that have locally sourced goods and ingredients to sell their customers. Even things like Wine and Paint nights are becoming more trendy in smaller areas. But it’s not like NYC where you could go out every single night forever and still have something new to do.

Proportional and Relative

There are many more differences on a substantially nuanced level between the densely and sparsely populated areas of the country. But these two main points are the biggest factors in what we first noted was the main difference – a city’s rhythm. Less people and more room gives the sense of having more time and less need to rush. Flip the script and it’s no wonder there’s more stress and demand for instant results, and less feeling like you have room to breathe and relax. It affects people differently. Some people were born ready to run, and so they feel at ease in a faster paced environment. Others are content to take their time and enjoy the view, so the slow beat of a small town’s drum appeals to their senses. Whatever type of person you are, if you feel you were born in the wrong environment, you can always change it with a move.

Cities On The Rise

If you want a change of scenery from small-town life to something more metropolis, more mature, more exciting, you’re likely to dream about a move to The Big Apple, The Windy City, or The City of Angels. Lots of people do it every day. But talk about culture shock. There’s a completely different pace and rhythm to a large city like New York or LA. It’s a rat race unlike any of rural America. Aside from the aesthetic, though, the cost of living is astronomical. So much so, that artists who live in these areas to pursue their creative careers are opting to leave and pursue their passion elsewhere, because while they may not win an Oscar, they can continue doing what they love without being house-poor. But you want a change, a place to grow. Find the in-between. Here are four cities that are on the rise, but not quite the major leagues that just might be right for you.

Omaha, Nebraska

Garnering the nickname “Silicone Prairie” for its low-cost of living attracting more and more startups, Omaha is a great place to hang your hat. With the largest indoor jungle at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and a business Index rating of 7 out of 10, this city boasts low unemployment rate, and an abundance of career opportunities with companies such as Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific Railroad, and TD Ameritrade – to name a few – as well as hospitals, schools, and tech firms. Rich with History, based on the average income and rent, it’s projected you’ll keep around 81% of your income for things other than housing. Not bad for a budding city.

Columbia, South Carolina

The capital of South Carolina, Columbia, is a great place to live with an average 83% of your income left for overhead and spending outside of rent/mortgage. Columbia plays host to 5 National Historic Landmarks, including the Robert Mills House. Their art museum contains multiple galleries with a vast array of collections from paintings to sculptures. The steady growth in the job market earns it a 6.8 out of 10 rating with companies like Westinghouse Electric, and research through the University of SC on the cutting edge of green energy development, Innovista Program.

Memphis, Tennessee

Launch yourself into the legendary city of Memphis where musical greats to the likes of Elvis, B.B. King, and Johnny Cash recorded albums at the famous Sun Studio. The average monthly rent comes in just under $1,000 allowing you to keep up to 83% of your income. FedEx, International Paper, and Auto Zone (all Fortune 500 companies) are part of the business services industry which leads the way in career opportunities. Health and education jobs fair well in Memphis as well as agriculture and research for ag tech and crop development. Sitting right along the Mississippi River, this city plays a major role in distribution as well as music. You won’t lack culture or money to experience it in Memphis.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Home to The Thunder, Oklahoma City is one of the top three most affordable places to live, according to a CNBC assessment. Right at the heart of Oklahoma, this City falls between two major Universities that compete on a national scale both academically and athletically. The art scene isn’t starving either with a boom in film production and their very own festival, the Lyric Theatre hosting a never-ending stream of Broadway National Tours, as well as their own productions for kids and adults, and the thriving Paseo Arts District. Careers in energy, healthcare, aviation, and skilled industrial workers have the stronghold. Companies such as AT&T, Sonic Corporation, Mercy Health Center and the Federal Aviation Administration provide opportunities for thousands. The salary could use a boost to compete better with the national average, but your exceedingly low cost-of-living will grant you the ability to pay your rent and enjoy a game or a show any time you like with an average of 84% of your income kept after paying rent.

You don’t need to pack your whole life into a car and drive til you hit the ocean to find a little more adventure than you’re used to. If you want more than what your small town has to offer, but still enjoy a slightly slower pace than that of a crowded urban city, there is something within reach that will afford you personal growth and a comfortable life.

A Summation of Migration

We’ve come a long way from the thirteen original colonies. For one, our nation now stretches from sea to shining sea. But we’ve also changed patterns and reasons for our migration. The 1800s brought the Louisiana Purchase and many great movements west. At first to resettle the Native American tribes, then as immigrants from Ireland and other parts of Europe poured in from overseas. The industrial revolution and whispers of gold drove the most adventurous or ones with nothing left to lose to strike out in search of fortune and a better life. Shortly after WWI America experienced the Great Migration as many African-Americans left the south in favor of a more tolerable north.

Nowadays, however, over half of people choose to stay close to where they live. Some never even leave their neighborhood. Others will strike off for a while but still find their way back home. But our reasons for relocating remain much the same.


It was seen by puritans and pilgrims. The opportunity to settle in a land far from an overbearing monarch and live life as best befits one’s own conscious. It was seen by the settler tired of living in the squalor of cramped cities. Staking a claim in a piece of land and making it her own. It’s seen by freshly commenced seniors ready to embark on the next chapter of their life with a new school and specialized focus on their future career. It’s seen by the junior executive looking to make moves and her mark on the industry.

The opportunity to do more, see more, be part of more than just what you’ve known is a major driving force for relocation. It’s very common among students both heading off to college or a masters or doctoral program and those leaving school to finally pursue the experience of their career. Moves within that career are also common. The end of your career could even bring about a relocation. Retiring to a community more aligned with how you want to spend your remaining days, the big reward for all your years of work and service. When provided with an opportunity it’s only natural to take it.

A Clean Slate

If there’s one thing that is certain in life it’s that nothing is certain. Sure, you have a measured sense of normal and a plan for the next X amount of years til retirement and eventually the final moment. Unfortunately, things change, those plans change and you may find yourself wanting, craving, needing a change. Financial hardships such as a layoff can spur relocating. Sometimes that relocation takes us back home to find our footing before taking a new path. That’s the premise for a whole category of film and tv. The rug gets pulled out from under the heroine’s feet so she goes back to her roots to get back on her feet. There she falls in love with the handsome, small town boy and there’s drama but they live happily ever after when she realizes it was love she needed all along The End. While movies are an exaggeration of life there’s still some very real shared truth to this situation.

Adventure Awaits

Then there are those of us who merely point to a place on the globe and declare “There! That’s my new home!” And then they go off and learn a completely new language, sell all their things, put their house on the market, pack only what they need and can fit in a backpack and they set off for adventure. Maybe it’s not quite so romantic as that, although it’s not unheard of. There’s certainly something thrilling about picking up and moving to a new city, state, or even country and just letting whatever will happen happen. There’s no nearby base of friends to trust or fall back on in tough times. It’s a test of one’s mettle. It’s also very enlightening; experiencing the differences and noticing the similarities between yourself and someone brought up in a different way than yourself. It’s true what Mark Twain said. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Maybe that’s what adventurers seek; not just the thrill of new sensations, but a yearning to know people, all people, on a deeper level of understanding so we can live in harmony.

Whatever reason you have for a major move, take a deep breath and then the plunge. It’ll be scary and exhilarating all at once. You bought the ticket, so make the most of the ride.  

Moving To A New City

There’s nothing quite as exciting as packing up and moving cross-country to a different city. There’s also nothing more panic-inducing than packing up and moving cross-country to a different city. The possibilities and challenges combine to make for a very stressful, yet rewarding experience. New opportunities and friends you haven’t met yet await in a land ripe for adventure and discovery. But how do you make it not-so-anxiety-ridden? Well, here’s a place to start…

Social Media

The world is undoubtedly more connected now than ever before. Your friends from high school can be scattered literally anywhere in the world and you would still have a way of reaching them. While you may not be on Best Buds For Life terms with the friendly acquaintances, the option to send a message asking for advice is always available to you. Reach out and ask about the area, commutes, neighborhoods, cost, etc. How did they find their place? What do they love/hate about their current living situation? Tips on what NOT to do, anything they can give insight to is of value. And if you don’t know anyone personally who lives there, you can always throw out a general “Anyone ever visited X for an extended amount of time?” and see what answers you get. It won’t be the same in-depth knowledge as a resident of the city, but it’s more than what you had before.

Property Company/Realtor Sites

If you’re moving into an apartment, you’re in luck. Every management company will have up-to-date information on their available units and the surrounding area. For rental properties not managed by a company, subscription-based sites are everywhere. In LA there’s West Side Rentals. Sites like this will give you basic info for free (neighborhood, price, walkability, a photo or sometimes more), or you can pay the subscription fee and get access to landlord contact info, more specific details, and even set up viewings (really only useful if you’re already in the area). Even if you don’t subscribe, these sites can be helpful in familiarizing yourself with the area and price ranges. If you’re buying a property though, you need a realtor in your corner same as if you were just moving down the street.

Exploratory Trips

Depending on where you’re going and where you’re coming from, this may or may not be an available option. But without a doubt, the absolute best way to be confident in your move and finding your new home is to take a trip and explore the city. You want at least 3 days to run around, a week if you can afford it. You won’t be able to “see the city” like you would try to on a vacation, but there will be plenty of time for that once you’ve moved. If you are able to take a trip to your new destination, however, make sure your focus is on point by having these steps planned out in advance:

  1. A Place To Stay. If you’ve got friends in the area, ask to crash on their couch. If you’ve got family – even better. If you know no one, find a hotel you trust anywhere in the city and book it. If you’re moving for work, you know where you’ll need to be most of the time. Pick a place away from your soon-to-be new work location. (Stay with me, explanation to follow.)
  2. A Place To Visit. Hop online a day or two before the trip and pick 3-4 currently available houses/apartments that you can visit while you’re in town. Choose a variety of places to check out that are both near to work and farther away. If you’re moving somewhere like LA and you work on the West Side pick a place in the Valley. Properties vary drastically in what we’ll call Bang for Your Buck from area to area. The price of rent for a Two Bed, Two Bath in Sherman Oaks would only get you One Bed, One Bath at best in Brentwood, but the commute… Dante’s Seventh Circle of hell ain’t got nothin’ on the 405 North between 4 and 7 pm. (Or any other freeway in that and other insane cities for that matter.) Cheaper rent means more for Savings and Doings, but your sanity should also always be in consideration. Which brings us to…
  3. A Way To Get Around. Anticipating how you’ll get around once you’re there also aids in the decision making. New York City is a walking city. Los Angeles is a driving city. Whatever your main mode of transportation will be, use that as your main mode of travel on your trip. Rent a car so you know what driving will be like as you travel from apartment to work, the other house to work, and the other place to work… Find your subway or bus routes so you know what your daily trot is going to feel like and how much time it will take. This is also why it’s important to look at 3-4 different locations in relation to your office. It’s easy to think, “This is where I’ll be working. This is where I should stay.” And yes, you want to explore that option. But as mentioned earlier, what you get in relation to what you pay for in rent can change where you opt to live. Knowing all the strings that come attached to that choice  – or at least having an idea of it – will affect the choosing. Added bonus, it forces you to see more of the city.

You won’t know exactly what you’re truly in for until you get there and experience it. But follow these three simple tips and choosing a place to call home will be easy as pie. Which is actually quite easy.