cats

Relocating with pets

Last summer, I passed a phone screening for an out of state job interview. One of the questions I was asked was “What will be the most difficult thing for you if you are accepted for this position?” I was honest and replied, “The location as I will need to relocate with my family, but I’m willing to do that.” Little did I know that several months later, I would be called upon to do so…!

Fast forward to September. My kids had just gotten into the swing of the new school year when, yikes, I had to break the news to them. We were moving out of state. I’m pretty sure my high schooler was not amused–he had started a part-time job as a waiter in a Japanese ramen shop and was doing quite well. Plus, he was about to pass his driving test for a provisional license….My younger son was Mr. Social and not keen on leaving behind his tight knit group of friends.

What can you do if faced with family reluctant to relocate? Below are a few tips based on my recent (and not so recent) experience. I have gone through the relocation drill a few times in my lifetime, but it had been 10 years since I had last moved!!

  1. Acknowledge family members’ feelings. This can range from anger, sadness, being afraid, annoyed, inconvenienced. Don’t sugar coat the move if a family member voices his or her disappointment in having to leave the comfort zone.
  2. Include children in the househunting process. Whether renting or buying a new home, if you have older children, involve them in the quest for a new home. My 13 year old was quite helpful once he got over the initial shock of the impending move. He started emailing me with Realtor.com listings. I had to school him on the importance of establishing a housing budget!!
  3.  Ask, ask, ask for help! Whether it be asking for help with packing from your extended family, or asking your future colleagues for information about schools and your new community, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for assistance. You will find that most of the time people are flattered that you have asked and are willing to help whenever needed.
  4. Anticipate that not everything will go as planned. This can range from movers arriving late to not being able to find certain items even after a few months, to family members (including pets) needing extra attention. If you have a pet who previously enjoyed going outdoors, don’t be surprised if Fluffy no longer wants to go outside. She might be afraid at first to discover new territory. Moving is one of life’s greatest stress triggers. Don’t underestimate how the move is affecting your loved ones.
  5. Explore your new community.  Seek out opportunities to pursue your interests. Sometimes you will just stumble upon them. In our case, I discovered that there is a belly dance studio close to work. My family has also identified where they can pursue their interests, with a little bit of nudging from yours truly.
  6. Identify resources before an urgent need arises. Your new colleagues can be a good source for doctor, dentist, veterinarian referrals. Tap them also for tradespeople referrals (plumbers, electricians, etc.) and miscellaneous services, for example, where’s the best place for a haircut? Best family friendly restaurant?

Remember, it takes time to adjust. Be patient with yourself and your family during this transitional period. Kids are resilient and in this day and age, have the technology to keep in touch with friends back home. This can be a benefit and also a hindrance. Make sure they are not using the easy access to virtual connection with friends ‘back home’ as an excuse to not making new friends!

In a future post, I’ll provide tips for settling into the new position, especially if you are a midlife career changer.

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