Know the Big Picture Behind Planning a Relocation

Deandra Henahan
Written by Deandra Henahan
Updated August 5, 2015
couple planning a relocation
Organize all forms of identification, financial statements and other important documents before you start packing. (Photo courtesy of Wheaton World Wide Moving)

You’ve already found your dream home in your new town, even though your current home still has a big “for sale” sign on it.

Interested buyers come and go, but you’re ready to move on now. Before you make an offer and call the movers, take a deep breath and look at the big picture. Moving typically takes between six and nine months. In some markets, it can take as long as a year. It requires you to sell your home, buy a new home and potentially find a short-term rental as you transition from one to the other. It requires you to store valuable items, figure out what to pack for the interim and decide what you want professional movers to transport.

For the sake of planning with enough wiggle room, lay out a six-month moving timetable. Then, follow these simple steps to preserve your peace of mind as the moving process unfolds.

Coordinate your home’s sale with buying a new home

Many people get so excited about moving that they buy the first house they fall in love with, and do so before they sell their current house. This can be a recipe for disaster, especially for families. Having two mortgages represents a major financial commitment. Even if you can reasonably afford to pay for two homes, the logistics of negotiating two sales at once are very time-consuming.

Before you jump the gun and buy a new home, talk to your real estate broker about how you can speed up the sale of your home. Often, that may mean lowering your asking price. Once you have sold your home, it may mean you stay with your in-laws or rent a condo while you negotiate the purchase of your new home. However, your patience can save you much needed time and money.

Don’t underestimate the transition

Buying and selling homes involves more than a transfer of money. Mortgage applications, home inspections, lawyer visits and price negotiations are only a handful of things on your to-do list. Most people dramatically underestimate how long these things take — up to three months — and how much mental and emotional energy they expend during each of part of this process.

Make a list of every single meeting you have to attend and add them to the six-month timetable. Cut out any meeting that’s not 100 percent necessary. Safeguard your time, and don’t overdo it. If you can split the workload with a spouse or roommate, do so to avoid either of you getting overwhelmed.

Focus first on everything you need to do to facilitate your home’s sale. Once it is sold, then it’s time to start packing.

couple packing boxes
When moving to an interim location, pack enough to get you through a month. (Photo courtesy of ThinkStock)

Start the moving process early

Organize all forms of identification, financial statements and other important documents before you start packing. You don’t want to be searching through closed boxes for your tax returns or your children’s birth certificates.

Next, pack the clothes, toiletries and comfort items that you feel you need for your interim location. Typically, it’s best to pack a month’s worth of items.

Now start thinking about moving day, even if it’s still three months away. Give yourself two weeks to sort through what you should pack versus what the movers should pack. A moving professional can advise you on what you should keep with you, what the movers should take care of and how best to prepare for moving day.

MORE: How to Keep Moving Day from Being Dangerous

When you’re relocating, it can be easy to get bogged down by the details. Instead, follow our guidelines to stay focused on the big picture of moving. And remember, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. 

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