Once the euphoria of finally finding your perfect new home has faded, the dread of the actual move sets in. The upheaval of moving is bad enough, but the emotional impact of moving is one of the topmost stressful situations we experience – and said to be up there with divorce. You might be attached to your current house and your familiar neighbourhood, but this move might be a step up the property ladder, a better job or a potential new life to look forward to.

Moving house brings mixed emotions, which results in ‘moving stress’. Planning to move is never easy, and unfortunately there is no magic checklist to follow either. If you want to move with less stress and settle into your new home easily, it is best to understand and prepare well for it.

Is the Emotional Stress of Moving Normal?

Yes. Moving stress can be caused by the worry of not only the new house, but making new friends, getting kids into new schools and dragging them away from their friends. Money worries cause major stress too – the actual moving costs or new mortgage fees - everything adds up to make you feel like your life is on hold, with your attention and energy entirely focused on the move. Your children are likely to be feeling it too, and care should be taken to reassure them and explain why this is all happening. Get them involved and familiar with their new home by helping pick the room that will be theirs for example, but be prepared for anger and upsets when they realise their friends won’t be moving too.

You might find it hard to relax and find yourself avoiding people, being easily overwhelmed, feeling depressed and unproductive. Add in fear of the unknown, and it can cause both mental and even physical symptoms, and negative thoughts then creep in, all disrupting your normal thinking abilities

Have the Right Attitude

Remind yourself why you are moving. Be prepared to meet new people, maybe a new way of life, and explore new sights. Having this kind of mindset will help reduce stress and help you get settled faster.

Remember that old friendships don’t have to end just because you’re moving, as long-distance relationships are more manageable these days. Goodbyes are only temporary, and memories and friendships will stay with you forever.

Do your research about the new area – check out the accessibility of stores, hospitals, schools, etc. Being clued-up about these things will help you be more comfortable about moving – it will also inspire and motivate you to pursue the move and not be too stressed out about it.

Prepare a Checklist and Have a Time Frame

Making a checklist will be a great help to sort your priorities. Listing obvious things like getting boxes can help you feel you are in control, and the list could also include your travel and contingency plans. Establish a time frame for your moving day if you can, and plan when to start packing and when to make payments. Some things can’t be rushed, especially the things that are beyond your control. And declutter! Do this before moving day! This is a chance to sort out what is important and what needs to be thrown out. Bring only the things that matter to you.

Get help!

Don’t be too proud to ask for assistance, friends or family will be glad to help in return for a few beers or a meal! Getting the kids involved can help them too - the most stressful things for children are saying goodbye and stepping out of their comfort zone, and seeing your children get stressed can further compound the stress you’re already feeling.

How long does it take to recover from moving house?

You will need time to unpack your items and arrange your new home, plus sort out utilities, etc, and it may take you several months to really settle in and feel at home in your new place. New house and new beginnings might involve a new culture or a new language, so take time to settle in and embrace it all!


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan