Moving is stressful, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. And, as anyone who’s moved before knows, the move doesn’t stop once the movers leave that last pile of boxes in your new living room. Getting settled after a move is in a category all on its own.
Thankfully, throughout the past 11 years of moving around the world, we’ve picked up some strategies that work for us when it comes to finding our groove and getting settled after a move.
These seven things are just as helpful now, with three young kids under our roof, as it was when it was just me and my husband packing up and moving to a new duty station by ourselves.
Set up Your House
It’s so easy to quickly set up shop with just the necessities and call it a day. Unpacking every single box can be tiring and tedious, but the sooner you do it, the sooner you’re one step closer to feeling at home.
One thing that helps us feel settled after a move is putting those personal touches up in our home. Hang up those curtains, find places on the walls for picture frames, and get those knickknacks out that you’ve been carrying with you from duty station to duty station.
Do those things ASAP, because the longer you wait, the longer you may just say, “Eh, it’s not worth it since we’re just going to move again.”
I’ve been there, and done that, and I encourage you to not get stuck in that mindset!
Look yourself in the eye (from the picture you’re about to hang up), and tell yourself how ridiculous that is. Even if you’re only in your current home for one year, make those 365 days a lovely place to call home.
Get Familiar with Your Neighborhood ASAP
Shortly after we move to a new place, we intentionally use our GPS to find our way home, but only for a few days. One reason we do this is because we genuinely need to figure out where we’re going, but the other reason is because it helps us discover new routes.
Then, just as quickly as we use our maps feature, we stop using it so we can navigate and figure out our personal favorite routes on our own.
You may take some wrong turns here and there, but getting familiar with your area will help you feel like you belong there.
And who knows, maybe you’ll find a cool park, a trailhead, or a different route you prefer to take just by getting intentionally lost.
Get Out and Explore
Getting settled after a move and “exploring” almost sound contradictory, but I’m here to assure you that they go hand in hand.
To help you feel more grounded in your new area, you have to get out there and see what it actually has to offer.
Here are a few ways you can explore:
Go on a nightly walk around your neighborhood.
- Talk to locals about their favorite places.
- Hunt for geocaches.
- Skip the comfortable chains, and find a new local restaurant to eat at once a week.
- Attend festivals and events.
Becoming a hermit is so easy to do after moving to a new location, but it’ll just leave you feeling more stuck and bored in the long run.
Make the First Move
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait for your new neighbors across the street to be neighborly.
It may take some guts, and you might have to slip on your brave pants, but what if you make the first move? What if you bake some cookies (or pick up some favorites from a bakery), and have your kids make some handmade cards, and you’re the first one to ring their doorbell?
Taking the first step can be scary, but I’ve never had someone throw a plate of brownies in my face yet. (Bonus if your kids go with you, because who would refuse a handmade card from a four-year-old?)
Create a Bucket List
This is similar to getting out of your house and exploring, but it’s more long term and requires slightly extra thought and effort.
Once you’re at your new spot—or before you leave your last place—start researching all the fun things there are to do there. Write it down if it looks fun or interesting, or even slightly piques your interest.
Not only will you have a whole list of activities to look forward to, but it will help you see and experience more around your new area.
Pro tip: This is a great way to get kids involved in the move. Have them research things to do in your new area so they can get excited about where you’re going.
I get it. You just moved—either down the block, a few states over, across the country, or maybe even around the world—and the last thing you probably want to do is get involved in…anything.
PCSing is no joke, and maybe you just want some time to relax. So, take a couple weeks to get your toes wet, and then jump in with both feet.
Consider this your encouragement to get involved in something at your new duty station sooner than later. Not only is this a great way to make new friends, but you’ll be more involved in your community, which is always a good thing.
Find Your New Routine
The last step we take to help us feel settled is figuring out our daily routine. It sets the tone for the rest of our stay and helps things feel more normal. We figure out our grocery shopping days, have alarms set for school and work, and we set up extra activities.
After a long and crazy move, it’s during those normal, every-day routines that feeling “settled” finally happens.
What are some helpful things you do after a move to help you feel settled in your new home or location?
Jessica Lynn is a seasoned Air Force wife and mom to three young kids, and she shares the good, the bad, and the laughable when it comes to life. Whether she’s talking about parenting mishaps, local favorites in America, adventures while they’re stationed in Germany, or easy, no-fuss, family-friendly recipes, she likes to keep things real. In fact, she just wrapped up a year-long deployment and an OCONUS PCS, right smack dab in the middle of the pandemic and lives to talk about it. When she’s not out exploring Europe or hurdling her little humans, you can find her reading a book, scrolling through Instagram (go say, “hey!”), or taking care of her first love: her blog of 16+ years, JessicaLynnWrites.com | www.instagram.com/jesstagirl