Moving into a new place, whether it’s a recently purchased house, a change of apartments, or cohabitation with a significant other, is a lot of work—both physically and emotionally. You’re likely saying goodbye to a place that made you feel safe and secure and starting fresh in unfamiliar territory.
My husband and I just moved from a downtown Minneapolis apartment to a four-bedroom Craftsman in St. Paul, hauling three years of memories, collections, and many, many books from one place to the other. We’ve got a slate of home projects on our list so things feel a little bit chaotic right now, but we’ve managed to make the house feel as much like us as we can with just a few simple tasks and tweaks. (Please note that by “tasks and tweaks,” I do not mean changing my billing address, which is always the hardest part about moving!)
While getting settled in your new digs isn’t instantaneous, these seven methods will help you feel more established faster.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I packed my planner, which I rely on for everything from work tasks to story deadlines to household to-dos, in a box which was loaded onto the moving truck and placed somewhere in our house. I felt naked for days until my husband unearthed it beneath a towering pile. (Note to self: Do not ever do this again!)
Think of yourself as a toddler or a pet; you’d never spend the night somewhere without packing their comfort items, would you? . . . Having the things you depend on for comfort at hand will make you feel settled, even amidst all those boxes.
Think of yourself as a toddler or a pet; you’d never spend the night somewhere without packing their comfort items, would you? Maybe your essentials are the book you’re currently reading, some go-to pieces of jewelry, a favorite blanket, comfy sweats, or your planner. Having the things you depend on for comfort at hand will make you feel settled, even amidst all those boxes.
It’s the heart of the home! Even if you don’t spend hours at the stove whipping up Ina Garten-style meals, you have to eat. It’s fun to order takeout for the first few days in a new spot, but pizza and Styrofoam boxes of salad get old fast. Pack the kitchen supplies you use most often together and clearly label them pre-move so you can easily find the box and get those trusty essentials unpacked right away.
I’m not saying go all out and decorate the entire house right away, but hanging a few of your most special pieces on the wall will give your new environment a feeling of familiarity. Mix things up and put that print in the bathroom instead of the kitchen and give the pieces you love a chance to shine in a new setting.
Hanging a few of your most special pieces on the wall will give your new environment a feeling of familiarity. Mix things up and put that print in the bathroom instead of the kitchen and give the pieces you love a chance to shine in a new setting.
The weirdest part about a new residence is that it smells like someone else. I always make sure to light my favorite candles ASAP to make the environment feel more like me. (If the house has a funky odor, open the windows and call your friend Mrs. Meyers. Her lavender and lemon verbena candles are my go-tos to refresh stale, musty air.)
I’m guilty of this! It’s hard not to want everything perfectly unpacked right away. However, take time to get to know your new residence. Lean into its creaky wood floors or pink ’60s bathroom. Embrace the newness for a bit and let the place tell you where to put things.
There’s nothing worse than having to chase down mail once you’ve vacated one address and moved to another! Make sure to let the USPS know about the move and keep your New Yorker mags and Outdoor Voices packages coming.
These things will eventually feel like old hat to you, so don’t forget to experience them with fresh eyes while you can! You may be surprised at what you find—and how quickly this new world will soon feel like home sweet home.
Grab a beverage, put your phone in your pocket, and give yourself time to wander the surrounding area. Find the Target, see where the Little Free Libraries are, find the nearest park, and admire your neighbors’ landscaping. These things will eventually feel like old hat to you, so don’t forget to experience them with fresh eyes while you can! You may be surprised at what you find—and how quickly this new world will soon feel like home sweet home.
Kara Nesvig grew up on a sugar beet farm in rural North Dakota and pretended to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz for about three full years. Things haven’t changed much, except she now lives in an adorable ’20s house in St. Paul with her husband, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dandelion and many, many pairs of shoes. Kara is a voracious reader, Britney Spears superfan and copywriter — in that order.
BY Kara Nesvig - October 16, 2020
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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
I recently moved from St Paul all the way to Seattle! Enjoy Saint Paul – it’s a very different vibe from Minneapolis but it has its own charm and I think you’ll be a very happy homeowner there! <3
I love these ideas. Two other ideas I have written about are: 1. Notice the things you do in your own home that you don’t do in an acquaintance’s home. Like taking off your shoes or peeing with the door open. Then do those things as soon as you can. 2. Set up a space (one room or even a corner) that feels done even if it probably won’t stay that way long term. Then when you are feeling overwhelmed with the process, go hang out in that spot and enjoy your put together corner of the house. Loved this… Read more »
Kara, what good suggestions. I especially like numbers 3 and 6, and of course getting the kitchen in order is important. My husband’s job used to move us frequently. We once lived in one place for 6 months before we moved again. We had moved at that time 7 times in 6 1/2 years! It got to the point where I left cleaning supplies in their boxes and put them under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Then when it was time to move I just closed up the boxes. Your suggestion about packing a box of things you needs is… Read more »