Relocation stress is extremely common. Moving is a challenging life transition and is one of the top stressors. Yet often it's hard to find resources to deal with the transition, in direct contrast to other experiences like divorce or bereavement.
You can get a moving checklist to pack your boxes but you really need to deal with the personal, social and emotional side of moving.
You'll find many myths about relocation. These 3 myths are among the most prevalent.
Myth # 1: Your biggest expense will be the moving van.
Whether you move across town or around the world, your greatest financial exposure comes from realizing you have made a mistake. You then have the expenses of returning to your original destination or moving somewhere else again. You pay the price psychologically in misery or else you pay financially, through lost deposits, home selling expenses, more moving costs and opportunity cost.
Mistakes happen all the time.
Sometimes there's nothing you can do. You take a job that seems perfectly reasonable and your company sells the division a week after you arrive. The manager who recruited you has left for a new job and your new manager wants her own staff.
Sometimes you can avoid mistakes by planning, asking questions and being ruthlessly honest about what you need and want. One of my own clients considered moving 1500 miles for a new, higher-paying job with wide-open opportunities for advancement. After we talked, he decided to visit the location to explore housing and lifestyle options. As he spent a few days in the area, he realized he would be locked into a long commute and a lifestyle that would not fit his values and family needs.
Myth # 2: If you can not be happy here, you will not be happy anywhere.
This myth is dangerous because it's promulgated by people who claim to be experts. You're often encouraged to feel guilty if you're not one of those “live anywhere and be happy” people.
The truth is that many, many people blossom and grow after they move. Some people just thrive on novelty and they function best when they move repeatedly.
More often, people find they feel most comfortable when they live in a region where they can be themselves and where they can get the amenities they value. Not all locations will be hospitable to people who are single, gay, married but childless, a mixed race couple, religious or non-religious. In fact, your preference for dressing up in a suit or dressing down in shorts will be viewed differently depending on where you choose to live.
Myth # 3: Your relations will not change.
After your emotion-laden farewell party, you have to expect the people you left behind to begin the process of detaching from you. Some people will remain close for many years, but most will not.
They're not cruel or insensitive. They're just busy. Their current friends, activities and families make incessant claims that can not be ignored.
At the same time, research shows that you need one to three years to find new friends in your new location. Of course, some people find friends and even soulmates immediately, but you need to realize that's a norm only in the world of fiction. In some cities, you need more time because people grow up together, went to the same high school and maintain their childhood friendships.