After arriving safe and sound to your new home comes the second phase of relocating. All the boxes have been carried inside and it’s time to start unpacking, put things in order, and settle in. But where do you begin and which boxes should you unpack first? To create some calm amidst all the chaos, try unpacking in an organized manner; start with the essentials first and then work your way through the rest of the stack.
Here are some tips on how to unpack efficiently and make a smooth transition into your new life:
- Begin by unpacking the bag/box containing the essentials you’ll need for the first night; it should include items such as toiletries, a toothbrush/toothpaste, a fresh change of clothing, and any required medications
- Distribute all boxes to their respective rooms, ready to be unpacked when you are
- It’s a good idea to clean/wipe down your new surroundings before unpacking
- Set up your sleeping quarters and your children’s bedrooms first, even if it’s just a fresh sheet to collapse on after a long day
- Setting up the bathroom (i.e. hanging a shower curtain and towel, putting your toiletries out for use) is easy and will make you feel at home right away
- Move this season’s clothing from suitcases/boxes into the dresser or closet
- Remember: you don’t have to unpack everything at once; extra linens, out-of-season clothing, holiday decorations, and other miscellaneous items can be stored away until you’re more settled
- Since setting up the kitchen is a big job, give yourself a break the first few nights by ordering takeout, eating frozen dinners, or sufficing with simple cooking
Making Your New House Feel Like Home
Even before you are unpacked, there are many little things you do to make your house feel like a home. Here are some suggestions:
- Put your favorite books and CDs by your bedside
- Hang a few family photos/mementos
- Make the beds up with your favorite sheets
- Sleep with a familiar pillow/pillow case
- Free up at least one room from boxes
- Cheer up the house with some fresh flowers
Meeting Your Neighbors
Getting to know your new neighbors after you move is another great way to feel less isolated and to making some important social ties. Hanging out on your porch, balcony, or front yard often leads to natural conversations with people who walk by and with the neighbors next door. A city bench or neighborhood park is another way to expand your horizons, while a casual trip to the grocery store can result in some friendly contacts, even if you begin only with a smile, handshake, or ‘hello.’
Getting to Know Your Neighborhood
To find out about community happenings, local restaurants, retail shops, and any other news or events that pertain to you, pick up or subscribe to a local newspaper, check the Internet, or look for free magazines available on street corners. The Internet will also provide you with an interactive map or city/town search engine where you can find news and content that interests you (i.e. location of schools, churches, public parks, government buildings, coffee shops, the local music scene, and more).
A trip to the local library should also be on your must-visit list, whether it’s to pick up a good book to read, see some friendly faces, or check out the community bulletin boards. However some of the best ways to meet new people is to join a local church or synagogue or visit the local recreation center where you can take in an exercise class, sign up for courses, meet people who share similar interests, and mingle in a friendly atmosphere.
Making the Most out of Tourist Guidebooks
Even though you’re in the midst of establishing yourself as a new resident, don’t underestimate the value of a good tourist guidebook. These guides are jam-packed with tips of what to see/do/eat in your new surroundings and provide detailed information on city sites and attractions. While you’re at it, pick up a city map outlining bus stops, subway/train/trolley routes, and the location of major buildings. Finally, join a free walking tour of the city; you’ll feel like a local in no time at all.
Helping Children Acclimate to Their New Surroundings
Relocating with children is never easy. You can expect the gamut of emotions (excitement, anger, fear, frustration, depression), however if you maintain a positive outlook, your kids should come around with time. To help make the transition easier and smoother for everyone involved, consider the following expert advice:
- Encourage your children to ask questions and to freely express how they feel about moving (keep in mind that no matter how old they are, relocation is a major disruption in children’s lives)
- Move during the summer, when kids are available to help unpack and when they can start making new friends and meet their new teacher/principal before the new school year begins
- Offer kids the opportunity to design or decorate their new room
- Shortly after arrival, introduce your kids to the neighborhood by taking a drive or walk through the area and pointing out the location of their new schools, relevant bus stops and bus routes, local stores, parks, libraries, community centers, your place of work, and more.
- Sign your kids up for their favorite extra-curricular activities or sports club
- Don’t forget to have important documents on hand, including copies of medical records, previous school records and transcripts, and make sure your kids’ immunization shots are up to date
Einat Mazafi is the owner of NY International Shipping, an International Shipping and moving company based in New York. She is also a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients worldwide.