This is part one of a two-part series on relocation tips for administrative professionals.
For many people, “move” is a four-letter word. No one really loves the process – it’s a stressful, trying, frustrating time that most of us would rather avoid. But since there’s no way to snap our fingers and teleport ourselves, belongings, and careers to a new place, relocating is a part of life.
The trick to managing it is to be as organized as possible — a skill that, as an admin, you probably already have down to a science. Tackle your move as you would any big, daunting project at work: with preparation, planning, and patience! Trust me, it’s the only way you’ll survive! And I speak from experience.
Just over a year ago, my husband and I packed up our lives in Iowa and moved to Indiana — a daunting task, to say the least! We did plenty right during our multi-state trek, and we did plenty wrong, too. (More on that in the next article in this series.) But I’d like to start off by sharing what worked well in hopes that these tips will help you if and when you have to move.
1. We tapped into our existing network. We were fortunate enough to have several people who already lived in our new locale — my sisters and their families, and one of my husband’s former colleagues who had made the trek about eight months before us. We peppered them with questions, almost to the point of annoyance. (Luckily, they were very patient with us!) We asked about companies in the area, real estate considerations, crime rates, where we should search for apartments, and a ton of other things, both big and small. Because we knew them well, and trusted their judgment, we were able to make better-informed decisions than someone just browsing reviews and recommendations on the internet.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have an existing network in a new location. If this case, I suggest you tap into your network at large — your connections on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, groups or forums you may be a part of, professional association contacts, etc. Ask for recommendations, referrals, and resources that may help you with the moving process.
It’s also never too soon to start building your network in your new city! A detailed internet search can be extremely helpful in this situation. Look for groups that match your career or interests, seek out weekly or monthly get-togethers, or try to find city-centric professional associations — before you leave your current location. There is nothing worse than being in an unfamiliar city with no one in your corner!
2. We discussed and documented the pros and cons of moving. We made extensive pro and con lists of every job opportunity my husband was considering, so we could make an informed decision if and when an offer came. We already had some specific criteria that we knew we wanted, but each job had separate perks and drawbacks that we noted in each list. This allowed us to see the big picture of each opportunity, which made the decision-making process a bit clearer for us both.
3. We researched our numbers before we got an offer. Although an interview is never a guarantee of an offer, it was important for us to research the housing market and the cost of living in the area ASAP. And we didn’t just take what we found in reports online as the official number. I did actual shopping in the area while visiting my sisters to compare it to our normal grocery and household spending. This helped us better understand what we needed to make to live in that area, so my husband could negotiate more intelligently if he got an offer.
4. We utilized all the tools at our disposal. We took full advantage of the tips and information provided by our relocation service. This helped us understand when and how everything would get done, and gave us a realistic timeline to work with. We utilized OneNote to keep tabs on all of the details — tracking our apartment hunt research, address change lists, new apartment setup lists, house-selling details, etc.
I also set myself up with a relocation binder. (Binders are not just for procedures!) The binder contained all of the ad hoc information — things we wanted to move ourselves, things we needed the movers to take, what my husband would need for the weeks he was on his own (he moved before me due to differences in our schedules), new utility setup, information about my husband’s new health benefits, receipts, contracts, and checklists. The binder was construction-cone orange so I could find it in all the chaos (and so I wouldn’t accidentally pack it). It became my bible in the weeks leading up to our move, and we used it for several months after the move.
Finally, I enlisted the assistance of a professional organizer, my friend Maggie. She helped me work through the downsizing effort (more on that next) and coordinate the move. She became my chief move mentor and ally for about six months!
5. We downsized significantly before the move, instead of after. Prior to our move, we eliminated a lot of furniture by selling it to a consignment shop, and we donated boxes of home goods and clothing to the Salvation Army and Goodwill. We also got a shred bin from a local provider and cleaned out all of our files and tax archives. It felt really good to get rid of all of that stuff and not have to see or touch it again when we got to our new location. We actually started this process before my husband began interviewing because we knew a move was imminent.
6. We made it easy on ourselves where we could. Since this was a corporate relocation, we had movers at our disposal — and we used them! I still did a fair bit of packing myself, but I left the heavy lifting to the pros.
Once we found our apartment, we took measurements of all of the rooms, and then measured all of our furniture. I found a fantastic online tool called Lucid Chart, which enabled me to (virtually) place all of our furniture in our new apartment in Indiana. This saved us — and our movers — a lot of time when it came to placing the heavy stuff exactly where we wanted it when the moving truck was unloaded.
7. We kept our daily and weekly goals visible until the move was complete.
With the myriad details involved in a move, we knew it was important to break the move down into smaller chunks, and identify the specific actions that had to occur to complete the move successfully. In addition to my move binder, I used Post-it self-stick easel pads to map out our weekly to-do list so it was visible to my husband and me. It was a fantastic way to keep it in front of both of us without having to constantly refer to a list in my binder or on my phone. It also helped alleviate the urge to keep reminding — or nagging — one another of what still needed to be done. And it helped friends and family who stopped by to assist know where we still needed some last-minute help.
8. We planned ahead and prioritized self-care. Prior to the move, we looked at our calendars and I adjusted my work schedule and speaking commitments for the first six weeks after we arrived in Indiana. This provided me with enough time to get settled, unpacked, and my office up and running before diving back into my regular work schedule.
We also tried to make self-care a priority during the move. This is a crucial component to any relocation because you absolutely have to take care of you before you can take care of anything else! Although relocating can certainly be a stressor, take time to breathe, be kind to yourself, and understand that this, too, shall pass!
Relocation is tough. There’s no doubt about it. Different types of moves have their own unique challenges. And not all of these tips will apply to every person and every move. But even if you never intend to move, these insights can give you some perspective if your office relocates or your executive needs to make a move. (It’s always nice to have another coherent person helping you think through the details involved in moving!)
My husband and I knew from early in the process that the move was going to have its bumps and obstacles along the way. We agreed to take them as they came, evaluate them logically, do what we could to resolve the issue as fast as possible, and most importantly, be as kind to one another in the process as we could be. It worked!
The preparation, planning, and patience involved in orchestrating a move can be immense. When you do your research, stay organized, and utilize the available resources, it’s a lot easier. While these tips won’t necessarily make you love moving, I certainly hope it helps it go a little better. Because when it comes to moving, a better move is a win for everyone involved!
Do you have move tips you’d like to share? Share them with us here.
© 2016 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.