By James Sharpe, Redfin real estate agent in Seattle
Big transitions in life can be challenging, and moving definitely ranks at the top. It’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s stressful — and everything in between. If you have school-age children and your move happens to fall during the school year, it can be even more difficult. As a dad of three, I’ve had to move my family midyear on multiple occasions, and I’ve learned from those experiences. Here are 10 tips for making a midyear move less stressful:
Before You Buy
1. Find the right neighborhood and school for your family. Spend time researching schools and neighborhoods. Determine your target school or school district and narrow your home search to those areas. Redfin made this even easier when we added our search by schools feature. You just type in the name of the school in the search box and it pulls up a map of the attendance area for that school and shows you all available homes for sale.
2. Include your kids in the house hunt. Make sure they are involved from the beginning in finding your new house. It’s not only a great way to get them excited for the move, but it gives them an opportunity to weigh in. Maybe they want a spacious backyard for a playhouse or they don’t want to share a room in the new home, but bringing them along for the search will help ease their transition.
Before the Move
3. Schedule a school visit. Talk to the new school administrator in advance and notify him or her of your move. Make sure you get a list of items your child will need and complete any important paperwork ahead of time. If at all possible, set up an appointment to visit the school. We took our daughter to her new school for a half-day, when she met with her new teachers and got to tour the school. It really helped ease some of her concerns.
4. Ask them how they are feeling. All children are unique and each one will react differently to major changes. There will likely especially be differences among children of different ages. The best thing you can do is talk to them. Open communication with your kids during a move at any age is important throughout the entire process. Your attitude during the move will help determine theirs.
During the Move
5. Give each child a job. Always make your children feel like they are part of the entire process. Whether it’s assigning them the task of labeling boxes or letting them pick paint colors for their new rooms, that way they won’t feel left out.
6. Take pictures. Make sure you snap photos of your old house and any special places from your neighborhood. It can be a tree house or your neighbor’s pool — anything that would bring back a fun memory. Also take photos of their friends and then put all the photos in a special album for your children to keep.
7. Pack their room last. That way it will be the first thing unloaded at the new house, making them feel more at home. Also, encourage your children to pack a bag of all their favorite toys or belongings, and be sure to keep it close by during the move. Just in case you beat the moving van or any problems come up, they will still be surrounded by some familiar things.
After the Move
8. Get involved. Encouraging your kids to get involved at school is always a great way for them to make new friends, but also consider getting involved yourself. See if there is a parent group at school or a local neighborhood chapter you can join. You never know what relationships (or play dates) might result.
9. Bake a cake. Or cookies. Just be neighborly. Have your kids help put something together for your new neighbors and then go around and meet them. You could also host a neighborhood party to provide an easy avenue for your kids to make new friends. You never know, the girl across the street just might be the same age.
10. Stay connected. Get them a special book to write notes about their experience and keep contact information for their friends, old and new. If they had a favorite teacher, make sure you have their email address so your kids can send them updates or a message about their new school.
Just remember that every situation and child is different. So be prepared for a few ups and downs. But overall, just try and stay positive. Depending on the situation, it may take a lot of patience and effort on both ends of your move, but you will feel rewarded in the end. Happy moving!
About James Sharpe, Redfin
I bring over 25 years of sales experience, with 12 of that in real estate, to Redfin. I pride myself on having the unique ability to relate to almost any personality type. I live for assisting and guiding my clients through the often turbulent real estate market to successful conclusions. When working with me, you will benefit from my honest guidance and educated advice. You will also benefit from my attention to detail, open communication style, and years of negotiating experience. I’m looking forward to being your trusted adviser, negotiator and problem solver. You can find my contact information and read reviews from my clients on Redfin.com.