Moving Tips from 10 Years of Relocation Madness

“Relocation is stressful. You as a person change more than your address, regardless of how often you do this. You’ll begin to navigate the new culture, appreciate the new place, make new friends, find your comfort zone in your new office, and more. The hardest part is moving on and leaving it all behind.”

Would you believe it if I told you I have changed residences 10 times in the last 10 years? If you have experienced relocating, you know what it takes to move from one place to another. This relocation madness involved 4 countries in 3 continents. Just last year, our twin boys were born in South Florida and here we are, 11 months later, living in South Texas.

All the relocation is from the same company I have worked with for 13 years now. I am a pretty loyal soldier, don’t you think? I have allowed my superiors to move me where they need me. During the expansion years of the company, I was relocated because of post merger integration projects.  I have always been open to relocating, even though I know it is hard. The last one though, with the infant twins, was the hardest one so far. (So I hope this is the last move in a while.)

Does this make me a relocation expert? Of course! Nothing beats experience and going through a complicated process repeatedly in a short span of time. I am sure my wife is an expert at this too– even more than me. We have attended relocation and cultural training countless of times in different countries to prepare us for every transfer. She has been more engaged in the process because she is more hands-on with it. Usually, before we are relocated, I would have been travelling back and forth between home and the city we were moving to. I would have spent a lot of my time in the new place at work already and be familiar with the new city. In my wife’s case, she usually gets to be in the new city only when we are actually relocated.

Relocation Tips

Here are some things that I have learned in these 10-years of relocation madness that might help you, whether you are thinking of relocating or are in the process of doing so.

First of all — and I will be honest and straightforward here — relocation is stressful. You as a person change more than your address, regardless of how often you do this. You’ll begin to navigate the new culture, appreciate the new place, make new friends, find your comfort zone in your new office, and more. The hardest part is moving on and leaving it all behind. So before you decide to relocate, make sure you are really decided on doing it. Relocating is no easy task. You need to make your decision with your family (and friends) and weigh your options very well. You can liken this to preparing for a hike and you need to pack your first aid kit and safety equipment. So the first point in relocation is, pack your emotional first aid kit first.

Look-and-see visits are important. This is when you travel to the new place to give you an idea of the culture, people, neighborhood, and more.  In my case, often I did not get to use it because I was already familiar with the new place from frequent business trips. For your spouse, it could be a critical part of the process. It is just like when buying a car, you don’t just talk to a salesman before you make the decision. You test drive the car around the block.

Last but not the least, understand and take advantage of your relocation package (if you have one). It is not cheap to relocate. If your company is moving you, make sure your moving cost is covered. This will ease a lot of stress. Usually, company packages include a relocation bonus to cover incidental expenses of the move, a look-and-see visit, support in moving household goods, cultural training (especially when moving to another country) and assistance in finding your new home, etc. If you are doing this by yourself, be prepared financially. Research what you need, service providers (movers, real estate agents, banks,and the like) you need and how much it costs. Make sure you can afford it. You don’t want money issues to be an additional burden to an already emotionally stressful process.

(It’s been a while since my last post…now you know why, we just relocated again!)

Photo by Crafty Joe

12 thoughts on “Moving Tips from 10 Years of Relocation Madness

  1. Very nice article Glenn…. I guess the difference this time is that you and Ivy have two handsome babies to be relocated with you too…. more complicated I suppose…. but looking at the brighter side of it, at least you have the privilege of bringing your family along with you wherever you may be relocated right? unfortunately, relocation is more stressful for those who have to leave their families behind due to job requirement.

    God bless you and your family… best regards to Ivy and hugs to my godsons!! 🙂

  2. Nice to hear from you again, Glenn! Great article, with a really interesting topic, that might not be underestimated! Companies are asking for flexibility, to take some roles/positions abroad, but the conditions should be always the same (what very often is not the case): try to help/support the people involved to make this transition less “painfull”. I have moved my location very often, working as a freelancer, and when I decided to move to my current company as a permanent, one of the things that really impressed my was the “relocation” package, including many things that you included, but one I really liked it: A relocation consultant (company) that was driving me through many things since I arrived to Switzerland (work permit, bank accounts, taxes, support to find a house, support to move my stuff from Madrid….). That was reducing a lot my “stress”…and, of course, it also helped a lot the “patience” of my wife (I really understand you Ivy, my acknowledgment because it’s really hard to me to think about moving to any place without the great support of my wife).
    And a last tip: Do not be afraid to ask for this kind of things (relocation package, etc.), as you should not be “worst” in your new location than in your old one, and if you do not have the appropiate support from your company, your professional performance can be seriously affected (as Glenn has already pointed).

  3. Great Article Glenn, tough for me to relate to as I have moved a total of 50 miles north my entire life, how sad is that! I cannot imagine moving 10 times in 10 years across the globe !!

    1. Hi Bill, I was hoping you’d say, “don’t worry… we’d keep you there, where you are for a while longer, so you’ll not worry about relocating…” 🙂 Thanks!

  4. I’m just doing it right now Glenn…!! Will be where you where before!! OMG!! Why you didn’t write this before? LOL! Hope to see you soon my friend! Regards to all the fantastic four. Alex Woo.

  5. Great article, Glenn!! One which is worth reading. I agree with your first point in relocation, the “emotional first-aid kit”.

  6. This is really very interesting. This is something most of us immigrants share. I have only moved a couple of times and I can imagine how difficult it is to be moving 10 times in 10 years. What a stressful task that is, specially now with the twins.

    I moved from my home country, the Philippines to the United States over 5 years ago. I did not really want to in the beginning, since I am leaving my friends and most of my family behind. The culture shock is enormous and the adjustment period takes time. Kuya Glenn (as we fondly call him) is totally right in bringing your “emotional first-aid kit.” Be ready for what is ahead and do research on the new environment you will be in.

    Although English is our second language, I found it difficult dealing with the “slang” that i encounter on a day to day basis. Not to brag, but my accent is pretty good and most of the time people think I was born in the US. This actually made it more difficult to me since they would talk to me like a local and a lot of times not really understand what they are talking about. The bottom line, it is difficult to move anywhere. Adjustment period will always be there and you can never be 100% ready on your move.

    I am hoping you guys stay there for a longer time so you can finally say that Texas is the place you call “home.” I am living comfortably right now here in California and I can actually say that this place is now my home.

  7. Hi Vaughan! You’re absolutely right. As Glenn’s wife, I have also moved about 10 times in the last 10 years. It’s no picnic. When relocating people, companies need to consider their families (especially their spouses). Most expatriates fail (that is, return to their home countries without completing their assignment) because their spouses and families were unhappy in the relocation. That’s why I think cultural training is very important. This is usually done by a local so it sets the family’s expectation of the new location. This is especially helpful when moving to another country with a culture so different from your own.

    For me, I think the first time was the most difficult, as I did not really know what to expect and we were moving from the comforts of our home country, the Philippines — third world, very Asian with its warm people and tropical weather — to the other side of the world, Germany. It was as different as it can get — from the weather to the language to the people. Definitely a culture shock. Luckily, I was able to get into the German language classes at the local community college and meet other foreigners new to the area. Most of them did not speak a shred of English so we all talked to each other in broken German. It was a great way to learn the language and learn about cultures from other countries. Glenn also had other colleagues who were relocated as well so the spouses had an informal group. It eased the stress of moving because I found other friends who were going through the exact same thing.

    After the first move, each successive one is a bit easier. Just because you already know what kind of problems and issues to expect. But it is always stressful and leaving friends is always hard.

    1. Ivy, I think we forgot to mention about visa process. Especially if you are moving from one country to another, this takes a lot of effort (and frustration in some cases). This takes a lot of time as well. I would advise people moving to make sure they check with lawyers about visa and work regulations to prepare and do that process first. In some cases this caused some delays for me, to start on a project in some locations. For Ivy it took her 8 months to process her temporary resident visa to be with me in Germany.

  8. Congratulations on the move! And thanks for a great post!

    One thing you did not mention that loomed large in our family’s relocation experience – the different impact on me versus my wife and daughter! My life changed relatively less than my wife/daughter because I was doing the same work (mostly traveling every week!) For them, the new environment really was “new”. To me the place I traveled from and to changed, but 80% of my time was unchanged.

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