5 Tips for a successful cross country move

I recently accepted a job in San Diego, CA.  Awesome, right?  That is 1,733 mile from my current home in Waukee, Iowa (a suburb of Des Moines).  This should be a piece of cake. The weather is better – beaches, oceans, the Zoo.  It is a great opportunity and I know that we will be happy here.  After all, we have done this before.  In 2010, we moved from Austin, TX to Waukee, Iowa which is a distance of 927 miles, for those keeping score.  So why is this so hard? Why do we have moments when we feel like the family is coming apart at the seams?  We have learned a few things along the way so here are our 5 tips for making a cross country move a success.

Source: Google Maps

Source: Google Maps

1. It’s about the family

The greatest job in the world cannot make up for an unhappy spouse and kids.  Make sure they are invested in and excited about the move.  Every city has very cool features – the corn mazes in Iowa are amazing!  Find out what is special about your new destination and celebrate it.

Also remember how important your spouse is.  Moves are often easier on the working spouse as they have an instant community at the office, and the kids will adapt to their new friends at school. It’s critically important that the “support” spouse has a support system of their own.  Neglect that piece of the puzzle and ‘successful’ may not be the word used to describe the move.

2. It’s about the message

When it comes to getting the family excited, choose your words carefully.  If you say to the kids ‘I know you have great friends here and I am sorry that you have to leave them,’ you are setting a tone.  If you say ‘This place is so cool.  You won’t believe all of the activities and awesome adventures we are going to have,’ then you are leading with positivity and this can make a huge difference in the perception of the kids – especially those in elementary school.

3. It’s about YOUR family and YOUR message

Honestly, you know your family better than all of the well meaning people that will give you advice (including me).  If you want to pull them out of school mid-year so the family can be together and they can start making friends at their new school – do it.  If you want to commute back and forth for several months because that works best for you – do it.  What works for one family may not work for another so while it is great to get advice, talk to your spouse and decide what works best for your situation. And don’t second guess yourself.  Know that whatever decision you made, it’s the right one.  For confirmation, see bullet #2.

4. It’s hard on both ends

Whether you are the relocated spouse trying to learn a new job and navigate a new city or the one maintaining the household and trying to keep a sense of normalcy at home, your job is hard.  No matter how bad your day was, don’t assume that theirs was a walk through the park.  Support each other, sympathize and don’t judge.

5. It will make your family stronger

Cross country moves force a family to come together in different ways.  If your kids are always fighting, finding themselves in a room full of strangers might bring them together.  Everyone also gets a fresh start.  If you want to be that family that is always outdoors, throw away your TV in the move and make it happen.  Listen and act on the hopes and fears of each family member.  You will likely learn something new and you can come together and support each other in amazing ways when the familiar is stripped away.

Life is an adventure and if you are lucky enough (and yes, I think those of us that ‘get’ to do a cross country move are lucky) then I hope you can embrace it and work through the icky to get to the awesome on the other side.

2 Responses to 5 Tips for a successful cross country move

  1. Mike Fleck says:

    Congratulations on making your way safely to CA! Welcome and all the best in your new gig!

  2. Roger says:

    God, we need to put a GPS collars on you guys. Hope the move goes well. Ann and I miss you here in Austin.

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