Maybe you've never left your hometown before, or maybe you're a pro at moving across the country — but whether the circumstances are happy or sad, chosen or involuntary, making a huge move is always a big deal. There are plenty of articles out there on the Internet about how to accomplish a move quickly and inexpensively, but are you emotionally prepared? "Change in residence" certainly earns its place on the list of events well-known to stress people out, and often you'll be facing another one of those events concurrently as a part of the move, or the cause of it. Changing living conditions, changing jobs, changing social habits... change is just plain hard on people.
Though no two people will handle their cross-country moves in exactly the same way, some responses are totally predictable. After all, you'd have to be basically some sort of vulcan or zombie to feel unattached to your past living conditions, or uninterested in your new ones. In order to be happy where you're living, you have to invest in it emotionally... but then that makes it much harder to leave. Their order and intensity will necessarily vary, but here are the seven emotional stages of moving your entire life across the country. They're yours to look forward to — or avoid at all costs — as you see fit.
So, some sort of potential reason to move has come up, or maybe you're just feeling impulsive. You jump on Craigslist to check out a few sweet pads, search Yelp for some interesting cuisine, maybe even change your city on an online dating site to survey the local offerings. That cross country move is all fun and games at this point, so you mostly just feel curious.
The decision's made — your move is happening. It's time to kick things into high gear, especially if it's happening soon. You'll make a new budget, call some moving companies, do a little cleaning. For a minute there, you might feel pretty darn productive. Effective at adult things, even.
3. Feelings of Dread
Maybe your new place or move is going to cost much more than you thought, or some aspect of your planning falls through. Maybe the weather is great in your current city, and you feel nostalgic for happy times that may or may not have really happened there. At such a sensitive phase in your life, it doesn't take much to inspire full-on dread. Are you doing the right thing? What's going to go wrong? How can you sleep at a time like this?
4. Complete Panic
Panic is just the energetic form of dread. You'll start trying to race around and finish your well-thought out action items, but it will feel crazed instead of effective. The more you do to pack and prepare, the more you seem to have left on your plate. If you try to rest, the countdown-to-moving-day timer starts ticking more loudly in your mind. You'll remember all the things you ever wanted to do in your current city but haven't yet, then fail to do all of them, inciting more guilt and panic.
5. Social Exhaustion
In between the to-do list, the dread, and the panic, you'll be trying to hang out with everyone you know and make good on all your social promises. Everyone will want to ask you why you're moving, when you're moving, how you're moving, etc., when you might not really have good answers to these questions yet at all. Feel free to skip out on lower-priority people and events, but don't expect it to help too much. Everyone you loved in your current city (heck, even everyone you merely didn't hate) will start to seem super meaningful in light of your being about to leave them.
6. Excessive Optimism
A person can only take so much dread, panic, and social exhaustion, so naturally your brain will start nudging you towards feeling optimism about the move — excessive optimism, even. You'll make plans to join a gym, join a meet-up, pick up new hobbies, and decorate your new place. All in the first week!
7. Return to Normalcy
It might take a month, it might take a year... but eventually you'll feel back to normal. This is as good (or as bad) as your emotional baseline was in the first place. Your new city has a different climate, different people, and different food, but you're the constant in your own equation. Any problems you were trying to run from probably won't fix themselves, but your good qualities are going to move with you, too.