How to Start a New Life: the A-Z of starting a new life.
You've got to start somewhere.
How to start a new life. Are you thinking of starting a new life? In January 2011 we upped sticks and moved 300 miles from our home in Southeast England to the beauty of the English Lake District. We left behind friends and family and, although we've 'only' moved 300 miles, it's been a huge but wonderful challenge, so I thought I'd run through some of the key things we learned along the way in case you're wondering how to do the same thing.
A, B, C
A is for Ask. Before you start not only will you not know all the answers, you won't know many of the questions when you start out, so don't be afraid to ask, no matter how dumb it sounds.
B is for Be Bold. Starting a new life is scary, and there will be many occasions when you'll wonder if it's worth it, but just keep reminding yourself why you're doing it and you'll get there.
C is for Creativity. You always have more options than you think you do, so write down all the reasons you think you can't do it and challenge yourself to find answers.
D is for De-clutter.
If your house is anything like ours then it's full of junk. Boxes of papers and bits and bobs put safely away "just in case". Well now's the time to get rid of them, unburden yourself at the recycling centre and the local charity store. New life, new habits!
E is for Evaluate.
Evaluate what's really important in your life. Money? Time to relax and do stuff? Family? Friends? Would those priorities shift if you knew you were on the clock? Well you are on the clock, so make sure you get them in the order that's right for you.
F is for Face the Facts.
Often, as in our case, the initial impetus for the move isn't a good one, however the sooner you face up to the new challenge life has hurled at you the quicker you'll be able to turn it into a positive. Face the facts and find the information you need from financial advisors, estate agents and employers.
G is for Get Ahead
There will be a million and one things to do at the last moment so start early and tick off as many jobs as you can as quickly as you can - don't leave things till the last minute. It can be tough to stay motivated when you're ploughing through this little lot, and if you want to know more about staying movited then check out my "Fun Ways to Stay Motivated" hub.
H is for Harass People
This move might be the most important thing in your life but to the estate agents, financial advisors and mortgage companies you're just another account so, in the nicest possible way, be a thorn in their side. Please resist the urge to yell at them, this may be tough at times, but you'll get a lot further a lot more quickly if they're on your side and want to help you.
I is for Ignore the Nay Sayers.
There will be plenty of them. People who don't have the nerve to do what you're doing, people who are jealous, and people who are genuinely concerned and don't know how else to tell you. We heard them all, and some of them could be quite persuasive, but we stuck to our guns and saw it through and now they all want free holidays. How many people have you heard say they'd love to start a new life? And how many have actually done it? I rest my case.
Remember why you're making the move.
J is for Join.
Join online communities where you'll find loads of useful advice. Join social networks so you can more easily keep in touch with the friends and family you're leaving behind. When you arrive join clubs and societies to make new friends. Just take every opportunity to join things!
K is for Kit.
Make sure you're well kitted out with all the tech you'll need. The first few weeks can be really lonely so you want to make sure you can remain in contact with everyone as easily as possible. It doesn't need to be expensive, older versions of smartphones or laptops will do everything you need at a fraction of the cost of their original sale price.
L is for Lose your Cat.
I'm not suggesting this is something you should do on purpose, but it happened to us during our first couple of weeks and it meant we got to know all our neighbours really quickly. Luckily he came home again a couple of weeks later, but it certainly broke the ice with people!
M is for Making time to Relax.
This is one of the most stressful things you'll do, so don't be too hard on yourself. Pace yourself and take time to relax and "not do moving stuff". Watch a movie, read a book, take a walk, anything to take your mind off things for an hour or two.
N is for Network.
You know more people than you think you do, and you'll need most of them. Don't try to do this alone, talk to people, be honest about the highs and lows, you'll be amazed how many will have been through something similar and have some invaluable gems of advice.
Make time to get out and relax.
O is for OMG we did it!
Celebrate your achievements along the way. Getting the mortgage deal, finding the perfect house, figuring out where to store your stuff, locating the nearest cattery. There will be plenty of things that will go wrong and drive you to distraction, so make sure you celebrate all the good stuff.
P is for Prepare your Paperwork.
A new life comes with lots of paperwork. I'm not a paperwork person so this was a tough one for me, but there will be a mountain of paperwork so set up a system and make sure you keep it all organised. You'll be juggling official documents from estate agents, removal firms, insurance companies, mortgage companies, utilities companies, local councils etc. etc. etc. For a couple of quid you can get an expanding wallet file from the stationery store which should see you through.
Q is for Question your sanity.
I'm not saying you should do this, I'm saying you will do this, so better be prepared for it. My best advice is to refer back to M and do something different to take your mind of things for a while.
R is for Reconnaissance
In this digital age you can find out everything you need to know virtually. Before we moved I'd checked out all the local bus and train times, located the nearest doctors, tracked down all the supermarkets within a 10 mile radius and even virtually walked the route from my new home to the local railway station. Many towns and villages now have their own websites so you can really get a feel for the place before you move there.
S is for Smile.
Cheesy, but the quickest and easiest way to start making new friends. Chat to people, pass the time of day, ask questions, read notice boards, take an interest, but most of all, do it with a smile.
You'll be surprised at what you can do!
T is for Try something new and exciting.
This is all about doing something new and exciting so try to embrace all the set backs as challenges to be overcome not barriers to success. So much went wrong for us along the way and we spent the first three months of our new life living in a small camper van whilst we sorted out the house situation, but we had fun and learned new things every day. Of course there were times when we felt utterly despondent and tempted to give up and that's OK occasionally, it's just not a good idea to make a habit of it.
U is for the Unexpected.
You may be the most meticulous planner in the world, but I guarantee that at some point during a move like this, several things will ambush you that you'd never even considered. During our first week the clutch went on the car, we had no idea where the local garages were and didn't really know many people to ask, but we figured it out. Just keep on your toes and expect the unexpected.
V is for Vital bits and pieces.
I found it really useful to keep a small stash of vital, personal bits and pieces around me at all times. Photos, a few keepsakes even, I'm not ashamed to admit, my teddy bear. When you're thrusting yourself headlong into the unfamiliar a few familiar things can be a real help to hang on to.
Keep your favourite things nearby.
W is for Wine.
Or whatever your favourite tipple is, even if it's non-alcoholic. Whenever I felt like going into meltdown a large glass of red and a bit of a giggle popped me back on the straight and narrow.
X is for Xenophobia.
Xenophobia is a fear of strangers or foreigners and there's no room for it in a move like this. Seek out all the strangers you can and start to build new friendships, the sooner you manage that the sooner you'll start to feel part of the community.
Y is for Yet another setback.
Despite how lovely they always make it look on the TV, starting a new life will be fraught with difficulties but you will be able to overcome them. As they saying goes "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger", so learn from the setbacks. When they happen don't be afraid to ask for help or support, most people will be only too happy to lend a hand.
Z is for Zeal.
Approach your new life with a generous helping of zeal and any setbacks you face will soon be a thing of the past. I lost count of the number of things people told me couldn't be done, we couldn't live in a motorhome for 3 months, we couldn't push a house purchase through in 4 weeks, we'd never find employement in the current job market and so on. Just dig deep, find your energy and focus it all on the task in hand and you'll be happily settled in your new home before you know it.