Moving is hard to do

Moving to a far-flung location can seem like a great idea at the time. Many people consider the impact that such a move will have on jobs, what style / price of house they can get and just how lovely the lifestyle will be.

But then there’s the friends and family factor. Just how hard is it to replace? Those connections that we take for granted, the drop-in chats that family and old friends can comfortably do.

Depending on your stage of life, it’s an issue that can hit home hard. When you are young and can make the move easily with a bag on your back is the time it’s probably easiest to make new friends too.

It’s the time in your life when you are most sociable, and generally working or studying fulltime with heaps of opportunity to make new connections.

But young families and older people can sometimes find the reality of a lifestyle switch has bitter factors they’d prefer to do without.

For older folk, who may have spent a lifetime in one location, there is the loss of the familiar if they pack their bags and head off to a lifestyle spot or even a cheaper suburb in the hope they can free up some money from housing to invest or fund their retirement.

For young families it can be difficult too. Juggling the needs of children and, often, the demand of having both parents working fulltime leaves little opportunity to make new friends. When it comes to extended family, having ankle biters of your own is the stage of life when you probably need your relatives the most.

Not just as babysitters to fill in the gaps (although that’s helpful too, and many grandparents find themselves jokingly referred to as the resident babysitters), but also just to take the load off by being present, an extra person for the children to interact with.

Growing up on a farm in the dead centre of nowhere I was often jealous of the kids around who had cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents nearby. They shared a special bond and even as a child you could feel how strong that was. So I feel a touch of guilt that because of a choice to move states two years ago, our children are growing up in a similar vacuum.

Yes, they have plenty of family, but they are all far away and not day-to-day. And all of those old friends of those who have children the same age who could fill in as quasi cousins are also not here.

Forging those bonds when you move to a new city (or even suburb) can take time. And I’m sure that in another year or two this feeling will have dissipated.

It’s an issue that many people are probably grappling with as we have become such a mobile workforce.

A friend who moved from the inner city to the outer beaches so that she could bring her children up in a more carefree environment recently lamented trips to see family have become a two-hour journey, and despite the best intentions of friends, a catch-up is a day outing, organised ahead rather than impromptu.

It can work the other way too – people moving back to their home city (often once the kids arrive, to be near the family) are sometimes in for a real culture shock. It’s busier or slower than they remember. Things are more costly. Grandparents don’t have as much time afterall. And friends have moved on.

The upshot? Moving is hard to do and no matter how prepared you are, it can take a good while to settle in.

Carolyn Boyd is a property journalist and keen follower of Australia’s housing market.

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