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*the person who trails the primary income earner to a new career destination

Moving house is an utter drag but having the chance to live in a different country and explore a different way of life is utterly entrancing.
How do you make the move easier?

Get organised
If you are a trailing spouse it may make sense to spend some of your time getting organised. A few hours devoted to organising things here and there will make it that much easier when it comes time to pack up and move. Our last move was probably our best and I think it was the organisational side of things that helped. I knew that we would be leaving about 2 months before we moved and bought a ring binder that I divided into a number of sections. Each section related to a different room and I wrote down all the things that I had to do in each room. As an example, in the children's bedroom, I had to cull down toys. Pass on school uniforms. Sell or give away plants. Pull down paintings and patch walls where hooks had been. I had to sort out what was worth packing and what wasn't. I decided to get the children's pictures put in one place and sort out all the miscellaneous papers. Older toys that were of limited use could be passed on to charities; the same for books. By detailing each of these steps I could check what I had to do as well as check what I could pick up, pass on or delegate. It was also a good aide-memoire to check whether I had forgotten anything as it was all detailed in one location.

Get an inventory going
A friend came over and armed with coffee and gossip we did a totally comprehensive inventory. She walked around each room and I sat on the floor and typed things into an Excel spreadsheet. As she called out what was in each cupboard I wrote it all down and because she was able to look at it with a fresh eye she saw fittings and things that I didn't even think of including. The knife rack. Oh yeah! The light shades? Forgot about them. Later on I put in a fuller description as well as a valuation and a replacement value. Make sure that you do this after you have done any culling or sales as it of great use when your goods have arrived at the new location and you are unpacking.

You can use it to check whether all of your things have arrived as well as being useful for insurance purposes. I also used it when the packers moved in as I wrote the number of each box on my inventory. Then, when I was at the other end, I could check my list, see what I was looking for and at last have a rough idea of where I should go to find something.

I also did an inventory of all of our CDs.

Happy snaps
Digital cameras really come into their own when you move as well. I let the kids walk around the house taking detailed photos of every item we owned. It didn't matter how many we took as I just downloaded them on to my laptop. And the kids loved getting so involved as well. I had shots of my coffee table from every conceivable angle. Pictures of the coffee machine, the lounges, chairs, tables all detailing the condition and that corners weren't chipped, lamp bases were intact and that nothing was torn. These photos came in handy when our lamps arrived with broken bases and our leather lounge had a tear ,as we could prove that these had been done by the movers.

Pack a quick unpack box
Make sure you have a box that you can unpack quickly which helps you get sorted. I packed tissues, toilet paper, mugs, plates, cutlery, kettle and our vacuum cleaner and this was marked with a large star on the outside. Once the truck was unpacked I could at least get the children fed, a few toys passed out and a cup of coffee brewing.

Amanda O has been an expatriate for most of her life and can't imagine living any other way!

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Posted 21Aug05