Five Things We Learned From Moving

We’re Ashley and Jamin Mills from The Handmade Home, and we’re honored to share our thoughts and lessons learned about the process of moving. Everyone’s story is different, but if you’ve experienced it you know it’s not for the faint of heart!

Once upon a time, almost three years ago, we took the leap. And it wasn’t so much of a leap, but more like that opening scene from Cliffhanger where we were hoping that faulty buckle didn’t slip and let us to fall into oblivion. Sound dramatic? Maybe so. But, after waiting three years to list it in a bad market, it took our home over a year to sell. Once it did, we moved our family and business to where houses sold like hotcakes. To say we took a financially heavy hit would be an understatement.

The difference between the two markets was as comical as it was risky. As if the move wasn’t crazy enough, we upped the ante by taking on a renovation with a house that had unexpectedly stolen our hearts from the moment we saw it. Throw in a self-made business and getting three children settled into a new life with a new school and it was probably one of the most stressful times of our lives. We’d waited so long for this to happen, we didn’t want to make the wrong choice. Many factors were involved, from money to inspections to house searches and so much more. (Did we mention money?)

It wasn’t all stress, though. We can look back fondly and say we also had some of our best moments and that we’d do it all over again.

There’s a list somewhere that addresses the most stressful life events a person can go through. Moving is near the top of that list. So, in the spirit of an encouraging word or two in case you’re just diving in, thinking about the process, or could use some tips from someone who’s been there, here are five lessons we learned from the process of moving.

1. Know your market.

When you’re making the big move, do your homework. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving across town, across the country, or just putting your home up on the market for kicks to see what will happen. The most prepared of house sellers will always be better off than those who aren’t.

Are you moving into a hot market, leaving a slow one, or vice versa? Will the buyer pay closing costs? Will the seller? We went from one market where the seller payed closing costs to another where the buyer did. Guess who paid for it all after already taking a hit? It was a big chunk of change on our part and we needed to be prepared.

Do you know what you’ll compromise on? Make a list of pros and cons before you begin the big search. No house is perfect, but it’s important to find ones that closely match your list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Do you want a big yard? Is the school important? What about neighbors and proximity to your daily commute? What are area zoning considerations if you want to renovate? What have comparable houses sold for nearby? The list of questions can be neverending, so keep your wits about you by being prepared. Do as much prep work as you can, and future you will thank past you for not procrastinating.

An extra tip: Don’t just rely on your agent for this–hello internet, and hello!

2. Patience–it’s not you, it’s them.

We waited until we were in a solid place to begin the selling process, but when we finally listed, it took forever to sell. It was honestly one of the most frustrating processes we’d been through—especially when viewers of our home came through only to look for decor ideas, and told us as much. (You mean I interrupted dinner, packed up my three children and two dogs, and threw my underwear in the bathroom cabinet all so you can come through for good decoration ideas?!)

Then, when we finally had a deal on the table, the new owners got a little demanding despite the fact they were way past their due diligence. My point? Sometimes you can check all your boxes, cross your t’s and dot your i’s, but people are simply unpredictable. Take the process with a little grace and a lot of salt, because these things have ways of working themselves out in the end.

When we found our new home, it was as if it had been waiting for us. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. It was worth the wait and hassle, even if we didn’t understand the process at the time. It wouldn’t have worked out the same if the timeline had been adjusted. Sometimes, you just have to accept where you are and take lots of cleansing, deep breaths until you reach the finish line.

3. Expect the unexpected: Something probably won’t go as planned.

Remember that time we found a hidden toilet in the backyard of our new house? And, after moving, when we found out the inspector missed some major issues with the house, like support issues and residual flooding? Yeah, good times. It was one crisis after another, to the point where we’d surpassed the fetal position and were laughing hysterically on the regular. But it worked out, and all these fun issues were properly repaired.

Be ready to roll with it because no house is perfect, even if it’s a new build. There will be challenges thrown your way. Take a deep breath, practice some self care, and try to relax after doing everything you possibly can. We promise you’ll figure it out, and it will be amazing.

4. It can be emotional, but that’s ok.

Moving is an emotional process.

From gazing at photos of your home the first time it’s listed and wondering if you’ve made a mistake, to that last night with the last boxes packed when you may or may not sob on an air mattress over a chapter closing. You’ll question yourself a million times over. You’ll have a few sleepless nights. You’ll probably shed a few tears, because it’s a bittersweet goodbye. It’s fondly holding on to a closing chapter that’s leading you to a new and exciting one. Your home has been your dwelling place for some of the most memorable days of your life and it’s okay to feel emotional about leaving it behind.

Give yourself that space to feel, and hang in there knowing your next adventure awaits.

5. Use color coding in your moving process.

This is the most practical advice we can give when moving, packing and relocating so you don’t pile on the stress.

When you’re ready to pack everything up, use simple color systems. Don’t worry about sharpies and labeling everything. You can do that if it makes you feel better, but colored tape is the key to your happiness. It sounds so basic, but do not pass go and do not collect $200. Duct tape in various colors from your local store will be your new best friend. Blue for the kitchen. Red for the master bedroom. Yellow for the little girl’s room, etc. It makes boxes easy to spot and easy to move for everyone who’s helping. Place the tape on every side, in case they’re stacked for a while. That way, they’re easy to access later and you know exactly what you need at a glance.

Thank you so much for tuning in today, we hope this helps shed a little light on both the emotional and practical sides of moving. We’re in your corner, and hope you have an inspired day!



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Jamin and Ashley Mills are the principal owners of The Handmade Home design studio in Nashville, Tennessee. They were named as 2 of the “Most creative people in the Country” by Country Living Magazine.

They have authored 4 books, are regulars on the CBS morning show in Nashville, TN delivering their take on design and renovations and are the authors behind The Handmade Home. They work with clients in the Nashville area helping them build or renovate their homes as well as work with clients nationally bringing a cohesive style to their homes as they create the spaces they love.

In their spare time, they’ve designed their own lines of art seen in Hobby Lobby and other places online, wallpaper, fabric, and other home and decor goods. They have three kids, two adorable pups and the best little maple tree with two wooden swings in the front yard of their home in Franklin, TN.

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