Anti-panic strategies for moving from a quarter acre block to 100 acres farm

Two and a half weeks ago we made a tree change. We've been planning it for 20 years, slowly working towards our goal, adding value to our little mountains cottage in New South Wales, waiting for the right timing. After a long-planned overseas trip we returned determined to make our dream a reality! Having watched the market in Tasmania for over 12 months we started to plan a short trip down there to look at our shortlist of properties.

'Crumbleton Manor' as I affectionately call our new house, was under contract and we thought we'd missed out. It had everything we wanted - lots of land (more than we dreamed of actually) and a period house that didn't need renovation (well, not TOO much). After viewing other places we arrived here and as soon as I got out of the car I saw THAT VIEW and knew this was our new home.

part of our new 'backyard'
our previous backyard
Such a huge change was a massive challenge for all of us. We left behind 20 years of friendships and connections in the area, a school community and familiar places we loved to go. Just thinking about all the packing gave me panic attacks.  So, I got to work organising our lives to prevent disasters and reduce anxiety. Here is my must-do list:

1. Moving companies
Research moving companies online, check out reviews of them and go with the one that actually comes to your house and assesses your belongings professionally and with courtesy. You will get 2 things - an estimate of the volume of your household (ours was 95 cubic metres) and a quote.

2. Use professional packers
This saved a lot of time and energy and reduced my stress by about 80%. I packed personal items and the most fragile myself. The packers were excellent and over 2 days packed our entire household and our massive shed full of machinery, tools, extra furniture and loads of wood, also the contents of my studio. (now that's one thing I do miss. Terribly!)

3. Start de-cluttering ASAP!
Don't wait until the last couple of weeks to start a garage sale! Once you have decided to move, begin selling stuff and de-cluttering straight away. I spent 6 months going through all our clothes, crockery, appliances etc selling what I could and taking the rest to charity shops.

4. Ensure you know all about the rules for pets and transport to your new location
Different states in Australia have different biosecurity rules. Tasmania is an island, so biosecurity is a big priority. Our dogs had to be treated for hydatid worms at least 3 days before travelling to ensure the medication was up to date and they didn't create a mess in the car if it upset their systems.

5. Plan what you will need in the last few days and Day 1 at the new place
Because all our furniture left our house five days before we travelled, I had to consider what we would need for the last week at home and also for the first days at our new place. I opted for plastic tableware, one saucepan and a large frying pan with lid for cooking. The last couple of nights we were at a friend's place for dinner and then had home delivered Italian for the last night. I packed some easily prepared meals that could survive travel, such as packet pasta, jars of spaghetti sauce and put fruit and vegies in an eski. Don't forget tea and coffee, long life milk, breakfast cereal, bread and butter. Also included in this box were cooking utensils such as wooden spoon, egg flip, kitchen scissors and tongs, travel mugs for hot drinks as well as dishwashing liquid, a tea towel and laundry liquid.

We purchased a small fridge to travel with us and use at the new house before all our furniture turned up. We slept on fold-up beds the last five nights and used those when we arrived in Tassie. Towels, bedding, toiletries, clean clothes for five days were also put aside for this period.

6. Pay all your bills ASAP
Don't wait until the last minute to get these things sorted and out of the way, otherwise it just hangs around your brain, annoying you at all hours.

I could not have survived without lists of what I needed to organise and lists for my hubby and child too. Everyone has their part to play in a big move. Even children need to figure out what toys they want with them for the last week, the journey and first few days at the new house. Also clothes needed for this period.

8. Mail redirection
At your local post office you will find forms to fill out to get your mail redirected. It may take up to 5 business days to take effect, so plan ahead.

9. Enlist your friends to help
There are so many things to think about and do. When a friend offers to help, for goodness sake give them a job to do!

10. Farewell party
All your friends will want to say goodbye. Beware some won't be able to make it to the party and will insist on 'just dropping in for a quick cuppa'. Avoid this if you can! It ends up being stressful, as you have no furniture, limited food and VERY LITTLE time. So plan the farewell party well head and give people plenty of time to organise to be there. Also, crucially, make it a 'bring-a-plate' party. I have developed a type of Drop-in party in the last few years that allows people to drop in when it suits them, by having it '12 o'clock onwards'. Everyone seems to like this as it allows for their other commitments and the best thing is that they don't all arrive at the same time! You can spend time with each person, rather than buzzing around the place like a blowfly not really seeing anyone properly.

11. Give everyone your forwarding address
We left just after Christmas, so I printed out a photo of us and our address and contact details and glued them inside the Christmas card. Worked a treat! You may choose to email or message people but the important thing is that they know where you are going and can contact you.

So that's it for my first blog post. I have a feeling our new life is going to be all-consuming. But I'm hoping it will dovetail neatly with my writing career!  Check out my books!

And my other blogs!