I was reminded of the chapter in my book about living in temporary accommodation as I realised that I had not followed all my own advice. We have been living in a temporary apartment since the beginning of December and will probably be here until March. It is a lovely apartment and we are very lucky to be able to stay here whilst the owners are in Asia backpacking. However it takes time to find your groove in someone else’s home. Simple routine things such as where you leave your handbag and keys when you come in, without your usual spot, means that brain power is needed to remember in the morning as you rush out the door. Usually routine activities don’t use a lot of brain power but living in a strange place they do.We also have to use the communal tumble dryer, which has been a great way to meet people, but also adds an element of extra planning to the day especially as the washing machine in the apartment uses the shower water taps so needs to be put on by the last person out and if forgotten adds even more rush to the day.
Also finding that you didn’t bring all the things you actually needed. We tried not to bring too much stuff here but there were little things we forgot as we didn’t really think too far ahead. I travelled to the UK last weekend and we have another trip planned in the school break but I forgot to pack our adapter plugs. I hate to use the world’s resources to buy things I already own so I was lucky that a Facebook appeal to the parents in my son’s class meant I had some to borrow. I also didn’t think that I would need any smart ‘work’ clothes in the few months we are here and a work trip plus a variety of meetings coming up means that was a mistake and a trip to H&M and wearing the same smart outfit – perhaps it will become my signature look.
But we do have most of my crafting supplies, Christmas decorations, winter boots (but no smart shoes), a ton of Lego and my one cup cafetière and milk frother. All useful but not essentials things.
Whilst my husband is more situational, both my son and I are ready to resume normal life as neither of us enjoys too much change, and by that we mean one with all the Lego, more than three cookbooks, a wider selection than just a very basic wardrobe, pretty books like this and this and cheese knives! I am certainly not a minimalist!
On a serious note, whilst all these things seem a little trivial and we are in a familiar place so there is a lot less stress living in a temporary place in a new city, it is obvious to see how living in a transitional home whilst house hunting in a new city can be stressful. Yes, you have all the things you need but not your own.
There was a great piece of advice in my book from another Brit who moved here last year and spent some months in an AirBNB whilst they searched for permanent home.
Make sure you take a few small boxes of things that make you feel like this new home is your home. Not just the clothes and the essentials, but a couple of items which connect your present to your past, and make you feel like you’re not standing still in somebody else’s house. My husband and I packed our adored bed linen, a few choice books, and the hearty casserole dish we use every Sunday which was a wedding present. When everything is overwhelming, foreign and confusing, it can make a world of difference to slip into your own sheets at the end of the day.
Scientists often talk about two types of thinking. There is the type in which we very actively think and this uses up a ton of energy and then there is the automatic thinking we do, which is about 90 percent of all our thinking, and take very little energy. Usually activities such as food shopping, driving and repetitious everyday activities fall into the latter category. But when we move to a new place, everyday things can start to fall into active thinking and drain our energy reserves. Which explains how stressful life can become when you move to a new place full of the unknown.