Are You in Home Limbo?

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1960 split-level model home kit available from ione’s Attic on Etsy – click image for info

My husband and I just bought a new house. Commence operation Purge & Pack.

Of course this means that between now and the date on which we take possession of our beloved split-level pad we’ll be living in what I call home limbo: that space between the moment we start dismantling our current home, and the moment we declare ourselves satisfactorily settled into our new one.

Frankly, along with the excitement of planning the new digs, home limbo can be exhausting.

Luckily I’ve found a few tricks to help me manage it to various degrees of success. I post them here selfishly as a reminder to myself, and to share them with you, should you be facing the same scenario.

Accept that your routines, surroundings, and systems will be disrupted. Assuming you actually have systems in place, this can be discombobulating and frustrating. Knowing ahead of time that it will happen may soften the blow or allow you to preemptively set up temporary workarounds.

Gather appropriate packing materials. Splurge for an extra tape gun and a box of blank newsprint, ditch the tattered boxes, and bring what you’ve got together in one, central spot. Make it easy on yourself; you’ve got better things to do than spend 45 minutes searching for the good Sharpie.

Enlist help. If you need help, ask. It’s usually easier to bring someone in when you’ve already triaged what’s ready to go and can put them straight to work. My mother is one of the most efficient packers I’ve ever seen; just point her to the pile of stuff that’s ready to be boxed and watch her go!

Expect that it will take more time than you think to do it all. Yes, if we were fully dedicated to packing we could probably do it fairly quickly, but sometimes life butts in. Allow for delays if you can or, even better, plan a few. Practice Project Management 101; build in some buffer.

Take it all in stride. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and make time for play. The house will get packed even if it’s not done perfectly (says the perfectionist), and things will be OK.

You are in the middle of a major transition; it’s normal that things get a little stressful. Try to embrace the shift and all that comes with it.

How do you manage home limbo? Do you have any tricks to share?

Really, I’d love to know!

7 thoughts on “Are You in Home Limbo?

  1. Stephanie, this exactly describes where I am. Home limbo. We close on our current home this week but have no where specifically to go (we may be staying with friends for a while til we find the right home or move into a rental.) Thanks for acknowledging some of the craziness… it helps me to feel validated as I’m stressed and overwhelmed and I cry often.

    The one thing I’ve done is to make my daily morning walk with my dog a time to remember the positive things that are going on. I can get bogged down with how details don’t turn out… the disappointments, the frustrations. But having a daily routine where I actively think on the positive movement forward helps.

    1. Transition and uncertainty can be disorienting; I love that you have a dedicated routine to acknowledge positive movement forward. What a beautiful and empowering exercise!

      Thank you for sharing it here.

  2. We’ve been in home limbo for 8 months. Living out of boxes, not knowing where anything is. The limbo is a rental, a small cabin with no storage and terrible plumbing and not well heated. It has been a long haul over the winter, but we are 1 month away from moving into our new home.

    New house construction is monumentally stressful, especially when you decide to handle all the contracting yourself. The only thing keeping us sane at the moment is the knowledge of it almost being over.

    Moving out of an old house directly into a new house sounds like a dream! One key thing to remember is that this is only a very tiny slice in time of the rest of our lives, you are setting things up to be in a place you truly love.

    Persevere with patience and tolerance (even though it can be very trying at times!) and everything will work out in the end.

    Good luck!

  3. “…this is only a very tiny slice in time of the rest of our lives, you are setting things up to be in a place you truly love.”

    Such wise words Cheryl. Thank you. I bow to your taking care of the contracting of your new home yourself – and making it through this winter with your sanity! Only one month to go… : )

  4. Great post, Stephanie! Your advice about accepting the disruption really eases the discomfort and frustration. I am currently living in France, but (most of) my earthly possessions are boxed up in my regular home in Australia. Prior to that I was boarding in a friends house in preparation for my sojourn to France. Prior to that I was travelling around Italy with a friend. So, it has been a little bit of home limbo for quite a while now. I have learnt (the hard way) that having less stuff is by far the easiest way to adapt to home limbo. By that I mean, that learning to live with less simplifies your life and helps you to get on with just living. I like my stuff, so it has not been an easy lesson to learn, but certainly a useful one. Good luck and peace to those in home limbo!

    1. Adele, that would be a hard lesson for me too. I definitely sit in the homebody camp (vs. the nomadic) and though I know my things are supposed to be just “stuff”, they’re stuff I like. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

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