In the late 90s our family moved to the US from England. My husband and I were in our early thirties. We made it up to moving day with our sanity hanging on by a thread. Accompanying us to the States was our active two year old and two very British, rescue kitties, Bubble and Squeak. I was also pregnant with our second child. 

“Where is Santa Clara exactly?” I remember asking my husband a few weeks earlier, as he explained with excitement his amazing job opportunity on the other side of the world. He pulled out a paper map and pointed to a place near San Francisco. I had always wanted to visit CA, so with a nod I said “yes”. What could possibly go wrong? πŸ™‚ Looking back it was the right move, although it was certainly tinged with sadness and guilt leaving family in England behind.

From the moment we hit the green light for moving, life got crazy. We both had careers to resign from, and a ton of paperwork and clutter to shift. The eclectic selection of items that tumbled out of our London attic was a colorful mix of memorabilia, and rubbish that we really should have shifted long ago. A couple of car boot sales later and our attic was no longer sagging. Someone actually bought my husbands old caving wetsuit from his student days! Hopefully it got to have many more adventures. Not sure why it had still been in our attic 10 years after graduating college. Down to clutter accumulation. πŸ™‚

Technology has taken a ginormous leap since we moved, allowing for a much smoother transition to life overseas. In the late 90s digital information was hard to come by. Dial up was king, with the fun of not knowing if your modem would disconnect with a phone call as you tried to surf the web. If we were moving continents today (and just for the record, I never want to move home ever again) here are some digital “things” that make a big move easier.

Our small English home was plastered in post it notes, and paper lists. They were constantly being mislaid and rewritten with items on the critical path before our move. If you started writing on an old list the system was ruined. Today I would be using Trello and Leankit to assist. Boards and tasks within these two simple project management tools can be assigned to individuals in the family with a level of priority. When a task is completed there is the satisfaction of checking them off electronically and everyone else on the board is notified. Duplication avoided! Oh how much more efficient these tools are.

We were planning on renting our home out in England, mainly so we had somewhere to return to if things did not work out. Finding a decent rental management company was a challenge and really went by word of mouth recommendations. Today the ability to research the rental process and online reviews of companies saves a lot of time and headaches.

Moving and settling with children in a foreign country without Google was “interesting”. When I arrived in CA my first port of call was the local library where I could gather information on local doctors, play groups and interesting places to visit with small children. Now social media lets you network and connect with local play groups, youth sports organizations, and local child friendly businesses long before you arrive at your destination.

Connecting with the outside world was vital after the move, and while husbands are working hard to establish themselves in new careers, wives are often left to find their way in their new surroundings. Not complaining, but that’s how it was. Loneliness was a struggle in the early days. Survival instincts kicked in and I slowly found my way around. Paper road maps ruled! I remember dropping my husband at San Jose airport two days after we arrived in the US. I had never driven overseas before, and there is the slight change of driving on the other side of the road. A flashing blue light behind me on the freeway was not a good sign on day two. I had been driving in the car pool lane and was pulled over by a policewoman. She hadn’t seen the second person, my son, in the back seat.

Communicating with family and friends thousands of miles away has come a long way. With phone calls being so expensive in the late 90s, we called once a week, wrote letters, and emails to those who had an email address at the time. With the addition of Skype and then FaceTime the world got a whole lot smaller. I love that I can message family daily in England now, and share photos and videos. It brings us closer.

Do you have memories of moving without technology, or what apps and tools have helped you recently move?




  1. Laura Lee Carter June 14, 2016 at 6:29 am Reply

    Hi Lisa:
    We moved two years ago this week from the suburbs of a busy city to rural southern Colorado, with the plan to build a custom passive solar home in the outback. Come to find out, our cell phone didn’t even work at first out here.
    Certain phrases from your essay ring true to me now, lines like, “We made it up to moving day with our sanity hanging on by a thread.”
    Yes, we did it , but it was so hard, especially because we had to sell our home in the city to be able to build our dream home in the country. It all turned out great, but at the time I was really scared…
    I’m now writing a book about the whole experience, especially because we did it at age 60! One thing we learned the hard way is that taking big risks is hard, and even harder in your later years!

    • Lisa Bhella June 14, 2016 at 7:55 am Reply

      Congrats on making that move Laura! Sounds like it was stressful but so worth it. I would love to read the book. πŸ™‚

  2. Michele June 17, 2016 at 9:39 am Reply

    Hi, wow, you were brave to make such a big leap. I made a much smaller move two years ago. Even with all the social media and apps I haven’t made a lot of friends here. it is more difficult because my kids are grown, so no parenting network, and we are basically introverts. I don’t regret the move though. It is easy to keep up with family via social media.

    • Lisa Bhella June 18, 2016 at 6:46 am Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Michele. I think any move is stressful. Lots of moving parts leading up to moving day. It must be challenging moving as an emptynester. Children make it easier to make friends. Also I know as I am getting older I am more wary of new friendships.

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