Advice for moving with 9 year old

After a few years of considering a move to the northeast, we have finally decided to do it for a variety of reasons - job opportunity, closer to family, better schools, etc.  My husband and I are very sad, though, about all that we will be leaving behind, and I'm dreading telling our older child who is 9 and will be in between 3rd and 4th grade when we move this summer.  He is an extroverted kid who makes friends pretty easily, but also is very engaged and happy with his school, friends, and extracurricular activities here.  He also tends to have intense emotions, and I want to make sure we make the transition as easy as possible for him.  I'd love advice or experiences of people who went through this.  How far in advance did you tell your kid the news, how did they work through the sadness of leaving, how did you help them make friends and get settled in the new location?  We won't move until mid-summer so we have a full 6-7 months to prepare.  I never moved as a kid so this is new territory for me.  Thank you!

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I suggest that you involve your child as much as possible in the moving process. Look at possible places to live together. Discuss the pros and cons together of each place together. Pack his stuff with him and ask him what he wants to keep and what he wants to leave behind. Talk together about how to arrange furniture in his new room. Unpack together. 

In the new place, go to neighborhood parks, libraries, etc and make friends with the people you meet. Work on the front yard and be friendly with those who walk by. Get him a bike or skateboard and let him use it on your block. Have a housewarming and invite all your neighbors. 

Good luck!

hi!   I guess I think differently from the other responder.   I don't think you need to tell your 9 y/o early in the year.   And I don't think they should be a major part of the decision-making process for a house or a neighborhood since you need to think about a lot of factors some of which are way beyond what a 9 y/o can fathom.   He should definitely be involved in packing and in figuring out his room lay-out but only if that interests him.   I agree with the rest about checking out the parks, library, shops, etc., once you move there.  As for a bike, it will depend upon your street and neighborhood.  Good luck! 

We just moved last summer from Hayward to Maine. We had mixed emotions about leaving, but we are SO glad we did! We own a great home on a river with a yard in a nationally ranked school district where it's so safe people leave their cars unlocked in the driveway with the keys in them- for less than half of what we were paying in rent in a not so good district- my commute has gone from 1.5 hours each way to 8 minutes (literally... in rush hour traffic), etc., etc. There are lots of people and things we miss (the food!), but we don't regret the decision one bit.

Our child was 10 when we left California, between 5th and 6th grade. We actually started talking about the possibility of moving two years before we moved. We started talking about why we would move and when. We took a sheet of poster paper and taped it to the wall behind our dining table, and had a family discussion about what's important to our family in where we live (home we can afford, close to church, jobs for both of us, time to spend with family, good schools, weather, activities we enjoy, etc.). Everyone contributed, including our then 8 year old. At this point, he was NOT wanting to move, but I took the things he said and added them to the list in a constructive way that kept the heart of what was important for him- "I don't want to leave my friends"=good friends, "but I could be on the basketball team next year"=school with basketball team. Later, once we had picked where we were going, we brought out the paper and talked about how we had come up with this list as a family, and how the place we found met most/all of what was important to us, including him. We did NOT involve him in the choice of what state to move to or what house we were going to buy- he contributed to what was important to our family, but the final decisions are for the adults.

As we made decisions, we let him know right away- what state/area we were moving to, what date we were leaving, what city we were moving to, what house we were buying, what school he'd go to, etc. He did not know when I interviewed for jobs, but once I accepted, he was informed when we started looking at things and when we made a decision. 

Things we did to work though sadness of leaving:

  • Told his teachers, friends, and therapist we were moving as soon as we knew
  • Collected contact information for friends (and we've videochatted with friends after moving)
  • Had a goodbye party he could invite all of his friends to, a sleepover at our house. We bought margarita glasses at Dollar Tree and he decorated one for each of his friends, which we all used as ice cream bowls at his party, and his friends worked together to make him one that we kept and brought with us
  • Lots of pictures and videos of his friends, church family, etc.- we made a goodbye California photo book
  • A "goodbye tour" of where he was born, the house he lived in as a baby, other important places from his entire life where he could formally say goodbye and he could get pictures
  • On his last day in the house, he went and said goodbye to each of the rooms in the house.

Once arriving at our new home, basically just got started with activities and exploring the area right away, and kept in touch with friends back in California. Major bonus- he now says he LOVES school (in middle school, no joke!) and how much better it is here than in California, but he does miss his California friends and wants to visit.

Oh this is so challenging, and something I can really relate to having gone through this two years ago. I honestly feel we are still adjusting and there really is no easy way. What worked well for us--telling our child several months before the end of the school year so that they could start to adjust, be a part of the moving plan, etc. Trying to come up with as many positives as we could about our new location (also Northeast) while allowing space to be sad about leaving California. We moved just a few weeks after school ended, giving enough time on the other end of the move to allow for a few camps, etc in our new area and not to spend the whole summer in CA only to be pulled from that.

I'm not sure if your decision is definite (sounds like it might be) but I just wanted to offer that I felt that way (sad, conflicted)  (my partner was more for moving) and I honestly wish in my heart we had stuck it out. The sadness I felt about leaving hasn't gone away. Things are getting better but leaving the Bay Area has been much much harder than I thought and I still miss it greatly. I've brought my child back to visit friends and though I wasn't sure if it would help or hurt, I really do feel it has helped him to see it is possible to have friends in both places. We send notes and silly text messages to close friends and talk about how great it is having friends in multiple places we can now go visit. We keep a running list of both places about things we love about our new spot and things we really miss about CA. I have had to suppress some of my own feelings about our move to keep things on a more positive note for my child but I do acknowledge missing CA as well to help normalize those feelings for him. I second the advice someone else gave about getting settled and having a house warming party, inviting neighbors, etc. That helped a lot to quickly meet neighbors and they loved it too! We also immediately got to work on setting up our child's room when we arrived--painting, setting up furniture from home in CA, choosing some new things for their room once we got here. I think this was another important step. We had many nights and months of our child crying nightly and it was heartbreaking--we let those feelings flow openly and put a lot of effort into exploring our new home while also allowing much down time to just get settled. You mentioned you have family in the northeast and I would really recruit them to help with the adjustment as well--special outings, time at your new home, just being there.

To end on a positive note--slushy frozen lemonade, amazing foliage, beach dunes and soft sand, warm summer nights in flip-flops and fireflies, sleigh riding and snow shoeing, crisp air, new signs of life in spring, and magical first snow falls await! :)  We meet folks often who also recently moved so please know you are not in this alone and you will find your CA people on the east coast.

Wishing a smooth and happy journey for you and your family.

We just moved to the Bay Area with our 10 and 15 year old this past summer, and even though we talked about this move WAY in advance (we started making plans 1.5 years prior) and tried our best to involve them in every step, it was still really, really tough, especially for our little one.  He missed his old school, his friends, our big family get togethers with all his cousins.  My husband and I both moved at around 4-5th grade so we knew what it felt like to all of a sudden have to deal with a new environment, school, culture, etc.  So what I would recommend is to involve him in the decision-making, but also know that no matter what it will take a good 3-6 months until it starts getting better.  And to reassure him that it will get better!  It also helped that we got him a long-awaited pet a week after our move.   :)  

Best of luck to you and your family!

When my daughter was 10, we moved 4 blocks. It was actually really hard for her. She slept on a mat on the floor of my room for a month before she acclimated to the new house and was not scared in her own room. Also, my daughter has two friends who moved to the Bay Area after 2nd grade, and now more than 10 years later they still go back to visit their old friends every year, and sometimes the old friends come here to visit. Both of these friends joined activities outside of school as soon as they moved here to make friends, and it is also good in the long run to have friends outside of school. My advice is to research in advance a team or activity he can join right away when you arrive at your new home, and see what you can do to stay in touch with his current friends after you move such as weekly video chats.

Hello, I'm moving with my 8yo daughter from the Bay Area to the Midwest/East this summer. I started by telling her it was a "maybe" and engaged her in dialogue around "what would it be like?" and what all the pro's were. Then, we spoke about some of the things that would be different. She was able to express some fears and we talked through them. I'm a single parent and she knows being close to family will be so much better! We are both pretty excited and can talk about things as they come up. Good luck!! I know, I'm scared too and will miss so much of the joys of the Bay Area, but this will create so much more of a life (and we can come back to visit any time!).

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Their accrediting body is here:

I adore the Child Life Specialists I've worked with and think it could really be worth some internet searches to find someone who could help you all navigate this change.