We know that moving to a new home or neighborhood can be an exciting event, but also an emotional one. There are always questions regarding financial factors, or concerns about the toll the move will take on your family. Whether choosing a new home, neighborhood, or a new school for your child, the real estate experience can sometimes be a long and confusing process.

Dr. Joyce Brothers, renowned psychologist, author, television celebrity and syndicated columnist, provides insight on how buying or selling a home might affect your career, family or friends. Dr. Brothers offers advice that can help calm your nerves and address your fears.

Whose family should I move closer to?
How do I handle my children who are not happy about moving?
Do I have an obligation to my husband if he wants to move?
Should I relocate back to my childhood town?
How should I approach my older parents moving away?
Is bigger better when buying a home?
Should I move back to my home town?
Are we ready to take on larger house payments?
How can I make my teenager understand our move?
When is the best time to buy a home?
How do I stay sane when showing my house?
Did we make a mistake moving?
How can I afford a home of my own?
Why am I happy and sad about moving?
How can I make the transition smoother?
How can I reduce the anxiety of my two children?
How can I stop worrying over money?
We are senior citizens, should we relocate?
Why is searching for our first home so stressful?
Can a house have too many memories?
I miss my old neighborhood. What should I do?
Who sleeps where?  How do we decide fairly?
How to help my children cope with relocation?

 
Dear Dr. Brothers:
     My husband, our three small children, and I are currently living in Brooklyn where we have resided for eight years. There has always been a conflict of interest about where we will eventually move. My husband has always wanted a "big house" in New Jersey where his parents live. However, Iíve always wanted to move to Long Island where all my family and friends have relocated. My husband is really close to his father and they would very much like to work in the same office together. However, I am a housewife and freelance writer, so I can move anywhere. The time has come for us to make our decision and we are both under a lot of pressure.
     I want to do what is best for my entire family, but I am so afraid
of making a move to another state where I am not familiar with
anyone or anything. Also, I would like my children to live closer
to their grandmother, my mother, who is a very special part of their lives. She lives in New York and I feel so much more comfortable there. This subject has definitely affected a very good marriage. What should we do?

Name:  Withheld
Brooklyn, NY


    
It seems you both have very strong convictions about where your family should live. It is clear you will both need to make some sacrifices if you
want to preserve your marriage and your family. In fact one of you may have to give up, or temporarily put off, your own desires since you cannot live in two places at one time.

     Begin by setting aside some time for you and your husband to have a "heart to heart" conversation about this topic. Although you may already be familiar with each otherís feelings, put aside your preconceived notions and really listen to each otherís concerns. Weigh the pros and cons of each situation and try and discuss them calmly and rationally. It is important to remember that you are a team and that your relationship takes priority over these types of differences.

     During your discussion consider establishing some sort of compromise. Perhaps you agree to move to New Jersey for a certain period of time and then reconsider New York at a later date. Maybe your husband would agree to live in New York with the understanding that if it were not working for him
in two years, you would talk seriously about relocating to New Jersey.

     Try to make some sort of decision or come to an agreement by the
end of your discussion. Indecision can lead to resentment and frustration. Instead, establish a plan of action. Perhaps you may begin by contacting
a real estate professional in both locations and looking for homes in both areas. Market values, inventory and school systems may influence your decision about where to live.

     No matter what your final decision, it is imperative that you both have
positive attitudes when you do move. The person who compromises his or
her position, should try his or her very best to adapt to the new community. For instance, if you do move to New Jersey, make every effort to make it a successful move. Sulking and being withdrawn in your new location will not lead to a successful relocation for your family. Conversely, the spouse that ultimately gets his or her wish should be very supportive. For instance, if you move to New Jersey, your husband should be very supportive of you during the transition period.

     Finally, keep in mind that New Jersey and Long Island are close enough for weekend visits and frequent contact. Remember that family ties are much stronger than distance.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:
     My husband and I are considering moving back to our home state
of Iowa. Our children, who are young teens, are not happy about the decision. What advice would you give to help make the transition 
easier for them?

Name: DR
O'Fallon, MO

   
     Adolescence is a time of physical and emotional change. Adding
a move to this mix can create some challenges. There are, however, 
some steps you can take to help make a move easier for your teens.

     For many years, relocation professionals and child experts thought
a move during the summer was the best idea for children because it 
allowed them to start the school year fresh and begin classes with their peers. However, there has been a change in that way of thinking in recent years. Many now feel that a move during the school year may be preferable. Here is why: During the summer months, teens may become isolated and lonely if they do not find neighborhood friends. In addition, many families travel during the summer, limiting the amount of social interaction available. However, during the school year, they are forced into social situations. Classes, sports and clubs are outlets for them to meet others and begin
to build relationships. Although it may be hard for your teen, especially if 
you have a daughter, to break into a new teenage clique, sometimes being the "new kid in school" can be a point-of-differentiation and even help break the ice. In addition, moving during the school year will allow your teens to
try out for sports teams and extra-curricular groups that form in the spring, practice in the late summer, and compete in the fall. Relocating during the summer may exclude them from these opportunities.

     If you do decide to move during the summer, begin investigating summer activities in the spring when enrollment for summer courses and camps start. These programs may fill up quickly and may not be available after you make the move. A key to a successful move for your teens is helping them find social outlets where they can begin to grow their roots in your new hometown.

     However, even with these precautions, a move can be a very difficult
time for a teenager. Adolescents are trying to separate themselves from
their parents and establish their own identities. Their friends are a big part
of how they see themselves and leaving this support system can be very traumatic. Keep these factors in mind when talking to your teens. Offer to
set up an email account when you move, so they may keep in touch with friends. Let them know that they can come back and visit, or have their friends visit their new town. Above all, listen to their fears and concerns
and let them know you understand and care. Be sure to focus on the positives of this move when discussing it with them, but remember the intensity of emotions they are experiencing.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:
     My husband is thinking of retiring and wants to move to another state where the houses and living are less expensive. I do not want to move away from the family, church, and the neighborhood that we have lived in for many years. However, I also do not want to disappoint my husband. Do I have an obligation to do as he wishes?

Name: Name Withheld
Concord, CA

   
     You must remember that you are an equal partner in your marriage and have every right to express your feelings and concerns about this potential move. Let your husband know that you want to discuss the topic and set aside some time to thoroughly discuss the reasons you might move and
the implications of doing so.

     During the conversation, let your husband know that you are hesitant to move to another state where you will be separated from friends, family and support systems. Let him know that you are excited for his retirement and happy he will be able to spend more time doing the things he likes, but that you also have needs.

     However, please keep in mind that just expressing your concerns will
not guarantee that you will be able to stay. If you are not fully informed about your finances ask your husband to review your status and the implications
of his retirement with you. Perhaps financial reasons will require you to move. Many people move to smaller homes or less expense parts of the country when their incomes decrease following retirement. Remember that such a move may be viewed as a new beginning and an adventure, and must not always be thought of in negative terms.

     During this conversation, explore the options that are available to you. Perhaps you may be able to stay in your present area, but move to a smaller home, townhouse or adult community. Or, instead of moving to another state, explore surrounding communities that may be less expensive than the area you live in now.

     Whatever the outcome, remember that your obligation is not only to support your husband, but also to express your own thoughts and feelings.
In addition, retirement can be a wonderful time in a coupleís life. Look to this time as a period of rediscovery and positive change.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:
     My husbandís job has forced us to relocate very often, not only around the country, but also overseas. I have pretty much adjusted everywhere, even in Asia, but back in the U.S. I feel trapped. The people in this community keep to themselves and I have had feelings of isolation for the last four years. I have tried everything, from childrenís parties (we have 2 kids) to cultural events, and I still have not been able to connect on a one-to-one basis. I want to relocate back to my childhood town, where most of my relatives and friends are located. My husband is not opposed to this. The important factor is that he might not be able to find a job right away, and Iím already feeling guilty for the interruption in our family life, but I feel that I need to do this for everyoneís sake. I need support and true female friends. My husband canít be all that for me. Please help.

Name: Name Withheld
Boise, ID

     Those who prompt a move often experience feelings of guilt and 
doubt. They may not want to disrupt the childrenís school experiences
or friendships, or force a spouse to look for a new job. These feelings
are understandable, but in your case, you need to look beyond these emotions and do what you feel is best for you and your family.

     It appears that you have made a serious effort to reach out to those in your new community and you have done so for a significant period of time. And, given your proven track record of successful moves and transitions, 
it is clear that you know what it takes to build new relationships. In addition, you know you are a woman who needs different emotional outlets and friendships. Together, these factors indicate that a move may be best 
for you and your family.

     Begin by having a serious discussion with your husband about finances. Can your family afford to move at this time and how long can you manage without a steady income? If you feel you can relocate, your husband should begin networking in your hometown. Perhaps you have friends or relatives
that know of a job opportunity. You will also want to discuss this decision with your children. Try and make them part of the choice and explain why
you feel a move is important. If your children have legitimate concerns,
listen to them. Perhaps one is a junior in high school and would like to graduate from this school. Maybe a move could be delayed a year. But
during these conversations, remember that your own emotional health
is as important as the needs of your family.

     During your marriage it appears that you have moved many times
for the sake of your husbandís job. Now, it may be time to make a move 
for your own personal reasons. Remember, it is okay to do things for you. The support of family and friends is a very important part of oneís life. If you feel a move can help you and your family gain this support, begin seriously exploring relocation.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:
     My 70 year-old parents have asked me to assist them in the purchase of a home in New Mexico. I have been the primary contact when they are sick or need assistance. I know being so far away from them wonít be easy emotionally for me, because I am the closest of my siblings. How should I approach this?

Name: K.G.
Waterford, NY

     Many people choose to move to warmer climates after they retire because they can no longer deal with the responsibilities that come with bad weather, such as shoveling sidewalks and driveways. Some also feel "shut in" in the winter months and know that a warmer region would offer them the freedom to enjoy the outdoors throughout the year. Others choose to move south or west for health or medical reasons.

     Those might be some of the reasons your parents are considering a move to New Mexico. Begin by talking with them about their motivation for moving. Make sure they understand the implications of such a long distance move, such as leaving friends, family and comfortable surroundings behind. Also point out that you will no longer be nearby to help with errands or in emergencies.

     If you discuss these points with them and they would still like to move, give them your full support. While the move may be hard on you emotionally, this is their decision. While you may express your concerns, let them know that you are there to help them make the transition, no matter what your personal opinion. Your support will be crucial to a successful move.

     Like most adult children, you are sure to worry about your parentís welfare, especially if you have grown accustom to having them nearby. One alternative that may help ease your worries, and provide your mom and dad with a support system in their new hometown, is an "assisted living" or "adult community." This would provide your parents with a community atmosphere and many of these developments also have nursing services, which may be needed as they grow older.

     To help ease your own concerns and loneliness, plan a trip in advance
of the move to New Mexico to visit your parents in their new home. You may also suggest that they make trips back to the East Coast whenever time and finances allow. Perhaps, you may be able to finance one of these trips yourself. In between, the telephone, email and letter writing are great ways
to keep in touch. Also, taking up a new hobby may help ease your anxieties and concerns and help take your mind off the situation.

     Above all, remember to support your parents and be thankful that they 
are well enough to embark on a new adventure during this stage in their lives.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:
     My husband and I purchased a modest home and we are very happy there. It suits our needs. However, I work in the real estate industry and my co-workers can't understand why we don't want to "move-up" to a more expensive, larger and fancier home. We are middle-aged and the home we are in now will meet our needs as we age. How do I answer my co-workers?

Name Withheld
Jerseyville, IL


     Homeowners often experience pressure to "keep up with the Joneses," meaning they feel they should buy a larger or newer home, one that may even be beyond their means and needs, simply because their friends or co-workers are. This is a phenomenon that can occur in any industry or circle of friends.

     The best way to respond to colleagues who feel you should "move up" is to be honest. Explain, in a polite and friendly manner, that you are also a real estate professional and know the benefits of purchasing a larger and more "up-scale" property. However, you and your husband are considering this home a "life-time investment," a place you will stay for many, many years. Tell them it suits your needs now and also won't present the up-keep and related expenses a larger home would as you age. Also explain that you are very happy in your present home, and don't feel the desire to move during this point in your life. You may also want to mention that you plan to use the money you save to do other things you enjoy, perhaps traveling, or a hobby you couldn't take up if you were living in a more expensive residence.

     A friend and co-worker should respect your answer and let the subject drop. However, if they persist with the topic, let them know in a polite, but firm manner, that you appreciate their concern, but this is a decision you and your husband have made, one that you feel is best for you.

     If you feel that someday you might change your mind and look for a new residence, say just that. Perhaps you might say something like, "I know real estate is a cyclical business and if the perfect house does come along, I might consider moving, but it is not an idea we are exploring right now."

Dear Dr. Brothers:
    We decided to move to the country from our city home about one year ago. My wife had an excellent support group of friends in our old locale and is having a difficult time making friends in our new community. We both feel the situation is hopeless and are seriously considering a move to the town where I grew up. My concern is that she doesnít know anyone there either and Iím not sure if it is a smart move.

Name Withheld
Granbury, TX

     A group of intimate, nearby friends is one of lifeís greatest comforts. Your wife has left behind the convenience and solace of that support group and must now work on building new relationships in your new hometown. While those long-held friendships will always be important to her, new friendships are key to a successful move.

     For many adults, building new relationships is very difficult. Here are some tips she may use to bridge the gap to new friendships:

Investigate previous interests.
If your wife enjoyed a hobby in the city, she should explore that activity in this new environment. For example, if she was part of a bridge club, join a similar group in your new locale. Or, if she enjoyed gardening, look for a horticulture group.

Explore new hobbies.
Since you are both in a new location, you might both try out new hobbies as well. Exercise groups, dance lessons, art classes, book clubs, or continuing/adult education classes are a few ideas.

Tap local resources.
Getting involved in area civic or community groups is a good way to build friendships. Libraries, the local YWCA/YMCA, political parties, volunteer organizations, local recreation/sports programs and churches/synagogues are some of the outlets you and your wife might explore.

Reach out to your neighbors.
Your wife must reach out to others to build friendships. This may make her uneasy, but it is necessary to make that initial connection. Introduce yourselves to your new neighbors or invite them over for coffee. A "Welcome Wagon" group or your real estate professional may help facilitate this process.

     If your wife has really tried her best and has exhausted all these options, you may consider moving back to your childhood town. You may be able to provide the introductions she needs to build these new relationships. However, before you relocate again, see what ties you still have to the place where you grew up. Also, make sure your wife will not be envious of the connections you have. Seeing you with old friends could make her feel even more alone if she is not prepared for that reality. Above all, encourage her to get out, meet new people and take advantage of all this new opportunity has to offer, no matter where you decide to live.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:16
    My husband and I want to sell our condo and move into a house. However, we are scared of larger house payments. Do you think this will be an easy transition for us?

Name Withheld
San Jose, CA

     The transition from a condominium or townhouse to a single-family home should be a fairly smooth change for you and your husband if you are prepared for the impact it will have on your lifestyle, as well as your pocketbook.

     The benefits of owning a house often include more storage and living space, a front and/or a back yard you can landscape or garden, additional space for entertaining or raising a family, more privacy and an exterior you can decorate to express your personal style. However, owning a home does come with additional responsibilities including typically higher mortgage payments, yard work and additional home maintenance. If you feel you are ready to take on these new household tasks in exchange for the benefits of homeownership, begin with a serious look at your financial standing.

    Examine your cash flow and expenses and determine how much additional money you can put toward the usually higher mortgage of a freestanding home. This may require making some compromises or reallocating your budget. You may need to dine out less, trade in a more expensive car for one with smaller payments, refrain from buying luxury items, and so on. When considering how much you can put towards the home remember to factor in the down payment, closing costs, taxes, insurance, and money you will need for unexpected home improvements. Many financial advisors suggest budgeting up to 25 percent of your income for housing expenses.

    You will also want to be pre-qualified for a home loan by your mortgage lender. This will tell you, based on your finances, what type of home you can afford. If the expenses make you uneasy, scale back the homes you consider to a lower price range. If you are concerned about money, you canít go wrong by buying slightly under the amount you have been approved for.

    You should also consider the opinions of your real estate professional, your loan officer, and/or the advice of someone whose financial advice you trust to determine what price range of homes you should explore. Purchasing and owning a home should be an exciting and fulfilling experience. Donít let the fear of what could happen rob you of that pleasure. At the same time, if your inner voice is telling you that you are not ready for this level of financial commitment and lifestyle changes, wait until you are comfortable with the decision.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:15
    My husband and I have three children ages 16, 7 and 3. I own my own research company, which I have taken a short break from after the birth of our youngest son. We definitely need a bigger house to accommodate all of us. My teenager does not want to move to any house that is farther from her high school. We presently live about two miles away. She has her license, but she wants to be able to walk to her friends, even though they also drive to each otherís houses. How should we approach the decision to move to a house that is farther away from her school, but closer to the pre-school and elementary school that our sons attend? She is not very flexible about the decision even after we explained that the boys will be in the house much longer than she will. My husband says we have the final word, but I also want to have some peace and harmony with her.

Name Withheld
Madison, WI

     The months leading up to a decision on whether or not to relocate can be as anxiety-filled as a move itself. As a caring parent, you want to make the choice that is best for your entire family. In this situation, your oldest daughter has the most concerns. She is clearly attached to the house where she grew up, the neighborhood and her friends. However, your husband is right. You cannot let the needs of one family member override what is best for your family.

     When you tell your daughter you are planning to move there are sure to be hurt feelings, tears and anger, but it is important that you discuss the decision with her. Let her know that you understand her feelings, but that her siblings deserve the same luxuries that she enjoyed growing up - a nearby school, a more spacious home, and neighborhood friends. Remind her that she has the luxury of a driverís license and that she may easily drive to her high school and to visit her friends. Also, you might mention that this move is not as traumatic as a move to another town or state. She will not be faced with the hardship of changing school districts with new classes and new cliques.

     Once you have explained that this decision is best for the family, give her time to let the news sink in. Once a few days have passed, tell her that you are concerned for her feelings and that you want her to be involved in this experience. Tell her that she can even help choose the next house. Ask her what is important to her. Maybe she would like a bigger bedroom or a family room where she can have friends over. Tell her you will make those requests part of your search criteria.

     When you find a home that meets your needs and you are settled in a bit, consider throwing a housewarming party for your daughterís friends. This may help her adjust to the new surroundings.

    For the most part, teens have not had enough experience to understand that change and adapting to change are part of life. It is a lesson we all must learn. Although this transition may be difficult, this decision is best for the majority of your family. As your daughter matures, she will realize this.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:14
    I want to buy a home, but my wife keeps holding me back. We have the money. We live upstairs in a beautiful apartment in her motherís house. She said she would like to wait a year or so. Iím 33 and handy. How can I get her to change her mind?

Name Withheld
Seaford, NY

    Your home purchase will be most successful when both you and your wife are ready to make the commitment. Forcing your wife into a responsibility as greatas homeownership before she is ready may lead to resentment and anger, especially if there are problems with your home transaction.

     However, you should not have to sacrifice the desire to own your own home altogether. Begin the process by talking with your wife about her concerns. Is she concerned about the financial debt? Is she reluctant to leave the comfort and security of her motherís house? Is she frightened by the amount of commitment a home represents? Talk to her about her concerns and really listen. Keep an open mind and try to see the situation from her perspective.

     When you have fully discussed her worries, bring up your feelings. Explain that you feel ready for this commitment and how important having a place of your own is to you. Discuss the financial benefits of homeownership and the impact it can have on your quality of life.

     Once you both have a better understanding of each otherís feelings, discuss a timeline that you both feel comfortable with. Ask your wife to make a commitment to begin a home search at some point, such as the spring or summer, or even one year from now.

     When that date arrives begin slowly by visiting a few open houses or searching for homes on the Internet. Once you have previewed a few homes in your price range, discuss your individual home criteria and the characteristics that are important to each of you. For instance, maybe you are intent on a large yard and she wants a community with a good school system. Talking about these aspects early in the process will facilitate a good home search. Next, contact a real estate professional who can help you locate homes in your price range that meet your search criteria.

     Communication is critical before, during and after the home purchase experience. If your wifeís concerns are so great, wait a year before you begin your home search. A year is not a very long period of time when you are considering what is often a lifetime commitment. This will show her that you respect her feelings. Then, when you do begin your home search, you will both welcome the experience.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:13
     I am selling my home and find it to be incredibly stressful. I am cleaning constantly. I have three cats that I must put in the laundry room every morning before I leave for work to keep the place neat. What can I do to make this process less stressful? I am a young, single woman and so scared.

Name Withheld
San Jose, CA

    Showing your home to prospective buyers can be a very stressful and anxiety-filled time. Not only must you create an attractive and welcoming atmosphere, but there are also timelines and financial concerns to keep in mind.

     While it is important that you keep your house in tip-top shape, it is also critical that you make time for yourself during this period. Schedule a night out with your friends and blow off some steam or block out an evening for just reading in bed. Give yourself time to re-energize and relax.

     Once you have recharged your batteries, create a cleaning routine. Instead of letting your weekends and evenings be ruled by straightening up, set aside a half-hour each day to clean. You might do this right after dinner and play some music to make it a little more relaxing. This will keep your house neat and organized. Also, before potential buyers visit, keep items like candles and potpourri in one area. This way you will not have to scramble for them before the showing.

     If you still find yourself overwhelmed, you may consider hiring a cleaning service to visit weekly or biweekly while your home is on the market. The cleaning service will ensure that the larger areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, are clean and allow you to focus on smaller daily chores, like vacuuming and dusting.

     Finally, work with your real estate professional to set up acceptable times for visits by prospective buyers. If you do not want to be disturbed after a certain time, tell them that. Your real estate professional is there to represent your best interests. Also, ask their advice on how to cope with the home showing experience.

     Remember that although this is sure to be a busy and sometimes anxiety-filled time, you are in the driver seat. Take control of the situation. With some organization and perspective, you can keep your cool and sell your home.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:12

Hi. I am a 35 year-old female living in Georgia for the past three years now. My husband and I have three children under six. We think we made a big mistake moving here. We own a home and have good jobs, but we are just homesick. We are originally from Long Island, NY. It's a big culture difference here. Nearly all our friends and family live in New York. We came here years ago to visit my sister and thought it was nice here, so we picked up and moved. We still visit her often, but we miss New York. We know it is more expensive there, but we don't care. Our money here goes a long way. We have a beautiful house with a pool and two acres of land, but we feel it is also boring and lonely. My children have no one to play with either. Should we do what our hearts tell us? We know that if we move back to New York we will have to struggle a little, but that's okay. Material things don't matter much to us - it's family that means the most.

Christine F.
Cumming, GA

    A move away from family and friends to a new environment can be a
very difficult transition. However, after three years in a new home and neighborhood you should begin to feel more "at home" in your surroundings with a new structure of friends, social outlets and area interests. It seems
you and your family have not developed these necessities. Instead, your heart remains with your family and friends in New York. At this point, a move back to the New York metropolitan area is worth serious consideration.

    Before you undertake such a move, make sure you have made every effort to make your time in Georgia a success. Did you reach out to those around you and try to build a new root system? Did you take advantage of the opportunities in your surroundings? If you feel you made your very best effort, and are still not happy, begin to make plans to move back to New York. However, if you feel you could have tried a little harder, give yourself more time.

    Secondly, give serious consideration to financial factors. Although you
say you are comfortable living within a smaller budget, think about the implications for your family. It sounds like you will have to give up some creature comforts for the luxury of having your friends and family nearby. Also, make sure you have secured employment for at least you or your husband before you move. Moving with the uncertainty of unemployment, 
can lead to an unsuccessful relocation.

    Discuss these factors with your husband. If you feel you have made your best effort in Georgia and are ready to move back to New York, begin a job and house search. Your children are still in their early ages of schooling, which makes this an easier time to move. If you decide to move, you may have to give up some luxuries, but you would return to the place you feel most at home.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:11

I have been renting since I was 23 years-old and I finally think itís time for me to own my own home. The problem is that I have a very good job, but I donít make enough money to buy a decent home. I can pay rent, but I can't afford a home of my own. What can I do?

Name Withheld
Waukegan, IL

    Owning your own home is part of the American dream, one that seems to be both a right and a privilege. There are some things you can do to help increase your chances of homeownership. Marcie Geffner, real estate columnist, suggests the following three:

     Begin by establishing good credit habits. This will show a lender that you are reliable and worthy of some type of mortgage loan. You can establish good credit by making timely payments on your rent, car loans, student loans and utility and credit card bills. Good credit is a key to homeownership.

     Second, start a savings plan or household budget that lets you accumulate money for a down payment and related closing costs. A regimented spending plan can help you save the money required for a home.

     Third, research different parts of the country. Perhaps there is a city or state in another part of the country where homeownership is more reasonable than the place you live now.

     Also, consider revising your standards a bit. If owning a home is so important to you, consider a smaller home, or one that has potential, but needs a little more attention. A home inspection can help you determine which homes are suitable for this. Also, consider a condominium or townhouse. This option allows you the benefits of ownership, at prices that are typically less than a free-standing home.

     Above all, keep your dream of homeownership alive. Although, it might not happen right away, with disciplined spending and the right amount of research, you will likely find a home or residence that is right for you and your family.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:10

I am moving to a small suburban home. I am a "city girl," born and raised, and I am so afraid. Yet, I think the new neighborhood is beautiful and the schools are wonderful. Is it normal to be crying one minute with apprehension and happy the next?

Lisa F.
Chicago, IL

Do not worry. It is perfectly normal to experience conflicting emotions when you are making such a lifestyle change. The decision to move from the city to a suburban neighborhood is a big one. It is natural to feel both nervous and excited. Many people experience this swing of emotions while preparing for a move.

     Under your specific circumstances, you are probably concerned about whether you will be able to adjust to the more neighborly and relaxed lifestyle of small town living. You will have to consider that the hustle and bustle of the city will be replaced by a quieter way of life. Initially, this could mean you feel bored or stifled by the slower pace. You can avoid this "trapped" feeling by exploring your new town. Consider joining a local organization, taking some continuing education classes, or exploring the parks and open space in your new town. It is up to you to take advantage of the activities your new surroundings have to offer, and that means neighboring towns as well as your new hometown. Consulting the local Chamber of Commerce is a good way to get a jump on the local goings-on.

     A smaller town can also have benefits if you are planning on having children in the near future. Such a town can offer space to play and a degree of security you may not feel in a larger city.

     There are certain to be challenges as you make the transition from "city girl" to suburban dweller. It may help if you view this as an adventure - making new friends, enjoying new experiences, and growing roots in a new place. If you still crave the city life, you can make day-trips back to your old stomping grounds. There is no reason you have to cut yourself off from those experiences either. You are now in a position to take advantage of the best of both worlds.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:9

We are preparing to relocate once again, (for the last time) after spending three years at our current location. We have three children, ages 9, 12 and 13 and would like some advice to help make this move easier for them. We will be moving closer to family, so they are happy about that aspect. However, they are sad to be leaving friends and anxious about starting at new schools in the middle of the school year. What are some things we can do to help make the transition smooth for them?

Mary
Brunswick, GA

As children who have relocated before, your children do have some advantages. They already know what is it like to be the "new kid" in school, so they have some idea what to expect. However, there are some things you can do as a parent to make the transition smoother for them, especially during the sometimes difficult pre-adolescent and adolescent years.

     Begin by involving them in the move and letting them play a part in this experience. That could mean researching your destination with them on the Internet, planning a family gathering once you settle into your new home, or finding out what types or clubs or sports organizations are available in the new town. Joining a youth group, like a YMCA/YWCA or a scouting group; a local recreational or scholastic sports team; or an arts organization, like a theatrical or vocal group, can help children make new friends once you relocate.

     But before your children can concentrate on your new home, they will have to say goodbye to their friends. This can be a very difficult time. The Childrenís Television Workshop offers these tips for making sure your children stay in touch with their friends:

  • Give each child a new address book so they can copy down their friends addresses, phone numbers and email accounts
  • Let your children bring a white T-shirt to school that their classmates can sign with colored markers or pens, or let them bring an autograph book so classmates can write good luck messages
  • Let your children pick out funny postcards that they can write their new address on and hand out to their friends
  • Let each child donate a plant or book to the school as a goodbye gift
  • Help each child put together a scrap book or picture book that will help them remember their friends and old hometown

     There are also some tips for helping your children make new friends in their new school(s). They include the following:

  • Give each child a goal of talking to at least 10 children on their first day
  • For younger children, allow them to bring something cool or fun on their first day that other kids will want to see
  • Have a welcome party and let your children invite the other kids in the neighborhood
  • Help your children get involved by letting them join after-school groups or sign up for a sports team

     Your support, understanding and guidance during this transition period will bevery important to your children. There are sure to be some difficult and sad moments, but with the right approach you and your family can have a successful move.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:8

I recently went through a divorce. My two college-age children seem to be handling it okay, but now itís time to sell the "family home" that we have lived in for several years and I'm concerned. How can I reduce their anxiety?

Name Withheld
Waltham, MA

    Your children will have to deal with two losses - the loss of the family unit they have known their entire lives and the loss of the place that has been their home base. Although they are older and better equipped to deal with such changes than adolescents or children, there will be some very real concerns for them. They will want to know where they will live when they come home for semester and summer breaks, will their friends still be nearby, and where is their other parent going to live?

     You can reduce their anxiety by leveling with them. Explain why a move is necessary. For instance, with only one household income, it is not possible to keep up on this home's mortgage payment. Or, explain that the divorce agreement requires the home to be sold. Be honest. Although it may not be the news they want to hear, they will appreciate your candor. It will show them that you not only care about them, but that you believe they are adult enough to handle the truth.

     You should be prepared for a variety of reactions. Your children may be angry, sad, or just concerned for your well being. Allow them to express their feelings, and show them that you understand. Resist the urge to blame one party or the other for needing to sell the home. It will not help the situation. Instead, listen to their concerns and offer your sympathy.

     If possible, let them have some input on where the family will live next. If their major concern is leaving their hometown, research locations that meet their criteria, as well as your own. At the same time, remind them that while you are concerned about how this move affects them, they are in school for the majority of the year and you might have to make a decision they do not agree with.

     If you are planning to move away from your former spouse or if he or she is leaving for another distant location, there will be other concerns. Let your children know that their relationship with their mother/father or with friends is not defined by a place. Those types of relationships are stronger than miles.

     Finally, position this development as a positive event. If the months or weeks leading up to the divorce were stress-filled and painful, a new home or apartment for you and your children may be the fresh start you are all looking for.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:7

We are first time homebuyers and I have lots of anxiety about the money that it takes to purchase a home. I feel stressed when I think about how much more a month we will have to spend on a home. Looking at our finances on paper we have nothing to worry about, but I stay awake at night thinking about it. What can I do to stop being so stressed about this?

Name Withheld
Detroit, MI

 A home is usually the single largest investment in a person's life, so it is natural to feel a certain amount of anxiety about the amount of money involved. However, if the anxiety and stress are so great that it starts to affect other aspects of your life, like your eating or sleeping habits or your personal relationships, you'll want to re-examine your situation for better peace of mind.

     Begin by taking a fresh look at your finances and calculating a realistic and suitable price range. To calculate this yourself: Subtract all your non-housing monthly debts and expenses (e.g., credit card and loan payments, tuition, transportation, food, clothing) from your monthly income to calculate how much income can be applied to housing expenses, including mortgage payments, real estate taxes, and insurance. This "housing" amount should come to no more than 33% of your total monthly income.* You may also want to review this information with a financial advisor or accountant before going to a lender who may be able to pre-qualify you for a mortgage loan. Use this information to calculate how much you will be able to offer as a down payment and keep in mind there will be some additional expenses such as closing costs. Also, remember that there will always be some unexpected expenses once you become homeowners, like an appliance repair or plumbing work, so you will need to reserve some funds for those unforeseen items as well.

     After taking a fresh look at your finances and discussing the situation with your loan officer and real estate agent, you should have a very good idea about what you can afford to spend on a house and this should ease some of the stress you are feeling.

     If you are still concerned, consider scaling back your price range even though your check books says you can afford more. This will offer you even greater peace of mind, although there are some drawbacks to this approach. Often, stretching to buy the most home you can afford is a good strategy because this will save you from having to move to a bigger or better located home in a few years.

     Remember, you will never be able to experience the purchase of your first home again. Above all, this should be an exciting time in your life. Few purchases improve the quality of life like a home. In addition to tax breaks, a long-term investment, and a stable environment, homeownership offers a level of comfort and safety few other things can. Remind yourself of these benefits when you begin to feel stressed. If your finances indicate that you can afford to buy a home, don't let unreasonable anxiety and stress take the joy out of this experience.

*USA Today (Magazine), March 1999 v 127 i127 i2646 p20(1)

Buying a Home: Economics vs. Emotions by Kenneth T. Austin

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Dear Dr. Brothers:6

My husband and I are planning on relocating to Florida where our daughter lives. At present we live in an old, circa early 1700 house that my husband made into a wonderful home in which we brought up four lovely children. I have two questions. Do you think it wise for us to uproot at age 73 and 65 to a totally new environment at this age? We will be doing so in order to be closer to our daughter and her family, and for financial reasons as well, since there are only two of us living in an 11-room home. In addition, my sister wishes to purchase this home. Is this a wise decision, selling to a family member?

Name Withheld
Milford, CT

  Many seniors face the transition period you are about to enter, leaving a long-time home where they raised a family for a smaller residence that is closer to a support system. Moving at this time in your lives presents many benefits including cost-savings, a lessening of responsibilities, such as yard and housework, and the ability to reach out to nearby family members should you need assistance.

     Moving in your sixties and seventies is not that different from relocating at a younger age. You will want to hire a reputable moving company and employ the assistance of friends, church members, or other trusted acquaintances to help you pack. You might also look for a real estate professional that has experience with seniors to help you purchase your new home. Besides those differences, moving after retirement is very similar to moving in your forties.

     Once you arrive in Florida you can facilitate your adjustment by pursuing your interests, like golf or gardening; getting involved in local activities, like a card group or a volunteer organization; and reaching out to your neighbors. If you are moving to a retirement community, many have centers or clubhouses that organize trips, clubs and dinners. These are great ways to meet people your own age.

     As for selling your present home to your sister, you should not have any additional reservations. Begin by securing a professional appraisal of the home. This will help you and your sister settle on a fair selling price. I also recommend a written contract that will bind both parties to the agreement. Also, make sure there are not extra burdens placed on one party or the other, such as an extended amount of time before the closing. Finally, consider purchasing a home warranty. This will ensure that major systems and appliances are insured and could prevent a conflict down the road, especially with such an older home. These precautions will help ensure a transaction that both you and your sister are comfortable with.

     Moving at this time in your life may seem like a daunting task, but I find that older people have wells of strength as great as any teenager does. View this move as an adventure and embrace the changes and challenges it presents.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:5

My husband and I are looking to purchase our first house. So far we have been outbid on our first "dream home" and now it looks as though we will not get our second "dream home" due to numerous complications with the seller. The whole situation has made us physically ill and on top of that we keep getting into small fights with one another. Should we give up the search for a home of our own in order to keep our sanity?

Name Withheld
St. Petersburg, FL

     Take a step back from the home buying experience and take a deep breath. This is a major change in your lives and will bring with it a certain amount of anxiety and apprehension. It is natural for emotions and temperaments to run high because this is an emotionally charged purchase. It will help if you and your husband can keep the big picture in mind. Remember that your relationship and your health come before anything else. Remember that you are looking for a home because you care for each other and want a place where you can put down roots and build a life together.

     The stumbling blocks you have encountered so far and your squabbles are not reasons to give up on your home search. You might take a break for a few weeks or a couple months if you feel it will improve your relationship, but do not let the situation get the best of you. Every homeowner has their own stories regarding the purchase of their home, but the reward is almost always worth the headaches.

     There are a few things you can do to smooth the home-buying process. First, keep the lines of communication open. If you are feeling frustrated, depressed or tired, share those feelings with your husband. Talking about your problems will make them seem surmountable. However, do not make your home search the focus of your marriage. Make sure you also take time for yourselves Ė go out to dinner or take a walk, and promise not to talk about the house hunt for awhile.

     In addition, if you are working with a real estate professional, turn to them for advice. They have been through this process hundreds of times and can help guide you through the ups and downs of the home buying process. He or she can also share stories of homeowners who had similar experiences to yours. You should find comfort in knowing you are not the only couple to face such challenges.

     Finally, turn to your family and friends. They are your support structure and can offer words of encouragement or comfort when you need them most. Many of them have probably experienced the same emotions.

     A home search is an emotional time, so donít be too hard on yourselves. With the right attitude, the right assistance from your sales associate, and enough support, you will be able to find the home that is right for you.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:4

My husband passed away last year. I feel the house has too many memories for us to remain. Many people (family and friends) say I am being too rash. What do you think?

Name Withheld

You are experiencing one of lifeís true tragedies, the loss of a spouse. During these first months you have experienced a wide-range of emotions Ė disbelief, confusion, grief, depression and anger. Ultimately, after time, you will come to accept your husbandís death and begin to create a new life for you and your children. This mourning period is different for everyone. There is no universal formula that says after one year you should be at peace with his death.

     My advice for most widows and widowers is to avoid making major decisions in the wake of a spouseís death. Uprooting yourself and your family is almost always a mistake. Leaving your support systems and familiar surroundings could further disorient you and your children. Remember that your house is not what is causing the feelings you are experiencing. Your natural need to move through the grieving process is fueling your desire to change homes.

     However, if, in time, you still feel the house causes too many feelings of loss and sadness, you might consider moving to another part of town, but I recommend a place where you will remain close to your family and friends. Allow yourself enough time to make a rational, levelheaded decision and be sure it is not an attempt to escape the feelings of sadness you are experiencing. Those emotions will follow you to your next home until you finally come to terms with your loss. Remember your home is a place where many happy memories were made. One day that may be a comfort, not a burden.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:3

We moved to our present home a year ago this past July. It is a great home, but I miss my old neighborhood and neighbors. I don't feel like this home is cozy or what I really wanted. I guess I found out bigger is not always better. I am trying to get my husband to move again, but he is happy where we are and doesn't want to move. What do you suggest I do to make this work? Not happy in my present atmosphere. 

Ė Name Withheld

Moving to a new home is an emotional time. New homeowners experience many emotions Ė anxiety, excitement, loss, doubt, hopefulness. Right now you are feeling displaced and maybe a little lonely, longing for your old neighborhood and neighbors.

     The important thing to remember is that, above all, it will take time for you to feel comfortable in your new home. You and your husband need to make this new house an extension of who you are. That will take time. However, there are a few things you can do to aid that process.

     Begin by sorting through your belongings and choosing the things that make you feel "at home" and display them prominently in your new house. These items may include family photographs, treasured possessions and favorite pieces of furniture. Create an atmosphere that reminds you of the people and things you love.

     Once your house begins to feel a little more "homey," make an effort to meet your new neighbors. You might drop by a plate of cookies to the young couple down the road or invite them over for a cup of coffee one evening. The holidays are also right around the corner. This is an excellent time to meet and greet your new neighbors.

     In addition, start researching your new community. If you were involved in a community service group, gym, church or art class in your old town, look for similar groups in your new community. If you have school-aged children, consider joining the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), where you might meet other parents with interests similar to those of you and your husband.

     Encouraging your husband to move again is probably not going to be successful, especially if he is happy in the new home. When two people decide a move is best for both of them, it usually leads to a successful move. However, when one wants to stay and the other wants to leave, it is easier for the one who wants to move to make adjustments to make the present situation more bearable.

     If you do not begin to feel "at home" after you have been in this home for a full year, bring your concerns to your husbandís attention again. In the meantime, make a real effort to put down roots and build friendships in your new community. If he sees that you have truly tried to make this new house your home, but you still do not feel comfortable, he should agree to start a new house hunt.

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Dear Dr. Brothers:2

My husband and I have recently purchased a new home with three bedrooms, including our master bedroom. We have three sons and two of the boys will need to share a room. How do we decide this fairly without adding to the anxiety that comes with a major move?

S.B.
Des Moines, Iowa

A move can be an anxiety-filled time for a family, especially the children. They must deal with a new school, new neighborhood playmates, moving away from friends, and a new home environment. Your instinct to handle this issue with sensitivity and diplomacy is a good one. During such a time, the decision about who should receive which bedroom could be an especially touchy subject.

     Bedrooms are a refuge and are very important to children. It may not seem fair to your younger sons to assign the single room to the oldest, but life is not always fair. The oldest child usually makes life a little easier and "fairer" for younger siblings by pushing to get privileges the younger ones receive automatically when they reach a certain age. You can point this out to your sons.

     I would suggest that you get all three boys together and tell them that the single room will belong to the oldest until he goes off to college. If he attends a community college and commutes, or gets a job but remains at home, he will have to give up his sanctuary at that time to the next oldest and bunk with the youngest until it is the youngestís turn to have the single.

     I would then tell them that if two of the three would prefer to room together, you would allow this as well. However, they must all agree to this arrangement with nobody made to feel left out or unhappy in any way. With that exception, the oldest gets the single room.

     It is very important that each of your two younger sons also gets their own space, such as a desk with a drawer that locks and a bookcase that belongs solely to each one. Youngsters need privacy and a place to keep their possessions that the other may not touch without prior permission.

     If space is cramped, bunk beds might help. For the boys who share the room you might also hang a sign on the door that says, "I need a few minutes of privacy now," but on the flip side says, "Come in. Iíd like company." The son who stays out should first have time to take out the things he needs so he can give the gift of privacy to his brother.

     You might also consider an arrangement where all three boys have their beds in one room, and desks, computer, television, toys, games and clothes in the other. This will allow them to study, sleep and play on their own schedules.

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Dear Dr. Brothers,1

I was recently offered a great job opportunity that allows me to take a leadership role in an up-and-coming technology company. However, the job requires my family and I to relocate from the East to the West Coast. How can I help my children, ages 7 and 9, to adjust to their new school?

Charles
New York, NY
     Moving can be a stressful experience, especially for those family members who did not make the decision to move Ė usually thatís the children. Frequently, the younger children arenít sure what is happening and why they are moving.

     Concern for how your children will adjust is a key element to your familyís move. Therefore, your first step is to have a private and long discussion with your wife about your concerns and put them to rest as best as you can. Then, together tell your children what they will find in their new neighborhood and school. Reassure them that they will not lose contact with their current friends. They can call, write, or even email them whenever they would like.

     Even children who understand that they are "moving" arenít always sure what that means. The idea of making a new home is something they can grasp intellectually, but not emotionally. Before and after the move, children may want to know how long they will be "moved" and when they can go home again. They may also wonder how they can make a new home without Grandma, their friends, and the old familiar house that WAS their home?

     As you begin packing your familyís possessions, you may find items that you no longer want to keep. Be sure to remove these things when the children are awake. Do not remove items from the house when the children are asleep. Some little ones fear that their parents might get rid of them too, if they have done something naughty. A surprising number of young children need to be constantly assured that they arenít going to be left behind when the family moves.

     Many family moves occur during the school year. This is hard on children because friendships and cliques have already been established. Once the move is completed, new homeowners should seek out parents who have children of the same age and invite them over to the house with their children. Having guests to the new house is important because it helps the children find new playmates quickly. Another helpful tip is to encourage the children to invite one person they like to come home with them after school (after the new homeowners make arrangements with their parents ahead of time). Playing with a child after school or even doing homework together will help them break into a clique. Also, if the children currently belong to the Scouts, sing in a choir or are members of any other organizations, arrange for them to join right away in their new town or city.

     Children often react to preparations for a move with nervous activity, unusual emotionality and an inordinate need for adult attention. Donít be surprised by this. Suggest that they pack their pillow, their bed toy and some bedroom decorations in a separate carton. Upon arrival at the new home, have the child unpack this special carton right away. Also pack some popcorn and a popcorn maker. As soon as you arrive in your new neighborhood, make the popcorn and invite the neighborhood kids over for a snack. This will help introduce your children to them.

     After a move, children may be withdrawn and their grades may drop temporarily. These reactions are probably as much physiological as psychological. An examination of pre-schoolers who were about to move, found changes in blood chemistry and a pre-disposition to upper respiratory infections. Parents should understand what is happening, but know that it is temporary.

     Discuss your move freely with your children. Involve them and allow them to learn as much about their new environment as possible. Together, look up some exciting new things they can do or places they can visit in their new town. A move can bring a family closer together if parents and children share the experience as a mutual adventure.

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