Are you living between two homes? Perhaps you’re going through a divorce or separation and haven’t sorted the finances out yet, so you can’t settle in a new, permanent home yet. Or maybe you’ve sold your home but haven’t completed the purchase of (or even found) your new ‘forever’ home yet. You could be working away and living in rented accommodation during the week to avoid excessive commutes, or splitting your time between living at home and staying with elderly relatives to care for them.
Whatever the reason, moving from place to place isn’t ideal and as well as practical problems (leaving something essential at one place when you need it at the other), it can be stressful and unsettling to not feel ‘at home’ anywhere.
Whilst the feelings of being unsettled are things that will pass when you’re in a permanent home, here are our practical suggestions on how to make it easier to live between two homes.
Where to live between houses
Unless you’re making a planned, deliberate move to stay in temporary accommodation (e.g. for work), you might be wondering where to live between houses if you have nothing in place.
Depending on how long you’re likely to need to stay in temporary accommodation, you could choose from the following:
- Rent an AirBnB
- Stay in a hotel
- Take out a short term lease on a rented property
- Seek a council tenancy
- Stay with friends or family
- Rent a room in someone’s home
If you’re facing homelessness, the council has to help you if you’re going to become so in the next 8 weeks. You’d be classed as homeless if you:
- Have no legal right to live anywhere,
- It’s not reasonable to stay in your home (e.g. because of domestic violence),
- There’s no suitable accommodation for you to be with your family,
- Your living conditions are very poor.
Council help for homeless people is very limited. There are charities out there such as Shelter and Crisis that may be able to help and offer specialist advice.
How to avoid living out of boxes
Once you’ve found somewhere to live, your temporary home might not have space for all of your furniture or belongings. Living out of boxes might become the norm, especially if you’re moving from place to place without bothering to unpack.
Rather than keeping everything with you and moving it from place to place, think about what you actually need, day-to-day. Toiletries, clothes for the season you’re in, electronics, and kitchen utensils will cover pretty much everything you need for the time being. If you make sure you have those everywhere you stay, you can put everything else into storage until you have somewhere more permanent.
As well as reducing a lot of hassle on moving day(s), this will reinforce to you that your current place isn’t ‘home’ but that there will be a time when you live somewhere more permanent and secure.
Moving to a new home
If you’re moving to a new home and it’s not quite ready for you yet (e.g. because it needs redecorating/renovating, or the sellers aren’t ready to complete on the sale yet), there are a few other practical steps to take as well as ensuring you have somewhere to store your excess belongings.
- Sign up with Royal Mail to have your post redirected - you could have it forwarded to your temporary accommodation, to a friend’s address or even set up a PO Box.
- Ensure that you take photos of your temporary accommodation when you move in (and again when you move out) to avoid disputes over the condition in which it was provided vs the condition in which you leave it.
- Let the council know that you’ve moved out of your old house and, if you’re going to be staying in your new home for a few weeks or when elections are due to be held, make sure you register your new address with the electoral register.
You can make yourself feel a bit more settled by getting to know your new local area - reach out to your new neighbours, visit the local shops and parks. You never know, you might find that you like your new area so much you’ll want to settle here!
How to divide furniture after a separation
Divorcing or separating couples often end up leaving the furniture and furnishings in the family home, with one partner having to purchase replacements at a later date. If you’re unlikely to have the cash to make those major purchases later on, consider whether it might be cheaper for you to rent a self storage unit
to take at least the basics (if you can’t fit them into your temporary accommodation).
While the finances are being agreed, you might have to move into rented accommodation. Renting an unfurnished property will usually be cheaper than renting somewhere fully-furnished, so if you can agree to keep some basics with you (like a bed, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a comfy chair) this would help your monthly outgoings too. To avoid it feeling too austere or cold, remember to keep family photos and comforting furnishings like soft blankets, to make it feel more like ‘home’.
Balancing the books for two homes
If you’re living in two homes (for work, or caring responsibilities), it can be very expensive to run two sets of living costs. Speak with your local council about council tax reductions for single occupant dwellings and see if you can reduce the council tax by 25% on at least one of your ‘homes’. If you’re living away to save time on commuting, calculate how much money it’s costing you in bills (rent, utilities etc) to do so, and how long that needs to be maintained for. Seeing the figures in black and white might make it easier to decide whether the whole family should make a move - or if you should reevaluate your choices and move jobs.
Moving from place to place, living in two separate homes, or waiting to move into your permanent home can be stressful and feel like it’s never going to end. Nobody likes feeling unsettled or uncertain about the future and living out of boxes. Try to remember that it is only temporary - all things pass, and there will come a time when you’re settled in a home where you can finally unpack all your belongings (or get them out of storage) and relax.