Click here to learn more about Fitzpatrick

Surviving the Relo Relay

So I’ve been working on this project called Street Cred with the our pals over at Doorsteps, a platform that works with real estate pros to educate and empower home buyers. It’s basically all about how REALTORS® are truly experts at explaining why their neighborhood/city/town/state is a great place to live, and it talks about all the ways these practitioners are using technology to be what amounts to ambassadors for their communities. I’m pretty excited about it. You should check it out.

Anyway, these awesome practitioners got me thinking about how tough it can be to be a “relo.” You know, those unfortunate folks who have to move across the country because their company is basically forcing them to relocate? Who on earth would be more in need of the services of an expert neighborhood ambassador than these poor saps?

Click here to learn more about Fitzpatrick

Diane Fitzpatrick in Jupiter, Florida on March 19, 2013. Photo by Doug Murray

Well, just before the holidays I got a book written by one of those poor saps. Except she is not taking it laying down. In her new book, Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves, Diane Laney Fitzpatrick gets into the nitty gritty of these ugly, cross-country relocations. How do you help your kids adjust to the new surroundings? What do you do when the movers say the truck is too full? How do you keep the home inspector from seeing that spiraling mouse who’s trying to run away with a mousetrap clamped to his head?

Oh, sorry. Did I neglect to mention that this book is also hilarious? Sure, we’ve all got hellish moving stories, but Fitzpatrick has nine moves worth. She breaks the tales up by inserting snarky but surprisingly-helpful advice, such as:

  • Joining extra-curricular clubs, gangs, and cults will make your children happier.
  • Moving your car can be complicated. Abandoning it in a bad neighborhood before you move should be at least considered.
  • Avoid anyone who has inherited your former home. You don’t look all that good.
  • Don’t rely on your dog for any sympathy whatsoever.
  • Set the tone for your family with cheerful but firm leadership. Think Hitler with packing peanuts.

Along with all the tongue-in-cheek recommendations, Fitzpatrick does have some advice that you wouldn’t necessarily think of if you haven’t been through nine moves. For example, she points out that movers generally won’t pack up anything liquid or aerosol. Seems like a minor detail, but won’t you just be the hero when you channel Fitzpatrick and remind your next client to stop buying 5-gallon jugs of canola oil from Costco and “get busy drinking that liquor” before they move out?

If it’s empathy for relos that you’re looking to cultivate within your heart, consider this true statement you may never have considered: People who are moving feel homeless. Not just because they’re not sure which address they should give people when asked. It’s because they’re constantly having to pack up the kids and dog for a showing, or because everything they need right now is in boxes, or because they’re just feeling downright insecure about not knowing what their next domicile will look like. And that’s a very vulnerable place. You’ll have a new understanding of what all this feels like after reading this book. But Fitzpatrick is good-natured throughout, never whining or wallowing, even when discussing the finer points of whining and wallowing. It’s a tough line to straddle, and she does it like a woman who’s completed two out-of-state moves as a pregnant mother.

Got any hellish moving stories of your own? Share them below!

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]

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  1. Diane has nothing on military families that “get transferred” frequently. I know as I grew up in an Air Force family – by the time I was 16 we had moved 14 times. So now that I am in real estate here in San Francisco, I have an appreciation for what my Relo clients are going through, though most here are offered short term corporate housing by the HR departments of the Tech companies who are recruiting them. So it’s not like they are camping out in hotels. I will have to add to my “Advice List” that comment about the movers not packing liquids: “Get busy drinking the booze now”. Or, just give it to the Realtor who just sold your house for you (Heh-Heh-Heh!). Thank you!

  2. Rhonda Woods

    The author said REALTORS get the book for $7.99 if they order 5 or more copies through her. I know I plan on sending it to my 2 nieces and SIL who are military wives. Relo is different from military moves but not any less stressful (I’ve done both). Loved the humor in the book. Thanks for posting about it!

  3. James, I agree 100%! Military families have it much, much harder than corporate relos. And there’s a chapter in my book about giving away liquids and flammables to the moving crew and our listing agent. Liquor is both a liquid and a flammable, you know. 😉

  4. I have to agree with James. We were a military family and I recently counted 25 moves before my kids were in high school – gives me a rich appreciation for those who are moving. I’ll be reading her book for sure:-)