Moving house part 1

My move from Portsmouth to Sunderland.

A tale of events by Stephanie Stewart.

This is my recollection of how we managed to move from Portsmouth to Sunderland, without losing our sanity and with only a few tears being shed.

The we is my husband Dom and our 8 year old Henry. We had been living in our terraced Victorian house, complete with cellar, for 10 years, and we loved it. This was a home on which we lavished a lot of love and time. Henry grew up here and I thought, as a family, we were settled.

Then the proverbial rug was pulled out from under our somewhat comfortable feet. With the downturn in the economy Dom’s job was suddenly no more. After 14 years of working at Portsmouth dockyard Dom was faced with finding another job. Fortunately he specialises in weapons software and managed to find a job fairly quickly with another defence and aerospace company. Great news! Yes, but the job is in Sunderland.

Where’s Sunderland I asked myself. Yes I knew it was up north but where up north?! Actually Sunderland is in the North East of England, in an area called Tyne and Wear. What’s there? Is it bleak and full of factory chimneys? I had no idea about the place I was now having to up sticks for; uproot my family and leave a house I had grown to love, and settle in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear.

I also had to think how I was going to find work. I am a beautician and work at a large hairdressing and beauty salon in Portsmouth. I was moving to a city I knew nothing about. My job would allow me to work from home, but how was I going to build a new client base in an unfamiliar area?

More importantly Henry had to leave his school and friends. How difficult was it going to be for him to start at a new school and make new friends? It all seemed so daunting and negative at first.

We were just going through the motions of talking about Sunderland and not doing much to find out about the place. Dom had been up and down a few times for interviews and meetings with his new colleagues but Henry and I had no notion of what it would be like.

Then one dreary Saturday morning we decided to get in the car and drive up to Sunderland for the weekend. We got in the car and Henry boldly announced that we were all going on an adventure. He was right! We were. Aren’t kids great? From that moment we were on our adventure to move from Portsmouth to Sunderland, and we loved every minute of it.

Sunderland is a city with a difference. A modern, vibrant, bustling city that is balanced with a relaxing green environment. The coastal scenery is stunning!

Next we had to look for a house, or least find an area we wanted to live. Plus we had to sell our house in Portsmouth.

We decided on an area called Whitburn. We were still close to the coast and the place had a good feel about it. We looked at Victorian houses, probably trying to keep hold of something of our house in Portsmouth, but one day we looked at a new house and fell in love with it. A beautiful ultra modern open plan house on a hill. Firstly though, we had to get a buyer for our house in Portsmouth.

Suddenly things didn’t seem quite so bad. Henry was really excited when we visited the local school. Good news, there was no waiting list at the school and they could take him as soon as we moved in. We found some lovely people, they were from California and made an instant friendship, which was very nice indeed, they had a home in California, in Santa Barbara which they told us was beautiful. And a home in the UK, he ran a local pest control company .

Dom took up his new position and travelled home for the weekends. Not ideal but things started to move quickly. Our house was on the market for 3 weeks and we got the price we were asking for. Happy days! Property is cheaper in Sunderland than Portsmouth and we were feeling a lot of eager anticipation about our new home. The vendors  accepted our offer on the house on the hill. We had a buyer and we had an offer accepted on the house we wanted to buy. I wanted to start planning interiors and gardens for our new home, but first we had to get the move underway.

I started making lists of things to do, then this grew into post-its all over the place and was finally consolidated into a spreadsheet. I would advise anyone moving to start with a list and then progress onto a spreadsheet. I couldn’t have managed without it. Dom was up in Sunderland, I had Henry to look after, and I had to ensure he didn’t get anxious or miserable about leaving his school and his friends, plus I had to deal with packing up the house and getting us up to Sunderland. I’m not complaining, I just had to find a way of managing everything at the Portsmouth end, along with working full time.

First item on the list. Henry. Henry and I planned that he would have a leaving party for all his school friends and their mums. He was very excited about this and did a lot of the planning. He decided on a day out in London to tour the WB studios and see behind the scenes of the Harry Potter films. Kids and mums alike we had a fab time!

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