Moving elsewhere

I like to make new cushion covers to match my new house, get pictures up on the walls and do what I can to make it feel like my space. Involve the kids too if you can, and help them feel they have a safe space in their new home. It can take ages to unpack and settle. Don’t pressure yourself to do it all at once. Break down the tasks into steps, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Moving home can be stressful but it can also be an opportunity for a fresh start. If you are forced to move, say because of a separation, it can be hard on you and your children because of the likely losses. There are things you can do to make this easier on you all.

Moving to a new home or area can also be exciting. It’s a chance for a new start with your children. Be prepared to feel a bit homesick. You might miss family and friends, and your children might feel the same. Can you keep in touch on social media like Facebook and WhatsApp? You can then share things with them so they still feel a big part of your family’s life.

It’s natural to want a fresh start after a difficult time. For some people this means moving to a new area. But make sure you’re moving for the right reasons. Think about whether you’ll just be taking your worries with you. Getting support now might be a better option in the long run. How will it feel if you are far from family and friends, if children have to start a new school, if you have to look for work in an unfamiliar area, and so on?  

Ask yourself whether you really want or need to move. Could you change your space rather than your home?. It can make a difference simply to move furniture around, redecorate and have things just as you want them.

Moving to a new home

  • If you have to move to a new place with or without your children, try to take the time, if you can, to make sure it’s the right place for you and your children (or as right as you can make it).
  • Some questions to ask are: 
    • Do you want to be near to other people or away from them?
    • What sort of facilities do you need like health centres, hospitals, shops, play parks and libraries?
    • Is it close enough to your place of work and schools and nurseries?
    • What is public transport like?
    • Will there be opportunities for making friends?
  • Do your research about areas you’d consider. Think about the things that would affect you: the area, the street, the facilities. 
  • Do some research about the housing available. As well as council housing, there may be housing associations in the area. Rather than completing several forms, check first. It’s likely that one form will add you to all waiting lists. It’s worth checking if there are smaller housing associations which aren’t on this form.
  • Be realistic about the type of housing you’ll be offered and the likely waiting time. The more particular you are about certain things such as fuel type, area, garden and so on, the longer you’re likely to wait. It might be worth reviewing your application to see if there are any changes you could make to get rehoused quicker. 
  • If you or your children have any disabilities, this is something that you will have to take into account for any move. Your local council should be able to help with adaptations to make any housing suitable and accessible.
  • The house and the area need to feel and be safe and secure. Risk of domestic abuse from an ex-partner might affect your choices about type and location of housing. If domestic abuse is a factor, speak to the local Women’s Aid group. They should be able to put you in touch with what’s needed by way of home security, fire safety checks, lighting, stair entry systems and alarms.
  • Once you are in your new place, try to keep a structure to your day. You may be feeling a bit lost and lonely, so even just having set mealtimes can help give your life some shape.
  • See our pages on looking after yourself, and on feeling less lonely.

Useful links

  • Housing associations and council housing (social landlords) are usually cheaper than private rentals. Find out how to apply for housing in your area.  
  • Shelter Scotland has lots of advice about housing on its website, including these pages on moving home
  • Citizens Advice Scotland has housing advice on its website including finding a place to liverenting or buying and selling.  
  • Organisations like Housing Options Scotland can provide advice and support for disabled people to find the right home in the right place.  
  • MoneySavingExpert has a handy moving house checklist with tips on how you might be able to save some money in the process.  
  • You can find information on registering your child for school on the Scottish Government’s website. You need to contact the local council to find out what school your child can go to.  
  • Scottish Women’s Aid has information about domestic abuse and housing rights and links to local Women’s Aid groups in Scotland.  
  • Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline is for anyone affected by domestic abuse. It’s open 24 hours for phone, webchat and email support, and there’s a translation service to speak to you in your preferred language. 

Settling children into a new home

Moving home can be a big change for anyone: adults and children. Some children adapt more easily than others. It can be harder if it’s a forced move, or if they need to move schools.

  • Change is to be expected. You can’t avoid it. But you can help your children cope with it.
  • Talk to them about how change can be positive. Maybe they’d like their new bedroom to be a different colour or theme and they can help choose other things around the house.
  • Talk to them about any worries they have. They may worry about things that seem small to you but can be huge for them.
  • Reassure them if you can but be honest about anything that you don’t know.
  • Include your children in choices such as any toys and favourite things they want to keep when they move, or how they want their new bedroom to be.
  • It can be helpful for everyone to pack one ‘open-me-first box’ with the things you all want immediately in your new home to help everyone settle.
  • Make the first night fun and an adventure instead of everyone being stressed about all the boxes to unpack and furniture to build. You could all ‘camp out’ in one room together, play a game and eat your favourite food.
  • Speak to them about how they can stay in touch with friends and anything they’re moving away from. Help them keep in touch. 
  • Support them to find ways to connect with the new area and make new friends.
  • Look at how you can get to know people in the area too. This will help your children see that you also have to make new friends, and that they’re not the only ones who have to get used to the changes. 
  • See our tips on coping with loneliness and for keeping friends and family close.

Useful links

Furnishing and household items

  • If you’re on a tight budget look on Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle or Gumtree for household items. There might be a local ‘sales and wants’ page.
  • If you don’t have the money to decorate, you may be able to get some help from projects which help parents develop painting and decorating skills.
  • See more tips in the section on ‘brightening the place up’.
  • You may be entitled to help from the Scottish Welfare Fund for moving and setting up a new home.

Useful links

  • Find your local Shelter shop for second-hand furniture. 
  • The Freecycle Network has a directory you can search for local organisations that give (and collect) free items. They’re saved from landfill and upcycled.
  • One example of this is Glasgow Freeshare. It lists items that people are giving away for free, and that you can collect.

Household bills

Keeping yourself and your children warm is a priority. When your house is warm, it feels more like home and a place where you can relax. 

  • Find the best deal you can for utilities so you can keep your home warm (when you are in – not when you’re out), and can afford hot water for washing and gas or electricity for cooking.
  • Try not to waste energy by leaving lights on in empty rooms or leaving devices on standby.
  • Use comparison sites to check out the deals and switch if prices go up.
  • If you can’t afford to heat your home or if there are problems with damp, fuel debt or both, you could contact our Advice and Information Service.

Useful links

  • Check out our My Money pages for more on fuel efficiency, energy costs, switching suppliers, and on broadband and other household bills.
  • See our energy and money saving tips, developed with the Big Energy Saving Network to support single parent families.
  • Home Energy Scotland offers free impartial advice on energy saving and keeping warm at home.