OpinionAgent

3 lessons I learned when I broke up with my apartment

Being a real estate professional didn't spare me from the emotional rollercoaster ride
  • Just because you work in real estate doesn't mean you can escape the traumas of moving.
  • Like the end of a relationship, moving is a process that reveals itself in stages like denial, loss and acceptance.

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Moving is hard, even when you’re a real estate professional.

As the president of my own real estate company, I watch people buy and sell homes every day. I understand that any real estate transaction can be an emotional process; it can signify a new beginning, a drastic change or an ending to an important life chapter.

Because I do this for a living, you can imagine my surprise when my years of industry experience did not prepare me for the day I bought and moved into what I like to call “my big girl apartment.”

I lived in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in a rental for nearly 14 years. That apartment has seen me through ups and downs, friendships, pets, dinner parties, sick days, career milestones, and meeting and eventually marrying the love of my life, Rebecca.

We loved our apartment, our neighborhood and the daily routine that came with living there.

Recently, we decided it was time to make the big commitment and buy an apartment together. After looking around and considering many, many options, we decided on a beautiful two-bedroom condo in Brooklyn Bridge Park that overlooks the East River and the Manhattan Skyline.

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The moment we set foot inside the space, we knew it would be our home.

Because this was a new building, it took some time to close, but this gave us plenty of time to enjoy our Chelsea pad and pack our belongings.

In some ways, I think the lag time allowed me to disconnect from the stress of moving, and I didn’t fully process the gravity of this change until the very end.

Here are three surprise lessons I learned about moving:

1. Packing your memories does not mean they’re gone

During our last days in Chelsea, we were surrounded by boxes. Everything in our lives was (somewhat) neatly packed up and stacked across the floor.

It’s strange to see all your memories disappear into cardboard cubes and bubble wrap.

Once the moving trucks came and went and dropped me, my wife and our dog into our new life, I felt a new sense of peace. Yes, unpacking was going to be awful, but everything just felt right overall.

2. Moving feels like a breakup, for better or worse

I walked outside the very last morning we were in the house, and my eyes suddenly welled up with tears. For the first time, it struck me that my life was never going to be the same.

Even though the change was for the better, and my wife and puppy and all those memories were moving right along with me, the sting of time passing was very raw in that moment.  It felt like I was breaking up with my apartment, not because I wanted to, but because it was simply time and it was better for both of us.

There was a true sense of loss.

3. Home is not tied to a particular space — you decide where it is

In no time at all, I was taking a taxi from work to my new apartment, and I knew in my heart and in my gut that I was going home. The people and things I cared most about in this world were waiting for me there, and that made all the difference.

Of course, I miss some aspects of my old place and my old life, but this is so much better.

Nothing exacerbates the stresses and the greatness of life more than moving from one place to another. You’re not just switching apartments, you’re changing the way you live, and the way you live is who you are.

Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan is the president of Stribling & Associates.