Help me feel at home.
July 16, 2013 2:41 AM   Subscribe

I just moved house... and I am sad. This is stupid. Please help me make a new home for myself.

So, basically, I just sold my studio apartment of 6 years and bought a new apartment, and my stress levels are through the roof, and to top it all off, I am sad and miss my old home.

I wrote a lot of self-pitying garbage here and deleted it. I know it's ridiculous to feel this way. But I have easily triggered anxiety/OCD/depression issues and they are all kicking in about now.

Bleh. Is it usual to feel sad AFTER, and not DURING, a major life-change? I mean, I should be pleased because this move was hard work and a long time coming. But instead I just feel overwhelmed by all the things to do before it's properly set up as a home, and every time I hit some sort of stumbling block I feel a sense of stress that is probably disproportionate to the source. I also feel terribly isolated because my TV reception is poor and I won't have internet for a couple of weeks because Sky are being a pain.

This new place will be nice when it's set up, it's nice and big and is in a much more convenient location than where I used to live; but there are so many things to fix that the survey didn't pick up (damp, plumbing problems, broken this, damaged that, overgrown garden, et bloody cetera). I could use some help in just managing the stress of it all. I also feel discombobulated by having so much space to myself, if that makes sense.

But the thing that makes me feel really sad is that I am not fully at home there. My heart sinks at the end of the day when it's time to go home. When I pass by the street I used to live on, it makes me really emo. In the case of my old apartment, which was absolutely RIDDLED with problems as well as being tiny, I literally fell in love with it from day 1; I walked in and knew that I had found a home. I don't feel that way with this new place. It seems instead like a child I have randomly ended up with, that will grow up into a great person but for now needs 24/7 attention and care.

I know I'm being a bit ridiculous, but I can use some help. If anyone has any ideas for how to feel more 'at home' in a new place, that would be great. Also, if anyone else has ever felt like this, it would be good to hear for you and know I'm not the only one.

Thanks, guys.
posted by sockandawe to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I think what you're describing is 'buyer's regret' and it's not unusual. I felt it when we moved from our teeny rental to our big house. It goes away as you knock some of those things off of the list, get some things fixed, put up a new painting, get some curtains, put some of your old familiar objects around. It doesn't go away all at once necessarily but eases away slowly.

What you're feeling is normal.

Is it possible that 'raising the bar' makes you feel like more is expected of you and makes you feel slightly daunted? I might be totally off base but I thought I'd throw it out there because it's true for me: raises, promotions, major improvements of any kind give me nice doses of fretting and anxiety and feeling at sea. Buying a big house gave me about a year's worth of panic. It might be a little something like that as well if that's historically an issue. Then again, I could be completely projecting and if so just ignore this.

In any case, both of these things (buyer's regret and 'success anxiety') fade with the confidence you get by solving problems and by increased familiarity and comfort.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:57 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

You're totally not the only one. When I moved into my apartment ten years ago it was unfurnished. I remember standing in the middle of the empty living room, having a good old cry, because I'd just found out it would take weeks for my new sofa to arrive and the place was just so bare and unhomely. It took a while for it to feel like home. Then, when I left to move into my new house, I cried my eyes out because of course by then I totally loved that apartment. And the new palce was so much bigger and I felt lost in it and I needed even more stuff to fill it which felt overwhelming and I didn't like how it smelled! It also had problems with the electrics and I longed to be back where I knew where everything was and things just worked. So don't worry, you're not being ridiculous. Humans like to feel safe and secure and suddenly being in a strange environment is threatening in a way, even if it's your choice.

What helped for me both times was to start with just one corner of the place that I could settle in. Its too much to think of everything that needs done, and it will all be done in time. So start with maybe one chair, a nice rug in front of it for your feet, a little table to set your mug on, maybe beside a bookcase with some of your favourite books. That way when you get home you can make a coffee, settle down, and pretty much ignore the rest of it. Make a list of what needs done, but just tackle it a little at a time, don't panic. If you think about your child analogy - one day it goes off to college but it goes to nursery school first. Don't worry about the garden til the inside is done, don't worry about damp proofing til you get your internet installed. Take heart that a year from now this part will just be a memory and you'll probably be so glad you made the move. Good luck!
posted by billiebee at 3:00 AM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

What you're feeling is totally normal, if that helps. Also, it is actually a pain to have to deal with a bunch of new problems after gearing up, organizing, and actually doing the move. And it takes a good while to get at home in a new place. Prioritize personalizing it bit by bit, as opposed to dealing with et bloody cetera. Avoid walking past the old place. It'll pass, I promise.
posted by Namlit at 3:01 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I moved apartments many times during college and I felt like this every time. Like I would lie there in my bed and think, "This feels so weird, to go to sleep in this unfamiliar place, in an apartment full of complete strangers." But I also had this really weird thought at the same time, that within a few months, these total strangers would be people I knew really well, and this unfamiliar place would be home to me. I think what you are feeling is very, very common and not ridiculous. (I also felt that way at the beginning of every school semester. "I don't know half these people or professors, I am surrounded by strangers, this feels so weird" but at the same time I knew by the end of the semester I would be so familiar with so many of them that I would know what they would say before they even said it.) So, again, yes, I think that it is usual, and time alone, without anything else, will help.

But for the moment, is it possible for you to have a housewarming party? I think this is one of the major reasons people do that, to bring all of the familiar faces into this new place so that you feel more at home - this is a place where all my friends have been and I saw them all smiling and having a good time. I think just making good memories in the place will begin to help counter the negative feelings from all of the chores you have to deal with now. Plus I think it would help with feeling like you have all that space and it's just you in it.
posted by cairdeas at 3:03 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Buy yourself a treat like a picture or a piece of really nice furniture/houshold tech.
posted by Segundus at 3:14 AM on July 16, 2013

Seconding a housewarming party, but furthermore (especially if you can't face the idea of a party right now), what about inviting a few friends over to help you unpack/get organised? If it seems like a big ask, you can buy them all dinner at the end to say thank you.

Citation: a friend of mine who struggles with depression moved house a couple of years ago. She invited me and another friend over and we spent the day moving her furniture around until she was happy with it. We brought in flowers from outside to put in vases, we hung paintings. At the end of the day we all went for curry. Days like that can be such lovely friend-bonding opportunities, because a good friend enjoys nothing better than being able to help a friend out.
posted by greenish at 3:38 AM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]

PS. if you happen to be in London then I will totally come round and help :)
posted by greenish at 3:41 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

Totally normal! Along with creating a comfy corner, as billiebee recommended, set up your music system, iPod speaker or even just a radio. Energizing tunes, familiar newscasters and other old favorites will help your new place feel like home and make the unpacking go easier. It might help to count the boxes, divide by a reasonable number of days (10?), and quit worrying about further unpacking once you hit your daily target. And I like to unpack my artworks early so I can lean them up against candidate locations before hanging them; it's an easy way to see my personality replacing blank walls.
posted by carmicha at 4:05 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm another one who finds this totally normal. I always get terribly nostalgic and sentimental saying goodbye to old homes, even when they've had horrible glaring flaws or housed stressful periods of my life. I just really don't like the all-at-sea feeling you get in a new space that has no memories attached even when it's an objectively better place to be. Add in all of the stressful little tasks that come with any new move and I am always on edge at the point you're describing.

The two things which help me have already been alluded to above. I try and clear one room of boxes and get it set up as homely as possible. Some favourite bits out, a nice rug, etc. I usually choose the bedroom because I hate to sleep surrounded by chaos and I can also use this space to hang out and read if I'm feeling tense. I know this room will need properly setting up in future but for now a veneer of homeliness and no clutter will do. Then I start working through the other stuff one step at a time with my safe haven to revert too if it's all getting too much.

The other thing is to have friends and family over as soon as possible. People are generally keen to see your new place. You can put them to work or just have pizza on packing crates. As soon as you get some new memories built up in the new place it'll feel more like home.
posted by Dorothia at 4:30 AM on July 16, 2013

It is normal, and zero indication that you've made any sort of mistake. Also, keep in mind that "after a major life change" means you're still going through that change. It's not over yet; it takes a while to start thinking of the new place as home.

This might sound weird, but whenever I clean or prettify things, I always start with the bathroom. Partly because I love bubble baths and scented shower goo so the bathroom's a pleasant place for me, and partly because it's so easy and relatively cheap to pull a bathroom together. New shower curtain, towels, rug, maybe a scented candle if that's your thing; just put them where they're supposed to go and you're done! And when you've got one room set up, you'll be more motivated to start on the next.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:48 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

It's very normal; there's been a big change, and the small three-year-old that's still in your psyche is speaking up and freaking out a little bit because wait things are different and change is scary.

But it's easy to fix if you're talking about a housing situation - because alongside that inner three-year-old who hates change, you probably still have an inner seven-year-old who likes playing house. Try a little of house-setting-up, and your inner seven-year-old will probably get all excited and tell your inner three-year-old to get over it, and you'll feel a lot better.

(I used these exact same words to explain to one of my roommates why I first was uneasy about her bringing in a big piece of furniture into the kitchen, but then turned on a dime and got all excited when I realized it was the perfect place for us to put all our fancy dishware.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:12 AM on July 16, 2013

Nthing the 'it is normal'. Moving house is traumatic because all of your standard coping mechanisms are up in the air, all those mental algorithms you had for dealing with washing, picking up groceries, calling people, ligging on the couch are all going to have to be rebuilt from scratch, and that just feels exhausting, plus you now have 'big projects' to think about - like sorting the garden etc. You've been chucked into a vortex and everything has spun into it's constituent parts. It's just no fun - and having no access to routine comfort go-tos like TV and internet just makes everything seem harder. However, things will start to come together soon, just by the process of being in the space on a regular basis you will start to make it your home.

I've moved a lot in the past few years and I've found a few things that help ease the trauma are getting pictures/mirrors on walls asap, making my bed up with nice linens asap, and getting the bathroom sorted early - because there's usually less stuff there than anywhere else and it feels like progress!

I'm a list-maker so when overwhelmed by tasks it helps me cope when I can list all the stuff that needs doing and then separate out the 'big stuff' into a list heavily marked ' later', and only concentrate on what can be done right this second. Eg unpack one bag, or unwrap a teacup to make tea or call the doctor to ask about registering as a new patient or dusting a couple of shelves in the bathroom. Another approach might be just to focus on everything within a four foot circle (literally draw it on the floor or carpet in chalk!) and just have a go at clearing that space.

Also agree the having people round to help if possible. Just building memories in new place will help it start to feel like home. And I'm with greenish - if you're in London and need a hand I'd be happy to lend it!

It will take time but if you can think of this as a transition period with a definite end point (say three months?) it might help. Try marking that period off on a calendar and see how you've progressed from one week to the next.
posted by freya_lamb at 5:28 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Give yourself permission to make mistakes with wall color. Painting is easy and fun! Go to the paint store and buy whatever color you are drawn to and put it on a wall. If you don't like it, then buy another can next month. This is your home, you don't have to ask anyone's permission to paint the walls, plant a garden, or hang pictures with nails. Embrace the freedom. My bedroom walls are purple.
posted by myselfasme at 5:52 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

With new homes, I find there are two major sources of stress once the actual getting my stuff in there and starting to sleep there part is over. First, you have to think about every. single. detail. of your new routine. When you are used to the place you're living, you don't have to use up brain power when you just want to get a damn fork. When you move, you have to think about everything. "Where are the forks? Oh right, they're in the drawer over by the sink." You have to think about where to look when you want to know what time it is, you have to make decisions constantly about where to put things ("My old place had a linen closet where I could put the toilet paper, but this place doesn't and WHY DO I HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WHERE TO PUT TOILET PAPER RIGHT NOW?!"). You have to deal with the new foibles your new home has instead of the familiar foibles your old place had.

The solution to this, as people said is making an effort to put homey touches on your place that make you feel good when you see them. It's also about time, you just ride things out until you start settling into a routine that starts to feel familiar.

The second major source of stress of settling into a new home is that your home can say a lot about who you are and how you're living and sometimes we have to catch up with the change. I don't know what was going on in your life when you found the studio you were living in, but maybe it felt like independence or an adventure. With this place, you're obviously moving up in your life a bit, but maybe you're mourning the loss of that adventure. Maybe this feels more grown-up and you have more responsibility in your life now that is helping you afford this move up. This move isn't just about location, it's about a new way of life (however big or small that is for you).

For this, I recommend giving yourself permission to mourn your old place and your old way of life--the things you loved about it, what it meant to you, etc. And then start making peace with the transition by making a conscious effort to think about all of the positive implications of this move for you. When you have a moment where you're grateful that you have extra storage or that it's easier to get to work, really notice that moment and appreciate it. Time will help with this too.
posted by Kimberly at 5:53 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yep, nthing that it is normal to feel this way. Change is hard, even positive change.

When I moved to my apartment, I made a list of things as if I were getting married and creating a registry. (I didn't make one at stores, just had my list.) I included fun things (new fluffy towels! A nice robe! Pictures!) as well as practical things (a trash can, a sink strainer). I spent lots of time finding things I truly loved as well as things that were bargains at thrift stores, online, and through craigslist.

Does making a list and crossing things off help you? If lists help, maybe you can make a list of the practical things you need to do to take care of the dampness, plumbing, and yard, AND a fun list of "registry" items for your place. Maybe you can balance it out by buying a few fun, homey things for each practical thing you tackle.

Finally, can you think about giving yourself permission to change slowly? I still go to the grocery store that was closer to my old place sometimes because it is familiar and I like it. I still haven't changed my prescriptions to a pharmacy closer to me. But I found some new places to walk to that I love, and I walked to my new post office. Celebrate small victories, and don't minimize your success.
posted by shortyJBot at 5:57 AM on July 16, 2013

Completely normal! I am already weepy over leaving my own beat-up cruddy studio and it's still over a month away! Moving is one of the four major stressors (along with illness, death, and divorce!) so it's very much A Process to be dealt with, not just a logistical hurdle and when it's done it's done, you know?

I find it helps to make one little part of the new place look as close to the old place as possible. For example, I have a bookshelf (with a particular lamp and some tchotchkes) and a painting that were grouped together on a wall in my old apartment; they're grouped in my current one, and I'll group them again in the new one. It gives your eye something familiar to rest on when everything else feels off-kilter.
posted by like_a_friend at 7:49 AM on July 16, 2013

I'm in the same boat right now. We've moved from an apartment into a lovely home, but the transition has been hard. Our old place had issues - the highway was 50 feet (~16 yards) from our back door/bedroom window, our landlords found an excuse to come in to our apartment at *least* once a month, the complex was slowly being taken over by college kids who liked to party until 3AM every night of the week. So it was definitely time to move.

But the new house is huge. In the long term, it will be great. I have an office! We can actually have people over! I have a huge garden! But right now, it's really obvious that the home was unoccupied for 3 years. The yard is overgrown with thorny weeds. We have insect issues. I feel like I'm walking around in a dead man's house - because I am. There are still little reminders of him here - notes that the elderly put in weird places to remind themselves to take their pills, for instance.

But slowly, it's getting better. We've set up our bedroom, a bathroom, and one room for lounging/reading/ignoring the chaos. We've mostly gotten the kitchen set up. We tore down the really bad wallpaper one night. I've managed to clear out enough space in the weeds to transplant my roses. I've removed most of the pill reminders and odd newspaper articles on the health benefits of greens from the insides of the kitchen cabinets.

It'll get better for you too. One thing to remember is that you made the decision on your new apartment with your rational brain, but it's your emotions that are holding sway now, which might be causing some of the disconnect. Intellectually, you know this was the right choice, but as others have noted, you're reacting emotionally to the new space, the new concept of home. Others have provided great ideas for adjusting, but also remember to be kind to you. My version of that is not worrying about finding a new grocer or pharmacy right now; for the moment, I've stuck with the ones we've been using, even though they're 20 minutes away, because I don't need the additional stress of trying to learn a new store layout.

Good luck. It will be ok. :)
posted by RogueTech at 8:18 AM on July 16, 2013

I lived in my current place for about 4 years before I finally painted a wall (sponged). Then, suddenly, the house felt like MINE. I recommend it.
posted by heatherfl at 8:55 AM on July 16, 2013

Is it usual to feel sad AFTER, and not DURING, a major life-change?

For anxious people (at least, I am one) I think so, yes. For me it's a combination of things

1. the "I've made a huge mistake" regret feeling. Even though I know I thought about my decision long and hard there's some inner monologue that is telling me I did not think about it enough.
2. The stress of being someplace new. I could walk around my old place in the dark and not bump into furniture and knew where all the light switches were etc. I was always bumping into stuff in the new place and just the stress of not having all my old routines made me tired a lot.
3. Moving is stressful itself! Even if you like your new place and dislike your old place. It's taxing and you worry a lot getting everything right and you spend a lot of mental energy getting prepared and then .... there's a real let down even if the new place is what you want.

So I found it helpful to do some things right up front

- give yourself permission to be klutzy and out of it for a while longer, moving isn't the end of this process, you're still in it and it will get easier
- reminding yourself that you are having negative feelings that are just that, feelings. You prepared and made a good decision but you have to let your feelings catch up with your reality and that takes time and being kind to yourself
- making the place your own and in some way BETTER than the other place so you can see a better thing and be reminded. This may mean shopping for a thing or having stuff that didn't fit in your old place all out on display or cooking a big meal in a way you couldn't before or something
- have your friends or family help you with the "Wow this place is nice!" stuff. I was always nitpicking my own decisions and I have a bunch of friends who were just like "Nope, this place is nice and you did a good job, good for you. Now let's get some of these boxes unpacked"
- set up new routines that will be calming after you've done them over and over for a bit

Above all, just be kind to yourself. Your brain is acting out in response to the stress of uprooting and moving and it will take a while to calm itself down. Do the things you know you like even if it doesn't FEEL like you're enjoying them and you'll be able to get back to yourself over time.
posted by jessamyn at 9:29 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Have you set up your things? I mean all of them, pictures on walls, knick knacks unpacked etc. You say the place will be nice when it's set up, so set it up. Set yourself a goal of getting a room nice every night or week depending on your schedule and do it.

I like to "mark my territory" when I move and that usually means frantically repainting rooms, hanging curtains and buying rugs just weeks after moving in, drives my husband crazy but I like to make places feel like mine.

Go mark your territory, get a start on getting those jobs done and if nothing else get at least one room set up, I'd suggest your bedroom, so it feels like home with all your things around you, bed made curtains hung etc and make that your sanctuary while you get on top of the rest of the place.
posted by wwax at 10:00 AM on July 16, 2013

So normal! I just (june 23) moved into a new place in a new city, and I love this apartment but that doesn't make it not hard. As jessamyn said, a lot of it is also just getting your body acclimated to the way the new house works so you're not bumping into things and reaching for switches that aren't there. I swear I knocked over more water glasses in my first two weeks here than I had in the last year, just because I was putting them in unexpected places, and then I'd knock them over reaching for something or the freaked-out cat would just shove them off the side of the table.

But I just two nights ago had that feeling of relief and "ahhh, I'm home" when getting off the subway, which made me realize that I've mostly gotten over it. So it will happen!

Things that helped:

1. making sure I had my furniture set up so it was easy to hang out and be lazy in my apartment
2. having friends/ my partner visit and hang out and help organize and cook here
3. emptying ALL of the boxes (this is a tiny apartment, so there was no place to stash full ones-- mostly what matters is the visual effect, so if you've got space to stash them, that could be equally effective)
4. walking around my neighborhood and getting to know what makes it awesome.
5. getting a few new exciting things that I didn't have in my old place that make this place seem special and exciting but go well with my old things, since those provide a sense of continuity.
6. speaking of continuity-- putting up all the same stuff that was on my old fridge on the new one was huge for me. it seems really silly and minor, but made a big difference.

(also, you are still not "after" a major life change-- if the place isn't quite set up yet, and you don't have internet, that's solidly "during," a point which may help make a bit more sense of why you're so stressed out. you're not done 'til you're actually done.)
posted by dizziest at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2013

Is it usual to feel sad AFTER, and not DURING, a major life-change?


It does no good to tell yourself I should be pleased, you feel how you feel.

I've moved into several different places that needed a lot of work, but it was all part of the plan. It seems like it would be quite overwhelming to have it all be a surprise.

I hope you feel that you made a good decision in the long term in buying a new apartment. If so, you can try to focus on the positive aspects of that decision (good financial decision, better place to live in the future, etc.)

I walked in and knew that I had found a home. I don't feel that way with this new place.

Sometimes these feelings have more to do with what is going on in other aspects of our lives than anything inherent to the apartment itself.

Make a list ordered by the most important things to get fixed -- if there's a plumbing leak, that goes near the top; the overgrown garden probably near the bottom.

Invite some friends over just to keep you company while you are working on things. You might need to specify that you don't need them to help with anything and just want some company while you are organizing and fiddling about, if you don't want to give the impression you are asking them to do a lot of work.

Is it usual to feel sad AFTER, and not DURING, a major life-change?

It occurs to me your premise is incorrect. You bought a place, and moved, but you are still in the middle of the process of moving and setting up your new home. Today, you are in the middle of your life change of making a new home.
posted by yohko at 11:18 AM on July 16, 2013

Is it usual to feel sad AFTER, and not DURING, a major life-change?...I just feel overwhelmed by all the things to do before it's properly set up as a home

You're not in the "after" phase yet, because you haven't properly set up your house as a home. Embrace your sadness as a reflection of you knowing you still have lots to do before you're done, and leverage it to motivate you to complete those things. Then you will be in the "after" phase, and probably a lot happier, too.

Having said that: yeah, people can be sad after, that happens for a number of reasons (most of which don't represent the change having been a mistake, by the way) but you still have work to do to complete the change.
posted by davejay at 11:55 AM on July 16, 2013

Yes, nthing you can be sad after, and it's not a change which is over anyway. I usually get very sentimental about places I've lived and feel sad before/during/after a move. Even years later if I go past someplace I lived, I still feel a bit nostalgic.

Concrete things to help: work out what matters to you most to make it feel like home. For me, it's having a basically clean kitchen and bathroom, my pictures on the wall, music, my books and my bed. The last time I moved I had a bit of time to do it in so made some pre-move trips to clean the kitchen, bathroom and toilet, hang up pictures, move some little things. Then unpack and hook up the stereo as soon as possible after moving, put on some cheerful and energetic music. Then get the books on the shelves. They don't need to be organised or findable, just get the books on the shelves. It gives you room because the boxes of books are out of the way and helps the place look more homey. And my bed for me is a sanctuary, having it set up and made with nice clean sheets is very important.

You are over the initial move but these things are still good to do if you haven't already done them. You may have other priorities - perhaps the bathroom is more important, or having all your kitchen gadgets stored away is better. Cook a meal for yourself, even something simple like scrambled eggs and toast. Then cook a simple meal for someone else, someone who can help you unpack boxes of books or clean some of the grot. You don't have to do everything all at once. It's normal to feel exhausted by how much there is to do: break it down into manageable bits and cross things off a list. Look how much you're accomplishing!

And I agree with jessamyn, it's also an opportunity to do something different. Every place I've lived in has had something really neat about it—in one flat, walls painted different colours rather than just white white white. In my current unit, having a little bit of courtyard and a clothesline to hang washing on. !! If there's nothing currently exciting, do something little and different, bonus if it was something you couldn't do before. Paint one wall of the bedroom your favourite colour before you get all the furniture in place. Go buy new curtains, or a plant, or whatever that will be doing something extra and nice for the new place rather than something broken which you have to fix.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:09 PM on July 16, 2013

Oh, and maybe the garden is a place to start after all? It's not for me but I have a friend who can put up with the house being unsatisfactory as long as she can do useful things in the garden. It does make a big and obvious difference!
posted by Athanassiel at 9:11 PM on July 16, 2013

every time I hit some sort of stumbling block I feel a sense of stress that is probably disproportionate to the source.

Everytime you hit a stumbling block like this, tell yourself that you are feeling a sense of stress that is probably disproportionate to the source. Really focus on noticing times that you are doing that. Be really aware of all of this. Mainly just point out to yourself when you are doing this.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:15 PM on July 16, 2013

But the thing that makes me feel really sad is that I am not fully at home there.

Make one room particularly livable. Probably your bedroom. Focus big time and money on anything it needs (clean, painting, repairs, carpet or rug, new shelves or furniture) to become ready for the long term. When everything else is no good, you'll be able to go in there and shut the door.

As for the rest of the place: make every room yours. Purposely and methodically inhabit every corner. Sit everywhere, talk on the phone everywhere, sleep everywhere, eat everywhere, watch recorded movies everywhere, listen to music everywhere, get naked everywhere, have sex everywhere. Infest the place. Fill the place with you. Maybe don't pee in the corners, but otherwise have at it.

And the garden: find the local urban garden club or whatever it's called, explain yourself, and ask them if they can find some volunteers to come over some Saturday to sort the garden for you. Depending on your climate (Britain, by the sound of your accent), it may be too late in the year to plant much unless you're down in Torquay, but maybe you can get some things in the ground for next year, maybe some perennials. Get the garden experts to come up with a sensible plan. At the very least, maybe you can lay down some black plastic to kill all the nasty weeds before next spring's planting. And you'll have met some neighborhood people and got something done.
posted by pracowity at 1:54 AM on July 17, 2013

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