Take stock of your pantry and freezer. You need to make a plan to eliminate the most perishable items. If you get to move to a new place then yay, you just need to limit what you bring in so you can fit your food in a cooler or four on the way to the new place. Otherwise, make a meal plan or use another method to figure out how to eat all the foods, like the just-eat-all-the-things diet.. Stone Soup has a lot of very simple, good recipes.
You can also take the opportunity to use your pantry ingredients to make some just add water mixes that will be easy to whip up later.
Take some time to ponder what tasks you will have coming up in the time your housing is in flux. Do you have any bills coming due, social commitments, or other responsibilities? Do you need to make payment arrangements or bow out of commitments now, while something can be done about it if you plan ahead? Is there anyone who will be affected, that you should warn when you still don’t actually know where you will end up?
If you have time develop a meal plan with inexpensive ingredients and basic equipment, so you can tightly plan your budget and your shopping right after the move.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! The first time we did a dire straits move I was an irascible New Englander. New Englanders are a hardy bunch, and don’t like to ask for help. I wanted to do everything myself, I didn’t want a handout from anybody, and despite how grim the outlook was, I didn’t ask for any help. Instead everyone from my awesome office and family showed up and threw things in boxes, we stuffed storage to the gills, and we lived in the car in a warmer climate. If I had looked for assistance I might have been able to keep my kids near my family and support network.
Maybe you are proud. Maybe you are afraid. Maybe you can’t stand not being self-sufficient. Are your feelings really more important than keeping your children comfortable, secure, and safe?
Call your town welfare office and the local transitional shelter, they will be able to get you started. When applying for help you may need documentation of your income, your eviction or foreclosure notice, birth certificates, bank statement, proof of residence in your current town (unless you’re already homeless), social security cards, car titles, latest taxes, proof of auto insurance, your lease or rental agreement, your latest utility bills, and any statements for expenses like child support. All of these documents should be in your binder so you have access to them. We call ours the Binder of Doom.
Also, most of these programs have waiting lists, especially transitional housing. Get started now and keep track of who you have contacted. I have a document of who I have called, the results of that conversation, and the requirements they had whether I met them or not. I jot these down and then copy them to my document on the computer/Google Docs when I can. You can use Google Docs to access this from any computer. Just make sure you log out and clear the cache on any public computer.
Consider your car situation. Maybe you are making car payments and don’t have the money anymore. Is it better to turn that BMW in and get a beater, or wait until they repossess it? I will at least check Facebook for a van or maybe RV that will work better in our current situation. If you have a truck you could look at campers. Did you know that pop-up campers have lovely things like heat? I may have to use the security deposit I have saved to do it, which will admit that I am going to be homeless, and put our rehoming off that much more. But if it is the smart decision, I will do it. Keep in mind that what you buy might be a lemon, and if you carhouse breaks down or is stolen you will be in deep doo-doo. If you live in the city it’s possible you could sell your car to get a security deposit, and just use public transportation until you can get another. Use your limited resources as wisely as you can.
Consider relocating. If you have kids then this is a very hard decision to make, but you need to explore all of the possibilities, weigh all your options, and make the best decision you can. If you are on a fixed income, like disability, then your income will be the same no matter where you live. Your dollar may go further in other places. Perhaps you have a grandpa in Tucson the kids have never seen, or a grandma in Orlando. Seasons might influence your choice as well, it’s hard to live in your car in New Hampshire in January, but Arizona is absolutely beautiful. You can compare the cost of living in different places. If you refuse to accept help until you can get back on your feet then relocation is a very real possibility. However, if you pull your kids from school and uproot them from their friends and family you may be seeing the emotional scars for years to come. If you have a support system in place then use it, and investigate your options for local assistance. It could be that someone in your church has a rental property they’re fixing up, will trade labor for the deposit, and will be happy to have someone they know in there instead of a stranger who may wreck the place. You won’t know until you ask, as hard as it is to put yourself out there.
When you are moving you want to overlap services like power in both locations by a day. However, you must call to have them read the meter for power about four days in advance. They usually have a backlog and will need to schedule you in. Also if you find a place, getting the cable and internet people scheduled early is a good idea.
We hope you enjoyed our Dire Straits Moving: Tips for Relocating in a Not-So-Pretty Situation – Homelessness and Other Hard Times Moves post