Planning for Your Future: Moving after an Abusive Relationship

Dec 28, 2021

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Recently, there have been more conversations about how hard it is to leave an abusive relationship, but there isn’t much conversation about how hard it can be after you’ve left.

Just because a relationship has passed, doesn’t mean the trauma has, too. When deciding to move to a new home, there are a few things you should know that will help you along the way.

Getting Started
You need to know where and how to begin your search for a new home, which might be easier said than done. Begin by establishing how far away you wish to move or if you have a specific geographic area you desire. Some people opt to relocate a large distance away from where they lived during the abusive relationship, while some would prefer to stay in their current area, and others want to move to experience a new kind of life.

If you have children, decide whether you’re willing to move them to a new school district. Some survivors have concerns that their former abuser might try to track them, or their children, down. If you’re concerned about this but don’t want to relocate your children, then speak with administrators in their school about the situation. Additionally, if you’re anxious about living somewhere on your own, consider moving to a populated area or an area with a trusted individual nearby. It might be comforting to know that a friend is close by, and socializing can help you avoid feeling completely isolated and alone.

Get Preapproved
If you’re buying a home or a condo, then it’s a good idea to get preapproved for a mortgage to expedite the process, and most real estate agents will want you to have a preapproval before using their services. To begin, you’ll need to gather some financial information such as your debt-to-income ratio, credit score, and proof of income. These will help lending institutions determine exactly how big of a loan you can afford to repay.

There are two popular loans other than a conventional mortgage:

FHA loans (Federal Housing Administration) – These loans are great for anyone who has a lower credit score, or would like to make a smaller down payment. They are backed by a government administration, so lenders are more willing to negotiate for more lenient repayment terms.
● USDA loans (United States Department of Agriculture) – These are also backed by a government administration, so they have similar benefits to FHA loans. The biggest difference is that these loans are for homes in suburban or rural areas, and you can qualify for a $0 down payment.

Why is it a good idea to use a realtor as a first-time home buyer? They know their way around the market and will help find the right property. You already have enough things to process right now, so let a professional in the field do the mentally-taxing work for you.

Real estate agents want to make you as satisfied as possible with your new home because that means you’re more likely to choose them if you sell the house, or at least that you’ll recommend them to others. Best of all, most real estate agents are paid by the seller of the property, meaning you wouldn’t even have to pay them for using their services.

House Hunting
Searching for a home to move into is simultaneously exhausting and exciting. Although, the assistance of a realtor will help make the process much more streamlined. It may take some time before you find the perfect home, so don’t be discouraged and settle for something just because you feel like the search is dragging. Eventually, you’ll find a home that you fall in love with and can begin the final steps of closing on your home and moving in.

Closing and Moving
When you’ve found the place that speaks to you, it’s time to finish up and get ready to go home. At this point, if you’re concerned about your former abuser tracking you down, you should consider consulting a lawyer, in case you haven’t already. You can discuss your options with them about closing on a home and filling out paperwork while retaining as much anonymity as possible since addresses can be found on legal documents. There are resources that exist to help you find pro bono services if you can’t afford a lawyer.

The transition step between the house search and closing is when you and your agent will make the purchase offer and the seller accepts. Then you’ll all sign a purchase agreement and take it back to your lender to begin closing on the home. There’ll be a lot of paperwork involved but don’t worry, your lender and the real estate agent will all be there to help guide you through the process. After all, they don’t get paid until you fill out the paperwork completely and correctly.

Move
Now it’s time to make the move and settle in. If you’re relocating over a larger distance, it’s probably wise to hire a moving company to help cut down on the chaos of moving. For shorter distances, you can try to enlist the help of family and friends. Having people you know and trust nearby and helping you while you’re moving items into the new space can help to ease any nervousness about being in an unfamiliar place.

Settle In
Take some time to unpack everything and familiarize yourself with your new space and surrounding area. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself and celebrate your achievement. Buying a home is no small task and at this point in your life, you’ve already overcome much bigger challenges, so you certainly have what it takes. Now, all that’s left to do is decorate your home and make any changes necessary to ensure your home is your safe space.

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