It’s one thing to prepare for a short business trip, but when you’ve accepted a long-term assignment lasting for many weeks or even months, the preparation is more akin to living abroad. If you have a spouse, partner or roommate at home keeping the fires burning, the process will be a little easier, but if you live alone, you’ll want to make sure you come back to a home that’s still sweet.
1. The key person
If you’re a renter, the property owner will be able to check on things or get access to your place in case of emergency, but if you own your home, be sure to give a key to a trusted friend or family member. This person should also have your assignment contact info in case of emergency.
Although it may not be practical to arrange for a full-time house-sitter, this keyholder can also check on your home from time to time, water the plants, and make sure packages don’t pile up outside your door. Regular, visible activity at your home is also a good deterrent for criminal activity, and you can augment your keyholder’s visits with a light timer or motion sensor lighting, too.
2. The whole package
Speaking of packages, another arrangement you should make before departure is finding someone to collect your mail regularly, or have your mail forwarded to your assignment location. Suspend your newspaper or other deliveries, and while you’re at it, make sure you’ve coordinated online banking and bill-paying. Make sure you have copies of or access to important documents, too (file sharing services can be helpful for this).
3. What’s that smell?
You’ll want to make sure your home is a nice place to return to after your assignment is complete. This not only means turning off gas and water pipes and unplugging any nonessential electronics, it also means cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms and taking care of yard maintenance before you leave.
You might not be able to do much about the accumulation of dust on your bookshelves and TV screen, but at least you won’t come home to a mess. Or, if it’s affordable for you, hire a cleaning service to touch up from time to time. Don’t forget to clear your refrigerator and cupboards of perishables so you don’t end up returning to a powerful and mysterious smell, or even a new ecosystem in your kitchen.
4. Don’t forget about you
Before you leave, make sure you’re up-to-date on your dental checkups, eye exams and physicals, and be sure you not only bring your prescriptions with you, but that you’re stocked up on supplies like medications and contact lenses. If you’re a member of a gym or health club, find out if there is a branch in your assignment location, or a reciprocal agreement with another club in the area. If not, see if you can suspend your membership temporarily so you’re not paying fees for something you simply can’t use.