Managing the Move: 5 Tips for Relocating Seniors

For many seniors, moving in retirement is the right choice. Downsizing to a smaller home means lower bills and less space to upkeep as you head into your golden years, freeing up finances and time for the retirement you’ve always dreamed of. Plus, selling your current home can not only fund the purchase of your new home and your entire move, but it can also add to your nest egg. Still, the moving itself can be a burdensome affair; packing up the place you’ve called home for decades to transition into a new abode is never easy.

Here are five tips for keeping the move manageable.

Outsource the Heavy Lifting

Before you begin anything else, take a look at whether you need professional help. Navigating bulky furniture down the stairs and onto a moving truck is physically demanding for anyone, but for seniors, it can be outright dangerous. Spare yourself a disastrous accident by hiring movers to, at a minimum, pack and unpack the moving truck. Movers can also pack up your home for you, which can include securing fragile decorations and artwork. When you hire professionals, you’re also covered in the event that anything gets lost or broken in transit.

Decide What to Bring

Figure out what will fit in your new home. A floor plan of your new home is a useful tool for determining what furniture and decorations are suited to the new space and what’s better off being replaced. Take measurements of each room in the new house and of large furniture items. Make sure furniture not only fits but that there’s plenty of room to navigate around it.

Discard duplicate items if there are multiple rooms in your current home that will be consolidated in the new residence — for example, if you’re moving from a two-bathroom home to a one-bathroom home. Pare linens and dishware down to the essentials, and ask adult children to retrieve any lingering belongings.

Nostalgic items are the toughest to part with. Consider what you truly can’t live without and what you could remember just as well through a photograph. Though there’s nothing wrong with holding onto sentimental items, too many could overwhelm your new home.

Sort by Keep, Donate, and Sell

As you pack up each room of your house, you’ll end up with a big stack of items that don’t make the cut to be packed and moved. Decide what items are worth selling and what’s better off being donated or gifted. Unless you’re prepared to staff a yard sale week after week, selling is best limited to valuable pieces of furniture, electronics, designer clothing, and rare collectibles. Clothing, books, kitchenware, and other common items are easily donated to thrift stores or local charities. Things that hold a lot of sentimental value but not much monetary value make excellent gifts to close family members.

Pack Strategically

Before you dive head-first into packing, make a game plan. Schedule one room to pack up per day, starting with the easy rooms, like the laundry room, to ease yourself in. If two rooms will become one in the new house, tackle both rooms at once to keep boxes organized according to where they’ll be unpacked. Once you’re warmed up, you’ll be ready to take on memory-rich rooms like the family room or a child’s bedroom.

Set Aside Essentials

Before you pack up every last box, make sure you have your daily essentials set aside. You’ll need things like toiletries, device chargers, clothes, medication, cookware, and dishware up until the last day. Make sure your wallet doesn’t end up at the bottom of the moving truck by putting personal items in an area clearly marked as off limits to movers.

Similarly, label the boxes that hold the items you’ll need soonest. While you can live without holiday decorations for months, you’ll need the linens and coffee maker unpacked sooner than later. Make sure you know where to find the tools you’ll need for assembling furniture, hanging decorations, and making quick repairs.

Moving can be stressful for anyone, but for seniors who have lived for years in the same place, it can be particularly painful. Leaving behind memories and parting with belongings can cause a tremendous amount of stress, but with some careful planning, you and your loved one can make this process as smooth as possible for all involved.