Moving is a big job, but when you're a senior and you're moving from the home you've raised your family in to something smaller, you have some specific considerations you have to make. You can take measures to reduce the stress of the days ahead. Here's a guide to help you through the process as you get ready to downsize and prep for your move.
1. Knowing When It's Time to Downsize
Life happens quickly. One day you're in the midst of raising your kids, tripping over one another in a house that barely seems big enough, and the next your kids are grown and you're left with a large house that's more work than it seems to be worth. Most homeowners do not buy their homes with the intent of downsizing, but as they enter their senior years, the realities of owning a large home begin to catch up with them. Knowing when it's time to downsize is not always easy, but these tips and guidelines should help a little. Here are some signs that it's time to consider downsizing:
If you're noticing any of these are true about you, then downsizing is going to be the right choice.
2. Sorting Belongings
Once you've made the decision to downsize, then it's time to sort through your stuff. Moving to a smaller place means you can't take everything with you, no matter how attached you are to your things.
To sort, you will need to sort your things into four basic categories: Keep, Store, Sell/Give, and Trash. Start with one area of your home at a time, even if it's just one closet or one dresser, and go through each item, deciding which fits into which category.
If you're having trouble figuring out what to toss, look for these key signs that something is best thrown out or given away:
Next, know which items should be stored. Some items you don't need for day-to-day living, but need to keep for a variety of reasons. Items that are best stored include:
Finally, decide what you should keep. Make sure you don't overlook:
Keep in mind that the more you get rid of before your move, the easier time you will have fitting everything into your new space.
3. Packing to Move
Now comes the job of packing. This is not an easy task, so make sure you give yourself enough time to do the job well.
It's important to remember that packing is a physically demanding job. You are not as young as you once were, so give yourself enough time to handle the task without physical stress or injury. Here are some tips that will help make the job a little safer:
4. Hiring Movers or DIY Move?
After you have started downsizing your belongings and packing, you're going to need to make one of the most important decisions in this process - are you going to handle the move yourself, or hire someone else to do it for you. Before weighing the pros and cons, ask yourself a couple of questions:
If you think you could handle the move on your own, then you need to weigh the pros and cons of this decision. The main benefits of doing the move yourself are:
The drawbacks are as follows:
If you choose to hire movers, you enjoy several benefits, including:
In general, if you are moving 500 miles or more, a professional crew may be the cheapest option, and will almost certainly be the least stressful option. However, there are some drawbacks to moving companies to consider, which include:
So what's the bottom line? The answer to this question will depend on many factors, but if your health is compromised, you are moving a long distance or you don't have friends or family nearby who can help, then you're probably going to want to hire a professional. Otherwise, you can save some money by doing it yourself.
5. Keeping Moving Day Safe
After all of your planning, packing and preparation, when moving day finally arrives, you're going to want to take some measures to ensure everyone and everything is safe. This is a big job, so a little forward planning is not going to be a bad idea.
First, you are going to want to make sure you are not injured during the move. To avoid a serious back strain or even more serious injury, make sure you:
In addition, make sure you take care of your nutritional needs. It's easy to skip meals and drink breaks in the hustle and bustle of moving. Make sure you do not get dehydrated, and provide plenty of food for yourself and your team of movers to ensure everyone has the energy they need to do the job well.
Next, make sure you take measures to avoid damage to your belongings. Make sure you stack boxes carefully, with heavier boxes on the bottom and lighter boxes on the top. Label the boxes so the top and bottom are clearly seen, and make sure you load the truck so that the heavy times are distributed near the front. This will protect the balance of the truck while driving to your new home. Finally, make sure anything that might shift during transit is tied down and secured properly. You don't want to arrive at your new home with damaged belongings!
6. Prepare for the Emotional Side of Moving
For some, moving involves a new adventure, and as such is an exciting time, but this is not the case for everyone. Some people find the transition to be a challenge, especially if they are giving up living in a place that they made family memories. The home where children were raised and grandchildren were welcomed can be hard to leave.
To prepare for the emotions of moving, make sure you first embrace them. It's normal to feel a bit sad when making this type of transition! Don't fear these emotions, as they are a healthy part of settling in to your new normal.
That said, sometimes the sadness can turn into something more. Be aware of the fact that some seniors will struggle with a condition called Relocation Stress Syndrome after making a major move. This is defined as a "physiologic and/or psycho-social disturbance as a result of a transfer from one environment to another." Signs of this syndrome include:
If you are noticing these signs in yourself, or if your senior loved one is experiencing them, be prepared to get medical or psychological help to ease the transition a bit.
7. Getting Settled in Your New Home
8. Extra Belongings: Store, Bequeath or Sell?
As you sort through your belongings, you will find that you have a number of items that are still in good shape, but you simply don't need. In these instances, you will need to decide whether you are going store those items, sell them or bequeath them to your beneficiaries now. Making this choice is not always easy. Here are some guidelines that can help.
First, decide which items you want to hang on to for a while. This is a highly personal decision, and will depend on how much storage space you have, or whether or not you choose to purchase a storage unit. If items hold specific sentimental value, are items you need on occasion and still think you will need or want to bequeath but aren't ready to do so now, then you need to store those items. Keep in mind that the more you store, the more you will have to spend for storage.
Next, decide if there are any items you want to go ahead and pass along to the next generation. This can be a very rewarding way to part with your items. You will be able to see the next generation enjoy your items, but you won't have to store them. Some items that it makes sense to bequeath now include:
Finally, decide what items you can sell. Often, antique and vintage items can bring a significant price. Make sure you're getting a fair deal, though. Have items appraised by an antiques dealer before selling them to protect yourself.
9. Tips for Family
If your elderly loved one is planning a move, here are some ways you can help with the transition: