Moving can be stressful for anyone, but senior citizens are likely to face unique and difficult obstacles when it comes to planning a move. Relocating means you may need assistance with downsizing, packing, finding reputable moving companies to book your move with, and planning every other aspect of moving day. Compared to a recent college grad, for example, a senior will usually have a large volume of personal items and treasured belongings. That alone can turn downsizing into a days or even weeks-long process. Seniors may also have to be mindful of health and safety issues that need to be taken into consideration while planning a move.
In our experience, typically the adult children of seniors will help them plan their move. Whether you’re a senior planning a move or the adult child of a senior helping your parent get organized for moving day, keep reading for Two Small Men with Big Hearts Moving’s comprehensive guide to planning a move for a senior citizen. With 40+ years in the industry, we have a wealth of experience that we’re more than happy to share with our readers.
How to downsize as a senior
We’ve written a lot about downsizing, but downsizing for seniors tends to be uniquely challenging — seniors will normally have accumulated lots of items over the years, and there may be particularly senitmental items that you’re not ready to part with. Not to worry, though. For unique challenges, there are unique solutions, and you have options!
Moving your items into storage
Storing your belongings is sort of a downsizing cheat-code — it may not technically count as downsizing, but we understand that there are some items you’ll want to keep that you may not have room to store in your new home. This can include heirlooms that have passed down through generations of your family, or simply the most treasured items you’ve gathered throughout your life that you’re not ready to say goodbye to just yet.
Reach out to family and friends
If storage is an expense that you’re not prepared to take on, you can reach out to your family and friends for help. One of your loved ones will likely offer up a portion of their garage, basement, or attic to give you peace of mind about your most cherished possessions. It’s good to keep in mind that in this case, you should be sure to pack your belongings into secure plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes. The last thing you want to worry about is mold and mildew in what are often the dampest areas of a house!
Get creative with your new space
In-house storage options have gotten creative in the past decade or so, and there are plenty of ways to maximize your storage options to get the most out of your new space. Utilize under-the-bed storage containers, extra tall, narrow shelves, collapsible laundry baskets, and cupboard organizers. There are plenty of clever storage hacks that can help you optimize your new space to house items you didn’t think you’d have room for!
Plan a yard sale
You may not have the time or interest in listing every single item you want to get rid of, one by one, to sell online. While selling online may be faster to get rid of certain items, we still believe in the power of a good old fashioned yard sale. You can post on your preferred social media to let your network know where and when, make a sign as simple or as funky as you want to put in front of your house — and we recommend a sign for the busiest main street near your home, too — and ask your family and friends to let their extended networks know to stop by. If you’re feeling extra creative, you can also create small signs and ask local cafes to put them up if they have a community bulletin board.
Donate and declutter
This is the most obvious phase of the downsizing process, but it’s important to mention. You can donate your gently used items to shelters or secondhand stores (we recommend secondhand stores that are run by charities or non-profit organizations), and sort the items you no longer need into garbage and recycling piles. Do donate as much as you can, though, because we all know that it’s best to extend the life of items and keep them out of landfills for as long as possible.
Hire Professional Movers
We know using a rented truck is the preferred moving method for some people, but for seniors we strongly recommend hiring professional movers. If you have any health concerns, it’s especially important to prioritize your safety first. Even if you’re fit as a fiddle, things like weather, access, and staircases can all present challenges on moving day that you shouldn’t have to worry about. If you’ve been living in the same place for a long time, you may not have used moving services in years — or ever — and we can help you with that, too!
How to research a moving company online
We’re all aware that there are a lot of scams on today’s Internet, and you can’t trust every website or ad you see. Here’s how to research moving companies online for best results when you’re looking for moving estimates:
- Use Google Businesses results to get started. There are requirements companies have to meet to be listed on Google for Business, although it may not be 100% foolproof.
- Check Google Reviews for every moving company you consider reaching out to. You can check not only the company’s rating out of five, but equally as important is the number of reviews they’ve amassed. Businesses can’t pay to have these reviews taken down or altered, but they can respond to each review. Check out what customers have to say as well as how businesses respond to the reviews their customers leave.
- Make sure the moving company has a phone number in addition to their website. You should be able to speak to a real person on the phone before you book your move.
- Check that estimates are free. No reputable moving company should ever charge for an estimate. While most companies will take a deposit, that shouldn’t happen until you’re at the booking stage.
- Look for companies that are involved with their community. This is a win-win situation — you can entrust your move to a company that you know does good in your community, and you’ll also be able to confirm that an organization in your community has used the moving company’s services before (and had a great experience with them!).
Ask about a Senior discount
Some moving companies offer special discounts for seniors. When you’re considering moving companies, there’s no harm in asking if they offer a discount for seniors. This is a courtesy that can indicate a culture of care and community-mindedness within a business, so there’s no reason not to inquire!
Understand that moving can be emotional
Moving can be exciting, but it’s important to remember that saying goodbye to a home — especially one you’ve lived in for many years — will inevitably come with some unexpected, strong surges of emotion. Transitions can be emotionally trying, and the best thing you can do to prepare yourself is embrace that you may need a good cry every now and then. Lean on your loved ones for support and remember that saying goodbye to your old house means saying hello to a brand new chapter in your life. Yes, that can be scary, but it can also lead you to an amazing opportunity for new friendships, a new community, and a fresh start in a new home.
Of course, it’s important to feel every emotion. The prospect of moving can be sad, it can cause anxiety, and it can feel lonely. If you need extra support, make sure you reach out to the people in your life who are best equipped to help you navigate these emotions. If you prefer to handle those feelings on your own, that’s okay too!
Relocation Stress Syndrome
If you find that you are struggling with sad emotions and that they’re turning into more than you can cope with, we want to make sure our readers are aware of Relocation Stress Syndrome. You can read more about it by clicking here, but we’re happy to summarize. Relocation Stress Syndrome is described as a nursing diagnosis (note: not a medical diagnosis) that can occur in older adults in the process of moving, especially if you’re moving into assisted living from a private residence. Relocation Stress Syndrome symptoms include anxiety, confusion, hopelessness, and loneliness. Please keep your health top of mind and reach out to family, friends, or even your doctor if you feel you may be experiencing this.
Get comfortable in your new home
Getting comfy in your new home is going to take some work. You’ll have to embrace being adaptable, and try your best to have a positive outlook. Even if you’re excited about moving, moving day itself is sure to be a bit emotional. You can and should grieve the loss of your former home, but it’s good to lean into what you’re excited about in your new home, too.
First things first: take ownership of your new space
The last thing most people want to do after a long day of moving is face a long evening of unpacking. While you don’t have to unpack every single box right away, set yourself up for success by taking ownership of your new space. Unpack as much as you can in your bedroom and living room, and make sure you set yourself up to have a nice breakfast without having to do extra work in the morning by unpacking a few groceries, dishes, and of course your kettle if you’re a tea or coffee drinker.
Cleaning might help you de-stress, or it might be your least favourite part of running a household. Either way, cleaning every surface of your new house will make it feel more like yours. Use the same cleaning agents you love and are used to, because we all know that scent is an important sense when it comes to our comfort.
Establish a routine
As we’ve emphasized throughout this blog post, it’s crucial to take care of your health — including your mental health. Establishing a routine ASAP is the best course of action. You should incorporate as much as you can of your normal routine, but don’t shy away from adjusting where needed. We recommend weaving in a few new activities to your day to help you become more familiar and comfortable in your new home and area.
Get to know your new neighbours
Moving to a new place can feel isolating. It might be nerve-wracking, but do your best to greet your new neighbours. If you like baking, baked goods are almost always a wonderful icebreaker to say hello with — and if not, it’s totally okay to knock on a few doors just to introduce yourself! Knowing who your neighbours are will help definitely help your new area feel more like home.
Get involved in your community
There are so many ways to get involved in your new community. Find out if there’s an official community association in your area, and if you have Facebook, join the local group to connect with people who live in your area! You can also join a club or visit the closest community centre to find out more about upcoming activities that you can take part in.
Have family and friends over for a housewarming gathering
Make sure you invite family and friends to your new home when you’re ready. The sooner you start creating special moments with your loved ones in your new space, the sooner it will really start to feel like your home.
Ready to book your move?
Once you’ve concluded your research, it’s time to get in touch for a free moving estimate. After you fill out our easy estimate form, you’ll be contacted by a friendly move coordinator who can tell you all about available discounts, and moving days with better rates.