Most of us stay put as we get older, but many of us have one, maybe two moves left in us. The reasons to change living quarters are as individual as we are – to be closer to family, a warmer climate, lower taxes, more age friendly housing.

About five percent of people over 55 move every year. This year I joined the “senior migration,” more by necessity than choice. Our lovely island neighborhood had veered from residential to vacation rentals.

Every week was a new party in the big houses surrounding us. We were always stressed. I heard “Marco … Polo” in my dreams.

 
 

So, we bought a lot in a neighborhood with more restrictions, designed and built our forever home and moved in this week. The accumulated stuff of 137 years (61 of my own and 76 of my husband’s) is still in boxes around me. Oh, for the days of my first studio apartment, unpacked from the back of a Toyota hatchback!

It’s not just the amount of stuff that is daunting. I’ve found muscles I didn’t know existed. My mind feels like mud. I have never been so tired. My sweetie and I are growling at each other.

Need I go on? Moving is hard work, even when you are organized and physically able. Here’s some of what I’ve learned.

Plan Your Move with Aging in Mind

Before you make your move, think about the next 20, 30, even 40 years. Think about an elevator if you are moving to a multi-story building. A maintenance free yard may be a requirement, unless you enjoy landscape and gardening.

Consider the sidewalks in the area because walking should be a part of your routine. When driving is no longer an option, convenient public transportation may be important.

Install grab bars in showers, tubs and near toilets. Some are quite stylish and do double duty as toilet paper holders and shampoo caddies.

Hire All the Help You Can Afford and Pack Like a Pro

If I had unlimited funds, I would have hired a service to pack, move and unpack me. No such luck. But I hired movers for the heavy lifting. Injury is not an option as we age.

Invest in a good tape dispenser, and use same-size boxes your movers can stack. I carried a basket with markers, stickers, my tape dispenser and a jar for picture hangers, nails, pegs from shelving. Carry this handy basket with you.

At your new address, swap the tape dispenser for a box cutter and trash bags. When the shelving arrives at your new home, you’ll know just where to find those pegs.

Snap photos of your TV, computer and stereo connections. Tape the cords to the electronics. Label your remotes and chargers for all your electronic devices and put them all in a box you carry yourself.

Have a tote for check books, passports, bills, extra keys… things you’ll need to get your hands on soon after the move. Carry it yourself, too.

Pack an overnight bag two day before you move with everything you’ll need for two nights: cell phone charger, underwear, makeup and toiletries, clothes and the book you’re reading. You can live out of your overnighter while you’re doing last minute packing at the old location and beginning to unpack in your new home.

If you are a coffee or tea drinker, hand carry everything you’ll need to make the first morning in your new digs feel like home.

Mind Your Priorities During the Move

For me, my husband and my cats are priorities. I know that if they are comfortable, everything is better. The first morning in the new house, I had my husband’s computer set up before my own, and the TV was programmed. The cats had their toy box and familiar bowls.

At the same time, my business is high priority once family is comfortable. While I yearn to unpack in my dream closet, my business before pleasure rule keeps me on track.

Emotions are high during moving. Optimism and good humor help most of all. I look around me at all the boxes and tell myself unpacking will be just like Christmas, that it will be done someday – sooner or later, one way or another.

Is there a move in your future? What are your priorities to make the move go more smoothly? What can you do to make your new home age-friendly? Please share your thoughts below!

Terri Edmund WhiteTerri Edmund White is an innkeeper on Anna Maria Island, Florida. She enjoys life with her husband Jim and their cats, adopted from the Humane Society of Manatee County. A former corporate writer and editor, Terri is currently penning her way to her 100th birthday and has started a 100 Year Project website to write about the journey.

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