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Moving to New Home Later in Life: Preparing to Move

By Peter Keers December 10, 2023 Lifestyle

Moving to a new home later in life involves a series of decisions, as noted in the prior installments of this Sixty and Me blog series. If you’ve finally decided to take the plunge, now is the time to prepare for the big event.

Moving after age 50 differs from your younger days when you could recruit a friend with a pickup truck and pay with pizza and beer. Moving later in life presents a more significant logistical challenge. For one thing, you probably have more stuff. Second, your older body may be unable to haul that stuff around as easily as it did when you were younger. Third, your friend may still have a pickup truck, but it won’t fit all your belongings, and she’s no spring chicken herself.

Moving now requires more planning and will involve different players. To simplify this, let’s break down the process into four phases:

  • Planning
  • Downsizing
  • Pre-moving day preparations
  • Moving day


Every move planning situation is unique and defined in part by answers to a couple of crucial questions:

  • Where and how far away you are moving?
  • Are you downsizing, upsizing or “samesizing”?

Then, depending on your situation, here are some tips to support the planning process.

What’s Your Budget?

A long-distance move can set you back about $5,000, while moving locally may cost $1,000 or less. Keep track of expenses since some might be tax deductible.

Hiring a Moving Company

The amount of stuff to be moved and the distance to the new home will determine whether to hire a mover. Here are some ideas for finding and working with a moving company.

Do Your Research

Make an initial list by searching the internet and scanning the reviews to choose the top three candidates.

Check Government Credentials

Reputable moving companies have a state or federal registration number. In addition, ask for proof of insurance.

Get Written Quotes

To increase the probability of a precise quote, require an onsite or video inspection of your stuff. A quote may or may not be binding. Learn about the differences so you can make the best decision.

Understand the Bill of Lading

The BOL serves as your contract with the mover. Read it carefully and ask questions before signing. Ensure you have ready access to it during the move and keep it for future reference.

Will You Need a Storage Unit?

Sometimes, temporary use of a storage unit can help reduce the stress of a move. For example, if you want to downsize but don’t have time to sort through all your belongings, put items in storage so you can go through things at a less hectic time. Look into storage options early in the process so it will be available as you need to move items into the unit.

Scope Out the New Location

Learn about the new geography before you move. For instance, find out the location of grocery, hardware and drug stores. Also, check into local ordinances regarding moving trucks and parking to avoid problems on moving day.

Sizing Your Stuff

Many people moving later in life realize all their stuff will not fit into the new home. Here are some ideas for tackling the downsizing monster.

How Much Needs to Go?

Measure your new home and determine what living style you’d like to maintain after moving in. Would you prefer a roomy feel or a comfortable clutter with your familiar things close at hand? With these ideas in mind, sketch out what items will fit in the space.

Know Your Options

Once you know what you’re going to get rid of, there are four possible downsizing choices:

  • Keep it
  • Donate it
  • Sell it
  • Trash it

For each option, create a plan. For instance, identify donation alternatives and learn what items they will take. For selling, decide on how you’ll market your items and allow ample time to keep up with inquiries from interested buyers. As for trashing, you may need to rent a dumpster. Make your best guess on how much will be trashed to procure the right dumpster size.


Many of us have prized possessions we’d like to pass down to younger generations. However, make sure your relatives and friends know your wishes beforehand. Perhaps you can even give them the items right away. If no one is interested, keep the written information with each item, so in the future, people will know what the object meant to you before they toss it.


There are several ways to handle these larger items.

  • Offer to whomever buys your current home.
  • Offer to relatives or friends.
  • Sell items at a garage sale or online.
  • Donate to charity.
  • Place items on the curb with a “free” sign or place ads on online resources like
  • Transport things yourself to the dump, rent a dumpster or hire a junk hauling company.

There are also situations where a move is either upsizing to a larger dream home or “samesizing” to similar square footage as the current home. In both cases, it pays to measure the new home carefully to ensure that the items you bring will fit the intended spaces.

Pre-Moving Day Preparations

Communicate with the Mover

Verify dates, times and pricing with the mover leading up to moving day.


Packing and unpacking chores consume the biggest share of moving time and energy, with packing taking the most time. Here are some packing tips:

  • If you use a commercial mover, know what items they prohibit. For example, most professional movers will not accept hazardous materials like yard chemicals, gasoline, propane tanks, and fireworks.
  • Label all boxes and, on a separate sheet, make notes describing the contents. The labels should indicate the room in the house to facilitate unloading and unpacking.
  • Don’t pack items from multiple rooms in one box.
  • Packing one room at a time will make the process less stressful.
  • Heavy items should go in the smallest possible boxes to avoid overloading.

Let Others Know Where You’re Going

Arrange address changes, mail forwarding and ending services like refuse pickup and landscaping. Also, inform utility companies of your move and transfer service to your new home.

Be Kind to Pets

Pets can be distracting on moving day and become stressed with so much activity. Consider lodging your pet with a sitter for the duration.


Be prepared to clean the current home once it’s empty on a moving day. If you’re a renter, the return of your damage deposit may depend on cleaning job quality. Consider hiring someone to handle cleaning so you can concentrate on unpacking at the new residence.

Moving Day

Here are some ideas to make the big day go as smoothly as possible.

Essentials Packing

Pack all the daily items such as a few days of food, kitchen and bathroom basics, clothing, toiletries and medications. Mark these boxes as among the first to be opened. Also, pack an easily accessible box with moving day essentials like tools, paper towels, bottled water, toilet paper, hand soap, cleaning supplies, scissors, box cutters and a first-aid kit.

Cash Is King

Having cash on hand can help with unanticipated problems. For example, it could facilitate a quick run to the store or paying the pizza delivery person. Also, if you’re using professional movers, you may need cash for a tip which can run from 10-20%.

Protect Floors and Walls

Moving can easily damage a home’s interior. Protect the floor and walls to reduce damage and minimize post-move cleaning.

Make a Final Inspection

After everything has been loaded, a final walk-through helps ensure nothing is left behind. Look in storage areas like cabinets and closets for anything forgotten in the packing process.


Before the unloading commences, walk through the new home with the movers. This will ensure they know where to put things. This is an excellent time to note any repairs that may be needed before furniture and boxes fill up the space. Also, if there’s time before unloading, vacuum and do any other necessary cleaning. Finally, set up protection for the floors and walls.

Take Charge

Movers need constant guidance during unloading, so be available to answer questions to keep the process flowing smoothly.

First Furniture

Set up your bed before any other furniture is reassembled. You’ll appreciate it at the end of a tiring day. Next, move the kitchen table and chairs to allow for a resting place during the busy move-in activity.


Yourwell-laid plans have paid off, and you can rest now that everything has been unloaded, essentials unpacked, and basic furniture assembled. It’s time to take a break and celebrate a successful day of moving into your new home.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you moved in the past year? Which part of the moving process was the most difficult? What tips did you find handy? Did you use a moving company?

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I’m not moving (yet), however I have decluttered my home like I was! Right now I’m working on the shed and it’s the last place left to do. It’s a doozy, full of “47” years worth of stuff. I’m so over this accumulation of things I don’t want, need and forgot about. I too have filled the trash, recycling and donation bins several times. Getting a “sale” area ready so when my husband says we’re moving I will be ready! Thank you for your useful tips moving forward.

The Author

Peter Keers is a writer and video blogger focusing on topics for the over-50 audience. Defining himself as a curious seeker, Peter’s interests range across both the art and the science of living an authentic and fulfilling life in the 21st century. See Peter’s eBooks on travel, long-term care, Medicare and other topics at

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