As I mentioned in the first blog of this series, moving to a new home later in life could be motivated by several things:
Among these, a health condition might force you to consider a new living arrangement sooner rather than later.
In this case, the first step is to get a comprehensive assessment of your health status. Then, weigh the impact on your living situation. Advice from trusted medical professionals and your family will be essential as you create a plan for living that best supports your healthcare needs.
Your plan should address these questions:
If your healthcare needs are limited, you might opt for a more independent living arrangement. For example, if you can manage your own medications and make occasional doctor visits, you may not need to change your current lifestyle. Then again, if you have a chronic illness, you may need more support.
Does your current home allow for the needed level of support? Also, how close are you to caregivers? Moving closer to family or other caregivers could take a lot of stress out of your life. You might also consider moving to a warmer climate in winter. This would allow for more outdoor activities, reduce infection risks and increase exercise options.
If health is the main motivation for moving, you’ll next need to decide what level of support is needed. Among the alternatives are:
I’ll cover each of these in more depth in a future blog.
If you currently enjoy good health, then the stay versus move decision presents more options. You’ll need to consider more variables like:
You may be healthy today, but it’s prudent to prepare for declining health in the future. Think about proximity to medical facilities. Aside from mere convenience, being close to healthcare facilities could make a huge difference in getting healthcare fast in an emergency situation.
What size community feels right? If you are used to city life, then finding a similar location might be best. On the other hand, perhaps you’d like a change of pace and move to a smaller, quieter location.
In any case, before committing to a move, try visiting an area for an extended period. It could provide a reality check to help you avoid a big mistake.
Age-restricted communities are now commonplace. While the concept of living in a “55+” community is attractive to many, others might prefer to live among a wider variety of age groups. It makes sense to carefully research age-restricted arrangements before making a commitment.
As noted in my previous blog, your preferences about spending money may change as you age. You might be motivated to save money by seeking a smaller home or moving to a state with lower costs.
Many older adults move to be closer to family and friends. On the other hand, others don’t feel family ties should prevent them from experiencing life in a new location and are satisfied with occasional visits with loved ones.
Moving to a new location, especially out-of-state, might place you within a different political and social environment. In fact, there is a trend where some people move to be in a culture that more closely reflects their personal feelings. For others, the local social/political climate is lower on the list of attributes that influence them to move to a new home.
The options for things to do can make an area an attractive “move to” destination.
These could include:
Do you like making people-to-people connections or do you feel more comfortable with fewer people around? Some places like senior-living communities, have active social interaction opportunities. If however, you move to a conventional neighborhood, making new friends could take a while.
Many people move to live in a better weather geography. However, climate change has altered this equation. Hurricanes in Florida and wildfires in California have made some think twice about relocating to these states. The best policy is to research areas of interest in terms of weather risk and decide for yourself if you’re willing to put up with the extremes that might occur.
There are many alternatives to consider when thinking about moving later in life. Carefully evaluating all the different options will increase the chances that you’ll find a good fit.
To what degree would location impact your independence? Independence can be defined as being able to take care of oneself without outside intervention. As we age, both internal and external forces erode our independence. Physical and mental health challenges are examples of internal causes that can make us more dependent on others. Also, an external hurdle like financial pressure can force one to be less independent.
Will living in your current home with modifications for physical ailments be the best choice? Conversely, would moving to a warmer climate now lower the risk of health and safety issues in the future?
Another thing to consider in a place to live are the supports for independent lifestyles. For example, how easy is it to buy groceries or have your car serviced? These are just a few things that could affect your long-term independence.
We all come to a stage in life when we ponder the possibility of moving to a new home. However, before committing to such a big step, consider what is driving this idea.
Motivations for thoughts of moving to a new home may include:
How many of us, during our working years, have dreamed of living in a mild climate and enjoying all life has to offer? Yet, as we age, the realities of such a decision come to the forefront. Practical questions like “Exactly where would I like to move” and “Can I afford it?” arise. These and other important questions need to be thoroughly addressed before forging ahead.
If you are a parent, your life changes significantly once the kids leave the house. Perhaps now the family home feels a bit too large for your needs. On the other hand, you may love your home and prefer to remodel it to meet your new situation. Such remodeling may need to include accessories like grab bars and handicap-accessible spaces if you plan this to be your “forever home.”
If health status drives thoughts of moving, you have many options to consider. First, can your existing home be retrofitted to accommodate your needs? If not, what are the housing options in the local area?
You may be looking for one-level living, closer proximity to family or a location near critical healthcare facilities. If you’re thinking of moving out of town, you probably will seek same things. However, a lack of familiarity with the new environment could mean you’ll need to spend more time finding the right fit at a price you can afford.
How will cost impact the decision to move or not? A complicating factor for retirees is they may still be getting used to living off their savings, pensions and social security. It may take a while to adjust to the new financial reality, so moving plans must be deferred.
On the bright side, it will be a excellent time to research various relocation sites. Many popular retirement destinations offer lower costs, like no state income tax.
Changes like retirement or an empty nest could naturally motivate a re-examination of what we want out of life. If your current living situation is satisfactory, staying put may make sense. Conversely, you may be ready for a change because of:
Even if making a move later in life seems like the right thing, it’s essential to consider some negative consequences.
The familiar rhythms of life get upended with a move, so it may take time to feel settled. Expect to feel some stress during this period. Take positive steps to relax, and remember to be patient.
Primary relationships undergo pressure during a move and the subsequent transition time. All parties in a move are struggling to adjust. Allow space for everyone to recalibrate at their own pace. Also, moving often means meaningful relationships evolve to the long-distance type. Making an effort to connect with old networks can help in the adjustment process.
Moving from an established location can trigger grief almost as strong as the death of a loved one. It will take time for the feelings to subside before the joys you sought in the new location are more apparent daily.
Moving in later years can open up a positive new phase in life. Understanding your motivations to move and preparing yourself for an adjustment period will decrease the transition time to get to your desired lifestyle.
Have you considered relocating? What is your motivation to do so? What factors would you consider positives/negatives in a new location? Have you done any relocation research?