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Moving to a New Home Later in Life: Deciding to Stay or Go

By Peter Keers July 20, 2023 Lifestyle

As I mentioned in the first blog of this series, moving to a new home later in life could be motivated by several things:

  • Health status
  • Retirement
  • An empty nest
  • Living costs
  • Lifestyle choices

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:

Question 1: What Support Do I Need?

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.

Question 2: Should I Move?

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.

Health Support 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:

  • Home Healthcare
  • Adult Daycare
  • Assisted Living
  • Skilled Nursing Care
  • Memory Care

I’ll cover each of these in more depth in a future blog.

What If I’m Healthy Now?

If you currently enjoy good health, then the stay versus move decision presents more options. You’ll need to consider more variables like:

  • Availability of nearby medical care
  • Community size (i.e., urban, suburban or rural)
  • Level of age diversity
  • Living costs
  • Nearness to family and close friends
  • Political/social climate
  • Proximity to areas of interest
  • Social interaction opportunities
  • Weather

Medical Care

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.

Community Size

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 Diversity

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.

Living Costs

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.

Nearness to Family/Friends

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.

Political/Social Climate

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.

Proximity to Areas of Interest

The options for things to do can make an area an attractive “move to” destination.

These could include:

  • Type of terrain (e.g., ocean versus mountains)
  • Cultural attractions
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Recreational activities
  • Sporting events

Social Interaction

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.

Reasons to Move

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:

  • Retirement
  • An empty nest
  • Health status
  • Living costs
  • Lifestyle preferences


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.

Empty Nest

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.”

Health Status

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.

Living Costs

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.

Lifestyle Choices

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:

  • A desire to be closer to family
  • Divorce or becoming a widow
  • Seeking a new location or mode of living (e.g., city versus rural).

The Downsides of Moving

Even if making a move later in life seems like the right thing, it’s essential to consider some negative consequences.

Learning a New Routine

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.

Relationship Stress

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.

To learn more about finding your new home later in life, check out my eBook at Living 50+.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

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?

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I have lived in the same house for 37 years and raised my family here. I would love to have a smaller cottage type home since I now live alone. I love my neighborhood and my neighbors as I feel very safe here. I also love the 4 season weather; I actually prefer the cold weather. My kids live within 15 minutes and I live near some of the best hospitals in the country. My house has been paid off for almost 2 decades so housing costs are not a concern for me luckily. I have decided that I will just stay where I am happily.


my Daughter is in Florida. she always says when i get older, she’ll take care of me. but they don’t know if they are going to stay in Florida after the kids are grown. i’m in California, so it’s a long move. they live in a great area; i’ve visited and actually know close friends not too far away.

i’m also right now in pretty good health, so i could roam the area and familiarize myself before i have my hip issues progress (no, don’t tell me hip replacement, blah, blah, blah, what works for some doesn’t necessarily work for all, and i’m finding it tedious to have strangers ask into my health concerns (i use a walking stick for insurance) – yeah, they want to help, but without my xrays and a medical degree, i have all the help i need rn.

the thing is, i’m very happy and comfortable in location and housing here. if i go there, will i have to move again in ten years?? that’s not an attractive option.


I would add that setting a timeline to your evaluation may be helpful. We often procrastinate because of fear of the unknown. You will never be able to ‘nail down’ every detail, variable, cost, motive, feeling…fill in the blank. It is important to remember that you are smart, resilient and resourceful and you’ll be ok if everything isn’t exactly as you imagined it would be.

I just moved to a new state after one two day visit and I discover new awesome aspects of my choice daily.


what are some of the new aspects?

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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