Many people reach a point when their current home no longer meets their needs. Whether the lawn and landscaping have become too much to manage, the stairs hard to navigate or the location too isolated, there are plenty of good reasons to downsize as you get older and your life changes. 

However, once you’ve made the decision to move, you have to deal with the actual process. It can feel like there are too many things to do and no clear starting point. To help reduce your moving stress, we broke the process down into six simple steps and created two resources you can use to make the process more manageable: a checklist of 10 Things Not to Forget When You’re Moving, and a “Last-Minute Box” checklist for moving day. 

You can follow the below steps and use the checklists for a smooth transition to your new home. 

Step 1: Decide On Your Moving Team

The first thing you should do when you decide that you’re going to move is to recruit your “moving team.” Trying to manage everything on your own won’t work- everyone needs some assistance when planning a move. Your team may include family, friends and neighbors, or you can hire a professional senior moving service. 

Either way, there are two main categories of tasks you should be thinking about when choosing who to ask for help with your move: packing and moving. 

For help packing, consider asking family or friends who are highly organized or know you well enough to be able to help with the “weed down” process. On moving day, you’ll want the help of those who can lift heavy boxes and feel comfortable driving a moving truck or van. 

Sometimes family and friends aren’t the right choice to help with sorting and organizing items. At times an outside resource who isn’t attached to any decision or history of an item is the best person to help you sort through all of your things in an organized and thorough manner.

Dave Dembinski, Vice President of Operations of Grasons Estate Sales says that seeking outside help with the entire moving process can be beneficial. “Hiring professionals to handle packing, moving, and estate sales can significantly reduce stress. It allows seniors to focus on other aspects of the move and ensures a smoother transition,” he explains.

Step 2: Determine What You Want To Bring With You

Before you start packing, you should decide what items you’re going to bring with you and which you’ll leave behind. This is especially important if you’re downsizing, as many seniors do. 

Whether you’re moving to a smaller home, an apartment in a senior living community or moving in with a loved one, you probably won’t be able to bring everything with you. Look at floorplans to compare the size of your current home to that of your new home, and be realistic about how much you’ll be able to bring. If you’re moving to a senior living community, ask what resources they have for space planning. 

A good place to start is to create an inventory of your belongings. You can do this yourself, or hire a service to create the initial inventory. However, even if you hire someone to help, you should be the one to ultimately review the inventory and decide what will come and what will go. 

Step 3: Organize and Declutter

Getting the items you won’t be moving out of your space early is a good idea to make your home less cluttered for packing. As Dave Dembinski of Grasons explains, “Seniors have accumulated a lifetime of belongings, which can make moving overwhelming. Identify the items in your home that are treasured memories to keep and others that do not hold a sentimental value and downsize by donating, selling, or gifting items you no longer need or use.” Some charities will even come to your home to pick up items for you. 

Another option is to hold an estate sale to sell any items that have monetary value before your move. If you go this route, it helps to work with a knowledgeable estate sale company to help you organize the sale. 

When hiring an estate sale company, Dembinski recommends choosing one that offers a comprehensive range of services including appraisal and clean up, has a track record of success and positive reviews, and is properly licensed and insured.

After you’ve gotten rid of things you aren’t going to bring, you’ll have a better idea of how many boxes you need and how long packing will take. 

Step 4: Start Packing Early

Packing always takes longer than you think it will. It’s crucial that you start the process early so that you aren’t rushing to get it done in time for moving day. When you rush, you’re more likely to misplace items or risk them breaking due to packing incorrectly. 

If you decide to use a full-service senior mover that includes packing, this step won’t apply to you. 

Packing Tips

  • Buy standard-sized boxes instead of reusing boxes from packages or otherwise lying around the house. While buying boxes is an expense, having stackable, strong boxes will ultimately make your move easier. 
  • You typically end up needing more boxes than you think, so buy extra. 
  • Label all of your boxes clearly so you can put them in the correct place upon arriving at your new home. 

Step 5: Prepare for Moving Day

In addition to finishing any last-minute packing, there are some practical matters you’ll want to handle before moving day arrives. These include setting up your new address with the post office for mail forwarding, updating your address on your online accounts and switching prescriptions over to your new local pharmacy, if necessary. 

Use Our Checklist: 10 Things Not To Forget When You’re Moving

You should also set aside your items for your “last minute” box or bag. This should include anything you’ll need for the day of the move and a day or two after when you won’t have everything unpacked. 

We created a Last-Minute Box Checklist to help you make sure you don’t leave out any important items. 

Step 6: Unpack and Settle In

After a long moving process, it can be tempting to procrastinate unpacking. While you don’t have to do it all right away, try to unpack some of your most valuable and favorite items. For example, setting up your bedroom exactly the way you want it can make your first night in your new home more relaxing. If you designate and label some boxes as “unpack first” during packing, it makes this easier. Unpacking some of your favorite things early can help you settle in and make your new place feel more like home. 

If you used a moving company, inspect all items for damage as you unpack. This is another reason why it’s important not to put off unpacking- the sooner you notice damage, the sooner you can submit a claim with the company.

When you’re unpacking, remember to check community guidelines as far as when and where to recycle and what materials are recyclable.