Advice for seniors moving to a smaller home or retirement community

You’ve decided the time is right to move to a smaller home, apartment or retirement community. But where do you start?

The entire process seems extremely overwhelming. You have a lot more furniture than your new place will hold, tons of stuff to give to the kids, and good china and crystal to get rid of. The key is to move while you are still the one in charge.

Your adult children will most likely assist with your move; however, be sure you make the major decisions while you still can.

Firstly, it's important to grasp the landscape of the senior housing market before making a move. Seniors aged 65 and above represent the fastest-growing demographic in the US, and by 2040, they're projected to constitute 21% of the population (

Moreover, the senior housing market is booming, valued at a staggering $390 billion as of 2021, with independent living communities taking the lion's share at 40% (IBISWorld).


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  • plan your new space on a floor planner
  • sort, sort, sort
  • downsize or make it the right size
  • consider hiring a Senior Move Manager to organize and oversee your move

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  • choose a mover solely based on cost
  • stay in your home so long that you are unable to make your own decisions
  • make assumptions about today’s retirement communities
  • wait to start the process until you list your house

Embracing The Transition: A Guide for Seniors Moving to a Smaller Home or Retirement Community

When planning to downsize, starting early is key. I advise beginning the decluttering process at least 3-6 months before the move, giving ample time to sift through possessions accumulated over the years (AARP). Additionally, a house with a single-floor living plan is preferable, as it reduces the risk of falls and enhances mobility.

Ensuring Essential Amenities

No doubt, you should ensure that the new home has essential amenities such as grab bars, lever-style handles, and a walk-in shower to support independent living. Keeping only vital kitchen appliances and dishes, as well as choosing flexible, smaller-scale furniture, can help maximize storage space (HomeAdvisor).

Additionally, using labels and photos can help you remember the new locations of your items (

Moving To A Retirement Community

Moving to a retirement community requires careful consideration and planning. I suggest touring multiple communities and choosing one that fits your budget, offers preferred amenities, and hosts social activities (Seniorly).

Moreover, opting for a monthly contract initially can provide flexibility if the community doesn't suit your lifestyle. Lastly, actively participating in social events and clubs can help you connect with other residents and form a sense of community.

Embracing Change and Building New Connections

Transitioning to a smaller home or retirement community can feel overwhelming, but keeping a positive outlook and focusing on the benefits can make it manageable and enjoyable.

By staying social, focusing on the reduced maintenance and increased access to amenities, you can fully embrace your new living situation. Remember, involving your family and friends can provide emotional support during this transition.

With the right preparation and mindset, seniors can successfully transition to a cozier, maintenance-free home. It's all about embracing change and focusing on the new opportunities that come with it.

Betty White and Jeanine Plumhoff‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do plan your new space on a floor planner

By using a floor plan, you will be able to see exactly what furniture fits in your new home. And you will save money by not moving furniture that won’t fit or work in the new space. Pick furniture that serves multiple purposes and offers the best storage.

Do sort, sort, sort

Sorting and decision-making is the hardest task and can take the most time if decision making is difficult. All items must be sorted–from the kitchen, bedrooms and storage shed to the garage and basement. Chances are you do not need–or even want–much of what you have accumulated over a long period of time.

Do downsize or make it the right size

This is an excellent time to set aside charitable donations to be picked up, send the family heirlooms to children or relatives, get rid of clothes that don’t fit or are out of style, and send items to ebay, auction or consignment.

Do consider hiring a Senior Move Manager to organize and oversee your move

Senior Move Managers (SMMs) are companies that can help you from the start of your planning process all the way through the pack, move and unpacking stages. SMMs are dedicated to helping the senior population as they downsize, “right-size” and move, or choose to age in place.

SMMs are expert organizers, declutterers, packers, unpackers and decorators. Additionally, they can recommend resources for moving companies, real estate sales, estate sales, house repairs, trash hauling and hazmat disposal. They are also happy to change your utilities, cable and mail. SMMs use their own packing supplies and take it all away at the end of the move.

The National Association of Seniors Move Managers (NASMM) is the leading membership organization dedicated to transitions and relocation issues affecting older adults. By picking a NASMM member to help you, you are getting trained, experienced individuals and companies.

Betty White and Jeanine Plumhoff‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not choose a mover solely based on cost

Movers are typically a case of “getting what you pay for.” Professional movers are insured, licensed and bonded. And they should be able to provide references if you request them. Don’t hire the guys driving the old bread truck if you want your furniture to arrive in one piece.

Do not stay in your home so long that you are unable to make your own decisions

If you wait too long to move–and have a medical crisis that prevents you from going back to your home–this decision will likely be made by someone else. And it may not be what you would have chosen.

Do not make assumptions about today’s retirement communities

Today’s retirement communities are actually fun, vibrant places with people who have chosen to enjoy life and not be a slave to their homes. Think about it this way: Would it be so bad to have someone else cook and clean for you?

Do not wait to start the process until you list your house

Most houses in today’s real estate market sell quickly. Begin the process early by sorting, downsizing and clearing out your clutter. Not only will your house look more attractive and sell quicker, but you will be ready to pack and move.

To sum up, moving to a smaller home or retirement community for seniors involves careful planning and research. This includes understanding the senior housing market, preparing for downsizing, ensuring essential amenities in the new home, and embracing the change. The transition can be made enjoyable by maintaining a positive outlook, staying social, and involving family and friends in the process.


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