Senior living

11 must-knows for moving into senior living

Moving into senior living is a big moment. It’s natural to feel emotional, but also excited about this next step. For many seniors, senior living is an opportunity to improve quality of life by cutting costs, reducing upkeep tasks and connecting with a senior community. Seniors can get the peace of mind that they’re safe and supported by health care, too. As you or your loved one prepare to move into senior living, be sure to plan ahead. To help you out, we’ve put together some must-knows for moving into senior living, so your upcoming transition goes smoothly.

1. You have plenty of options for moving into senior living.

Senior living is a blanket term for any housing designed for adults over the age of 55. However, there’s a wide range of senior living options, depending on your needs. 

Overall, senior living is intended to make life easier for seniors by providing features such as senior-friendly spaces, assistance with personal care, around-the-clock medical care or simply a senior community.

To make the right choice, you should first identify your needs and then shop around different facilities. This process can take time, so it’s ideal to get started early so you feel comfortable with your final decision.

2. Visit your new home frequently before moving into senior living.

Visiting your new home is an excellent idea to get used to it – and get a good look at the rooms. You should scope out the space in order to plan what furniture will fit. Getting a sense of the space early will help you plan for what to take – and what to leave behind. In particular, you should try to identify which large items will likely need to find new homes.

Visiting your new home will also get you excited for move-in day. You might even consider bringing a few items early to make the place feel like home.

3. Make a financial plan for moving into senior living.

Relocation can be expensive and you should make a budget so there are no surprises. Selling your home can help offset costs, though the sale might occur down the road. As you sort through your stuff, you might identify some items to sell, such as extra furniture, that can be put towards your relocation costs. Otherwise, create a realistic budget that includes costs for movers and home buying/selling fees. 

4. Before you start organizing your things, make a list. 

Moving into senior living often means downsizing. Before you get started on this process, make a list of things you want to take with you. Do this without walking around your home. Instead, sit down and make the list from memory. If you can’t remember something off hand, it’s probably not important. Once your list is made, it can be used as a priority list for packing. 

5. Be sensitive to your loved one’s feelings while moving into senior living.

Moving isn’t just stressful – it’s also emotionally difficult. As you support your loved one during a move, try to stay in tune with his/her feelings. Be sensitive and available, so that you can help your loved one process this special moment. Allow some buffer time for tasks so that your loved one can also reminisce and enjoy the process. 

6. Stay positive to get through the slog of moving tasks. 

There’s so much to do for a move. To help get through this long process, try to focus on the positive things. You have so much to look forward to at your new home. There you’ll get a new community and housing features to make your golden years easier. Perhaps the move will bring you closer to family, or will save you money that you can spend on travel or other retirement projects. Keeping this positive focus will let you get through downsizing and moving. 

7. Sort slowly and label everything for moving into senior living. 

Going through all your stuff can seem like an enormous task. Start sorting early and slowly. For example, take the downsizing process one room at a time. It’s a good idea to start with the most challenging space – such as a garage, attic or basement. Often these rooms don’t have essential items and most of them can be donated or tossed. Try not to put off sorting and cleaning, as it can take much longer than you think.

At the same time, make sure you label everything clearly. You might use color coded post-its or simply stack items in an open space. Whatever works, as long as you understand your piles and can easily identify them when it’s time to move them. 

8. Resist the urge to rent a storage space. 

Renting a storage space is a quick-fix for moving. But in the long run, it just puts off organizing your things. Try to resist this urge and instead keep to a sorting schedule. In this same vein, avoid starting a “maybe” pile for your things. Though difficult, making decisions in the moment will ensure you make progress. At the same time, you’ll be comforted by finding forever homes for your things.

A few exceptions may be to store jewelry or valuables at a safety deposit box, or even with a trusted child or friend. 

9. Read the fine print for your new place before moving into senior living.

Even though you have lots going on, take the time to read the contact for your new home. Avoid skimming, otherwise you might miss key points about building rules or future health care. The process of looking over a housing contract should never be rushed. Be sure to ask questions and make sure you have a full understanding of the contract. 

10. Personalize your new space after moving into senior living.

Once you’re moved in, it’s time to personalize your space. Choose a few key items to hang up or display on day one. This will help make the space feel homey, even if not everything is unpacked. Set aside these homey items so that you have them on hand to set up right away. During the first week or two, you can continue to personalize the space as you unpack. 

11. Stay in close contact and teach your loved one technology.

After a big move, you should check in regularly with your loved one. It’s a good idea to stop by more often than usual and make sure he/she has everything needed. You should also take the time to teach your loved one how to stay in contact. Whether this is using a cell phone, tablet or another device, your senior will feel more connected by using digital products. Technology can be a steep learning curve, so be sure to take the time to teach your loved one step-by-step. Before you know it, your loved one will be texting and Facebook-ing you on a regular basis. 

Final takeaway

Moving into senior living is a happy milestone for many seniors looking for a better quality of life. You can help this process go smoothly by following our must-knows about downsizing and moving. We hope your loved one feels at home after the big move.


  1. How to Cope With Downsizing Your Home, AARP,

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