The negotiation haggling is over, the inspection is history, and the nail-biting settlement period has closed. Now comes the tough part - moving!
Research tells us that moving is usually one of the most stressful events in a person's life, ranked as high as the death of a loved one or divorce. No matter how old you are, moving is one of those good news/bad news events.
For seniors, there are many positive reasons to scale down to the easier lifestyle of a formal retirement or active 55-plus adult communities: safe, comfortable designs; liberation from difficult household chores; transportation; on-site emergency response and medical care.
One way to handle the downside of a move is to cast the new home in a favorable light. As people age, it is natural for them to feel more vulnerable, so housing designed for safety and access can provide a psychological lift. Proximity to medical, social and support services can be a welcome change. For those who live alone, moving to a community of peers may offer the promise of new friends.
Making the decision to move is usually the first, but not necessarily the hardest step. Rest assured that you're not alone. Some 43 million U.S. residents - 16 percent of the population - moved to a new residence from March 1999 to March 2000, the period from which most recent figures are available. After making the initial decision, seniors need to tackle a number of essential tasks.
Many will be downsizing to smaller spaces; a major obstacle is how to deal with a lifetime accumulation of "things."
To help overcome procrastination, those moving may want friends and family to join the planning process, and help with transitions. Some may prefer to enlist the professional services of an objective third part, such as the National Association of Senior Moving Managers.
According to Margit Novick of Moving Solutions in Wynnewood, a founding member of NASMM, "professional move managers have the experience and patience to work with seniors and their families."
She suggests "that you start the process today, even if you aren't moving for months or years."
Professional senior-moving managers usually have access to resources to sell, donate and dispose of household items that have accumulated over 30 or more years of living in the same house. Novick also feels that "seniors working with a senior-moving manager may find this arrangement less tense than working with their own children. They help you take the memories with you, not just your stuff."
She suggests asking the following questions when evaluating such a manager:
• Is the company insured for liability and third-party bonding?
• Are all employees "on the books" and protected by workers compensation?
• Does the company provide a written estimate and contract?
• Do employees receive formal training?
• Does the company have a quality-assurance program?
• Are they members of the National Association of Senior Move Managers?
Another way to control the stress of a move is to stay organized and make use of countdown checklists. The following can be helpful.
One month before the move:
• Review your moving arrangements.
• Start a log of moving expense receipts.
• Get estimates from moving companies.
• Arrange for storage facility.
• Arrange transport service for vehicles or pets, if needed.
• Contact your bank, arrange transfer of accounts.
• Submit change-of-address forms to the U.S. Postal Service.
• If moving out of the area, contact your doctors. Get referrals for new physicians.
• Change your property, auto, and medical insurance policies.
• Organize important documents in a fire-safe box.
• Cancel newspaper subscriptions. Change your address on magazine subscriptions.
• Arrange for temporary housing, if needed.
Two to three weeks before the move:
• Hold a garage sale to get rid of items you don't want to keep.
• Arrange for disconnection and changeover of utilities.
• Take measurements of rooms in your new house. Try to determine where furniture will be placed.
• Begin packing things that aren't used on a daily basis.
• Color coding is very useful; as you pack up boxes, use stickers on top and on the sides to identify where the boxes go.
• Try not to buy any more perishable food items.
Now, one week before the move:
• Make an inventory list of all items going with you personally.
• Confirm arrangements and dates with moving and storage companies.
• Inform friends and relatives of your new address (and telephone number, if you already have one).
• Have your cleaning supplies ready.
• Pack yard and shed items.
• Confirm arrangements with auto and pet transportation companies.
One to two days before the move:
• Clean and defrost the refrigerator and freezer.
• Close bank accounts.
• Purchase travelers checks, if needed.
• Finish all financial matters relating to the sale or lease of your home.
• Finish packing all your belongings.
• Confirm delivery address, directions and delivery date with movers.
• Supervise the move.
• Check thermostat. Make sure doors are closed and locked, and appliances are turned off.
• Make sure your real estate agent knows how to contact you.
• Make sure all utilities are functioning.
• Let family and friends know you have arrived safely.
• Begin unpacking necessities.
Lastly, kick your feet up, relax, and enjoy your new home. You've worked hard, and can now enjoy the fruits of your labors.
Andrew Lasner is Realtor and a senior real estate specialist at Keller Williams Preferred, in Newtown. He can be reached at 215-860-0800 or e-mailed at: Andrew1 @comcast.net.