If you’ve decided to move from your current home or are even thinking about a new living environment, congratulations! Simply contemplating this colossal decision means you’re open to exciting new possibilities. 

A Major Life Event 

It is no exaggeration to say that moving is a major life event. Not only are you pulling up stakes to perhaps an entirely different geographic area, you’re saying goodbye to neighbors and a houseful of memories. You are making big changes, and even positive change can be stressful 

On top of that is all the “stuff” you’ve likely accumulated over the years. The average American home has 300,000 items! Should they stay or should they go? 

Less Stuff, More Living 

Despite the considerable emotional and logistical ramifications of a move, there is so much to look forward to in a new home! 

BLONDEPHOTO_220616_618_0984For older adults, the decision to move is often inspired by the need/desire to downsize and free up space for fewer things and more experiences. This is why quality senior living communities like Collington are such an attractive draw for those looking for new adventures, new friendships and greater involvement in meaningful endeavors.  

While senior living is sometimes mistakenly associated with a lack of independence, there is infinite freedom in doing what one wants to do instead of what they have to do. Leaving large homes burdened with clutter, hassles and headaches opens the door to personal growth and reinvention. 

What’s more, a senior community can become one’s entire expanded home, complete with friendly neighbors, beautiful common areas, natural sanctuaries right outside one’s door (Collington’s 125 acres is an accredited arboretum!) and the pulse of a thriving greater community waiting to be explored.  

How exciting! 

Yet, the journey from decision to move-in day is a process of many phases, one that can be overwhelming and exhausting without proper planning and preparation. Here are some practical tips, whether you’re weeks, months or years away from a move.  

When to Start Downsizing? 

It is literally never too early to begin going through furnishings, appliances, knick-knacks, photos, kitchenware, linens, clothing, documents, etc., in your home and deciding what to keep, what to donate and/or sell (and to whom) and what to throw away. Very few people, if any, are willing recipients or decision makers of the contents of someone else’s home. The sooner you, the homeowner(s), can begin sorting and clearing things out, the better for everyone.  

Keep, Give or Toss? 

WINDON-20231207-290-1090957Inevitably, many of the items in your home will not be able to go with you to your new abode. Despite the advice of professional organizer and T.V. personality Marie Kondo to bid farewell to those things that do not “spark joy,” it can be difficult to determine which possessions move us emotionally enough to keep.  

A more practical approach is to assess which items haven’t been worn, used, displayed for several months or years (after which they’re likely never to be) or are simply too large or stylistically unsuited to your new home. If it takes too long to decide if something is a “keeper” or not, it’s probably either a “no” or a “maybe” at the least. This advice applies whether you have already chosen a new place, or you are still in the envisioning stage.   

Parting Ways 

Once you’ve decided what to let go, here are just some of the repurposing options available to you well before you move:  

  • Donate: 
    • Gift cherished or valuable items to loved ones.
    • Non-profit charitable organizations (some have pick-up services; some receive delivered items) 
    • Social media sites (Nextdoor, Buy Nothing, Freecycle, etc.) 
    • Libraries, senior centers and used bookstores often accept book collections. 
    • If you’ll be moving soon, donate non-perishable items to a food pantry. Or throw a moving party and use up your food and paper products! 
  • Sell: 
    • Online/traditional auctions 
    • Estate sales 
    • Liquidation companies 
    • Resale shops (Collington has one onsite) 
    • Social media sites (eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc.) 
  • Preserve: 
    • Digitize space-eating print photos and/or decaying VHS tapes. Several services are available to do this. 
  • Shred: 
    • Shred unnecessary or outdated documents with an in-home shredder or local shredding service. 
  • Dispose: 
    • Curbside trash pickup
    • Junk removal services
    • Electronic waste removal sites (old TV’s, computers, etc.) 
    • Turn over toxic items such as cleaning products, paint and pesticides to a hazardous collection site

Exhausted Yet? Move Managers to the Rescue! 

Couple-Packing-Boxes-WEBTraditionally, moving was self-managed. A simple move may have required no more than a good friend and the promise of pizza and beer in return for their help. For larger moves, people packed their stuff into boxes and rented a truck. Or they hired movers who did little more than ask where to put the couch.  

While some people may be fortunate (nervy?) enough to rely on family members or friends to help them move, busy adult children and older peers are not always the most willing or able participants. 

More and more, today’s older adults are relying on professional senior move managers. Approximately 1,000 of these companies are members of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), offering various services tailored to clients’ individual budgets and needs. Some are full-service, turn-key solutions that help older adults with all phases of a move: 

  • Pre-move phase   
    • Staging your current home to sell 
    • Configuring correct sizing in your new home during a floor plan session (complimentary at Collington) 
    • Sorting, organizing and downsizing, including neutral assistance in the keep/donate/dispose decision 
    • Providing donation resources, estate auctioneers, etc. 
    • Space planning and design 
    • Establishing a realistic, achievable timeline from 2+ months before your move to move-in day 
  • Move phase - packing and unpacking things where you want them; moving and storage; staying on timeline task 
  • Settle-in phase - picture hanging; removing packing materials; relocating items; tweaking furniture placement, etc. 
  • Clearing out phase - leaving the origin (former) home debris-free; assisting with the distribution of unwanted items

What’s more, move managers can provide personal services beyond “stuff.” This may include, but is not limited to, helping clients locate their deeds, collect their utility bills, get their papers in order, and help realtors ready their home for sale.  

Moving is one of life’s top stressors, but with proper planning, preparation and assistance, older adults can look forward to living in their new home with a sense of sanity and joy, right from the start! 


Let Collington help you make your best move yet. 

Schedule a tour today!