Written by: Olivia Forgette

elderly, older adults, aging adults, real estate, moving as a senior, senior citizen

Moving can be an overwhelming process for anyone, but this is exaggerated in older adults who have been living in the same home for decades. Items and memories accumulate as time passes, and this can make a big move even more difficult. Changing your lifestyle as you age can feel intimidating. We hope that this guide to moving can become a useful tool for you during these times of transition.

General Moving Tips

Accept Help

The number one tip for seniors looking to relocate is to accept help! Realize that it does not take away your independence to decide to use movers, or have family and friends help with downsizing. If you are fortunate enough to have people offering help, take them up on that offer. Having support will help immensely with the stresses that come along with moving. Also, utilize this moving checklist to help you stay organized during the process, and check out these tips on preparing to move as a senior.

Start Decluttering

A great starting point for seniors looking to make a move is to begin by decluttering your space. Get rid of everything you do not want, use or need. Donating unwanted items will help reduce your cost during the move and will help others in need. To better understand what you have ahead of you, utilize this clutter-hoarding scale guide to know where you fall on this scale and the amount of work you have in store.

During the decluttering process, do not keep books, magazines or any other printed material unless they are valuable or a must-keep item. Paper adds weight to your move, which increases the cost of your move overall. Click here for additional tips on how to declutter your space.

Estate Sales

If you have valuable items that you feel you and your family do not want, consider having an estate sale. Hire a company to make the process simple and seamless. Click here to get some answers to frequently asked questions regarding estate sales! To choose the right estate sale company for you, be sure to interview more than two companies. Another great way to see how an estate sale comes together is by visiting some sales in your area.

Handy questions to ask estate sale companies include:

  • Where do you advertise for the sale?
  • Do you provide receipts?
  • Do you pay your employees in cash or by paycheck? (Important question! Paying out of the gross receipts can lessen your income on the sale!)
  • What is your commission?
  • Are there fees aside from you commission?
  • How long after the sale will I be paid?
  • Do you offer clean out services?
  • Do you schedule charity pick up?
  • How many days will the sale last?

Get Moving Company Quotes

Another top tip for older adults looking to move is to get multiple quotes from movers. Costs and quality of movers varies. Click here to learn more about avoiding moving scams.

Be sure to ask if the moving company has liability and workman’s comprehensive insurance, if they protect the house during the moving process, and what happens if you must file a claim with the moving company. The best way to find a moving company you can trust is by using referrals from your real estate professional, friends, and family. Ask loved ones who they have used in the past and use that as a starting point to hire the perfect moving company for you.

moving, moving real estate, moving house, home sale, buying a new home

Logistics of a Move

There are a lot of factors that go into moving and downsizing your home. Before your move, preparation is key to making the process seamless and as stress-free as possible. Be sure to emotionally detach from items and belongings that no longer serve you or bring you joy. Consider the floorplan of your new place (or a general square footage you’re looking for if you have not yet found that perfect property) and use that as a consideration for furnishings you decide to keep.

Remember the tip about not keeping books or print media, this also goes for old documentation you may be storing. Shred anything that is older than three-to-seven years. Click here to see a more comprehensive guide of the kinds of documents you should be keeping and for how long.

Once you have sufficiently downsized your belongings, packing is the next step. It helps to have sturdy boxes to use, and be sure to label the boxes with what is inside and what room in the new home the box belongs to. Remember, you can hire professionals to pack for you if you do not feel up to the challenge! Your agent will be able to connect you with someone who can help.

Selling Your Current Home

Selling a place you have called home for decades can feel upsetting and difficult for many aging adults. These feelings are totally normal and valid! It is important to set these emotions aside during the preparation for your home sale if you want to get top dollar for your property.

Consider airing out your home in the weeks leading up to listing by regularly opening doors and windows. Remove personal items that make the home feel like yours, as these items can distract potential buyers from envisioning themselves in your old space.

Clean, clean, clean! Clean the space yourself or hire someone to clean your windows and home top to bottom. Plus, remember to replace your furnace filter!

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

Finding the right real estate agent for you and your transaction is an important step to the downsizing and moving process. Consider using a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) agent, like Maureen Forgette! Using an agent with the SRES designation ensures that you will have a knowledgeable expert guiding your sale, who understands buyers and sellers over the age of 50.

SRES agents are trained to better serve seniors during real estate transactions by helping you manage financial and emotional challenges, understanding your unique needs as a senior, utilizing specialized financial training, and connecting you with movers, cleaning companies, estate sale companies, home inspectors and additional essential professionals.

Other things to consider when selecting your agent include asking:

  • Are they a full-time real estate agent?
  • Do they currently work in your area?
  • What designations do they hold?
  • ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) focuses on buyer representation
  • CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) ensures advanced training in listing and selling
  • e-PRO Certification shows your agent is an internet professional
  • SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) ensures they will know the unique circumstances working with the elder population

Ensuring Your New Home is Safe for Seniors

You’ve decluttered, dealt with the emotions of relinquishing some possessions, found the perfect agent for you and now it is time to find your new home-sweet-home. This can feel daunting, but it is important to stay focused and trust your real estate agent.

Realize that currently, the market across the country is competitive and fast-paced. This means making a decision and acting quickly will be essential to you landing your new downsized home. Rely on your real estate agent to ensure your offer is competitive.

Selecting an accessible home can limit the risk of falls and fractures at home. According to Elderwerks, each year more than 734,000 people over the age of 65 are treated in the hospital for injuries associated with stairs, bathtubs, carpeting and other home products seniors encounter daily.

Knowing the large number of injuries caused by home products, it is of the utmost importance that you select a home that is safe for seniors and aging adults. If your new home has stairs, be sure there are light switches at both the top and bottom landings. Install handrails on both sides of the stairs and put non-slip treads on the steps. Subsequently, consider selecting a home that has no stairs to eliminate the risk.

In the bathroom of your new place, contemplate installing grab bars to the walls. Use a non-slip bathroom rug and look into making bathtub modifications to make getting in and out easier.


We hope that this guide was useful to you and your upcoming life transition. Know that there is support available to you during this emotional and daunting time.

If you are local to Illinois or Wisconsin, contact SRES agent Maureen Forgette to get started with your downsizing.

815.354.4236 | mforgette@comcast.net