Why consider moving house?
There are so many factors to consider when it comes to thinking about moving home so perhaps the first thing is to really analyse WHY you may be considering a move.
Certainly the effort both physical, mental and emotional cannot be under-estimated so knowing what the ultimate desired outcome is should be the starting point.
Many people feel very settled in their home – and may have lived in the property for many, many years! You know it like the back of your hand and you have everything in it’s place, even if it may seem chaotic to others. Your home is like a comfy pair of slippers that you know and love. It is full of memories, It is your safe zone and your sanctuary. So WHY MOVE?
To downsize – is your home now too big for your needs? Is it too expensive to run / maintain? Is the garden too big and unmanageable? Often people find themselves rattling around in an overly big house after the children have finally grown up and left and this can prompt the thought of moving to a more efficient, smaller property.
To be nearer to family – Often grown up children end up living away from their family home and have increasingly busy lives and even their own children, making it harder to visit and help out – choosing to move closer can enable more frequent contact with family members, including grandchildren and help you to keep up with their evolving lives. It may be easier for a family member to ‘pop by’ to help out or take you to an appointment.
To be closer to community facilities – many of us are very used to hopping in the car to get to the shops. But what if you have to give up driving? How easy is it to get to the local shops, library, health centre? Is there good public transport that you can manage or are you worried you may be come isolated and cut off?
To have more independence around your own home: Is the layout of your property starting to limit your independence in your own home? Do you need to manage stairs to get to the one and only upstairs loo? Are you able to manage the access points of the house or do you have awkward steps to the front or back door? Is the bathroom becoming a struggle? Do you need to use mobility aids now? Perhaps moving to a single storey bungalow or flat would be easier?
Of course, it may not be you that wants to move – but your family that think it’s a ‘good idea’. There may be good reasons for this – they want to be able to help you more, but the distance is too great to travel frequently. Or they may have concerns for your safety and independence and ability to cope – this may be related to physical decline or mental health decline such as dementia. Whatever the reasons, it is really important to have open and honest discussions to manage everyone’s expectations otherwise the situation can cause a lot of conflict within a family.
So these may be some positive reasons to consider a move, but they should always be balanced by the downsides of moving:
It will take a lot of EFFORT! Both physical, mental AND emotional - so share the load and involve other people, especially family.
Finding a new property that ‘ticks your boxes’ can take time and effort, especially if you are moving some distance away from where you currently live. Will you view properties yourself or will you rely on others to do this for you?
Packing - and this includes endless sorting, clearing of years of accumulated STUFF and getting rid of unwanted items is often the bit that is most overwhelming! Start early and chip away at it! Make sure family are involved so useful, precious or sentimental items are not thrown out by mistake!
So what are the options?
If the reasons are primarily related to the health needs and the physical layout of the property, then perhaps equipment such as a stairlift, adaptations such as changing the bath for a walk-in shower or changing room use for instance creating a ground floor bedroom in the (unused) dining room may help to maintain safety and independence for a while longer and delay the need to move.
An Occupational Therapist can help assess and analyse the situation considering the individual occupants, the environment and how the home is used and can make suggestions and recommendations to maximise independence.
There may be eligibility to statutory Grants for necessary and appropriate adaptations to enable you to have access to essential facilities in your property https://www.gov.uk/disabled-facilities-grants
So given the above, how do you know when it is the RIGHT TIME TO MOVE?
For some there is a distinct and definite change of circumstances that really force your hand and makes a move necessary. This can be stressful as the need to make quick decisions often limits choice and control over the whole process and often the move is not so well thought through. Packing and sorting can be traumatic and exhausting and it can be emotionally much harder to settle into a new home when it has not been your choice to move in the first place.
However, very often ‘old age’ and frailty can creep up insidiously, so that there may be a growing awareness that you are not coping so well in your own home.
It’s certainly worth being pragmatic and starting the conversation early as moving, from start to finish, can take many months if not years!
Many people now consider moving to their ‘forever home’ whilst they are still relatively fit and able so they can enjoy making new friends and getting to know a new area. This certainly enables more choice and control over the whole project.
However, it is worth being realistic about whether your new home will be ‘future proof’ for you – just because you can manage two flights of stairs to the lovely attic master bedroom with ensuite now doesn’t necessarily mean you always will!
The process of sifting through accumulated belongings choosing what to keep and what to let go can be a major task, particularly deciding what to do with all that stuff you won’t be taking with you!