Moving On and Moving Out: Transitioning to a New Home After the Death of a Spouse

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  When your spouse passes away, you lose not only a loved one, but a best friend, better half — a lifelong partner. From here on out, life will be different. At first, you might be confused or even scared about what to do next. Everything in your house holds a cherished memory of your deceased partner, and you might feel your love strongly attached to that book or sweater. When the time is right, you will be comfortable deciding on the next chapter and, ultimately, taking that first step.   Looking around you, you’ve come to realize that this house is no longer the right fit for you. Maybe the cost of upkeep is too much or the spaciousness makes you feel even more alone. Regardless, changing homes, especially if you’ve lived in the same one for years, can overwhelm your heart and your mind. You know the benefits — a smaller space can be easier to care for, but your home may feel more crowded or cramped. Selling your house can give you a fresh start, but there is also a deep bitter sweetness about leaving your beloved space behind.   Whatever your reason, the idea of moving to a new home, downsizing to a smaller home or moving into an assisted living facility can be stressful. There are some things you can plan for, others you have to face as they arise. Either way, be prepared by understanding what you can expect, and how to stay strong while moving forward. Selling Your House When you decide to put your house on the market, start off by knowing the numbers:

  • Current value of your house.
  • Amount, if any, you own on mortgage or other home payments.
  • Cost of hiring an experienced real estate professional.

Next, you want to know your audience. Are mostly young professionals moving into the area? You may want to remove the handicap ramp you had built last year — it won’t appeal to a 30-something couple or a single parent with a young child. Buying a New House In 2016, baby boomers made up 16% of the home buyers in the U.S. housing market. If you’re a senior thinking of buying a new home, you’re not alone. However, you have special needs and wants that you must make sure are taken into account when you sign those papers. While house hunting, be sure to ask these questions:

  • Do you need a house with modifications to keep you physically safe?
  • Who can you enlist to help you make this decision?
  • Do you need or want to downsize your belongings?
  • Are you on a fixed income? Will you need to take out a loan?

Buying a new house may be overwhelming, but it can also be a new adventure. Create a list of things you are excited for about buying a new home and be sure to focus on those positives.

Moving to a Smaller House or Assisted Living Facility

If you are downsizing your space, you have a lot to consider before you even begin house-hunting. You should have completed at least one round of purging unneeded and unwanted items, so you have an idea of the square footage you need. You can start this process by:

  • Organizing items, especially those of your loved one who has passed, into “keep,” “donate,” “sell” and “don’t know.”
  • Taking stock of items attached to important memories. Would any of these items be appreciated by a friend or family member?
  • Take pictures of items you want to remember, but don’t have the space to keep.
  • Decide which large items, like furniture and art, will stay or go.

Moving to a senior living center requires the same amount of consideration for downsizing as moving into a smaller home. If you aren’t sure what to do with some items, ease the stress by renting storage or asking a family member to hold on to them until you’re ready. Moving and letting go is hard, and transitioning to a new home can be one of the hardest moves of them all. Give yourself time and compassion. There’s no rush to make the next step, but when you’re ready be sure to reach out to friends, family or a professional for help.  

Article courtesy of Jim Vogel with