Senior Citizens’ Downsizing and Moving Tips – Ultimate Guide

How to Help Your Parents Downsize

Are you facing the challenge of downsizing your parents’ home? It is an overwhelming prospect, but you can do it. Here are some senior citizens’ downsizing and moving tips.

Most senior citizens plan to downsize their living situation at some point. According to the USDA, senior citizens move an average of 3 times over the last ten years of life (USDA Bureau of Labor Statistics). Downsizing can mean moving from a home or even a city.

This article will focus on senior citizens and downsizing related to moving out of a home into an apartment, condo, or senior community. While every senior citizen’s situation is unique, several common factors go into downsizing that almost all senior citizens experience:

  • First, realize they have too much “stuff” and need to eliminate items.
  • Eliminating the things that no longer bring value in their life, for example, a hobby they no longer practice.
  • Finally, find senior communities or senior apartment complexes that fit your needs and lifestyle.

Tips to Make the Process go Smoothly

When you downsize your home, it’s essential to be as organized as possible. Create systems that make sense for you, so you wind up with a reduced house AND the ability to function in it.

Senior Citizens Downsizing and Moving Tips
  • Start by cleaning out the basement, attic, and closets.
  • Gather all of the things that aren’t being used and decide what to do with them.
  • If you downsize your parent’s home, be sure you have help from several friends or relatives before, during, and after downsizing the house. If your parent decluttered their home with the help of family and friends, it can also give them a sense of meaning and belonging in their new downsized situation.
  • If you are downscaling your parent’s living space, be sure they have adequate lighting for everyone to see what they are doing safely.
  • Sort through their belongings to make a list of what they want to keep and what they want to downsize or throw away. Then, sit down with your parent and go through the entire house room by room to discuss reducing each housing area.

Take Your Time

  • Don’t downscale everything at once if it is overwhelming. Instead, take a room or two at a time as downscaling projects.
  • Study the downsized home before downscaling it to see how everything works and if you got rid of enough things.
  • Give away any items that are no longer wanted or needed. This downsized process can be a lot easier if you decrease by donation. Also, consider donating things for tax purposes (check with your accountant).
  • If your parent downsized, make sure their downsized house is still livable and functional.
  • Consider downgrading your parent’s car to a smaller vehicle. For example, many apartments have smaller garages than single-family homes.
Senior Citizens Downsizing and Moving Tips

Downsizing is essential because it allows senior citizens to easily transition into senior living communities.

Plan to downsize to reduce stress during the move.

Downsizing not only makes moving more accessible but also reduces the chances of damage to your belongings during transportation.

Once senior citizens have completed downsizing, much work needs to be done before moving into a senior community or apartment complex.

Finding Your Next Home

For this process to go smoothly, here is a checklist of items you should complete before senior citizens try to find senior living accommodations:

Prepare a Budget

There are many expenses senior citizens will incur after making the transition into senior housing.

Be prepared by listing how much you can spend per month and what senior communities fit within your budget. For example, many senior communities charge an entry fee for independent living, assisted living, or memory care based on your income and assets.

Every senior citizen’s financial situation is unique, so it is essential to be fully aware of all costs involved in senior living before moving forward.

Do Your Research

Research different senior communities online that match your needs and price range.

This research should include visiting community websites, getting contact information for senior community managers, and scheduling tours of each.

Research online for a list of available senior communities or apartments that accept Medicaid and Medicare for senior citizens who require assisted living or memory care.

Some senior communities charge additional fees if a resident needs an extra level of care. So be sure to mention any health conditions you currently have or may develop in the future when touring different senior communities.

Take Tours of Facilities

Once you have found 3-5 potential senior living communities, contact each facility’s manager by phone or email to schedule tours.

Be sure to ask about current pricing and senior living specials in the senior community.

Senior communities often offer senior citizen discounts for referrals, AARP memberships, or other senior discounts.

Attend Open Houses

Attend open houses at senior living facilities. These events are an excellent way to learn more about senior living options.

Open house events should be free of charge and often include light refreshments to give senior citizens a chance to meet fellow residents and staff members.

It can also be an excellent way for senior citizens to make new friends as they plan their next move.

Planning Your Move

A checklist of items to do before moving, such as downsizing and budgeting, can ensure a smooth transition into senior housing.

Make a list of what they need to move – from furniture, appliances, and tools.

Put together a budget for any necessary repairs or renovations needed on the new home.

Research neighborhoods perfect for your parents’ needs – such as proximity to family members, schools, transportation routes. 

Help them find an agent with whom they feel comfortable selling their house.

Check out retirement communities in your area if you think your parents would benefit from more social activities like bingo games.

Preparing Your Belongings

Whether you plan to sell your belongings or donate them, you will need to prepare your items before moving into senior communities.

Think about how you want to use your belongings in your new home before packing them up.

Starting with a list of items to take or leave behind can help streamline your move into senior living communities.

Create a list of what needs to go to save seniors time and frustration on moving day.

Whether you plan to sell your belongings or donate them, you will need to prepare your items before moving into senior communities.

The more you can dismantle and pack before moving day, the less work there will be when the time comes. 

Senior Citizens Downsizing and Moving Tips

Prepare Your Vehicle

You may be moving into senior housing either closer or further away than your previous residence.

Packing for a long-distance move requires different supplies than packing for a local move. So it is essential to take measurements of your vehicle and gather enough boxes for each load.

Preparing your vehicle includes knowing what items are appropriate for short-distance and long-distance moves. Also, keep in mind storage availability in the new location.

Find a Moving Company

Seniors moving into assisted living communities need assistance from movers.

Planning for senior citizens who need help can save time and frustration on moving day.

Many seniors have lived in the same house for decades.

Assign a Moving Day

Your moving day should start early in the morning. Try to be finished by the end of the day.

Assigning a moving day helps take the stress off of your shoulders as you prepare for your move into an assisted living, memory care, or independent living facility.

The sooner you assign a moving day to your movers, the sooner they can begin packing and preparing for moving day.

Make sure to discuss plans with them to know what time to arrive and how long they will need to complete their assigned tasks.

Practice and Prepare

Practice and preparation, such as dismantling furniture and disassembling shelving, are crucial to preventing accidental damage during the move across town or the country.

Senior Citizens Downsizing and Moving Tips

Moving Day Tips

While every senior citizen downsizes differently, here are some tips you can use as inspiration for your senior citizens moving process:

First, turn your move into organized chaos by making a checklist for your movers. 

After the movers arrive at your house, you will find a steady stream of your belongings heading out the door. Your furniture and boxes will be moving faster than you realize. So it is essential to plan what stays, what goes where, and any special instructions ahead of time.

Create a checklist for movers by following the steps below.

  1. Try to avoid using a U-Haul or other rental truck. Senior citizens often have disabilities limited budgets, and some senior living communities do not allow U-Haul trucks on their property.
  2. If senior citizens plan, they can use friends and family to help them move their belongings without doing it by themselves.

Create a List – What Stays – What Goes

Place notes on items that stay, such as the stove, refrigerator, washer, dryer, or furniture.

List the things you are keeping or leaving behind.  

Take Care of Your Pets

It is essential to tell the movers about any pets in your home. 

On your checklist, write down that you have a pet and where that pet will be during the move. 

Put a sign on the room door where your pets are so that the movers don’t accidentally let your pet out.

List Fragile Items

Your fragile items need extra special care. Mark all boxes that are extra fragile very clearly.

Move your most fragile pieces yourself.

Make a note for your movers if a piece of furniture is damaged or if pieces fall apart quickly.

Hire Extra Manpower for Heavy Items

Your movers will need to know how much workforce they need to move your items. If you have a big piece such as a 300-pound refrigerator, let them know ahead of time.

Senior Citizens Downsizing and Moving Tips

Label Furniture and Boxes by Room

Each room for your new home should be on the list. Indicate which furniture goes in which room in your new home. 

If your lower-level furniture ends up in the living room, you will have a lot of rearranging to do after the movers leave.

Each box needs to be labeled as to which room and floor you want your items placed.

Make a Map

Create a map for the movers. Include your new address with instructions on where to park and which entrance to use.


  • Stock your fridge with bottled water and soft drinks for your movers.
  • Make several copies of your list – one for you, one to post in each house, and one for the movers.

Final Thoughts

A move is a significant life transition, and it can be overwhelming at any age. Keep these tips in mind as you begin to make plans for your action:

Celebrate Your Move

You’ve helped your parents downsize successfully and set up an environment conducive to happiness now and in the future.

The actual moving process might be the most stressful of senior citizens downsizing. But with this plan in place, you can make it as easy as possible for your senior citizens and give them space to bask in the freedom of living more simply.

Decorating a Senior Citizen's Apartment