8 Steps for Easing a Move to a Retirement Community

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One of the hardest things about moving from the family home to a retirement community is downsizing. You may find yourself in a 600 -- or 700-square foot unit -- or something even smaller. In the long run, most will find their new living situation more enjoyable than they anticipated, because in a good retirement community, much of your day -- meals, activities, outings -- will take place outside their living quarters. But the more you can do to help yourself prepare and set up their space early on, the easier the move will be for everyone.

Here are eight steps to take:

Get the ball rolling.

The first step in easing the transition to a retirement community comes before the moving van pulls up, when you can help with the task of sorting through the stuff and figuring out what to bring along.

Pick your battles – and be prepared to weather some early storms.

“Change is scary,” points out Jennifer Prell, a senior move manager in Illinois and CEO of Paxem. A retirement community is “a totally different lifestyle, and they’re not used to having someone take care of them.” That’s why you may become seemingly irrational about holding on to belongings that seems unnecessary or impractical to you. Don’t make a fuss over every item. Once you get used to their new home, says Prell, you are likely to find that you have a perfect amount of space – and may decide to weed through their possessions further once you’re moved in.

Get rid of the things that don’t fit early on.

If you have brought along items that are impractical or just don’t fit, let your family know that you’ve had your eye on protecting the offending heirlooms – even if they have to put them in their basement. Or consider donating bulky items to charity. This way you can help those in need instead of feeling like you’ve made a mistake by bringing extra items.

Next up: 10 Biggest Retirement Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them

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