How to Best Pack When Moving to a Retirement Community

Moving does not have to be one of life’s most challenging times. Although if not done in an orderly fashion can be stressful on one’s mental health. Packing and moving to a retirement community or life plan community requires careful thought and planning. Our team has helped countless seniors and their family members navigate their move to Lancaster, Pa. At United Zion Retirement Community, we’re here to make the process less arduous. Check out our ultimate guide of tips for a stress-free move to a retirement community.

Table of Contents

Trick to Help Determine What to Move

General Packing Tips

Box Packing Tips

Pre-Moving To-Do Checklist

Tricks to Help Determine What to Move

Ready to start your next stage of life in a retirement community? Now it’s time to decide what to do with all the things you’ve accumulated over the years. Here are tips to help determine what and what not to move.

  1. Plan where items will live in your new space, but be open to change after you live in the area for a time. Before you move, make a detailed inventory of your things, boxes included, and their respective rooms. Once you’re in your space, some things might not make sense.
  2. Measure your new space, including every room, closet, and furniture. Creating a layout on graph paper will help you visualize your new home and help decide what you can keep.
  3. Track how often you use kitchen items, clothing, personal care items and games. It’s easy to take for granted what you use in everyday life. Make sure you place things you don’t often use in a box and only remove them when you use them. If anything remains after a month, you probably don’t need it and can donate it.
  4. Don’t wait until right before you move to purge your items. If things go unused, donate or dispose of them immediately. At the end of a season, go through your clothes and decide what to keep or give away based on how often you wear them.
  5. Keep a few items and give a few things away. This rule works great for books. Find five books you want to keep and five you want to give away. Local libraries usually accept donations for their annual book sales.
  6. Focus on things with many uses. When you’re downsizing, things with wheels, foldable items, or light things that don’t need an extra person to move them will help you save space.
  7. Use things you love and stop saving items for special occasions. Make your special occasion dishes your everyday dishes and bring a smile to your face each day.
  8. Keep things you need to be comfortable and leave the rest. Don’t forget your new space is all about you. If you want it, bring it. If it doesn’t use a formal dining table, don’t bring it.

General Packing Tips

There are a few key points many new residents tend to overlook when packing. To help you make the most of your time spent packing, we’ve put together a list of our packing tips.

  1. Check with friends or other sources for free boxes. You can save a little money if you know someone who recently moved, and friends help packing be one of life’s most bonding social activities. Start collecting boxes about a month or two before your move.
  2. Start packing six weeks before your moving day. If you’re packing yourself, pack everything you rarely use, saving the essentials for last.
  3. You might not need to pack everything. Movers can transport items like mirrors, large pictures, and mattresses a short distance without rigorous packing. If you’re making a long-distance move, opt to pack them in boxes and use lots of bubble wrap. Lamps and lampshades should always get packed.
  4. Pack one room at a time to keep packing from becoming overwhelming. Stay in each room until you finish packing. Now you can set realistic goals for yourself, i.e., pack the dining room by Friday.
  5. Consider getting rugs and drapes cleaned before moving. It makes it easy to keep them in their protective wrappings for the big move.
  6. Leave mirrors and pictures on the walls and your beds assembled with the sheets removed. Usually, movers can pack them from their regular location.
  7. Dispose of any flammable items like aerosol cans, cleaning fluids, and fireworks.

Box Packing Tips

Packing up boxes can be a daunting task. Here are our favorite tips for packing containers for a stress-free move to a senior living community.

  1. Create a supply list and keep all your supplies accessible. You’ll need boxes, marking pens, bubble wrap, newspaper and tissue, tape, scissors, and a tape measure.
  2. Different items require different types and sizes of containers. Place heavy items like books or any canned food in smaller, sturdy boxes. Buy special boxes for dishes, clothing, large pictures, mirrors, glass, clocks, or even mattresses. Keep any technology items in their original boxes and packaging for protection. Label any cables and tape screws to their respective objects.
  3. Tape the tops and bottoms of boxes to keep the contents from spilling, avoid damage, and make stacking easier.
  4. Label each box on its side for easy identification. You’ll want to note important details: the room it goes in if the box contains fragile items, anything you don’t want movers to take, things to be loaded last, and arrows to show the right side up.
  5. Pack heavy items on the bottom and lighter items on top.
  6. Avoid loading more than 50 pounds in one box.
  7. Fill boxes to the top without overfilling. Anything sticking over the top cannot stack. Underfilled boxes could get crushed. Use what you have on hand to fill any gaps, such as paper, towels, or blankets.
  8. Pack your books tightly in small boxes to keep them from shifting.
  9. Anything breakable needs proper care. Stack plates vertically like in a dish drain. Glasses and stemware go in an upright position.
  10. This is the one time you can use lots of paper. Keep breakables wrapped individually, or opt for using your towels and blankets. Cushion the bottoms, sides, and tops of boxes with bubble wrap, newspaper, or tissue. 

Pre-Moving To-Do Checklist

Before you move, there are few miscellaneous things to take care of before you can enjoy the next step in your life. We’ve broken up some of these pre-moving tasks into bite-sized to-dos.

  1. Choose a professional moving company two months before you move.
  2. One month before moving is the perfect time to file a change of address with the post office. Then, about two weeks before you move, change your address with your bank, credit card companies, IRS, and local tax assessors.
  3. Make arrangements for your utilities once you know your move day. Turn off utilities the day after you move. Be sure they start service in your new home the day movers arrive.
  4. Notify your insurance company you are moving and transfer coverage to a new address.
  5. Get copies of your most important personal records: medical, dental, living wills, insurance, and veterinarian. 
  6. If moving your plants across state lines, be sure to check with local regulations. Some states have restrictions on certain plants to avoid importing pests that can devastate crops.
  7. Unplug your TV set, computer monitors, or other large electronics 24 hours before you move, if possible. Moving electronics when they’re still hot can cause damage to the device.
  8. Empty and defrost your refrigerator 24 hours before moving day.
  9. Take valuables with you. Keep medicines, phone chargers, and personal records like birth certificates and social security cards with you. 

Moving to a Retirement Community

There are lots of decisions to make before moving to a retirement community like United Zion Retirement Community. Don’t let packing stress you out. If you have any questions to ask before moving into a retirement community, independent living, or otherwise, our staff will be more than happy to help you. Contact our team today with any questions about moving to our close-knit, compassionate retirement community. 

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