Moving home in later life can sometimes be a difficult process, but understanding how to plan your move with what to take and what to leave can be helpful.

Here at Anchor, we know that moving to a residential care home or retirement community from a family home is a big step, so making sure the new property is a place where you are comfortable, feel safe and, most crucially, feel at home is as important to us as it is to you and your loved ones.

Assisted living communities and retirement housing can provide many people with a new lease of life, be it making new friends or knowing that help is always to hand. However, settling into a new property can be daunting, especially after you have lived somewhere for many years. We’ve put together some tips that our current residents have told us helped their move go smoothly and went a long way to making their new property their new home.

How to make a house a home

  • De-clutter, but don’t feel the need to get rid of too many belongings

When moving house in later life, it’s often termed ‘downsizing’. Downsizing, and moving to a more manageable property can be beneficial for many people,  getting rid of unwanted clutter can be cathartic for some and herald a fresh start, but it’s wise to refrain from  getting rid of too much in one go.

Holiday clothes, seasonal items or heirlooms don’t all need to be thrown out or given away as they may come in useful later on. Think about how much you actually use items and choose a small selection to take with you, perhaps store excess with relatives, as you never know when they may be of use. A closet of familiar clothes or cabinet of your best china can also go a long way to giving ordinary rooms of your new property that homely feel.

  • Use shelves to keep memories in plain sight

Bare walls are the most common aspect of moving into a new house – filling shelves, especially with photographs of loved ones, favourite books or knick-knacks can really make a room feel yours.

It’s a good idea to ask relatives for family photos to fill table or wall space, and moving house can be a good opportunity to get some new family snaps too. A new photo frame demands a new photograph and new memories will be created with this new move.

  • Add your character with  curtains, bed sheets, rugs and pillows

For some, a fresh start with an all-new look can be appealing, for others, keeping the same décor and style as the family home is the preferred option. Simple tips such as bringing your curtains, throws or bed sheets to the new property can make it feel like a home that you’ve always been in.

Advice from Jill Pacey, Care Home Manager

Jill Pacey is the Care Home Manager at Barnfield care home in Horley, Surrey, and has a wealth of experience in the care sector. We asked Jill a few questions about moving and what she finds works best for residents.

What would you recommend new residents bring with them to their new home?

“From my experience, when moving, one of the most important things to remember is that you should bring treasured belongings with you. With our residents, these items usually include photographs in frames of their loved ones, their favourite comfy chair or their beloved pet."

“Pets are an interesting area as many people don’t know that you’re often welcome to bring them with you to your new home. At Anchor we know pets can be so comforting for new movers, especially if they have been companions for several months or years, and that’s why our care homes have a pet friendly policy.”

Do residents usually start afresh with new furniture or bring most of their belongings?

“It depends on the resident and is down to personal taste. For some, a new start can bring new optimism for the future and a sense of new found freedom, not having to worry about which bits from home they should keep can be liberating.”

“However, bringing your old furniture can add a sense of familiarity to new surroundings, helping to make you feel settled more quickly. And it’s a great way to put your personality into a room.”

In your opinion, what’s the most interesting home comfort new residents bring with them?

“Oh, it definitely has to be the pets for me as they have their own little personalities!”

Advice from Rob Podmore, Scheme Manager

Rob Podmore is the Scheme Manager at St Clements Court, a retirement housing scheme in Farnborough. We asked Rob to give us some insight into what he’s seen work for new residents during his time at Anchor.

What do you think new residents are most surprised to learn they can bring with them?

“I think bringing and sharing your life experiences with other residents is usually the biggest surprise for many. Residents who choose to live in retirement housing developments often comment that they are surprised how many like-minded people they meet, people who understand that their past is just as important as their future and who have often experienced similar things during the course of their lives. Everyone has a story to tell."

Is there anything in particular that you think helps new residents feel at home and settle in more quickly?

“The security of having a manager on site, access to an emergency call system and the active social environment seems to help new residents feel secure and at home more quickly than they might in other settings.

At Anchor we also sort out all repairs and property maintenance, which removes these worries for residents, enabling many to enjoy mixing with other people, friends, family and new neighbours daily.”

What’s the most interesting thing that someone has brought with them to the scheme?

“Just as Jill mentioned, I think pets are a good addition to the households here. At St Clements Court we have quite few residents with pets and they bring a lot of joy.”

For more information about the properties and care homes available in your area you can use our online property finder tool.

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