The decision to move, and even more likely the decision to downsize, can often be a taxing one. The hard part — agreeing to the move — is over. So now that you’ve got the ball rolling, what do you do next? A big life decision requires thought and planning. Follow these tips to ease the transition and give yourself peace of mind knowing that you are informed and prepared for this next phase in your life.
1. KNOW YOUR BUDGET
Unless you plan to buy your next home outright, it’s a good idea to set a budget  and calculate a monthly payment that you can comfortably afford. Use a mortgage calculator to calculate your estimated monthly mortgage payment, but don’t forget to include principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Research the cost of utilities in the area you are moving to. If you are downsizing your home, you will be pleased to find that you will be paying significantly less in utilities each month.
Budget for other expenses such as the down payment and closing costs. These expenses both have to be paid for in cash. You’ll want to put at least 20% down so that you don’t have to pay mortgage insurance which is required when you put anything less than 20% down. You’ll likely have equity built in from the sale of your current home, so paying the full 20% should be manageable.
Closing costs can range from 3-7% of the house price, including title insurance and appraisal fees. Other expenses to include in your budget are moving expenses, home modifications, maintenance, and homeowners association fees.
2. KNOW YOUR LOCATION
After you’ve set a budget, let the shopping begin. With all the excitement of home shopping, as well as the stress that follows suit, you may be wondering how to determine what the best area is for this next chapter. Location  is important, so start by making a list of qualities you want within your neighbourhood. For instance, proximity to medical care may be a priority for you, look for neighbourhoods that are close to a hospital. As you age, mobility and driving may become an issue so make sure the area has easy access to public transportation as well as nearby shopping. Your Realtor is an excellent resource for finding neighbourhoods that will suit your lifestyle.
3. KNOW YOUR MOVER
So you’ve budgeted, shopped for houses, and finally found a home that is the perfect fit. The next step is moving. Hiring professional movers will cut down on stress and ensure that all of your items arrive safely. Talk to your Realtor about any value-add services they have that may include things like moving. We set our clients up with MoveSnap, a centralized service that helps organize all of the steps affiliated with moving, along with a reputable list of movers to choose from.
If you’re planning on hiring movers yourself, treat your first interaction with a mover like an interview and ask these important questions:
• Are you licensed and insured?
• Are they a member of the Canadian Association of Movers?
• What price can you put in writing as a “not to exceed” threshold price?
• What does your price include?
• Can you give me references from people who you have recently moved?
• What steps do you take to ensure that my items are packed and delivered safely?
Keep in mind that while this is your time to address any questions or concerns, the potential mover should ask you questions about your home, as well as complete a thorough walkthrough to provide an accurate estimate. If you feel rushed or uncomfortable, go with your gut and back away. A professional mover will do their best to make you feel at ease and comfortable while giving you the quality service you deserve. Anything less isn’t acceptable.
Moving to a new home is exciting, so don’t let the excitement fade by being unprepared. Map out a budget, explore houses that meet your qualifications and needs, and hire folks to help you move. Before you know it you’ll be settled into your new home and wondering why you were so worried in the first place.
Guest Author: Hazel Bridges
Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.