A Guide to Moving for Seniors


Moving for a senior citizen is a memorable event. To paraphrase a line from Charles Dickens, ‘It can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times’. The purpose of this blog post is to offer recommendations that will make moving for seniors to be the best of times.

Seniors move for many different reasons. They also move to different places. It could be as simple as moving to another room in the same house or as complicated as moving halfway around the world. Moving is a life-changing event for the entire family. If you or someone you know has plans to move, here are some suggestions that can help ease the stress and make your senior move the best of times.

Seniors have to consider many things when they move. Here are a few things listed alphabetically.


Alone – Will you live alone?

If you plan to live alone, how well you adjust to your new lifestyle depends on your willingness to change. If you’ve been living with others who have helped to prepare meals or keep the home clean, how will those things get done now?

When you decide to live alone you might have to make a decision to add more activities to your daily routine. What used to be done by family members or friends who are not around any longer still have to be done. A simple task like laundry can become a necessary evil. Eating might mean more meals at restaurants. If you take the time to prepare your own meals, you might not have time to do the things you planned to do.

There are seniors who have saved for years or invested wisely. If you are among those who have then this could be a great situation for you. You can pay to have everything done while you enjoy life on easy street. Living alone offers rewards for seniors who love independence. Some things that will help you be successful are, make regular contact with family or friends and establish a routine where you have sufficient interaction with others on a regular basis so you do not feel lonely. Get involved in local activities.

Documents (Visas, Financial Statements, Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates)

If you decide to relocate in the same city or county, then you probably do not need to consider any documents. On the other hand, if you decide to move from Thailand to England, that’s another story. Retirement visas can be complicated. Some countries will require proof of annual income, as well as a specific amount of money, be deposited in a local bank. In addition, there is an annual visa renewal fee.

Most countries do require a minimum annual income plus health insurance. A new trend is the 10-year retirement visa. There are countries that now offer a 10-year retirement visa. Basically, it means you deposit a set amount of money in a local bank and you do not need to renew your retirement visa for 10 years. That deposit might have to remain in the bank so find out from the immigration department for the country where you want to live. It could be a significant amount of money so do your research.

If you or your husband decide to move out of your present country and you both were born in different countries and now move to a third to retire, you both may have to meet different requirements. A man born in America could have different requirements from a woman born in Russia for a couple who want to retire in Vietnam.

Start early when you do your research. Give yourself at least one year to get the facts. If you set a weekly goal to work on your retirement you will be well informed about the ins and outs of your new home.

The bottom line, do the research before you make the move. There are many services available that offer assistance for people who decide to retire in a country other than their home country. You can do the research yourself but give yourself enough time. Start with the local consulate or embassy for the country where you will move to. You can hire an attorney or a service that helps seniors retire.


The rules of the road are not the same in different cities and countries. What might seem like a basic safety rule of the road in NZ might not even apply in another country. There is nothing more horrifying when you see the driver in a car in front of you on your left begin to make a right turn without signaling or looking.

In many countries, it goes without saying that pedestrians have the right of way. There some countries where you literally risk taking your life into your own hands trying to cross the road. In many Asian and Southeast Asian countries motorbikes rule the road. Try to navigate an SUV on a road packed with motorbikes. That will get your attention.

Consider riding along with a local driver so you can get a feel for what it is like to drive. This can help you understand how drivers think and responds to different traffic situations. It also helps you to realize that you will be driving in this environment and it will not change for you. You have to adapt to it. In some countries in the Middle East, it is normal for drivers to make right-hand turns from the middle or far left lane. In some Southeast Asian countries, drivers anticipate the changing light and just take off the second it turns green, pedestrians or not. In California, many drivers wait 2 or 3 seconds until after the light has turned green before they drive off.


Food is the fuel of life. One of the big mistakes seniors make when they move is, they forget to consider the food. Sure, they know it will be different but do they really? If you’ve lived your life in Maine and move to San Diego, you’ll probably not find as much seafood chowder as you will tortillas and flautas. Furthermore, what looks like the same sausage in Spain can taste completely different in Germany. The same food takes on different flavors based on the spices in the recipe. That is why it is important to try as many different dishes as you can before you move. When you know what the food will taste like you can maintain your nutrition or even improve your diet significantly.

Healthcare systems

Some seniors are a daily dose of medication. Some seniors take medications for heart health and others take medication for respiratory conditions and so forth. In addition, what might be called a clinic in one place will offer service from a licensed physician. In a different country, a clinic might be staffed with a non-licensed healthcare professional who only advises and makes referrals to a physician.

Emergency service is unique in some countries. In most states in America when you hear the siren from an emergency vehicle you must pull to the side of the road and come to a complete stop.

Not so in some countries. There are countries where drivers ignore sirens or traffic is so congested the emergency vehicles cannot get through the traffic. Knowing which is the case in the place you chose to move to is important.

If you do need medical care, make sure you know how to access that care 24 hours a day. Some clinics only operate during certain hours or do not have emergency services at all. One large HMO in California operates clinics that do not offer emergency services and close at a certain time. They only have emergency services at their hospitals.


Do you know the local language? Is it easy to learn? Do you need to know the local language? There are so many apps that you can download to help you do things like asking for items when shopping. It is different when you find yourself in a situation where really need to communicate with someone and you cannot speak the language.

Of course, a life-threatening situation is the most significant reason to learn some basic language skills. Beyond that, there are many wonderful cultural and other aspects of the new culture that open up to you if you learn the language.

It’s one thing to have someone tell there is a holiday next week and it’s completely different to know how to ask about the history of the holiday and get an answer. It can also help you better understand why some of the cultural elements are what they are.


How well you understand the local laws could make a significant impact on the quality of your life. When elections or political policies change could mean life will change for you as well. There is no getting around a new law that requires all citizens to pay an annual tax to cover the cost of building new schools and you do not have school-aged children.

Mass Transit

Some countries have excellent mass transit systems. Others have mass transit systems in name only. If you don’t drive and depend on mass transit to get around, it becomes very important to know what is available and how much it cost. Another reason to go to your chosen new home and ride the transit system if it will be something you do when you move.


How well do you get around? Are you able to walk without the need for support?  Do you use a wheelchair? If you have mobility issues, knowing what’s available makes a significant impact on the quality of your life. A simple thing like curb cuts can mean the difference of where you can go if you are limited to a chair. Some cities have implemented traffic lights that pedestrians control. You can find cities that will have pedestrian walkways with amber lights that flash warning cars. Other safety measures might include timers in red as a signal counts down to warn both pedestrians and drivers how long before the light changes.


You want to get the most bang for your buck. There are however exceptions. Some seniors retire to gated communities that are exclusive to those who have what might seem like an unlimited income. If you move to a country where your money goes farther than it does in your home country, life can be really good. If money is not an issue, that’s wonderful.


This can be a real decision-maker. If you have a pet, will you be able to take the pet with you? Another issue to consider is what are the rules around pet ownership. Is pet care available? Some places have a weight restriction on pets, especially dogs. Some places do not allow any pets whatsoever. Pets are a family member so make sure you know all about your pets living with you.


What is available for you? How do you interact with the environment? Do you have access to nature like beaches or forests? Are there senior activities available? Do they cost money? How often are events offered? What kinds of recreation does a place offer? You can find this out by asking people who live there and also through organizations that specialize in helping seniors with retirement activities.


After all of that, where are you going? When you make a decision, to move as a senior, it is sometimes the last place you will live. Visit the place you plan to retire more than once. Go at different times throughout the year. This way you get to be there and feel and smell what it’s like in real-time.

Remember, summer in New Hampshire is very different from the winter. You should be realistic. Life can be rewarding every single day. One of the main elements for seniors that makes life enjoyable is access to things and people who make them feel like they are a part of their lives. When seniors focus on the good things in their lives, life is good.

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