Death of a loved one and moving are among the most stressful situations one can endure in a lifetime, so why consider relocating after losing someone close to you? For some people, it’s necessary to downsize for the sake of their sanity (the house is hard to maintain, waste of space, too expensive, etc.). For others, it’s based purely on the reasoning that a change of scenery can be good for mental health. While it’s advised that you don’t make any major decisions right away, moving is definitely an idea worth thinking over—even if you fully accept that grief will follow you wherever you go.
Mental Health Benefits
Studies show that the death of a loved one such as a spouse can lead to a heart attack or stroke, not to mention severe depression. While it’s crucial that you institute self-care during the grieving process, it may be difficult to do so when you’re surrounded by constant reminders and memories. Relocating to a different area (even close by) can be the springboard you need to get a fresh start.
- You’ll open the door to new experiences: Whether it’s because you’re changing landscapes (e.g., moving from the mountains to near a beach), or you’re moving from the city to the country or vice versa, your new surroundings are likely to spark some new experiences for you. While some people prefer an urban environment for its copious activities and convenience factor, studies show that moving to a green space can improve your mental health for years to come.
- You’ll have the opportunity to create a place of peace: Since you’re starting from scratch in terms of decorating your new home, consider implementing some tried-and-true interior design techniques to create a calming, therapeutic living space. This can help you have greater clarity so you can manage the grieving process more effectively.
- You’ll meet more people and make new friends: You’re never too old to keep growing your friendship circle, and it can be nice to meet people not connected to your past. These new relationships are bound to prompt new experiences, hobbies, and opportunities.
Prepare for the Move
If you decide to take the plunge, make sure you create a strategic plan. It’s likely that you may not be thinking with a completely clear head, so you want to make sure you’re organized to avoid any moving mishaps.
- Find Out How Much Your Home Is Worth
You can research the value of your home online, or you can also opt to have your home appraised by a professional. Keep in mind that this is a more time-consuming (around two weeks) and expensive process (costing approximately $400 – $500). If you learn that your home is worth less than what you wanted to get for it, consider investing in some home improvement projects to increase the value of your home. When it comes time to purchase a new home, you’ll have to review your mortgage options. If you’re a veteran (or if your spouse served and passed away due to service-related issues), you’re likely eligible for a VA loan. These types of loans have lower interest rates, and you may not have to make a down payment.
- Arrange for Services to Make It Easier
You’ve already got enough on your plate, so don’t try to do a DIY move on top of everything else. Hire professional movers and packers to ensure all your personal belongings reach your new destination quickly and safely. You can also hire a cleaning service to give your home a one-time deep cleaning before moving. This will likely cost $25 – $50 an hour per cleaner. Concentrate on other tasks like switching over the utilities and making a change of address checklist.
- Dealing With a Loved One’s Items
While it’s a great idea to declutter your home before packing, a loved one’s items is one exception—you don’t want to get rid of something that you’ll regret later on. If you can part with things like clothing (with the exception of a few favorites), miscellaneous items like office supplies, and toiletries, you can focus on figuring out what you want to do with the more meaningful items.
There’s no timeline for the grieving process. Give yourself ample time to make a decision on whether you want to move, but give it a deadline. Making goals and sticking to them can help you transition into the next phase of your life.