The emotional aspects of moving house in retirement

In his four years as a retirement coach, Jon Glass has been helping older Australians navigate the emotional facets of retirement. Today, he tells why patience is key when moving house.


We recently moved house. Everyone knows how challenging and complex that can be in a logistical sense; with all the packing, throwing away and unpacking involved.

I want to cover some other aspects of a move, more emotional than practical. As retirement often seems to bring into play a move of house: downsizing and sea-changing being examples; I believe that this topic is relevant to retirees.

For a start, and this applied to me, the first period of time in my new abode felt just a little bit like a holiday. Who would have thought!

The next thing to say is that, unless your move is to the house/apartment next door, you will grapple with the matter of life in a new community. In that vein, you might ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of people live in your new community? Their age, their social demographic. How different are they from the people in the community that you recently vacated?
  • What is the street-life of your new neighbourhood? This will be determined by many factors including nearby schools, the businesses that operate there (if any), public transport, even how garbage is collected and how clean the streets are.
  • Am I a stranger here? As you walk around your new neighbourhood, it will strike you that there is no-one who knows you, no-one you can chat with. That will change with time, if you want it to change.
  • Where are all the necessary shops located? You will doubtless want to find the coffee shops, cafes and food shops that are essential to your life. They may be closer or further away than they were previously.

Then, as you settle into your new living space, you may feel some regret or nostalgia, while thinking of the comforts of your previous residence. Perhaps you have sweet memories of children, grandchildren and friends attached to your former house.

I don’t think that is anything to worry about in the short term; it seems natural. On the other hand, if you couldn’t wait to leave your old house this won’t be an issue.

Then there is the matter of the relationships you have now left behind in your old place of residence: some friendly, some neutral, some hostile, some burdensome. The choice will be yours to transport those relationships as you desire or don’t, and then build new ones in your own way and at your own pace.

Finally, there are some little things about your new house/apartment that will nag at you. At least this is what I found. Such as:

  • Where did we put the colander to drain the pasta for our meal, as the pasta you just cooked goes cold in the pot?
  • Remind me again where we parked the car and, in the case of an apartment block, where do we collect the mail?

Over time the unfamiliar will become familiar again. Who knows, you might then think about moving again – or not – as you remind yourself of the hassle involved.

What are some of the challenges you have faced when moving house in retirement?

Jon Glass is a retirement coach with 64Plus.

Written by Jon Glass

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