How to Move After the Death of a Loved One

By Emma Grace Brown

Nothing disrupts life more than the death of a loved one. When you lose someone close to you, your vision for the future is permanently changed, and it can be difficult to regain your footing in a place marked by your loved one’s absence. Many people find solace in a change of scenery after losing a close friend or family member. However, moving in the midst of mourning is no easy feat. If you’re going to do it without sacrificing your well-being, you need to have a plan.

Selling Your House

Even when you hire a real estate agent, selling a home is an active process. You have to get your home into pristine condition and keep it that way from the first showing until move-out day. That’s a lot for anyone to handle, especially when you’re also dealing with grief and the myriad administrative aspects of death. Also, make sure you have all the proper documents you’ll need to sell the home, which will include the title report, deed, information about property tax, and the final purchase and sale agreement.

If you can afford to, contract out as much of the work as you can. Hire professionals to deep clean, make repairs, repaint, landscape, and complete other updates that get the house ready to sell. It can be difficult to watch a home you shared with your loved one change so dramatically, so consider moving out while your house is on the market. Selling your house while it’s vacant also makes it easier to keep clean. However, you shouldn’t leave the house empty. A furnished home is easier to stage and sell than one that’s been cleared out.

Buying a New Home

The months after a loved one’s death isn’t the time to commit to drastic lifestyle changes. As tempting as it is to escape to a cabin in the woods, you should avoid such major decisions for the first year following your loss. Instead, search for homes in the same area so you can maintain your support system while grieving. If it’s necessary to move away, seek homes within driving distance to friends and family.

When purchasing a new home, you’ll need to research available mortgages. Many homebuyers opt for a conventional mortgage, which offers many different advantages. For example, if you can afford a 20 percent down payment, you can eliminate the additional mortgage insurance payment, effectively lowering your monthly payment. If you can’t afford the 20 percent down payment, conventional mortgages offer many different options for homebuyers.

Packing and Moving

When you first list your home, it feels like moving is ages away. But the truth is, it’ll be here before you know it. Start packing early so you can space out the labor and avoid overworking yourself. Also, create a packing station where you can keep all of the supplies you need to help get the ball rolling, including packing tape, markers, and labels. About four weeks out from the move, start paring down furniture and other large items. If it won’t fit in the new house and isn’t needed for staging, donate, or sell it. This is also the time to book your moving company, collect packing supplies, and make labels for boxes.

Next, it’s time to approach your loved one’s things. Sorting through your deceased loved one’s belongings is an emotional task, so give yourself at least a week and stop when you feel overwhelmed. If you have to put things in a storage facility until you’re ready to face them, that’s okay, too. When your move is two weeks away, start packing up the house in earnest. Be sure to set aside anything you’ll need over the coming weeks so it doesn’t get packed away. As you empty out cupboards, closets, and entire rooms, clean them before moving onto the next one. To save time, you may want to hire a cleaning service.

Over the next two weeks, you should also update your address with companies you do business with, set up utilities at the new home, and make travel arrangements for moving day. You’ll also need to call on a reputable locksmith to install new locks in your new home. You can either search for “lock smith near me” or visit a site like Angi which provides customer reviews of various locksmiths in your area. A trustworthy locksmith will be licensed and insured and offer you a warranty on their work.

Planning is important for any move, but when you’re moving in the midst of a major life event, it’s more than important. If you’re going to get through your move with your well-being intact, it’s essential to go in with a plan.

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