Should You Move After a Spouse Dies?


Most people who have lost a life partner will need a few months or more to mourn before making any major decisions. It’s particularly important not to unload a loved one’s possessions until you have given yourself ample time to grieve. However, after the initial period of mourning has passed, many widows and widowers will start to think about downsizing or even moving to a new city or rural area.


Advantages of a change of scenery

If your current location does not meet specific needs, it might be time for a move. For instance, if you are really into golf, a gated community with multiple golf courses in the Southern California area where you can play year-round may be extremely desirable.

Or, maybe you really want more cultural stimulation. In that case, moving to a bigger city (like Los Angeles) that is rich in museums, galleries, independent movie theaters, and historical tours may be the ticket you are looking for.


Selling your old home and buying a new one

The first thing you need to do when buying a new home is knowing what you can afford. The average sale price for Los Angeles homes is about $725K, although there are many areas in the county where you can find a less expensive space. If you’re not sure what neighborhood or type of home will work for your budget (or what your budget even is), ask your real estate agent for guidance.

You may need a real estate agent at both ends: one to sell your house, and one to find your new home in the area where you’re retiring. When it comes to selling, your agent will give you an opinion about what your house will sell for. Don’t try to move that needle up, or the process of selling your house could take longer than you want.

If you need to sell your old home before buying a new one, wait until you’ve accepted an offer. Then, scour online listings and line up a few candidates to look at. Plan a three- or four-day house-hunting trip two weeks before closing on your old home. Sellers will be more inclined to accept your offer on the new home if you have a closing date on the old one.

It’s very difficult to handle a move as a single person. Consider hiring professionals to do your packing and your moving. Moving companies typically charge by the mile for the move and by the hour for packing.


What to keep and what to throw out

Our loved ones often have collections of trinkets that they were keenly passionate about. Are you obliged to honor your loved one’s memory by maintaining the model train set, collection of vinyl records, or cabinets full of ceramic guinea pigs?

No, you are not. Those collections should go to others who will appreciate and carefully maintain them as much as your loved one did. There may well be someone in your family who would be delighted to have a train set in the basement. But if no one from your family is interested, consider listing the collection for sale on Craigslist.

If the collection is valuable, is it okay to ask someone to buy it from you at market value? Yes, it is. Studies show that people value something they pay for more than something they received for free. Charging a reasonable price for your inherited items ensures they will be cared for in the future.

When it comes to clothes, shoes, furniture, or personal items that you no longer need, give your family members first shot at them, and donate the remainder to Goodwill Industries or the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries will pick up items for donation if there is furniture involved.

Of course, there will be things he or she owned that are so symbolic that you must keep them. Choose these things carefully, and make sure they are not broken during your move. Artwork you bought together while on vacation, books you both read and laughed (or cried) over, and photographs will almost certainly be on the list of things that move with you to your new home.

Moving to a new location can help you move on emotionally. Just give yourself time to make a good decision, not a hasty one.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Written by Lucille Rosetti of

Lucille Rosetti created as a means of sharing tools to help people through the grief process. Having lost some of the people closest to her, she understands what it’s like, and how it can be an emotional roller coaster that doesn’t always seem to make sense.


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