Moving is a pain. Moving is complicated for most people because it’s hard work between the many complex tasks, packing, and planning. However, if you also have a disability, moving can be even more challenging. Hiring help, such as professional movers, can help with the physical tasks of moving, but that still leaves coordinating your move, making calls, and ensuring that your new place meets your accessibility needs.
Fortunately, planning, asking for help, and being prepared can help you have a more successful and less stressful move. Keep reading to learn more about our top 9 moving tips for a person living with a disability.
Check Your New Home’s Accessibility Out
Before you even begin packing, go through your new home thoroughly.
Is your new home accessible? Does it meet your needs? Do you need changes to be made to your home for move-in day or permanently to make it more accessible?
Create a checklist of everything you need for your new home to be accessible to you. Then, go through the space room by room and mark which items are present and missing from your list.
If you’re purchasing the property, arrange for professionals to come in and make the accessibility improvements that you need, such as building a ramp or installing bars in the shower.
Learn Your Renters’ Rights
If you’re renting and live with a disability, it’s crucial that you understand your renters’ rights with your landlord. Under the Fair Housing Act, your landlord cannot discriminate against you because of your disability or ask discriminatory questions about it. You’re also legally protected and within your rights to ask for reasonable accommodations related to your disability that help improve your quality of life.
For example, you may be able to ask for an assigned parking space that is closer to your home or to have a service animal live with you, even if the landlord doesn’t usually allow animals on their property.
According to The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, individuals with mental health, intellectual, and developmental disabilities can also ask for reasonable accommodations and modifications:
- Requesting help when completing paperwork or during the application process
- Asking that the landlord allows a live-in aide or alternative support services
- Changing the due date for rent until your Social Security Disability check or other disability payments are received
- Having an assistance animal live with you in a “no pets” property
- Requesting additional time to move in due to disability-related reasons, such as hospitalization or treatment
- Asking for physical changes to the home related to sensory or mobility needs
Create a Moving Checklist
The moving process creates an endless number of tasks to manage and go through. So, we recommend creating a moving checklist to help organize your tasks, progress, and simplify the process.
Break your moving checklist into multiple categories, such as:
- Belongings — Break down your current home by room or area to go through and declutter and pack.
- Phone calls — To hire movers, arrange moving details, have installments made, etc.
- New home — Do you need to locate health care services, new medical providers, or a new pharmacy near your new home? Set up utilities? Have your mail forwarded to your new address?
- Medical care — Do you need to look at the local government and find out what disability services it offers? What are the eligibility requirements and application process like? Is there a wait-list for disability services?
- Resources — Mark down important phone numbers, referrals, different state laws you need to know about, and important information about Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and the Social Security Income (SSI) in your new area.
Under each category, break down tasks into small bite-sized items that you can accomplish in shorter bursts of time. Factor in how much time you can reasonably devote to packing at one time.
Declutter Your Belongings
Start by going through your nonessentials and decluttering them. Go through your current home room by room, area by area, until moving to the next space.
We recommend starting in the most cluttered parts of your home, such as your living room, office, and kitchen. Pull everything out of the drawers and cabinets, off the surfaces, and place the items on your floor or a surface where you can easily assess everything.
Then, organize your belongings into five categories: keep, declutter, give away to loved ones, donate, and sell.
Pick up each item and honestly ask yourself: Am I using this? Do I love it? When was the last time I used it?
Remember, the fewer items you have, the less you’ll have to pack and bring with you, making your move easier. This is an excellent opportunity to go through your items and consider what you’re actually using and what you can part with. It’s unlikely that you’ll miss things you weren’t using, so don’t hesitate to sell, donate, or give them away to others who would benefit from them more.
Decluttering your belongings can be overwhelming, so start as early as possible with your nonessential items and take it slow. Give yourself extra time to go through any sentimental items. Consider taking photos of or paring down your collections and sentimental keepsakes to reduce your clutter while still preserving the memories.
Label Your Boxes
Nothing is worse than having to go through many boxes to find your clothes or dishes. As you pack your belongings, clearly label each box with what it contains. For example, you could label a box filled with kitchen supplies: “Kitchen – Dishes, Utensils, and Dish Towels, Box 1 of 10.
We recommend that you number your boxes for each room and list how many boxes there are in total for that room. This step will help you count the boxes for each room when you arrive at your new home and double-check that nothing is missing.
Labeling your boxes will also help you, your helpers, or the professional movers place your boxes in the appropriate areas in your new home, saving you time and energy later on.
Create an Essentials Bag
Before packing up your essentials, take a small box or overnight bag and fill it with everything you’ll need for several days after arriving at your new home. It can often take a few days to start to find items among the boxes, so put everything you’ll need together ahead of time. We promise you’ll thank yourself for taking this crucial step.
We recommend gathering the following items in your essentials bag:
- Clothing (day and night) for a couple of days
- Your toiletries
- Hairbrush, hair ties, or other hair care
- Prescription medications
- Over-the-counter medications and supplements you take regularly
- Pillow and blanket
- Accessories for any mobility aids
- Comfort items, like a good book or crossword puzzle book
Hire the Right Moving Company
Hiring the right moving company can make all the difference during your move. If possible, consider hiring a full-service moving service that can pack, move, and unpack your belongings for you. Professional movers can ensure that the move is safe and efficient.
When shopping around for a moving company, look for moving companies with experience helping disabled persons move. Some moving companies will advertise that they can move special equipment, such as mobility aids, lift chairs, CPAP machines, wheelchairs, and more. This experience may mean its team can also disassemble and reassemble large specialty equipment or furniture.
Speak with several companies and gather quotes from them to compare prices and the packages they offer. Ask if they have specific experience working with people with disabilities and if they can help move specialty equipment. This experience can make a huge difference in how successful your move is.
Examples of questions you could ask include:
- Have you helped individuals with disabilities move previously?
- Is your team comfortable taking apart and putting together medical equipment or ramps?
- Can the moving team unpack if needed? Is there an extra cost for this?
- What cleanup steps do you take after the move is complete?
- Can you bring protective gear for moving specialty equipment?
Depending on your circumstances, you may not need to answer all of these questions. However, make sure you ask a couple of questions that are specific and relevant to your situation to make sure you get the best help available. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or a price match if another company offers you a lower deal.
Do a Final Walk-through With Your Movers
On moving day, make it clear that you want to do a final walk-through with the movers. During this walk-through, we recommend taking these final steps:
- Count your moving boxes and make sure that everything is there.
- Ask the movers to move anything that ended up in the wrong room.
- Request that furniture is moved and in the right place.
- Check that any specialty or medical equipment has been reassembled.
- Ensure that your ramps or mobility aids are in their proper areas.
Ask For Help From Friends and Family
Last but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, family members, and the local community. If you don’t have family nearby, ask your friends, church, or other organizations you’re a part of for help packing.
Your friends and family may be willing to help you declutter items, drop off things to charities or thrift stores, and even help you move on moving day. There is no shame in asking for help, so don’t hesitate to ask. Don’t forget to ask your friends and family if they have recommendations for great moving companies they’ve worked with previously. A good recommendation is worth its weight in gold.
Remember that many charities offer donation pickups, too, so you don’t have to worry about loading things you’re donating and driving them down to the charity to drop them off. If you plan on selling specific items, you may also be able to ask the organization to pick up the items, or you may be able to ship them from your home if getting out is difficult for you.
There is no way to sugarcoat it — moving is a long and exhausting process. However, planning ahead and taking smart steps, like checking your new home’s accessibility and packing an essentials bag, can save you a lot of time and frustration during the process.
Don’t be afraid to ask for accommodations from your landlord and help from loved ones during this process. You can also seek help from federal programs, assistance programs, and organizations like Elderly or Disabled Living, a charity that provides financial assistance for low-income seniors or individuals with disabilities.