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Packing for your retirement home move

What to pack for your move

You’ve packed up everything else for your move to the retirement community and now it’s time for your clothes, shoes, accessories and personal care items. Cleaning out your closet can be a big job so take your time and enlist the help —and advice—of family and friends.

Plan to take regular breaks too. Depending on how much clothing you have—and how much you’ve stuffed into the back of your closet—this could take a while!

Opportunity to declutter

If it has been some time since you cleaned out your wardrobe the process may take a while. We all keep more clothing than we need so use this move as a motivator for getting rid of all those things you never wear. You’ll be happy you did; you don’t want to bring clothes or accessories that may be out of style, may not fit or may even be lacking buttons…to your new home.

Separate into categories

Start in a clean room with plenty of space for three piles—keep, give away and discard. If you aren’t sure about a piece of clothing or an accessory, try it on and ask a friend or family member for a second opinion. If you don’t love it and it doesn’t make you feel good right away, get rid of it!

Old favourites

You want to be comfortable so definitely bring your favourite pieces that you wear all the time—pjs, robe, dresses, skirts, shorts and pants—and don’t forget accessories like ties, belts and scarves. They are generally small and take up less room but take only those you really love and wear most often. Remember that your new residence may have less wardrobe space than your current home so be disciplined with these choices.

Check with the retirement community beforehand to see if there are any requirements that need to be taken into account, like material restrictions and laundering services.

How much clothing should you bring?

Most communities provide weekly laundry service. They may do your laundry or you may be able to use their facilities, depending on the type of retirement community you choose.

Therefore it’s a good idea to have enough clothing (including sleepwear, underclothes and accessories) to last you for two full weeks. That way when it’s laundry day you will have a full week’s worth of outfits on hand and you won’t be waiting to get something out of the laundry.


One of the great benefits about moving to a retirement community is that you don’t have to wash the clothes anymore! It also means that any clothing you bring needs to be machine washable and must not shrink or fade in high washer and dryer temperatures.

Laundry service also means that you may want to sew a nametag into your clothes just to be sure they don’t get lost in the laundry. You could also write the information down on an inconspicuous part of the item. Use a permanent marker and include your full name and your room number. This could be a good project for a grandchild or other family member.

Personal care items, toiletries and footwear

Don’t forget to bring all the personal care items you’ll need from your bathroom cabinet and bedroom dresser. These may include: Soaps Shampoo and conditioner Hairbrush and comb Deodorant, razor and shaving cream Face and body lotion Toothbrush and toothpaste Makeup Eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids walking cane, walker Vitamins and medications non-skid slippers shoes and sandals winter boots, rainboots

What to do with excess clothing

The clothes you don’t bring can easily be donated to a worthy cause or to other residents at your new community. If you don’t have time or energy to take care of this, ask a friend or family member to help out.

If there’s no room in your new place to keep your out-of-season clothes, consider putting them in storage. Just remember to clearly label the container so you know exactly what you’re retrieving next winter or spring. You don’t want to make the mistake of buying something next season that you’ve forgotten you already own!

Treat yourself

Now that you’ve gotten rid of all those things you never wear, consider buying a new outfit to celebrate this new chapter of your life.

And be sure to bring a friend—it’s always good to get a second opinion!

Tips: Put off-season clothing such as coats, boots, sandals and rainboots in storage until you need them.

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