Moving is hard for anyone, much less if you have a physical impairment or a disability.
The process doesn’t change much—pack boxes, hire movers, head to new house, unpack … and maybe convince friends to help at some point—but there are a few tips that can help a move go a little smoother for those who need extra help.
1. Conduct a home assessment
Is your new home accessible in ways that work for you? Doorways should be large enough for a wheelchair, for example, or doors easy to open if you don’t have full grip strength—levers that can work when knobs won’t.
For many living with a disability, these are common-sense guidelines. However, if you’re helping a relative or struggling through a disease like arthritis, this same guidelines can help make your home more livable.
Some non-profits and local agencies offer assistance and grants should you need to refit a home or apartment. If you need to move and can’t find the right fit, a quick web search for your local area or calls to City Hall and a social services office can assist with locating options.
2. Know renters’ rights
If you’re renting, you have the right to make some basic, reasonable alterations to your space, according to Nolo.com, a legal information site.
You’ll need to tell your landlord and obtain permission before making changes. The landlord has a right to request official documentation that the changes are necessary, and tenants are responsible for covering the costs. But you can ask to lower counters or install a ramp.
Completing these projects before you move your furniture and household items is much easier than dealing with the changes after you’ve already settled in.
3. Have someone else pack
Many moving companies will pack your goods as well as load them on and off the truck. They may unpack as well. These options aren’t cheap, but they can save time and energy.
This can save your goods as well, as movers are trained to pack items safely and typically insure anything that breaks (or you can purchase additional coverage). The upshot is, even if you don’t have a lot of local family, you don’t have to do it all yourself.
4. Request a discount
Costs add up, especially if you have to pay for packing help. Don’t be shy about asking if a firm offers a special deal. It can make the difference between keeping your sanity or elevating your stress levels.
Nick Baucom, the founder and president of Two Marines Moving, serves the Washington, D.C. area, including the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. His firm moves disabled veterans for a 50% discount, if they’ve been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center or the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. That discount often means the veterans can afford full packing services, if they choose.
5. Focus on the final walk-through
Baucom also added that movers will often ask, just before leaving, if a client likes the furniture placement. It comes almost as an afterthought for most people, because they can move furniture around later by themselves if the layout doesn’t work.
But someone with a physical disability may not be able to move the furniture later.
Make sure you take the time to assess the furniture arrangement before the movers leave. Those few extra minutes could save a lot of future headache.