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What You Should and Should Not Take When Moving to an Independent Living Senior Community

Deciding what to pack and bring with you is difficult during any move, but it can be even more challenging when you are moving into your very first independent living senior community. There are many additional variables that can complicate how you decide what to bring, such as:

  • A decrease in the amount of space you have
  • The community apartments may be fully or partially furnished or have no furniture at all
  • There may be specific rules and guidelines surrounding what you can bring (such as rules against bringing grills) 

In this post, we will walk you through things that you should take when moving to an Independent Living unit and things you should NOT take to your new senior community.

Let’s start unpacking those shoulds and should not: 

Things you should take when moving to independent living senior communities

Senior Communities with a focus on Independent Living typically only take care of things like social engagements and some meals. Seniors who live in these communities are still quite independent and responsible for their own care. This means that fewer services, appliances, and furniture items are provided, so you will need to bring more than you would to an assisted living environment. You will still need to be selective though, since moving into a senior community in general usually involves downsizing from a larger home or condo to a smaller, more manageable apartment.


PRO TIP: If you’re struggling to decide what to bring and what to leave, you might want to consider working with an experienced senior moving specialist. At Moves For Seniors, We can help you sort your items into things to keep (that can fit into the new space), things to give to family members, things to donate, and things to discard. We’ll help you organize it all in advance of the movers’ arrival so it’s ready to go.


The easiest way to narrow down which items you need to bring is to consider your daily routine. The items that are used most often should make the list, as well as items that are important but sporadically used, and items that bring you joy. This includes things such as: 

  • Art, decor, and tchotchkes – These prized items are the easiest way to make your new house feel like home. 
    • Plants
    • Photographs
    • Trinkets or collectibles
    • Artwork
    • Mirrors
  • Bedding, pillows, and blankets – Whether they’re homemade quilts or your favorite bamboo sheets, having your own linens will help you feel more comfortable in the new space. 
  • Essential toiletries, self-care products & accessories, including:
    • Dental care items
    • Skincare and beauty products
    • Purse or wallet
    • Eyeglasses
    • Hearing aid
    • Cane, walker, or wheelchair
  • Clothing – Measure your new closet space so you know just how much you have to pare down your closet, if at all. 
    • Tops and bottoms
    • Light sweater or sweatshirt
    • Rain jacket or heavy jacket
    • Hats, gloves, scarves
    • Underwear and socks
    • Pajamas
    • Robe and slippers
    • Comfortable shoes
    • Winter clothing (if applicable) 
    • Clothes hangers
  • Entertainment Items – While most independent living senior communities provide social events and activities for their residents, it is still a good idea to bring entertainment items to your new home. 
    • Television
    • Computer or tablet
    • Audio system or radio
    • Books
    • Board games and cards
    • Puzzles
    • Hobby supplies
  • Financial and legal documents – These items should come with you. Your independent living community may even require that they have copies of some of them on file. 
    • Insurance policies
    • Wills and estate papers 
    • Medical paperwork 
    • Banking and financial information
  • Furniture – If your new home is not furnished or is only partially furnished, you will need to bring some of your own furniture. Keep in mind the dimensions of your new home and select only furniture that will fit. Some important furnishings to bring might include: 
    • Bed
    • Side table and lamp
    • Dresser
    • Small sofa
    • Recliner or chairs
    • Table or desk


PRO TIP: Senior move coordinators will help you look at your current belongings and their set up, then help you determine if and where it can exist in the new surroundings. Moves for Seniors can help you create a floor plan of the new living space and will even make diagrams of where to place the existing furniture, providing guidance to the movers and helping you ascertain what will (or won’t) fit into the new space.


  • Kitchen supplies 
    • A small selection of plates, cups, bowls, and mugs
    • Cutlery
    • Towels & Linens
  • Cleaning Supplies – Independent living communities may provide housekeeping and laundry services, but be sure to check before you gleefully toss all your cleaning supplies. Even if your new community does handle housekeeping, you may still want to keep a few of these items on hand.
    • Broom and dustpan
    • Surface wipes or multipurpose spray
    • Stain removal stick
    • Paper towels and kitchen towels
    • Dish soap

While you may be independent and fully capable of making your own decisions, moves are stressful and difficult at any age. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce that stress, including different types and levels of senior moving assistance to help you with the process. Reaching out to senior move coordinators can help you figure out what type of assistance you might need to make your move as easy as possible.  

Things you should NOT take when moving to independent living senior communities

On top of the general reduction in square footage, you have to contend with, most senior living communities have rules or guidelines about items that are not permitted. Some rules will be designed for the safety of the community, such as prohibiting items that present a fire hazard. There may also be rules regarding items that can increase the risk of tripping and/or falling and injury. 

It’s important to research those beforehand so you don’t unexpectedly have to get rid of an item after arriving at your new home. Typically, there is a community specialist who can easily supply you with a list of what items are not allowed. Additionally, they may provide certain appliances or amenities that negate the need for certain items, such as coffee makers, so be sure to ask about those, too. 

Here are some items you should consider not bringing with you when you move: 

  • Throw rugs
  • Bulky furniture
  • Furnishings that are wobbly or in need of repair
  • Decorative items that sit on the floor
  • Glass-top tables
  • Extensive amounts of seasonal decor
  • Candles 
  • Space heaters or electric blankets 
  • Barbecue grills
  • Bird feeders
  • Power tools
  • Weapons
  • Boxes of stored items
PRO TIP: Planning in advance to gradually sell, gift, or donate items that are no longer needed can make the moving process less daunting by breaking it up into smaller tasks. 



Packing for your move to an independent living senior community is a stressful experience with unique hurdles. Try to take your move slowly and plan in advance, consider carefully what items to bring with you, and thoughtfully dispose of, gift, or donate the items you no longer need or that won’t be allowed at your new home.

Feeling overwhelmed? Get in touch with one of our senior move specialists