Why you might want to move

You might be thinking about moving because there have been changes in your circumstances. Knowing when to make a move can be difficult, but some good reasons include:

  • getting in and out of your home is becoming a problem because of where it is
  • you find it difficult to move around safely in your home
  • you can’t manage the garden
  • there are rooms you no longer use
  • you want to be nearer family or friends
  • you’ve been bereaved
  • you no longer drive and you’re too far from the shops
  • your street is becoming noisy
  • you don’t feel safe
  • local transport links have been reduced, making it harder to get out and about
  • downsizing will give you more money to live on
  • you’re finding it difficult to pay the bills
  • your home is expensive to maintain and repair.

Your choices

If you are thinking about moving, there are many options for you to consider. These include:

Think carefully – not just about what you need now but also what you might need in the future. Important things to consider include:

  • Can you afford to move? Don’t forget to factor in removal costs and agent’s fees.
  • Is the area you have chosen safe? Will it be as nice in winter as it is in summer?
  • What are the local amenities? Is it close to a bank, GP surgery and shops, and can you access them easily?
  • Will you still be able to do all the things you like to do?
  • Will your family and friends be able to visit you?
  • Is the new home easy to run and maintain?

It’s a good idea to get advice, but the final decision should be yours. If you can, you should try to see a property in person to get a feel of the home and the area before you decide to live there. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, those with coronavirus symptoms or in quarantine should avoid going to viewings or moving house.

Options for council or housing association tenants

If you live in a council or housing association property and you want to move, ask your housing provider about the options available to you.

Tenant cash incentive scheme

Under this scheme you may be offered a cash payment to help you buy a property if you agree to give up your council or housing association home. You will usually be downsizing, as the aim of the scheme is to free up housing for larger households on the council waiting list. Contact your local council for details of schemes operating in your area.

Tenancy exchanges

Also known as 'mutual exchanges,' these can help social housing tenants to exchange homes. This can mean moving to another area or a different type of home. You register to advertise your home and look at other properties.

To apply for an exchange you must:

  • be free of rent arrears
  • get your landlord’s permission.

Depending on the nature of your tenancy, there may be other requirements.

Visit Shelter to see if you qualify.

Your landlord doesn’t arrange the exchange, but you do need to get their written permission. You have to contact other tenants until you find someone to exchange with.

You can also register your details on exchange websites, such as Home Swapper. Shelter have details of other tenancy exchange websites. Some websites might charge a fee.

Sheltered housing

If you want to move into sheltered housing, ask your landlord for more information about local schemes and if they can make a referral or nominate you.

Moving abroad

Moving abroad in later life can seem tempting but you need to consider every aspect before you do, such as:

  • how you will cope with the language
  • pension arrangements and any effect on your income
  • income tax rates of the country you're moving to
  • healthcare and social care provision
  • being apart from friends and family.

It might be difficult to return if you need or want to later, particularly if you need help finding accommodation and care, or to access benefits. See our factsheets Moving abroad and Returning to England from abroad for more information.

Help with the move

Moving home is a big upheaval and might seem daunting - but you can get help.

If you are going to use a removal company, you should get two or three quotes before making a decision. Check that they offer insurance if your home insurance doesn’t cover you during a move and make sure the company belongs to a professional body like the National Guild of Removers and Storers – their members belong to the Removals Industry Ombudsman Scheme

In addition to helping you move, removal companies may offer other services, such as:

  • packing services
  • storage facilities for unused furniture
  • cleaning services
  • disposal of unwanted goods.

If you need to get rid of some things, remember:

  • some charities will collect unwanted goods
  • your council will collect large items but may charge for some
  • auction companies may be interested in your antiques
  • house clearance or rubbish removal companies can take away anything you can’t find a home for.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, you may need to arrange for both the property you’re moving out of and the property you’re moving into to be cleaned. If you’re using removal services, make sure everyone is following social distancing guidelines. Visit Gov.uk for more information.

Help with the costs of moving

If you are on a low income and receive Pension Credit, you may be able to get a loan to help with removal costs from your local council. If you receive Housing Benefit, you could apply for a non-refundable Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to help with moving costs. See our factsheet Council Tax Support and Housing Benefit for more information on DHPs.

Next steps

You can find contact details for your local council at Gov.uk

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