Moving into a new home can be a monumental task for anyone, but it may present additional challenges to those with a disability. If you count yourself among the more than 54 million Americans living with a disability or share a home with someone who does, here is some advice to help make moving more manageable.
When searching for a home, it’s important to ensure that it is adaptable for future needs. For instance, if you have mobility issues, you might not need to use a wheelchair now, but that could change some time down the road. Educational material from Easterseals suggests looking for a property with the following structural features that will make modifications easier to accomplish:
- A relatively flat site for your home that has paved walkways from the driveway and sidewalk areas to your door.
- A ground-level entrance or an entrance with only one or two steps that avoids any major obstructions such as trees.
- Building corners that could accommodate a ramp with a slope not more than 1 inch in height for every foot in length.
- No steps or changes in levels on the main floor.
- Wider-than-standard doorways that are at least 32″ in width, and thresholds that are no more than a half-inch high.
- Hallways that are at least 42 inches wide.
- At least one large, full bathroom with a 32-inch clear door opening and clear 5×5-foot floor space.
- A kitchen large enough for easy wheelchair mobility.
Planning for Modifications
Depending on your disability, you may need to make modifications before you can move in. If that’s the case, you should budget the time and money it will take to make those accessibility adjustments. The national average cost to remodel a home with disability accommodations is $4,936 according to HomeAdvisor.
Part of the wide price range can be attributed to the different needs of disabled people. For example, some with hearing loss may just need special smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and doorbells with visual alerts installed, while others who use a wheelchair may need exterior ramps, wider doorways, lower cabinets and appliances, and a curbless shower stall, among other modifications. It’s also worth noting that the federal Fair Housing Act requires landlords to allow tenants to make reasonable accommodations to certain rental homes, apartments, and condos, although the renter may have to pay for the accomodations.
Fortunately, there are many agencies and organizations that offer grants, loans, and other resources to help people with disabilities make their homes safer and more comfortable. And some accessibility modifications may be tax deductible because they qualify as necessary medical expenses. State and federal health and human services agencies are a good place to start when researching available resources.
Making the Move
Similarly, there are agencies and organizations that offer financial assistance to help people with disabilities cover moving costs. Some moving companies may also provide discounts or specialized services for clients with disabilities, so it pays to start researching and scheduling early.
Otherwise, experts advise people with disabilities implement many of the same strategies as anyone else who’s relocating to a new home. Decluttering your current home will make packing and unpacking easier. And numbering each box and maintaining a list of each box’s contents will make unpacking and organizing go much faster.
Other chores might be particularly important for some people with disabilities. For example, you want to be sure to refill prescriptions and find healthcare providers whose offices are convenient to your new home.
Try implementing these tips to make house hunting, renovations, and moving as simple and stress free as possible. Soon you’ll be able to settle in and start enjoying your new home.