Changing Your Home
updated April 21, 2017

If you can’t make your current housing situation better, you may need to move to a new place.

This page looks at some of the reasons you might want to find a new place and factors to consider as you search. HB101’s Finding Home article goes into more detail about the full housing search process.

Note: Getting a new place can be difficult — you’ll have to apply for a rental and may be turned down. If you want to buy a home, you’ll need to get a loan and do a lot of paperwork. So don’t move out of your current place until you have a new place lined up.

See if you can improve your current place before you decide to move

As was already discussed, even if you think you have to move, you might be able to stay at your current place in some situations, such as:

  • If your current place is too expensive
  • If you don’t get along with the people you live with or your neighbors
  • If your current place doesn’t meet your disability needs
  • If you need services at home to help you, such as cooking, cleaning, help with bathing or dressing, or skilled nursing, just to name a few.

If you have any of these problems, consider fixing them where you live now before you decide to move. That may be a lot easier than moving.

A More Affordable Place

There are strategies for making your current housing more affordable or increasing your income. However, you may have to look into moving somewhere cheaper.

Here are some things that might make another place more affordable for you:

  • Size — a smaller apartment is usually cheaper.
  • Neighborhood — some areas are more expensive than others.
  • Public programs — some rental units are set aside only for people with low income. This includes project-based housing units in privately owned buildings and public housing units owned and managed by public housing authorities (PHAs).
  • Sharing a place with other people — by living with other people, you can save some money on expenses like utilities.

Make sure you take the time to figure out how much you can afford before you start looking at new places to rent.

Your Own Place in the Community

If you live in a group home, nursing home, or another type of long-term care facility, you may want to move into your own home or apartment.

There are programs that can help you make this move. Learn about them in HB101’s Moving Out of a Facility article.

Once you move into your own place, a lot of services can help you with daily living activities, including:

  • Help with bathing
  • Home-delivered meals
  • Help taking medication
  • Transportation
  • 24-hour skilled nursing care
  • Help with budgeting
  • Help with shopping

Learn about programs that can help you pay for these services.

Pets

If you have a pet or want a pet and you are looking for a new place, make sure to ask whether pets are allowed when you compare different locations.

Note: Landlords usually cannot ban your pet if it is a service animal you have as a reasonable accommodation to help you with your disability.

A Larger Place

If you are currently sharing a room or apartment with somebody or if your family simply needs more space, you probably can’t just make your current place larger, so you’ll have to see if you can move to a bigger place. In this situation, the first thing you should do is to try and get a sense of what you can afford to spend on your housing, since larger apartments are usually more expensive.

If you and your family qualify to get help from a public program, like the Section 8 housing choice voucher (HCV) program, the public housing authority (PHA) that helps you will tell you what size apartment you are allowed to get. They will look at the number of people in your household and you will be able to get an apartment that is big enough, but probably not an apartment with much extra space. Another option could be public housing; if you qualify, you will be given a unit that is an appropriate size for your family.

If you do not qualify to get help, it can be a challenge to get a bigger place you can afford. For example, you might have to move to a neighborhood, town, or city where rent is lower.

Moving to a nicer place because your income is going up

If your income is going up because you got a job or are getting paid more at your job, you may want to look for a bigger place, a place in a nicer neighborhood, or a place of your own (if you currently have a roommate). Income going up is a good situation to be in.

If you want to start working, there are some good resources that can help:

A Place with More Services

You can often get the services you need in your own home, meaning you don’t have to move out if you need services. See HB101’s introduction to services to learn more about how to get the services you need without moving. By staying in your home or apartment and getting these services, you can continue to have all the benefits of living in the community, like being near your family and friends.

However, in some cases, you may want to have services available at all times or you want to live with other seniors or people with disabilities so that there is more specialized attention available for your needs. In that case, you might be interested in moving into a group home, such as Adult Foster Care (AFC), a Board and Lodge facility, or a Housing with Services establishment that offers assisted living. Another reason you might need more services is if you need skilled nursing to be available at all times.

Learn more about these types of housing in HB101’s Settings section.

A More Accessible Location

Accessibility in your housing means that your place is easy for you to approach, enter, use, and live in, even though you have a disability. For example, if you use a wheelchair, you cannot live in a place that has many steps.

If you own a home, there are improvements you can make so that your place is more accessible and you may be able to do the same in some apartments. However, sometimes it makes more sense to move. To continue with the same example as above, if you recently started using a wheelchair and you live in a third-floor apartment with no elevator, you really need to find a new place.

The exact things you need for your housing to be accessible depends on your disability. For example, you might need grab bars in the bathroom, low kitchen cabinets, or designated disability parking. Make a list of the things your home must have so that you know what to look for when comparing different locations.

There are some housing programs that may be able to help you find an affordable and accessible place, including the Section 811 Demonstration Project and project-based housing for seniors and disabilities. These programs and others, such as the Section 8 project-based voucher (PBV) program and public housing, set aside accessible units for people with disabilities.

A New Neighborhood

If you don’t like the neighborhood you are in, there’s nothing that you can do to fix that. Instead, you’ll have to see if you can move to a new area. Here are some things to think about:

  • Public transit — some areas have better access to buses.
  • Distance to work — if you have a job, it’s nice to live somewhere near your work.
  • Distance from family — if you have family you want to live close to, make sure to keep that in mind.
  • Crime — some neighborhoods are safer than others.

Those are just a few factors to consider. Read Finding Home to learn more about what to think about as you look for housing.

Buying a home

You may want to change from living in a rental to buying your own home. This is a big step and a dream many people have. There are programs that can help you as you try to buy a home. Learn about them in HB101’s Owning a Home article.

When you look for a home, find a good realtor (also called a “real estate agent”).

A realtor should:

  • Know about first-time buyer programs
  • Connect you with a lender or loan program, and
  • Help you find a home that meets your needs.

If you have a disability, make sure to find a realtor who is sensitive and responsive to your situation and needs. Ask your friends and family members if they can recommend a realtor.