Relocating. I am sure we’ve all done it at some point. It’s probably one of the more difficult things that people deal with. When you have a disability, I think it becomes even more challenging and incredibly overwhelming. Here’s some things to think about if you’re planning to relocate or are thinking about relocating.
I’m originally from the Chicago area, and I lived in California for a while, as well as Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington D.C. So yeah, you could say I’ve moved a few times. When beginning the process, figure out where you are moving to and see what kind of accessible housing is available to you in that location. Finding a new home out of state is even more difficult, because you might be hundreds or thousands of miles away, and you have to make important decisions about places you’ve never seen. Do the research first and look online at possible apartments, condos or houses. Look for ones that are ADA accessible or ADA compliant. Narrow down your options and make a few phone calls to realtors, landlords or whoever you’re dealing with. Here are some questions that you can ask.
- Is there an open floor plan?
- Can I see photos of the apartment/condo/house?
- Are there grab bars near the toilet/in the shower?
- Are there steps in the home or outside the home?
- Is there an ADA accessible entrance?
- If there isn’t an accessible ramp, is there enough space to add one?
Depending on your disability, you may have additional questions you need ask. Of course, what some places might consider ADA compliant or accessible may not fit your definition. It’s not clear and it’s not a true standard, every place was different. And although it may be tough to arrange, I definitely recommend visiting the places in person before you commit to relocating. Plus, you can also check out the surrounding neighborhood, restaurants and stores. I did not visit the places beforehand, which was a real gamble, but it worked out for me. Also, even with my disability, I’m pretty adaptable, but it very easily could have been a rough situation and I would have been stuck.
When it comes time for packing and moving, you may need help, depending on your limits. It’s okay to ask friends and family for help. Then you can treat them to lunch or dinner as a thank you! And of course, there’s the other option of hiring movers. Let the professionals handle it so you don’t have to worry about it. When I had to move, my friends helped me, but I wanted to make sure that I did my part. My arms were strong enough that I could stack boxes on top of each other, so I was able to help in some ways. I also could push furniture and boxes using my motorized wheelchair, although be careful doing this. You don’t want to damage your wheelchair in the process.
Remember, relocating is a process. Take it one day at a time. Don’t get stressed out and overwhelmed. Ask for help and do the best you can with what you got. Life is just an adventure, and you’re truly brave in taking that first step outside of your comfort zone and moving to a whole new place.
About Bryan Anderson: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.