I won’t admit to how many pairs of shoes I have in my closet that I have barely worn. While they seemed comfortable in the store, they never fit well enough for me to wear a third or fourth time. Had I been able to wear them for several hours, I might never have bought them. But this option doesn’t exist in shoe stores.
Same thing goes for housing. You find what seems to be the perfect apartment: location is ideal, you love the amenities, and the price is right. You visit once or twice and proceed to sign a lease. After living there for a few weeks, you find out about the noisy neighbor whose schedule is the opposite of yours; your sleep hours coincide with his time to practice piano. While sunlight filled the apartment at the time of your visit, you didn’t know that a neighboring building would block the sun most of the day. Had you been able to spend a week in the apartment, you never would have rented it.
Some senior residences, however, will offer free trial stays, usually for a weekend. The hope is that you will enjoy your stay enough to commit to a year’s lease.
For someone serious about moving into a residence and interested in joining activities, experiencing the cuisine, and making friends, trial stays could be a good idea.
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One client was very concerned about the quality of the meals, even after she enjoyed both lunch and dinner as a guest. She was uncomfortable making a commitment until she was assured the quality of the food was consistent. After a two-day trial visit, she signed a lease – because the residence passed the food test. This client was outgoing and made friends quickly. Because she was determined to move into a residence, she was thorough in her research, and a trial visit was right for her.
Another client reluctantly agreed to move into a residence for the winter months while her family was traveling. She didn’t expect to enjoy the experience. But after returning home, she announced she wanted to make a permanent move to the residence.
I have mixed feelings about trial stays. While I encourage prospective residents to partake in meals or perhaps an activity or two, I don’t think trial visits are for everyone. Two days as a guest in a residence will not necessarily give you a realistic picture of what life will be like after a move. With a permanent move, you will have your own furniture and be surrounded by personal belongings, making it feel more like home. You may make a stronger effort to socialize and participate in activities, understanding the transition may take time until comfort sets in. During a trial period you may see others already engaged in friendships and feel that you might not make friends easily. A trial visit may backfire and discourage you from making a permanent move.
There is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on your personality and motivation for the move, whether it is self-motivated or comes from family pressure.
While a trial visit may be a great idea, like taking the pair of shoes home to wear a few times, it may or may not result in a wise choice.