Downsizing for retirement? Set up your new home with free over-the-air TV

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Senior Couple Watching TV At Home.

There can be many advantages to moving into a smaller space after retiring from work. First, there is less to clean and maintain — doubly so if you move into a rental where you aren’t required to mow the lawn or shovel snow. This can eliminate stress by simplifying your daily life and freeing up time to do the things you love. You can also increase your income by hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year by downsizing.

And while you are preparing to move to your new place, you can save even more money by switching to free over-the-air TV.

Advantages Of Over-The-Air TV

Although it sounds like a corporate buzzword, OTA TV is what we used to just call television. It is high-definition programming broadcast from the local TV stations in your area. And all that’s required to watch OTA TV is a television set and an antenna. Take our short quiz to find out which antenna is best for you.

NoCable.org reports that more than 90% of U.S. households are within range of free over-the-air television. So if you have a television and an OTA antenna, you can catch live local news and weather, major sports and award shows, game shows, movies and many other programs you enjoy. The channels you get for free with OTA reception include ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS, which are the networks that carry most of the biggest TV shows and events every year.

OTA TV is also a great way to save money. Consider this: The average cable package costs $217 per month, which is a whopping $2,604 per year, and with an average of eight streaming subscriptions, many households spend $1,728 annually on streaming. If you have cable and streaming apps, you could be spending an eye-popping $4,332 per year to watch TV.

Here’s Everything You Need For Free OTA TV

Ready to make life simpler and more affordable by watching free over-the-air TV? To make it easy to get started, we’ve put together two bundles of recommended equipment for watching free TV, including OTA DVRs that let you record and pause live TV

Recommended antenna if you live in an urban area or nearby suburb:

Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified TV Antenna

$64.99 from Amazon

This highly-rated indoor antenna is designed to receive frequencies 50+ miles away from broadcast towers. It easily grips smooth surfaces like walls or windows for optimal placement to pick up as many channels as possible.

Recommended antenna if you live in a far suburb or rural area: 

Antennas Direct ClearStream 4V TV Antenna

$130.20 from Amazon

This powerful antenna has a range of 70+ miles and can be installed inside, outside or in the attic. It has UHF and VHF multi-directional elements designed to deliver reception in remote areas.

Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR to record your favorite shows:

Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:

If you have an external hard drive sitting at home collecting dust, consider these options as cheaper alternatives. Simply connect your antenna and portable hard drive to these Tablo DVR devices and you’re ready to go.

  • Tablo DUAL Lite: Equipped with built-in Wifi, it lets you position the antenna and DVR for the best signal reception.
  • Tablo QUAD: Record up to four OTA channels simultaneously. This model connects to your router rather than your TV, giving you the option to stream live TV to any device.

If you need to purchase a portable hard drive, we recommend USB-connected portable hard drives (USB 2.0 or 3.0, 1 TB to 8 TB in size). These are the ones we recommend: WD 1TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive and the WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive.

Canceling And Setting Up Services

As you plan the move to your new home, you will probably make many calls to various utility and service providers. In fact, you would need to contact your cable or satellite provider to transfer service on or before your moving date. This makes it an ideal time to make the switch. You can simply cancel your TV plan altogether and prepare for OTA TV as part of your relocation.

Remember that you always have the option to renew cable service in your new home should you find that over-the-air programming isn’t enough for you. So, there is really no downside to trying it out for a bit.

More Tips For Over-the-Air Viewing

You can use the DTV reception maps webpage offered by the Federal Communications Commission to find out what is available in your area. When you enter your address, city or zip code, the map will list all stations and their signal strength in your area. For example, green is a strong signal, yellow is a moderate signal, brown is a weak signal and red is no signal.

Then you can decide what type of antenna you need. Outdoor antennas, usually mounted on the roof, side of the house or in the attic, are more powerful and offer more control over where they’re aimed. However, indoor antennas can also have great reception depending on the distance from the transmission towers and any obstacles between the antenna and the towers.

Before moving furniture into your new home, you can determine where an antenna will get the best reception (typically near a window). Then, you can arrange the rest of your furnishings without worry. And if you decide you need an outdoor antenna, you can schedule an installer while other service providers will be turning things on or moving things in.

With a little bit of planning, you can easily enjoy all the advantages of free, high-definition TV while downsizing to your new home.

Getting Started With OTA

The best antennas recommended by experts in the industry to get the most out of your OTA experience.