Kick-starting Your Golden Years: Downsizing Tips for Seniors

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As a senior, the next chapter of your life doesn’t have to include unnecessary stresses. It doesn’t have to include things like higher-than-manageable mortgage payments, an unruly indoor and outdoor space that demands too much of your time in upkeep, or a mass of possessions from decades past holding you down and limiting your physical and emotional freedom.

Instead, you can downsize to a smaller home, get rid of some things you don’t need, and kick-start your golden years. It all starts with separating the essential from the unessential and finding alternative ways to simplify your life.

Tips for Downsizing

1. Stuff has to go before the move.
We all have a habit of collecting “stuff” over the years. And, while it may be tempting to put this step off until you’re settled in your new home, the dreaded task of reducing your possessions cannot wait until after the move.

Your downsizing effort must begin with decluttering. You must go through every item you own and decide whether it goes with you to the new home, goes to a donation center, or goes in the trash. Some things can find a home in storage, but we’ll discuss that more, later.

Start your downsizing efforts by making a plan. Start in one room and work your way around the home, methodically. Closets, the kitchen, and garage/basement storage areas are the places where you can likely get rid of the most stuff. Get someone else to help you make the tough choices. Don’t let yourself say “maybe” to anything—make hard and fast decisions on every item.
2. Your new home should make life simpler.
To reap the true benefits of downsizing your living space, your new home should reduce various types of burdens that you’re currently living with—financial, physical, emotional, time-related, etc. It should require less upkeep, meaning less indoor cleaning and outdoor landscaping.

It should reduce your financial burden (mortgage, rent, utilities). It should be close to the important things in your life, including your family, friends, church, and doctor. And, of course, it should be smaller.

You must use your new home as a guide for what you can bring with you from your old home. Everything must have a designated place in your new home. As The Spruce says in their downsizing guide, “Obtain a blueprint or layout of your new home and find out exactly the size of each room … knowing what will fit and what won't will make the decision (on what to bring) a little easier.”
3. After you downsize, you must organize.
For most seniors, downsizing will involve a reduction in physical belongings and living space. But before you can truly call your downsizing task complete, you must organize your new space in a way that sets you up for success. In this context, that means keeping your home clean, tidy, and clutter free.

Organization is best done in small increments, so if you can set aside 15 minutes each day to put everything in its right place and get rid of obvious things you don’t need, you’ll be better off.

Seniors are also best served by keeping important things together and easily accessible. Baskets, bins, and plenty of other organizational aids are key. This article provides great organizing tips for seniors.

You may even want to bring in some help to supplement your efforts. The average cost to hire a professional organizer is $380. Yes, that is a real profession. And yes, they can help immensely.

4. Do you really need storage space?
If you give yourself a large storage space—a rentable storage unit, for example—you’re going to be less inclined to make the tough decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. Instead, if you have some expensive or highly sentimental (family heirlooms) items that you simply cannot bear to part with (but won’t be able to fit in your new home), consider this: it’s time to pass them on.

Instead of letting your grandmother’s sofa or those 12 boxes of family photos languish in a storage shed, give them to your family. Knowing your prized possessions are safe and cared for may help you part with them more easily.

Less Really is More

Just because your new home is smaller, it doesn’t mean it can’t be as fulfilling as your previous home. And minimizing your belongings doesn’t mean your new home will be empty.

And most importantly, downsizing does not mean giving up. In fact, by clearing out the many unnecessary possessions you’ve amassed for decades and moving to a smaller home, you can better your chances of remaining healthy, happy, and financially secure and being able to age in place.

Do you need help finding a home to fit your lifestyle? Contact a Red Post Realty Agent today. We’re happy to help!

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