Downsizing. Known to some as the what comes after becoming an empty nester, known to others as the solution to retiring sooner. (And heck, some people just want an excuse to get rid of all that stuff). Regardless the reason, it’s one of those stages of life that everyone stares down at one point or another.
While adults over the age of 65 actually have the highest home ownership rate of any age group and downsizing is being pushed to an older and older age, it’s still an important process to plan for. And process it is. Downsizing is not something that can happen overnight.
With that process in mind, we’ve decided to pull together some tips to keep in mind with downsizing:
Start the process before you’re ready.
When you’re desperate to downsize is not the time to start thinking about it. It’s important to start thinking about the process way in advance of an eventual move. There are many decisions to be made for the future, and in most cases a lot of logistics to take care of ahead of time. In addition, there’s the emotional toll that moving out of a long-lived in home comes with.
Take your time deciding what’s right for you.
Go through the financial numbers of a move like this. In most cases, it does in fact, save you money. But depending on what kind of place you are moving from, what you are looking for in the new place (smaller doesn’t always mean cheaper!), and the costs associated with the transition, it’s good to work out ahead what those numbers look like.
Assess your needs for the new place.
It’s important to not only think about what features and amenities you do (or don’t!) want right now, but for the future, as well. The obvious example is always stairs. While lots of stairs may not be an issue now, if you’re planning on living in this place far into the future, you should think about accessibility. Space for loved ones, amenities offered and distance to important places are also important to think about. Create a list of your non-negotiable needs to keep with you while you’re looking.
Learn to let go.
Letting go, and the literal downsizing of your belongings is really the big undertaking for most. Most people don’t see realize how extensive of a project this is until they start going through those 30 years of files, or closets that have been packed tighter and tighter for the past decade. There are many variations of methods and tips spanning entire books and we recommend finding a solution that makes sense for you. To start, here are a few simple tips:
- If you know the space you’ll be moving into, measure your furniture to figure out what will fit and how everything will be arranged ahead of time.
- Donating items and knowing belongings that once meant something to you are going to a good home helps with emotional attachment.
- Want the memory but not the item? Take a picture of it!
- Digitize what you can.
- Giving items, especially larger ones, to friends or family often times comes with a prompt (and free) pick up from the receiver. A win-win for you and them!
- Have something you just know is worth good money? Depending on the time and energy you have, nothing says you can’t sell items!
Keep your “why” in mind.
Downsizing can be hard. It’s work, and it’s emotional. The most important thing to keep in mind during the process is your “why”. Keeping your mind on the final goal helps to get through what can start to feel like unnecessary stress and work. Whether it’s to save money, travel more, retire earlier or relax in a home that you know you can stay in for the long haul – keep those positive plans for the future in mind!