There are many upsides to downsizing as a senior. You can pay less for utilities, have less space to keep clean, be closer to family members and friends, and have better access to certain activities you enjoy, just to name a few. However, that doesn’t mean the downsizing process is easy. It can actually be physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding, and that’s why it’s so important to have some kind of plan in place before you dive in.
Here are a few practical tips for seniors who are downsizing.
The first thing you want to do is to research online the kinds of homes you’re interested in. This will help you get an idea of how much it will cost to purchase a home of the right size in the location you want. For instance, in Omaha, homes are selling for an average of $195,000. However, you also have to factor in the price of any modifications or remodeling you will need to make the home fit your needs. For example, if you need to make changes to the master bathroom to accommodate mobility issues or to simply make it more comfortable, consider that most homeowners can pay anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 depending on the project.
Sort Through and Categorize Your Belongings
When you’ve pinned down your next home, it’s time to start the decluttering process. This part can get emotional as you must sift through items that have been in your family for decades. Take time to entertain nostalgia and remember some of the stories associated with the items. Then, start the purge. Go through each room and remove everything, setting each item in a “trash,” “give away,” “sell,” or “donate” pile. To save yourself time, don’t include a “TBD” pile.
Pass Down Family Heirlooms Before You Move
If you have any family heirlooms you’re planning to pass down, now is the time to do it. Anything you can do to minimize the belongings you have to move into your new home will help. Bring your family members over to give them that vintage guitar, mystery novel collection, and china set while you’re in the mindset of sorting and packing.
Explore Selling and Donating
For items that are in good condition but that you probably won’t use, consider selling or donating them. There are several ways to sell clothing, jewelry, kids toys, electronics, and pretty much every other kind of item you can think of. For instance, hold a yard sale, or research tactics for selling things on Craigslist, eBay, and other classified advertisement sites. If you wish to donate items, look for local nonprofits that would be happy to take them and use them for a good cause; for larger items like furniture, many organizations will pick them up from your home.
Unpack and Organize Objects by Category
When it’s time to move into the new home and unpack, it can make it less stressful if you unpack by categories and put things in their proper place as you go. First, bring in the essentials you will need for living while you unpack, such as your kitchen utensils, television, radio, and so on. Then, move in the biggest objects (e.g., dressers, bookcases, bed frame) so that you can fill out the space and arrange everything else around them. After that, bring in any items you will need to store and unpack the rest of the items room by room.
Coming up with a plan can help make downsizing less overwhelming. Research the housing market online, and factor any changes you will need to make into the price. Then, declutter, give away your family heirlooms, and look into selling and/or donate your gently used items. Finally, unpack your items by category, and put things away as you go. Your downsizing experience may still be emotional, but having a plan can do wonders for minimizing the stress.