If you’ve thought about or discussed future retirement plans, downsizing to a more affordable home has most likely been part of the conversation. For some, it’s a difficult thought that one day they might have to leave their home behind. There is a lot of sentimental value and memories associated with owning a home that can make it hard to separate from it, but moving doesn’t have to the big emotional step that you think it is.
In addition to that mental preparation, a big concern for many in downsizing is that they want to do it at the right time. We hold onto the false hope that the market value will rise to where it used to be. It’s discouraging as well to look at smaller properties that aren’t much less expensive than your current residence. Yet, downsizing has many money-saving characteristics worth considering.
Paying off a mortgage is a big accomplishment for homeowners, but as years go on, taxes, insurance, and the costly upkeep of property when things start to break and need to be replaced can begin to make a dent in your saving’s account. For seniors, the ability to do housework, lawn care, and other maintenance duties become more difficult.
Location is a big consideration when thinking about downsizing. More appealing are senior communities, apartments, and condos that boast amenities such as easy access to public transportation, shopping, restaurants, food stores, etc. Not only are they convenient, but provide a solution in cutting down on transportation costs or for those who don’t have easy access to a vehicle.
If you’ve decided that downsizing is the best decision or you have already started, the discussion begins about what you’ll be bringing to your new abode. How do you decide? Initially, it will be hard to part with belongings, but when downsizing, it’s necessary. Try thinking of it as a long-overdue clean-out of your home.
Going room by room, assess what you have for furniture, decorations, clothes, tools, etc. Make a list of items you’re bringing with you and another for items you’re getting rid of. Think about consolidation. The stereo system in the living room can be replaced by a smaller system with multiple functions to suit all your electronic needs. Some apartments and condos already have a washer and dryer.
Consider what storage is like at the new home. Much too often people underestimate the number and size of closets and cabinets, leaving nowhere to put things. If you think about storage space ahead of time, you can be more creative in how you put things away, maximizing the space you have.
Is there furniture in the living room that never gets used? You might have to sell an armchair or buy a smaller couch. Measure all of your furniture and measure the rooms in your new home. Then take a good, close look at the layout of the rooms. The number and location of doorways and windows will affect where and how much furniture you will be able to fit.
For items on your list, ask yourself if you’ve used it in the past year and how likely you are to use it again. If the answer is “never” or “no”, it’s time to go. Having a hard time making that decision? Put anything in storage you’re not sure about and give yourself a timeline of six months. If you haven’t used it by then, it’s time to get rid of it.
Generally, the bulk of the things you’ll end up getting rid of (and the easiest places to start) will already be in storage in the attic or basement and in kitchen and bathroom drawers. Over time items accumulate in drawers, beauty products are never used or you forget about old clothes and decorations you’ve put away. For the things, you know you’re getting rid of, have a yard sale or use internet sites like Craigslist and eBay. For clothes, consider donating or bring them to a local consignment store where you can get a cut of the sale.
When moving, avoid the temptation to move smaller items first. Moving larger items like furniture first will be easier because you won’t be as tired at the end of the day. Plus, you’ll have a better sense of where to put things when you can see how everything is laid out. For smaller items, stay organized by using large storage boxes that can be labeled. Labeling boxes by rooms will help items get to their correct place, especially when extra hands helping aren’t sure where you want everything. Use clear bins so you can see what’s inside, and they will stack better. Put away anything you know you want in storage immediately to avoid moving things you’ve already unpacked. After putting away storage items, unpack essentials like plates, cooking utensils, bathroom items, etc. It’s less stressful knowing these items will be at hand when needed. With a game plan in mind, before you know it, you will be moved into your new home and can begin enjoying the perks of your new abode.