Tips for a Smart and Smooth Transition When You Downsize in Retirement

Tips for a Smart and Smooth Transition When You Downsize in Retirement

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By: Mike Longsdon | December 18, 2018

With the growing number of baby boomers entering retirement, many people are choosing to downsize their home for this next stage in life. Downsizing can save you money and get rid of those headaches that come from upkeep of a larger home. Downsizing is also a big task, and it often comes with some emotional weight. These tips will help you or a senior loved one downsize smartly and make the whole process go a whole lot smoother.

Your First Decision - Where to Live?

When you know you’re ready to downsize, the biggest decision is finding the right home. Think about how this move will impact your retirement goals and your future.

These are a few things to keep in mind as you search:

  • The home’s features: Think about looking for features that will make your new home safe and accessible later on, not just for what suits your lifestyle now.
  • Location: Do you want to be near grandchildren? How about living somewhere you’ve always dreamed of? Location is more than just the town you’re in. It’s also about convenience and having access to the places you want to go.
  • Cost: Most seniors live on a fixed income, and the cost of your new home will affect your ability to stay on budget and do the things you want. Do some online research to get a feel for the prices of homes that are the right size and in the location you choose. Homes in South Burlington, Vermont, have sold on average for $357,000 in the last month.

Downsizing Your Stuff to Fit Your Space

Downsizing in space naturally means you also have to downsize possessions, yet your home holds more than just stuff. It’s years’ worth of memories too, which can make it hard to decide what goes. First, think about the bigger items like furniture because you probably have more furniture than you can use. Besides getting rid of pieces that are unnecessary, think about the size and layout of your new space and whether the furniture you have fits.

For everything else, go through your belongings and sort each item into one of three groups: keep, sell, or donate. The general rule for downsizing is to get rid of (sell or donate) anything that doesn’t serve you. According to Realtor.com, this includes any duplicates of functional items, as well as old clothes you never wear.

Make the Moving Process Easier

Many people attach sentimental value to the items in their homes, which is understandable. You may find that you have an easier time processing those emotions if you involve your kids. They can ease the physical load, and they will likely take some stuff off your hands (since much of it probably belongs to them anyway). You can also use this time to talk about memories, which is a good reminder that the memories will always be there, even without the “stuff.”

Many people also find comfort in knowing that the things they part with will be getting a new life. Donating clothing, housewares, and furniture that you can’t use can really make a difference for someone who needs them. There are also several ways to sell used items that are in good condition, and you can use the money you make to fix up your new place or take a vacation.

When it’s time to settle into your new home, approach the process with strategies that will make moving in feel comfortable. Senior downsizing specialists tell the New York Times that they often take photos of the person’s home, such as how cabinets are arranged, so that they can recreate the setup. You can do this yourself to make the new place feel like it’s really yours.

Of course, while familiarity creates a sense of comfort, try to embrace the change too. Downsizing may be tough, but it can also open up a world of possibilities. Look at this new chapter as an adventure - and put your stamp on your new place to make it your own!

Posted on December 18, 2018 , updated on January 04, 2019