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Seniors: Here's How to Make Downsizing a Breeze

If you’re in your retirement years, downsizing can be both exhilarating and stressful. It can be an exciting time because you’ve decided to move on to a new chapter — you’ll meet new people, settle into a new place, and spice up your daily routine. It’s also a huge undertaking — it can be taxing if it doesn’t go smoothly, and the thought of packing up a home you may have lived in for 20+ years with your family is understandably overwhelming. Some of the following tips and tricks can help you enjoy the transition.

Choosing the Right Home

Start the house-hunting process as soon as possible. Whether you plan to move to a retirement community or purchase a smaller home, you’ll want to weigh your options and not rush into choosing a new home. Make a list of your needs and wants before you house hunt.

Some items on your list may be:

  • No pool

  • Lower mortgage payment

  • Lower property tax bill

  • Smaller space to clean

  • Equity from your current home for retirement

  • City center or country locality

  • Close to healthcare facilities

Bring your needs and wants to a realtor to help you find just the right home. Ask your realtor about current price trends and how close homes are selling to their listing prices. Be honest with yourself about what you must have versus what you want to have. For example, do you require hardwoods in the master bedroom? Or could you purchase a home with a carpeted bedroom and swap out hardwoods yourself?

Sorting and Packing

With a smaller home comes less space to store your belongings. Inevitably, that will mean you can’t bring everything you own with you. In order to avoid stress or regret, give yourself plenty of time to sort through what you want to keep, donate, give away, and trash. Go room by room, box by box, drawer by drawer. Think about one area at a time — rather than the whole house — in order to avoid being overwhelmed. Schedule time to organize and sort. Use a calendar, timer, friends and family to keep you on task.

If you have a lot of mementos you can’t possibly take with you but want to keep the memory, consider having pictures taken or images scanned to be stored on a hard drive. Pass on precious heirlooms to family for enjoyment and safekeeping.

Planning for the Move

A well-planned move makes a world of difference:

Step 1: Decide whether you’re going to pack yourself or hire someone to do it. If you do it yourself, plan for the time and energy it will take, and recruit your loved ones to help. If you choose to hire someone, plan for them to be in your home and to give them instructions for items of particular importance.

Step 2: Decide who will move your belongings. If you have a truck or your loved ones have trucks, it’s possible to accomplish the move yourself in multiple trips. If you don’t have transportation, then you can rent a truck. If you’ve hired someone to pack your belongings, they should also be able to move them. Moreover, you can hire a company to transport your belongings from one house to another. A local move typically costs between $500 and $1,400.

Step 3: Unpacking is quicker with family and friends. Make it a bit of a celebration with food, refreshment, sweet treats, and music.

Whether you’re moving out of necessity or desire, downsizing can be exciting and overwhelming. Unless you have to downsize due to immediate health concerns, take your time searching for the perfect place and deciding which of your belongings you will keep, donate, trash, or give away. Finally, plan your move thoroughly — from the packing to the unpacking.

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