Downsizing can be a positive life change for seniors who are struggling with home maintenance, cleaning, health issues, or the expense of living in a home that’s just too big to handle. Many older adults see moving to a smaller home as a negative, a sign of physical and mental decline. If you’re struggling with the decision, think of downsizing as an opportunity to make an exciting new start in a smaller, more manageable home, one that frees you from restrictive responsibilities. Here are a few tips to help you realize that goal.
Have a System When You De-clutter
Eliminating objects that have been part of your life for years can be emotionally troubling, but setting up a system for de-cluttering can help keep you on task. Being organized makes it easier to stay focused and can help you avoid the temptation to give up. Your goal should be to get rid of anything you haven’t used within the past six months; specifically, any object that no longer has emotional meaning or monetary value. Divide everything into piles of what you’ll give away, donate, or throw out. Take breaks if it all becomes overwhelming, but keep going until each room is done. Putting it off only reduces the likelihood that you’ll get through it all.
Customize Your New Home
Whether you’re downsizing to a one-bedroom house or even a studio apartment, make it your own by focusing on what gives you joy. For example, if you love the fact that you’ll have more time to read, arrange a comfortable and attractive “book nook” in the corner near a window with a nice view. Or, turn one room into a crafting or painting studio if you have a creative temperament. As you home hunt, keep location, price, and convenience clearly in mind.
Research average home prices where you want to move and stay within your budget — downsizing won’t help if you end up with too much house. Also, try to find a location near your favorite stores and restaurants (and friends), so you don’t have to travel far for a little fun now and then. Spend plenty of time researching online, getting a feel for cost and availability, and making sure the square footage is right. If you’re seeing high prices, focus on other areas. (For example, homes in Boise sold for an average of $329K last month.)
Moving It All
Let’s face it — packing and moving are just no fun regardless of your age. However, there are strategies that can soften the blow a bit. Do some research and try to find moving companies with experience helping older adults downsize. A senior move manager can be a big help in finding the right movers, but hiring one can be cost-prohibitive (senior move managers typically charge $1,000 - $4,000). Take your time and look for the best quote; it costs an average of $349 to hire moving help in Boise, but that number increases if you move a long distance.
The company you select should be fully bonded, insured, and professionally certified. If you’re having to move more quickly than you’d anticipated, consider renting storage space for larger items until you’re settled and can figure out what to do with everything. Some storage facilities even rent trucks to make it easier getting everything situated after you’ve moved.
Downsizing can give you a new lease on life if it’s no longer possible to remain where you are. Sometimes, relocating is a tremendous emotional relief, particularly if you’ve lost a spouse and need a change of scenery. Take advantage of the expertise and experience of realtors and senior move consultants who understand what you’re going through, and what you hope to achieve.
Credit: Mike Longsdon