It’s fun to fantasize about your retirement years, enjoying your empty nest in a scaled-down home. However, when the time to downsize arrives, most people dread the process. Downsizing has a bad reputation for being overwhelming and time-consuming, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier on yourself.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of house hunting. There are lots of beautiful homes on the market, and it’s fun to imagine living in them. However, buyers seeking a home for the senior years have a specific set of needs, like a single-story floor plan and accessible home features. (Learn more about homes for aging-in-place at AARP.) If you house hunt without these needs in mind, you might set your sights on a home that doesn’t suit you. To avoid the heartbreak of crossing a dream home off the list, know exactly what you need in a future home and restrict your search to homes that meet your criteria.
Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of is the hardest part of downsizing for most seniors. Not only is sifting through every closet, cabinet, and drawer a tedious process, but saying goodbye to stuff is emotional, too. In the struggle to decide what’s worth keeping, many people end up with a “maybe” pile that’s twice the size of their “no” pile.
The problem is, putting something into the “maybe” pile isn’t making a decision — it’s just delaying the work until later. Instead of sorting through the same stuff twice, skip the “maybe” pile and make your final decisions on the first run. If you can’t decide if something is worth keeping, it’s probably not.
Even without the Maybe pile, sorting through your belongings is bound to take a lot of time. You’ll unearth a lot of memories as you open up boxes and sort through photographs. If you’ve lived in the same home for a long time, there may be things you haven’t seen for years. Give yourself plenty of time to downsize household items so you can enjoy the memories as they come.
Is there anything more hectic than moving day? With movers in and out of your home all day, you won’t have time to keep an eye on pets. That means you’ll need to sequester them where they can’t escape through an open door. Even if your pet is typically calm and well-behaved, the stress of moving day could trigger uncharacteristic behaviors. A high-quality crate will prevent pets from escaping, but it may be a better idea to keep pets out of the way completely by hiring a boarder.
Speaking of moving day, don’t try to do it all yourself. Moving is hard, physical work, and the last thing you want is to get injured in the middle of your move. You could ask friends and family to help, but the best choice is to hire professional movers. Not only will they get the job done quickly and professionally, but also moving companies carry insurance that protects you if anything is damaged or missing. You’ll need to hire reputable movers. Moving.com explains how to screen moving companies to choose the right one.
Downsizing a home is rarely painless, but as older adults know, it’s often necessary for safe and comfortable aging. Plan ahead, take your time and spend the extra money for professional movers. When you do that, you’ll get through your downsize in one piece.