Have the kids finally moved out? Has it become too much of a financial or physical burden to keep your big home? Is it possible you just want to simplify your life or live closer to friends or family? Are you getting to an age or are there health-related issues that require a different home setting?
There are many reasons to consider downsizing to a smaller home or different living situation, but these are the most common.
While it may be difficult to give up the home where you raised a family and have all those great memories, there are advantages to consider downsizing. The biggest of these reasons may be financial. If you’ve lived in your home for some time, you may have paid off your mortgage or are close to doing so. A smaller home may cost less in terms of upkeep. That could mean putting some money in your pocket.
So, the first step is making the decision. Once that’s done, it’s time to consider the process. In this phase the most important things to consider are giving yourself time and being honest about your belongings.
Start by taking inventory of what you have. You must take into consideration the size of your new home. A smaller home logically means less room for belongings. While storage may be an option, you should really consider what you genuinely want to keep.
Divide your belongings into two categories – keep or don’t keep. People are often tempted to create a maybe category. Generally, that turns out to be the biggest one, and you just have to go through the process again.
Instead of storage, consider gifts for family and friends. If you have collections, consider if anyone in your family might want them. If not, considering selling or donating it. This may be the time for that yard sale you’ve been considering.
If you have duplicates or triplicates of things, you may only need one moving forward. For example, if you have three TVs, but you’re moving from a three-bedroom to a one-bedroom home, you can probably get rid of at least one of those TVs.
Speaking of the number of rooms, here’s another important factor.
It’s about more than having a spare TV. If you have fewer rooms, you need to consider eliminating everything that was in the room in the old house, or, at the very least, the equivalent amount of furniture and other belongings.
No matter what the reason, downsizing is not easy. But if your downsizing is occurring because of age or health-related issues, the challenge is even greater,
Norma Berger, a partner at Palm Aging Life Management, has been helping seniors and their family members cope with the challenges of aging for several years.
It’s likely that older people will have more to consider when it comes to their belongings, simply because they have had more years to collect things.
“Obviously, it’s important to know the space you are moving into,” said Berger. “What will fit? Consider family heirlooms and what to do with them. You should consider using a professional to guide you through the process. A professional organizer can be helpful.”
Berger also points to the added complication when seniors are downsizing.
“The biggest struggle may be to get them on board with the idea,” she said. “It may be necessary to have the family talk them into it, and that’s not easy. But the whole process can be smoother if you get their buy-in. If they are not ready, the family may just have to wait until it is absolutely necessary.”
So, even without the added burden of seniors who may be resistant to the change, downsizing is not an easy task emotionally or physically. It’s important to remember that it is a process that will take time. But it needs to be done correctly, or there can be a whole new set of complications after the move.