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Downsizing for Seniors in Retirement

Housing Changes in Retirement Years

Downsizing is the process of moving from a larger family home to a smaller home, while simultaneously getting rid of and/or giving away numerous possessions. It’s a considerably big task. Sorting through a lifetime’s worth of memories and belongings can be emotional and daunting when the time comes. Even if you know it’s the right thing to do, there is a certain amount of preparation that needs to precede the downsizing move. Follow our guide for some tips on how to manage the process.

What Sized Property do You Want?

Figuring out what type of property you plan to move into is your first big step. Not only will it help you decide how much space you’ll have for your possessions, but also help you physically and mentally prepare for this new chapter. Perhaps you have a large family heirloom such as a piano or a grandfather clock and you need to find a property that has at least one room big enough for this precious item. Perhaps you are wheelchair bound and need to find a property with ramp access or the space for a ramp to be built.

Whatever your needs might be, choosing the type of property you want will help you ensure those needs are met, and help you begin to process the idea of moving. If you’re unsure of what options are available to you, whether you require the help of aged care support services or not, below are a few housing options:

  • Townhouse or flat in a retirement estate or gated community
  • Small cottage on the property of a family member
  • A unit in an assisted living community

Create a Plan of Action

Once you either have a property secured or a property type in mind, you can create a plan of action. Do this before you put your own property on the market. Whether you prefer writing lists, or creating a spreadsheet on your computer, put a plan in place. It will help make every part of the transition as streamlined as possible. According to Karen Shinn, owner of Downsizing Diva, Downsizing, clearing clutter, getting organized, simplifying, whatever you call it, it’s easier to do when broken down into manageable tasks.”

A plan of action is always a good way to make your transition a smooth one. Whether it’s outlining your time frames, and deciding what furniture you’d like to move with or sell. Or, what structural alterations you might need to make to your future home, don’t overlook a plan of action. Shinn recommends the following basic plan:

  1. Remove all waste and garbage from the home
  2. Clear out closets often filled with unworn clothes and shoes
  3. Consider what furniture can be moved – only functional furniture that will fit in the new home should be considered
  4. Box up valuable or favourite decor pieces that cannot be left behind

Boxes in hall way

Start Decluttering

Don’t wait until moving day to consider what you can take with you and what you can’t. You can never underestimate how emotional and draining it can be sorting through a lifetime of possessions. They hold value to you in one way or another, and you need time to make these decisions. Having an idea of the space you’re moving into, will help you decide what you have space for and what you don’t. But, sometimes an item is too precious to just toss away.

To make the decisions a bit easier, list everything that’s in your home that’ll need to be moved. This includes furniture, large appliances, and art, to precious crockery and bedding. Catalogue your belongings and work your way down the list. Consider what’s coming with you, what you’re, and what can be given away. This may involve numerous discussions with family and/or your partner. But, it will help you declutter without making the situation any more stressful than it needs to be. Shinn recommends considering what really is valuable to you; “Don’t take the make-do mug; take what you really like, within reason of course. We tend to think we have more room than we do.”

Final Thoughts

Think of downsizing as a new chapter in your life where these memories can continue to be enjoyed and remembered, in a more suitable space.

Picking a new home, creating a moving plan and sorting through decades of memories and items need can be a special time. It’s an opportunity to go through old photographs and pass down family heirlooms to children. They’ll likely have the space for them too. With a solid plan in place, moving from your beloved family home can be a little less stressful than you imagined it to be.


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