Any new phase of life is a big bag of mixed emotions: excitement, nerves, confusion, happiness, fear of the unknown, and ready to go! Once you’ve entered retirement and the decision has been made to downsize your home and buy a smaller, more suitable home, the biggest challenge is “Where do I start?” Whether you’re moving into a retirement community or downsizing to a smaller home, here are 6 tips to help make the transition easy breezy:
Recognize that the entire process is going to be stressful from time to time; from finding your perfect new home to packing up your current residence and everything in between. Try to be patient with yourself and those helping you during this time.
Find the home that feels right to you.
If moving into a private residence, this is where your real estate agent will be invaluable. Tell them all the things you need, want, and dream of having at your new place, in that order. Let them know your ‘non-negotiables’ as well as you “if I had all the money in the world I would love to have <fill in the blank>.” You will most likely be pleasantly surprised at what kind of magic they can work.
Move only what moves you!
Simply put, you’ve accumulated a lot of cherished possessions over the years and each of them means something to you but the bottom line is you can’t take it all. Making the decision of what stays and what goes can be extremely difficult. Here are few tricks to make the process a bit easier:
- Start with bigger items such as furniture. Those items tend to be a more “factual” decision. Will it fit in our new place? Do we still use it? Is it time to “gift” it to someone in the family or a non-profit organization? [Note: if you donate items get a donation receipt as your gift is tax deductible.]
- Once you decide an item is not going with you, don’t wait to get it to its new owner. Move it now. Eliminating some of the larger items will free up more space in your home to move around and begin the packing process.
- Smaller items tend to be a more “emotional” decision. Clothes, knick-knacks, dishes, books, and such often take longer to go through. When it comes to things that are sentimental, if your new home just doesn’t have the space, offer the items to your children and other family members. Most likely, if it is sentimental to you, it is sentimental to them too and they would love to have it. Another way to make the process easier is to simply ask them. By asking your children what they would love to have or what means a lot to them, you will feel much better about parting with some of your prized possessions.
- There is a lot of buzz going around about the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of De-cluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It’s a NY Times best seller that goes above and beyond just getting organized. The concept is to feel good about the choices you make when downsizing your belongings. I just mention it in case you’d like to take a look.
- Don’t exhaust yourself. Allow yourself a certain amount of time each day to go through, organize, and pack. For the next few weeks (or months), this is your job. Have a start time and an end time to get things done and then take the rest of the day off. If you wear yourself out early on it will make the transition much harder on you later on.
- Chunk it up. By taking large tasks and breaking them into smaller goals you will find it to be more manageable and you will feel more accomplished each day. Example: Instead of planning to “pack the kitchen” plan to pack the upper cupboards in the morning and the lower cupboards in the afternoon. See, doesn’t that feel better?
- As moving day nears, prepare one suitcase and one box that will stay with you. The suitcase should contain a few change of clothes, pajamas, medications, toiletries, and anything else you need for your personal use. The small box should contain everything you need for the first 48 hours so you aren’t digging into boxes trying to locate the essentials; bed sheets, towels, paper plates, paper towels, silverware, a pot, a pan, toilet paper, coffee pot, and your favorite coffee cups.
And finally, take time to embrace the moving experience. Celebrate your new home as a new adventure, reminisce, allow yourself to feel the roller coaster of emotions that are all part of the journey. Should you be in a position to downsize your home and need information on selling your home or buying a smaller one, we encourage you to download our Home Sellers Guide or Home Buyers Guide.