Planning for a Move: Five Tips to Downsizing | Community | Advice | Residents
Planning for a Move: Five Tips to Downsizing
Many older adults know there will come a time when they’ll need to downsize – either to move to a community, to a smaller home, or to be closer to family. For many seniors, the daunting thought of going through 40+ years of belongings may seem physically and emotionally overwhelming. The key to a successful move – especially one to a smaller space – is to take a methodical approach. Allow yourself plenty of time and focus on the outcome – a brand new home waiting to be filled with new memories!
If you don’t know where to start, consider these five tips to make downsizing easier:
1. Start early. Allow plenty of time for the process. Going through each item, box, or room will take longer than imagined. Set aside dedicated time a few times per month and take breaks in between. Being rushed can increase stress.
2. Stay focused. Pick a small space to start, one that can be easily tackled in a few hours, such as a linen closet. Sure, there are probably mountains of items to sort in the garage, but starting with a manageable space will be an early victory!
3. Get real about the size of your new home. Put simply, if you are downsizing to a smaller footprint, purging linens and winter jackets isn’t going to be enough. It’s a good idea to work with a scale floor plan and furniture stickers to best space-plan – and not just if the furniture will all “fit” – but if you can comfortably move around in your new space!
4. Reduce and organize. It’s surprising the number of things you can acquire over a lifetime. Whether it’s Christmas ornaments, books, or cherished mementos, going through these items can be the hardest part of downsizing because memories coming flooding back. Consider a more straightforward approach by asking yourself the four questions suggested by Anne Blumer, certified professional organizer:
- Do I need it or want it? Discern between wants and needs. Do you need three coats or just want them?
- Does it have sentimental value? Often this is the hardest. Invite a family member or friend to sort with you, reminisce about the memories, and then choose what to keep.
- Do I use it often? Whether it’s a roasting pan you only use at Thanksgiving or a rarely-used bread maker, if you only pull something out once a year, consider donating it.
- Do I have another item that performs the same function? Do you have an iron and a steamer? Which do you use more? Keep one of any item whose use may be duplicated with another item.
5. Work with an impartial third-party. Professional organizers, space planners, and packing companies can be invaluable partners so you can see a path forward to less clutter and help remove the sentiment that can often block progress. Seek outside support if you find yourself stalled in moving forward.
Moving to a new home doesn’t have to be stressful, emotional, or overwhelming. Stay focused, stay positive, and get ready to live large in your smaller space!