Planning for a Move: Five Tips to Downsizing

April 27, 2021 | 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:

    1. Do I need it or want it? Discern between wants and needs. Do you need three coats or just want them?
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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!