The Essential Checklist for Downsizing a Home

No matter how old you are, moving can be stressful. When it comes to downsizing a home and transitioning into a senior living community, there is a lot to do–whether it be packing, discarding, cleaning, paperwork, and a host of other tasks. On top of the labor of physically moving things from one place to the next, there’s the emotional toll that comes with parting with items that hold sentimental value. However, it’s a necessary step, especially when moving into a senior living community.

Your first impulse in downsizing may be to stick everything in storage and deal with it later. However, in the longterm this decision only postpones the inevitable job of downsizing. You’ll save money and reduce stress if you go through the process sooner rather than later.

The additional benefits to paring down your belongings in preparation to move to a retirement community include:

  • More able to fully enjoy the items you hold onto.
  • Locating your possessions more quickly and easily.
  • Increased safety finding and accessing your items.
  • Letting go of additional “baggage” (quite literally!) that may be cluttering both your mind and space.

There are a host of other benefits you’re probably aware of, but may be wondering how to exactly make it all happen. Although there are many tried-and-true ways of downsizing, we have a few tips to ensure the task is less stressful and more manageable.

Assess your Needs.

There may be furniture, gadgets, entertainment systems, and other items you’ve kept around for years expecting to “one day” find a use for them, but never do. This is a clear sign that you don’t need items, and you may feel more mentally liberated by letting go of them.

When you become clear on what your needs are, you will have the ability to be more decisive and set on what will qualify as essential items in the future. Make a list of what you use on a daily basis as well as the most important sentimental items you own.

Set a Downsizing Schedule.

The to-do list involved in going through your items and sorting them to keep, store, donate, or throw away can seem daunting. Breaking it up into a timeline will make everything more manageable and less intimidating.

For example:

  • Select one or two days a week to devote to the task of downsizing, and spend several hours working on it on those specific days.
  • Break the hours you spend working into intervals. For example, spend 45 minutes working and 15 minutes resting, reading a book, or watching TV.

Rather than waiting until the last minute and hurriedly going through the stressful downsizing and moving process, try to plan it out several weeks in advance. This will ensure the process becomes more manageable and less strenuous.

Explore Professional Help Opportunities.

You may not be physically or even emotionally able to go through the process of downsizing on your own or with family members, so hiring outside help can make things a lot easier for everyone involved.

These days there are movers and personal organizers that specifically work with senior citizens to help them in their downsizing process. Two helpful resources in locating such professions are the National Association of Senior Move Managers and the National Organization of Professional Organizers

Take Advantage of Storage Facilities.

As stated earlier, it’s best not to rely on storage units for everything you once owned, especially if, when being honest, you realize you don’t need a lot of what you’ve accumulated over the years.

That said, sometimes it’s simply not possible to whittle down all of what you own to fit into your new living space in a retirement community. That’s when storage units can be extremely helpful.

We recommend you focus on storing two categories of items in units:

  • Sentimental items: There may be a host of items that you simply cannot bear to part with, but you know you won’t be needing on a daily or even monthly basis. These memorabilia-type items can be placed in the unit and accessed when and if you or your family members need them.
  • Bulky items: As your new space may be simply too small for furniture, exercise equipment, or even cars, a larger storage unit may come in handy.

Although it’s a process no one necessarily enjoys, downsizing a home can become a lot less stressful and challenging by going through this checklist and instilling it in your process.

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