How to Downsize a Home

August 04, 2015

living-roomIt can take a lifetime for many seniors to amass a trove of treasured possessions. Once acquired, it might seem that it will take another lifetime just to pare down the collection. Purging keepsakes and other cherished objects is not likely to be easy, but doing so lets you:

  • Find items quickly and easily.
  • Enjoy what you’ve acquired.
  • Navigate through and access your treasures safely.

This is especially true for a senior preparing to take up residence in a senior living community. For seniors who are about to make the move to a senior living community, here’s the skinny on how to downsize a home.

Develop a strategy

There’s no right or wrong way to cut down on clutter. In fact, if you customize your approach to what works for you, you’re more likely to complete the job. One of the best ways to prep for the task is to decide on an appropriate decluttering schedule:

  • Once a week, set aside an entire day or a portion of a day, and devote that time solely to the job.
  • An hour here, an hour there. Set aside 60 minutes, pick one task, and complete as much of it as possible.
  • Ten-minute intervals. If an hour seems like an eternity, break up the job into smaller increments of time.

Consider hiring a professional

If downsizing is unbearably boring, mentally daunting, or physically challenging, maybe you should bring in the pro. These folks are sometimes referred to as “downsizing specialists” or even “declutter ladies.”

One resource for finding these individuals is the National Organization of Professional Organizers. You can check its searchable membership directory for nearby professionals skilled in – among other things – overhauling your entire residential space, paper and electronic documents, and photo collections.

The hourly rate for such services varies widely and can reach anywhere from $40 to $200. Sorting, packing and moving can run well into the thousands. Despite these figures, the New York Times reported that the National Association of Senior Move Managers said half of the clients who hired its members in 2014 were older adults.

A home away from home

Once you, or a professional, have scoured your possessions and determined what can be sold, what can be given away, what can be thrown away, and what must stay, the question becomes one of what to do with things worth keeping but not worth keeping with you. The likely answer is a storage facility. Two of the biggest categories of items tucked away in storage units are memorabilia and bulky items.

  • Memorabilia: A small storage unit is a perfect repository for sentimental items, especially those that need to be housed in a climate-controlled setting.
  • Bulky items: Avoid cluttering your new residence by stashing large electronics, outdoor equipment, even used vehicles in a storage facility.

As you enter a new phase of your life, decluttering and downsizing is sure to make the transition much easier and enjoyable.

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