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You’ve made the decision to downsize—and it probably wasn’t an easy one. Change can be pretty scary, especially in retirement, but your choice will likely free you (and your finances) up to really enjoy your golden years. Now that you have chosen to go for it, you’ll have to make a few more major decisions—some easier than others. Here are a few tips to help you with those other options, from how to downsize to ideas for moving day.
Start by Researching
Moving into a smaller home will eventually lead to lower stress. You’ll pay less in utilities, have fewer rooms to clean and have less clutter to deal with. Right now, however, as you try to decide what stays and what goes, you might be feeling more stressed than ever. Take a deep breath. No decision you make right now has to be permanent.
Start by doing some research to get an idea about the size of the home you’ll be moving into. Maybe you’ll buy a smaller house, one that provides you with the make changes for accessibility in the future. For example, walk-in showers, sit-down bathtubs, and lowered countertops for those who use wheelchairs are all options you may need to explore down the road. And with a smaller home and a lower mortgage, you could fit these modifications into your budget.
Downsizing and Storing
When you’re ready to begin your downsizing process, start by categorizing and organizing. That will give you time to think about the items that will come with you and the ones you’ll let go. Start by boxing things up into five categories: keep, sell, store, donate, and don’t know. This way you don’t feel pressured to make a decision on keepsakes, memorabilia, and other belongings before you are ready.
When you know where you are going, you’ll know how to manage the next big step—your furniture. Like your boxes marked “store,” you don’t have to decide about furniture at this very moment. The furniture you want to keep but don’t want to use can be placed in storage until you are ready to decide. The average price for a 10-by-10 storage unit in Augusta, Georgia, is $79.04, so make sure that fits into your budget as well.
Packing and Moving Tips
You’ve done your research, know your options, and made some downsizing decisions—now it’s time to start packing. Begin with rooms or items that are least essential—books, art, pictures, decor, closets, and other storage. Consider asking friends or family to help you pack, especially if you are still trying to purge a few items. Their unbiased opinions may help you make those last-minute judgment calls. Other important tips for packing include:
- Use sturdy boxes; you can pick up moving boxes from Home Depot for $1.38 a piece, though that price goes up as the size increases.
- Put heavier items in smaller boxes.
- Label all boxes clearly—either what is in them or where you want them to go.
- Wrap items that are breakable and could get scuffed or otherwise damaged, and make sure the box is labeled “fragile.”
- Instead of paying for movers and transportation, take HireAHelper’s advice and do a “hybrid move,” which involves hiring movers to load and unload and using your own vehicles to move your items from your old residence to the new one.
- Store boxes in a secluded room so they don’t get in the way while you are still living in your home.
- Do not move boxes down stairs without help.
Once you are packed and a new home is purchased, you’ll be ready to make the move. If it’s been a while since you’ve last changed homes, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of friends, family, and movers. Having a moving day checklist can help the transition go smoothly and ease any anxiety you might be feeling about the change.
Give yourself plenty of time to make these decisions. For many seniors, downsizing is one of the most emotional parts of entering the golden years, and if you feel rushed, you will likely feel overwhelmed. Take time to pause, reset, and have patience with yourself.