Downsizing for Seniors: How to Successfully Move into a Smaller Space
by Michael Longsdon
Downsizing can be emotionally overwhelming and physically exhausting. Fortunately, planning ahead can make the process much easier. Keep your end goal in mind as you work your way through decluttering your home and searching for a new place to live. Whether you’re simplifying your life so you can better focus on your passions or simply reduce your day-to-day living costs, remember your objective so you end up with the perfect home to suit your needs.
Find Out What You Can Afford
If saving money is one of your downsizing goals, make sure you budget and account for any hidden costs before moving. According to Discover, moving out of a big house into a smaller one isn’t always the most profitable option. Downsizing seniors often face more expensive housing when they move from the suburbs to the city. Keep in mind that the costs of moving and furnishing your new home can get very expensive if you’re moving far away.
Make sure you also have a solid understanding of what to expect in terms of your income following retirement. You want to keep your housing expenses under 30 percent of your total household income. These expenses should include things like mortgage interest, property taxes, maintenance, utility bills, and condo fees. Once you’ve narrowed down a few locations you like, conduct an online search to get a feel for the prices of smaller homes in the area. For example, the average sale price for homes in Poulsbo, Washington, is $390,000.
Consider Your Current and Future Needs
Before you look into houses to purchase, consider what you want in terms of location. For example, you might like to be near a park or recreation center where you can exercise or engage with your community. If you’re a regular traveler or have family that visits frequently, consider your distance to a major airport. Also, your healthcare needs will likely change as you age, so make sure you pick a neighborhood with nearby hospitals and quality available healthcare. If you anticipate requiring any other services, such as chiropractic care or physiotherapy, make sure these are nearby as well. Remember that the costs of healthcare vary from state to state. States with more affordable healthcare will be better suited to seniors who anticipate potential health issues in their future.
Downsize Your Possessions
Before you start decluttering, think about your actual needs. Do you really need that large piece of exercise equipment? Or, will a pair of sneakers work just fine for your fitness plans? Think about how often you use certain pieces of furniture, such as extra lounge chairs or desks. Prioritize which activities are important to you and get rid of things that don’t fit into your lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to have your future floor plan and storage space in mind while deciding what to get rid of. This will ensure you have space in your new home to fit everything you keep. If you’re really having trouble deciding whether to keep something or throw it away, put it in storage for six months. If you haven’t used it by then, you can get rid of it.
Make a Moving Plan
Since moving day is usually very stressful, The Senior List recommends planning well in advance. Keep an ordered to-do list with everything that needs to be done, such as booking a moving company, packing, and switching over bills and utilities. Consider whether you want movers to help you pack or just move your possessions. Also, ask friends or family for help well ahead of time so they won’t make other plans.
Although the physical process of downsizing and decluttering is difficult, saying goodbye to the family home can be the hardest part of it all. Try to make a point of documenting your home by taking photographs of each room and writing down memories of happy moments. Whether it’s carving your initials in a tree or taking a precious shrub from the garden, do anything that will help you part with your home and settle into your new place more easily.