By Michael Longsdon
For many seniors, there comes a time when the expense and upkeep of a big home no longer seem realistic. All of your kids have moved out, and suddenly, your multi-bedroom house feels excessively large and empty. Plus, it may be difficult to keep up with mortgage payments if you’re expecting a lower income during retirement. Whether downsizing is a financial necessity or an emotional decision, here’s how to tackle the process without getting overwhelmed.
Do Online Research
Before you start looking at houses in person, narrow down your options by doing some research online. Search the local housing market on sites such as Redfin to get a feel for house prices in your desired area. For example, homes in Seattle, Washington have sold for an average of $685,000during the past month. Explore listings in your preferred size range and location so you can come up with a realistic budget for your new home.
Think far ahead as you look at homes, considering the possibility that the needs of you and your spouse may change over time. One-story homes can be much more accessible for you and your friends down the line. You should also take time to research the neighborhood and pay attention to the house’s proximity to grocery stores, leisure centers, and public transportation.
Plan for Your Storage Needs
If you’re moving to an apartment or condo, you may not have the attic, basement, or even the closet space that you’re used to. Look for a nearby for an affordable self-storage unit so you aren’t left crowding boxes and furniture into your new home. Some simple online research can help you find the best deals in your area. In the last 180 days, for instance, self-storage units in Seattle, Washington cost an average of $88.45 per month.
Go Through Your Possessions Methodically
One of the hardest parts about downsizing is getting rid of things you’ve had for decades. Apartment Guide recommends looking at pictures of clutter-free rooms in magazines for inspiration before starting your own purge. This will mentally prepare you for getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need cluttering up your new, smaller space.
As you declutter, go room by room and sort items into no more than five piles: keep, donate, sell, gift, and throw away. Don’t be afraid to let go of things that are useful but not particularly necessary in your own life. Likewise, don’t keep things out of obligation or feelings of guilt. While you’re cutting the clutter, keep a floor plan of your new home nearby so you can plan out your rooms and ensure your furniture will fit. If you’re worried about accurately measuring your space, you can hire a professional to help you out.
Pack Like a Pro
Protect your items during your move and make them easier to unpack later by trying out some expert packing tips. For example, socks make great padding for glasses and mugs, while oven mitts are perfect for transporting knives a little more safely. Secure entire desk drawers and kitchen storage trays with plastic wrap for much faster unpacking later. Also, keep your clothing on hangers and simply slip a garbage bag over them for protection. Remember to pack an essentials box of everything you need during your first day and night in your new house.
Follow a Moving Checklist
There is a lot to remember to do before moving day. For example, you need to update your mailing address with the post office, find a new doctor, and transfer your utilities. Follow a moving checklist (or hire a senior move manager for around $316 per day) to avoid forgetting important tasks. One of your moving tasks should involve researching moving companies at least two months before your move. This gives you plenty of time to find the help you need within your budget. Learn about how to spot rogue moving companies so you can avoid being scammed, especially if you’re moving long distance.
Moving is exhausting for anyone. But moving into a smaller home can be especially emotional as you say goodbye to personal objects that have surrounded you for much of your life. For this reason, it’s important to take things slow while you sort through your possessions and search for the perfect place to spend your golden years.
Mr. Longsdon provides advice to seniors on downsizing and aging in place and can discuss concerns like tackling home accessibility modifications, how to find a great contractor, the benefits of aging in place, and more.
Gentle Giant takes the time to work with seniors during transitional periods.
Moving senior citizens, retirees, and the elderly is emerging as a specialty service as baby-boomers are faced with downsizing themselves while simultaneously transitioning their parents to one of the many types of senior housing.
Below you will find Gentle Giant Moving Company‘s helpful 10 Tips for Moving Seniors:
Start with a floor plan of your new space.
A floor plan may be the single most important thing you can have. It will tell you how much furniture you can fit, and help you decide where everything will go before you step foot into your new home.
Reduce the amount you have to move.
Downsizing can be physically exhausting and emotionally draining, but many items that have been accumulated in a home over many years can’t or shouldn’t be squeezed into a new home. So take your time and ask for help. If you have children who no longer live there, ask them to retrieve their possessions. Give things to friends and family. Have a yard sale and/or donate some items to charity. If you can’t bring certain items that you’re not ready to part with, consider using a storage facility.
Begin in areas of the house no longer in use.
This strategy will be least disruptive to normal life and will help develop some momentum to carry you through other areas of the home later on.
Have a sorting system.
Use colored stickers to identify items that are going with you, elsewhere, or to-be-determined. Make a list of potential recipients, such as loved ones or charity or auction, and match up items to them instead of coming up with different recipients as you sort through items one by one.
Start with large items and work toward smaller ones.
Sorting through large furniture pieces first will create a sense of progress for the person who is moving. This will make it easier to sort smaller items later on, because it will be clearer what storage will be available in the new home.
Block off a certain amount of time for working each day and stick to it.
Start and stop at a certain time. Don’t get sidetracked. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish.
Focus on one area at a time.
Dealing with a whole house can be overwhelming. Break it up into smaller chunks by focusing on one part of a room at a time. Then move on to the next.
Packing – Let the movers take care of it.
A professional move coordinator like the ones at Gentle Giant can recommend a professional packing crew to help prepare your dishes, linens, furniture, you name it. Hiring such a team will make packing go by much faster, and your items will be safer as they are moved.
Create a Move-Day suitcase with the essentials for the first 24 hours in your new home.
Set aside a couple of outfits, a set of dishes, towels and sheets. Include a first aid kit and a flashlight, or even a night light. You’ll have what you need at your fingertips instead of having to dive into many different boxes to find what you need.
Be patient – with yourself and others.
Moving is hard, especially for seniors who may be leaving a home where they’ve spent decades with their family. Remember it’s okay to be sad about parting with things, however the goal is not to get rid of everything – just to simplify. Set aside down time, and reward yourself or the person you are helping at various stages in the process. Accept that there will be a range of emotions.
Gentle Giant Moving Company is a 35 year old Boston-based national moving company with offices across the country providing customers with licensed, insured, and professional moving services
Downsizing is on the minds of many homeowners today. Some are ready to retire. Others want to live more simply. Many want to save money and say goodbye to home maintenance. If you can relate to any of those sentiments, ask yourself these five questions:
Have you done the math?
The financial savings that can be generated by downsizing can be significant – especially as they add up over time. Boston College Retirement Center (an independent, reliable resource) makes calculating this savings a snap.
Have you researched elder-care options?
Many homeowners hold on to their current home longer than they should because their parents / parents-in-law may need to come live with them in the future. While a noble gesture, there are many excellent elder care living options available today. Often, all it takes is a tour of those facilities to realize that your loved one may actually be happier, and far better served, in a place devoted to their care and happiness.
Have you considered off-site storage?
You don’t need to immediately discard a big chunk of your belongings in order to downsize. In fact, trying to do so in one fell swoop only creates stress. Most people find it works much better to move some of their belongings into off-site storage for six months. During that time, you can gradually incorporate some of those items into your new living arrangement, and slowly figure out what to do with the others.
How do you feel about sharing costs and decision-making?
Townhomes and condominiums are popular downsizing options. But both require that you share the decision-making and expenses associated with any maintenance and improvement projects. If you’re a people-person, agree with the old adage that two heads are better than one, and you like the idea of sharing the cost/responsibility for expensive repairs, you’ll enjoy condo living. If not, this may not be the best option for you.
Have you consulted with a real estate agent?
Many homeowners don’t think to consult with a real estate agent until they’ve made the decision to downsize. This leads to guesstimating about some of the most important factors. The truth is, your real estate agent is someone you want to talk with very early in the decision-making process.