A big house is convenient when you are younger in life — for instance, if you’re starting a family for the first time and need extra bedrooms for future babies. As you get older, however, you will come to appreciate a smaller property. For one thing, fitness levels decline with age, and everyday tasks like cleaning up a large kitchen may get tedious.
Additionally, a large house requires upkeep and investment, from the cost of roof repairs to landscaper fees. Spending this money becomes less appealing for seniors who are stressed about retirement funds — Americans’ biggest financial worry, according to one poll.
Downsizing lets you take advantage of the practical and financial perks of a smaller home, including having fewer maintenance and financial responsibilities.
Find the Right Space That Suits Your Needs
When looking for your smaller home, opt for a one-story model. Even if you’re in great shape now, this will allow you to “age in place” later without having to pack up and move again. Keep in mind, however, that you may want renovations for greater comfort: Senior-friendly home improvements include additions like non-slip mats in the bathroom and no-step doorways. This AARP guide has more great ideas, such as adding brighter lighting and widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers. Besides making modifications, you’ll also have to consider how much you can spend on a new home as homes in Doylestown can be pricey (with a median listing price of $600K).
That said, downsizing shouldn’t be just about practical elements. Consider what you need to truly enjoy your golden years. Is a garden something you aren’t willing to negotiate on? Perhaps you absolutely need a pet-friendly apartment for your cat or dog. Downsizing doesn’t mean you have to compromise on what you’re passionate about.
Downsize Your Belongings Beforehand
Before you can downsize your space, you need to downsize your belongings. Have a family member or friend help you sort through everything. Designate items as “take” or “don’t take” — don’t give yourself the option of a “maybe” pile that you will revisit time and time again. This will ultimately slow down the entire process and have you going in circles.
When it comes to the “don’t take” items, you have many options on how to best dispose of them. Sentimental items like heirlooms could be gifted to family members, especially if you were planning to leave these objects as part of an inheritance anyway. Old furniture and household goods can be donated. Take a peek at this guide to know what you can and can’t donate, such as appliances with frayed electrical cords are a no-no.
If you have magazines, photographs, or videos sitting in boxes, consider digitizing them. This allows you to enjoy their content without having bulky objects taking up space. You can even digitize your books — this Huffington Post article explains how it’s done. If you’re having trouble, ask a more tech-savvy relative like a grandchild for assistance.
Rent a Storage Unit to Ease the Transition
Moving is an emotional process, even linked to an ailment called relocation stress syndrome. This is especially true if you have to part with beloved belongings. Make it easier by getting a storage unit to house things that won’t fit in your new home — but that you just can’t part with yet. Search engines like Storespace.com allow you to easily find units near you (a 10’x15’ unit generally costs between $75 and $140 a month). Remember to remind yourself that downsizing is for the better.
You want to spend your time with family and friends, or enjoying hobbies you love as you get older — not doing household chores to taking care of busywork. With this handy downsizing guide, you’ve gotten your golden years off to a good start.
Photo Credit: UnsplashMore credits for this article-fitness levels decline, one poll, age in place, non-slip mats, AARP guide, rice of $600K, this guide, Huffington Post article, relocation stress syndrome, Storespace.com, $75 and $140