Downsizing Your Home? Read This First!
Many women over 60 are making transitions in our careers, family lives and homes. Part of this transition process might involve downsizing your home. In fact, there are several trends in the real estate market that are causing more women over 60 than ever to consider moving to a smaller home.
For example, more women over 60 are single than ever before – if you’re an “empty nester” whose children have all grown, and especially if you have gone through a divorce or have become widowed, it might no longer make sense to have a large house.
In addition, more women over 60 are exploring new interests in life, whether that’s a new career, a simpler lifestyle, creative pursuits, volunteer work, or travel – and sometimes the best way to free up time for new interests is to spend less time (and money) maintaining a large home.
Downsizing your house can be a great way to save money and create a new expanse of free time in your life, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you downsize. Here are a few tips to make sure your house downsizing goes as smoothly as possible:
Visualize the New Space
Before you get ready to move, try to adapt to the new reality of your soon-to-be smaller living quarters. How much space will you have? How much square footage? Try to visualize how your possessions will fit into your new home. For example, if you will have only one small living room in your new home, try to stage it (in advance) with the exact parameters and measurements of the new space, and then see how many pieces of furniture, art and accessories will fit into the space.
You might even try “living small” before you move – try to get accustomed to how little stuff you will need in your new home. Hopefully it will feel like a fun new challenge and will cause you to re-think some of your daily assumptions about how much space and how much stuff you truly require.
Decluttering is always a good idea whether we are downsizing or not. The act of getting rid of unwanted items can be liberating and helps us create a calmer, more peaceful, more efficient home environment. But if you’re about to move to a smaller space, decluttering is essential. You need to take a hard look at all of your belongings prior to packing up the moving truck, and make sure that only your most prized and most useful possessions make the trip.
A word of warning: decluttering can be surprisingly emotional! Especially if you have lived in the same home for many years, the various objects in the house might contain memories and precious moments that you are reluctant to part with. However, you can still move forward in life without feeling emotionally paralyzed by clutter.
Consider Getting Outside Help
It is amazing what can be accomplished with the help of a professional organizer. Having an organizer on hand can help you avoid emotional entanglements with your belongings, can help you focus on one room (or one closet) at a time, and can help you make confident decisions about which things to keep and which things to discard.
Keep in mind that everything in your home should be loved (by you) and useful (to you). This is especially important when moving into a smaller space.
Make Decluttering a Way of Life
If you have some time before you move to your smaller space, start to live in a way that eliminates clutter and culls possessions in your everyday life. For example, in your closets, turn all of your clothes hangers around so that they are hard to remove from the hanging rod. This makes it easy to tell which clothes haven’t been worn in a while, and which ones are part of your regular wardrobe.
Keep the clothes you love best, and give away, or sell, the rest.
Sell What You Can
It’s easier than ever before to make a bit of extra cash by selling the things we no longer need. We previously posted an article How to Participate in the Share Economy that has some good resources for selling your unused and unwanted possessions and household goods. Have a sale and earn some extra money to help pay for your moving expenses – or to buy a nice bottle of wine to celebrate your arrival at your new home!
Have you recently downsized your home? What was the experience like? Was anything more difficult than you had expected, or surprisingly liberating? Please join the conversation.
Watch this interview to learn more about the benefits of downsizing your home in retirement.