Tips For Seniors Downsizing to a Smaller Home

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty 91362

How to Downsize Your Home

Seniors downsize for many different reasons, as we age, things change, and our needs become less. If you are thinking of downsizing your home, you are not alone. When you get to a certain age, the thought of heading to one of the popular retirement communities becomes a goal of many folks.

Suddenly the Baby Boomers born in the post-world war 2 baby boom are reaching retirement age and realizing the need for smaller houses closer to shops and transport. The children have long left home, and there is now no need to maintain a large house.

Let's take a look at why you may want to downsize from your current home and some tips for doing so.

Why Downsize Your Home?

  • Lifestyle choices: In many cases downsizing your home comes down to simplifying your lifestyle. You might want to rent a small apartment where someone else manages all the problems that spring up.
  • Financial reasons: Sometimes couples don't have enough money to retire in comfort, so they sell the big house to release funds. In some places, there is a government incentive to do this.
  • Family and friends: To move nearer to family and friends is often a goal of seniors looking to downsize.
  • Closer to medical facilities: If you have some health issues being close to medical care can be a big plus.
  • Better security: When one partner dies, the other may feel the need to be more secure in a townhouse or condo complex with full security.

Whatever the reason, the move will be a bit stressful, as it will involve getting rid of about half your stuff.

Tips For Seniors Downsizing

Start Small

You have a lot of sorting out to do, so plan your move and start the process at least 6 months before the moving date. Start with your closets, as there will be lots of old stuff in there that needs to be recycled, and hopefully nothing too sentimental.

This will be rewarding and not too time-consuming, and it will prepare you for the next step.

Eliminate Rooms That Won't Be Replicated in Your New Home

You will need to get rid of the furniture in all your extra bedrooms, and possibly reduce your office furniture down as well.

  • Offer redundant furniture to family.
  • Sell any bulky furniture (garage sale).
  • Donate excess furniture to charities. You will be helping someone in need which is a great feeling!
  • Pack what you want to keep from these rooms.

The Kitchen Will Be Important

You may find that you have two or three sets of everything. This tends to happen after 50 years in a house, and unfortunately, the time has come to start culling the kitchen. You won't need 3 sets of saucepans, 3 dinner sets, excess cutlery, and 3 cupboards of wine and cocktail glasses.

Get your family over to take what they want or need, and donate the rest to the charity organizations. They will sell it to students setting up a home, and someone else will be really grateful to have it. Pack what you are keeping, and the kitchen is done.

Understanding How to Downsize Efficiently

We all know that there are things that you can't get rid of, but this is the time to be ruthless, and you will now be in the way of recycling and becoming better at it all the time.

I suggest that you allow one box for sentimental stuff, and when it is full, no more sentiment is allowed! If you take too much, you will be recycling it when you get to the new home, which wastes time.

Having said that, downsizing is a process, and some people need a bit more time to 'let go' than others. So if you want to take too much with you, reality will hit when you get there.

Moving and Storage Are Costly

If you aren't using something, why do you want to move it? This is a time when you begin to realize that you probably didn't need all those boxes of glasses and that new dinner set.

One thing that can create a lot of sorrow is reducing the home library. Once you start to go through the old books, you will realize that many need to go. Get rid of nearly all the old paperbacks as they deteriorate.

Moving things you no longer need is counterproductive when downsizing. Not only that, moving is expensive, so anything you can leave behind will be a worthwhile financial exercise.

Reduce Collections

Collections really have to change or reduce in size. For example, if a family member has 50 years of National Geographic Magazines, taking up specially made bookcases all over the house. Do you really need these magazines anymore? If they don't hold financial value, probably not.

You can access magazines such as these online, so the need for hard copies is diminished. You could donate old subscriptions to a local school library.

Sell Things When Learning to Downsize

Another excellent tip for seniors downsizing to a smaller home is to have a garage sale before you move. Get the grandchildren to letter drop some fliers for you so that the whole neighborhood turns out.

You won't make a lot of money, but nothing will be wasted. Declutter your property is also a great way to improve your chances of selling the house quickly.

Buyers will be able to see all of the positive attributes of your home far more easily when it is less crowded with furniture and knick-knacks.

It is also a good chance to say goodbye to a lot of people you only know in passing.

Ask For Help

If you find the packing and throwing away too difficult, pay someone to help you do it. They won't be emotionally attached to your stuff and will get it done quickly.

Remember, anything valuable that you can't take with you can be gifted to a family member immediately. This is a 'win-win' as you will still see the item when you visit them.

Allow Some Time to Say Good-Bye

For seniors, downsizing can be difficult, and you will need something to look forward to. Plan a short holiday to take place about 2-4 weeks following your move, as a change of scene will revitalize you.

If you still have a partner, this is the best time to move while you can both share memories and go through stuff together. Once there is just one of you, the process becomes more difficult.

Use This Time as a Chance to Be Together

Ask your family over to say goodbye to the family home. Have a final big gathering. Everyone will be a bit sad. However, once the house is sold, the pain will be reduced, and the excitement of moving to a new place will kick in.

People are much more important than belongings, and as you get older, it is family and friends who matter most.

Final Thoughts on Downsizing

Now that your downsizing to a smaller home has been achieved, it is now time to embrace your new home. Hopefully, a less labor-intensive life, in a smaller space, near the people and things that matter to you most.

Best of luck with your downsizing, and hopefully, you have gotten something out of these downsizing tips.

Posted by

Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Comments (3)

Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, EXP - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Hi Bill,  Thank you for sharing these tips for downsizing for seniors.  Valuable information that will benefit many people.

Feb 14, 2021 06:27 PM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Downsizing for many is a big issue as so many memories are captured with all that extra 'stuff'

Feb 15, 2021 04:47 AM
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

Great info! Thanks for sharing!

Feb 15, 2021 07:10 AM