Congratulations on retirement! This major milestone is highlighted by more freedom to enjoy your hobbies, yourself, and your family. Many retirees take this opportunity to downsize from their family home onto a smaller home that is easier to maintain, is closer to family, or somewhere they have always wanted to live. Regardless, moving somewhere new, especially if it is smaller, requires a fair amount of forethought. Here are a few ideas for steps to follow for downsizing after retirement.
Plan for the size of the new home
As with moving at any point in your life, you have to consider the size of the living space you want. Since you are retired and likely don’t have family living with you full-time, you may want to live in a smaller house, condo, or townhome. Another consideration is lifestyle or healthcare needs. If mobility is a restriction, consider single-level houses or townhomes, or first-floor condos. In addition, look at homes with an open and accommodating floor plan. 55+ communities build homes specifically with mobility issues in mind. In addition, many 55+ communities take care of lawn and sidewalk maintenance to help take some of the physical and mental stress of your plate.
Declutter and organize
Any time you move, you realize how much stuff you have accumulated over the years, and you wonder how you got it all to fit into your current home. Stowed knick-knacks, piles of linens and blankets, extra kitchen gadgets, and everything stored throughout the garage and attic add up to a lot of stuff you may not need anymore.
The first step to decluttering is answering these questions:
- Do I use this thing very often?/When was the last time I used it?
- Am I keeping it for sentimental reasons?
- Do I have something else that does the same thing?
- Most importantly: Do I want/need it?
Once you can sort out your belongings with these questions, the decluttering gets a little easier. However, going through a lifetime of possessions is difficult, emotional, and stressful. Take your time and don’t get buried by guilt. If you got a fondue pot as a wedding gift, but used it a dozen times in the last few decades, there is little point in dragging it along with you. If you still have belongings that belong to kids or grand kids, ask them if they want them. Whether they say yes or no, you will be getting rid of them. Decluttering is all about making your move and your life simpler. Which leads into the next point…
Get rid of the clutter
Once you decide what you don’t want to keep, it’s time to get rid of it. To help put a little extra money in your pocket, sell the items in a yard sale or online with Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. In addition, if the belongings are still in good working condition, donate them to a charity or resale organization. Someone will have a need for your unwanted items and be able to use them for years to come.
Making the move
Moving is difficult and stressful enough. If you have mobility or health issues, it can make the process harder. Ask family, friends, or neighbors to help you pack up, load, and unload your possessions out of your old place and into your new home. If you are moving a long distance, hiring a moving company takes a large burden of your shoulders (and your back). Hopefully, what you were able to sell helps offset some of the costs of hiring the moving company.
Once you have everything in your new home, take some time to relax and enjoy the start of a new chapter in your life. You have worked hard in your career and this move. This part of life is all about you.