Do you ever look around the house and think, “I don’t need all this space”? When you were younger, you probably dreamed of having a bigger home. You may have wanted the guest room, office and bedrooms for each kid, a two-car garage, huge backyard with a swimming pool and master bedroom with a walk-in closet. But now that you’ve hit your golden years, simplicity and minimalism might seem more attractive.
Many seniors are opting to live in smaller homes because they cost less and are easier to maintain. The space that they thought they once needed ends up being wasted or no longer used after the kids grow up and move out. Here are some things to consider if you decide to downsize and move.
Before you sell your home, find your next home.
Will you buy a smaller house? A condo? Rent an apartment? Move in with roommates? Move in with your offspring? Figure out what works best for you, how much space you’ll need and what you can afford. A modest, single-story, two-bedroom home will cost half of what your two-story, four-bedroom house costs. Renting an apartment might be cheaper. With the typical mortgage term being 15-30 years, some seniors don’t want to invest in something that they’ll be paying off for the rest of their lives, especially if they recently paid off their first home. Other seniors might want to own a home that they can pass it on to their descendants.
You’ll first want to find out the value of your current house. Then you should research online to get a feel for prices of homes that are in the right size and location of where you (or your loved one, if you’re researching on behalf of a family member) want to move. Homes in Danville, California, have sold on average for $1.3 million in the last month. Once you understand what you can get for your home, think about how much of the selling price you’ll pay in fees and what you want to put away for retirement expenses including long-term care. What you have left after the math is what you can spend on your next living arrangement.
Downsize your belongings as you downsize your home.
Are there pointless things that you’re holding onto? Clothes that you used to wear in your 30s? Your children’s artwork from fifth-grade? Decades-old makeup? A broken appliance that you’re hoping to fix one day? A collection of VHS tapes? Your kids’ childhood items? You don’t need any of those things. It’s worth keeping items that are nostalgic or can be passed down, but most of the stuff we hold onto is unnecessary. Now that you’re older, what exactly are you saving these things for if they’re mostly just collecting dust?
Start purging your possessions by selling what’s valuable and giving your children what you want to keep in the family. The rest can be donated, recycled, or thrown away responsibly. Store your memories digitally, and use this list to get rid of objects. Downsizing your home means you must downsize your belongings for storage reasons, but there’s also the benefit of living minimally and clutter-free.
Make it a smooth move.
Ask a friend or family member to help with the packing. Not only will it be better for your back, but they can also help you purge the things you don’t need. Hire a reputable moving company to do the heavy lifting on the day of the move. Consider hiring a maid service to clean out the house so you don’t have to. If you want your moving crew to treat your property with respect, take care of them. Feed them lunch and keep a stock of cold water for them.
This might feel like an overwhelming time in your life, as you get ready to move. There is so much to do and think about. You might be thinking, “How will I get it all together?” The key is not to do it alone, and take it one step at a time. Seniors, enlist help. Juniors, help your loved ones through this transitional process.