If you are like many seniors, you have probably accumulated a wide variety of mementos, souvenirs, and assorted belongings over the decades, and you are running out of space to put them. At the same time, you may be considering a move to be closer to family or to live in the vacation destination of your dreams. In order to get the best of both worlds, you may want to consider downsizing to a smaller home. The benefits are many: you’ll be able to move where you like and can free up your clutter. Smaller homes also will take up less of your monthly pension than your current, larger home, and they have significantly less upkeep. If you have been thinking about moving, here are some ways you can make the downsizing process easier.
Decluttering and Downsizing
First, you’ll need to start going through your things. If your home is cluttered, this can be a massive task. Make it easier by starting well before your moving date and by approaching the task one room (or a section of one room) at a time. Once you’re settled in your space, start dividing your things up into three piles. In one pile, put your “must-haves” — the things you use every day or can’t live without, like a favorite pan or blanket. In the next pile, put things you have that you don’t want to fully get rid of. The third pile can consist of things you want to throw out.
As you’ve divided it up, take the third pile and further divide it between things you can donate or sell and things that should be thrown away. The second pile, which typically will consist of larger pieces like tables and chests, is more difficult to dispose of — you can either store them yourself or give them to a relative, friend, or charity. Do a little investigation into your friend group and family members to see who might be interested in taking them off your hands.
For the rest of the larger pieces, you could strike a balance and store them. Look for a self-storage unit near your new hometown and research the best prices. Keep in mind that prices vary wildly depending on your location and the time of the year — in Fullerton, California, for instance, prices are volatile and can vary by up to $89.84. Typically, their storage prices are at their highest in September and at their lowest in March, so do some research beforehand.
Find a Balance Between Accessibility, Beauty, and Location
Next, you’ll need to find the perfect home. Keep in mind that this is your opportunity to strike the perfect balance between accessibility, beauty, and location, so take your time shopping around for houses. Depending on your needs, you may want to look for a home with fewer steps (or a condo with an elevator) that’s in a smaller community, rather than a large complex, to save money. Also, look at the surrounding town before picking a house. If you like to play golf or tennis, are there courses or courts available nearby? Is there an active senior or recreation center? Is traffic typically busy, or are the roads more clear? All of these kinds of things should be of interest to you when you are looking for your new house.
Organized Packing Tips
Finally, you’ll need to pack. Try not to use large boxes — smaller ones are easier to carry, particularly when they are heavy — you can find small moving boxes at Home Depot for around $1.68 a piece. Clearly label each box so you can know the contents without opening them up. Finally, use packing paper (U-Haul sells a box of wrapping paper for $12, or you can use old newspapers) to help protect your belongings while they are in transit.
One of the best ways to continue your independent way of living while reducing costs is by downsizing. You can make the process easy by starting decluttering well in advance, researching all aspects before choosing a house, and by labeling each box.
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