So you’re planning on selling your current home, getting rid of some stuff you don’t really need, packing up, and moving to a smaller, more manageable home? Yes, it can seem daunting. Downsizing is physically and emotionally taxing. For most seniors, it’s a necessary part of life, however. In the end, downsizing will save you time and money and allow you to live a happier, healthier, more independent life. Here are some things you need to know.
You must value the future just as much as the present when looking for your new home
The house that’s right for you today may not be the house that’s right for you tomorrow. If you want to age in place and not have to go through another stressful move, you would be wise to downsize to a house that you can spend years — maybe decades — in. Put on your prognostication hat. Try to imagine what your accessibility needs and financial abilities will look like 3, 5, or even 15 years down the road. Find a home you can be comfortable in if your income declines or you become disabled, for example.
You have to get up to speed on modern aspects of home selling
It may have been a long time since you’ve put a house on the market. A lot has changed. There are plenty of great new ways to sell your home fast cash. Having said that, selling a home involves a lot more than simply asking for a price and getting someone to agree.
As Seniorly points out, “tax rules can be somewhat tricky when it comes to homes … [you must] also consider transactional fees. These vary per locale but are costs such as escrow fees, transfer taxes, commissions, and inspection fees.” Long story short, how much you list your house for and how much you expect to net in the sale is dependent on many factors, some of which you may not fully understand. Getting some help from a financial planner and a solid realtor is a good idea.
Downsizing is all about structure and discipline
Think paring down your belongings to fit your new, simplified life is difficult? Well, you’re right. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Downsizing can be done if you take a disciplined approach to it.
- Start in a room you don’t use that often. Don’t move on until you’ve gone through every item.
- Work inward from least important rooms to most important rooms.
- Make immediate decisions on every item you own and sort them into three piles only: keep, trash, and donate. Do not save stuff for later in some “maybe” pile.
- Eliminate the following items no questions asked: duplicates, clothing that doesn’t fit or that you haven’t worn in more than one year, and any item (minus sentimental ones) that you have not physically touched in six months to a year.
Be smart about packing and the big move
When it comes to packing and moving, remember what is important: ease, comfort, and injury prevention. For packing, focus on two main things: not lifting from a hunched position (save your back and lift properly with your legs) and taking your time (start early and pack one or two boxes only per day).
For moving, know that the benefits of hiring movers are vast. For one, movers take the strain off of you so you don’t have to worry about hurting yourself. Hiring moving help also allows you to take the day for self-care instead of worrying about the move. Moving is emotional. It’s best that you don’t have to be involved in the minutia of it.
One overarching piece of advice to make your downsizing efforts go more smoothly — start now. Don’t delay. Whether it’s house hunting, getting your home ready for sale, getting rid of stuff, or packing, you will always benefit from starting early and giving yourself ample time to do it all. Downsizing is rewarding, but it will take some grit.