Jan 28
How to Downsize When Making a Move

How to Downsize When Making a Move

The secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. – Socrates

When the time comes, as it will for millions of seniors throughout the country, to make the move to a smaller living space or senior living community, getting rid of years and years of accumulations will undoubtedly be part of the process. If you’ve lived in your current home for a long time, downsizing can feel overwhelming, both because of the magnitude of the task and the emotional ties to many of your personal possessions.

Here are some tips to help you get started with downsizing and guide you along the way:

Identify those things you want to keep and those you can live without

Walk through your home and take an objective look at your possessions. Do I really use that treadmill? Can I finally throw away holiday cards from 30 years ago? Identify those things you use on a daily basis to survive and enjoy life from those things that are simply sitting around gathering dust. Create separate piles or tag items with two separate colors of sticky notes or colored tape. For those things you don’t want, identify things which can be sold and which should be given away. For those items that are meaningful, but for which you have no use (Grandpa’s roll top desk, Grandma’s silver tea service), ask family members if they want these heirlooms. Encourage them to stop by and take a look at items you’d like to keep in the family.

Build a downsizing toolkit

Having everything you’ll need to complete this monumental task will help move it along more quickly and easily. Things like boxes, garbage bags, labels, packing tape, markers, scissors and post-it notes are all things you’re likely to need. Have them handy.

Create a timeline

Create goals for when you’d like to have things done. For instance, “hold garage sale on this date,” “basement cleaned out by that date.” Buy a special calendar just for your downsizing project. When a milestone is met, celebrate with a night out.

Enlist the help of family and friends

In addition to inviting family members to come over and identify things they would like, ask them to come over for a day or two and help with the actual process of marking items and packing. Make it enjoyable by sharing stories and reminiscing about the memories certain items evoke.

Pack smart

For those items that are making the move with you, make sure they are packed securely and have an identifier on the box or other container as to the package’s contents. This will make unpacking at your new place go much smoother. If you’re taking a dresser full of clothes will you, leave the clothes in the dresser. Have your linens perform double duty by using them to wrap fragile items.

Get our free downsizing guide

You can request a hard copy of our helpful downsizing guide by completing a short form.