People have many reasons for wanting to downsize to a smaller home. The most common reasons include: lower cost of home maintenance and expenses, current home is too large for needs or doesn't address physical limitations (too many steps), want to move closer to family or to a warmer climate, wish to be in a neighborhood with specific services (55+ community, closer to health care, near activities like walking trails, etc.), or simply want a different home that better allows for aging in place.
The good news is downsizing can be planned and executed over a period of time. It doesn't have to be done in one week, one day or one month and for optimum success and peace of mind, it shouldn't. If you're thinking of downsizing in the future, some things you can start to do now in preparation for the transition.
- Begin to Clean Out. If you have the time - take your time so the process isn't so overwhelming. Give your stuff a hard look and triage into 4 categories: keep, give away to family or friends, donate and trash.
- Start to Collect Important Documents. If you're an organized person, most of these things will be in one or two places already. If you're not, this could turn into a chore.
- Discuss Goals. Think about where you want to move and start doing some research on the location and housing options. This doesn't mean you need to make a commitment, but an informed decision will help you make a good decision.
- Prepare Your Current Home for the Market. Speak with a real estate agent who is a senior real estate specialist (SRES). They are educated in the market and can help you to determine what needs to be done to get your home ready to sell. Most work exclusively with people 55+, have resources to help in the transition and are aware of the various senior living options. Generally speaking, most agents who hold the SRES designation are already prepared and aware that a transition, especially from a long-term family home, will take time, patience and sometimes special care.
- Set a Realistic Timeline. If you have a large property and a lot of stuff, try not to stress yourself with a short timeline. Sometimes, where you are moving to will help determine the timeline.
Planning and preparation are going to be the key to less stress and more success with this new venture. If you've already made the downsizing decision, start today with the preliminary steps above. Enjoy the process and surround yourself with positive people who can help you along the way.