Entering your senior years tends to bring a lot of changes. Sure, there are the things everyone expects, like your body not moving quite as well as it used to and maybe an extra creakiness in your knees when you first stand up in the morning, or the chance to enjoy the fruits of your labors in retirement. What may not come to mind as quickly is the changes you’ll probably be making in terms of the size of your home. Downsizing often goes hand in hand with getting older, as children move out and you find yourself needing less house in your life. Of course, change in general isn’t usually comfortable, and that holds true when it comes to downsizing. That said, there are some things you can do to make it a bit more comfortable.
Know Your Budget
One of the first things you’ll need to have planned out is your budget. Generally speaking, you end up selling a larger home for more than you’ll buy a smaller property, so you might think that budgeting for your new home isn’t going to be an issue. That’s not necessarily the case though. As you know by now, there’s a lot more that goes into what you pay for a home than just the price to purchase it. You’ll need to budget for property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, and ongoing maintenance and repairs at a minimum. If you’re going to be able to downsize comfortably, you need to have a plan for how to pay for those expenses. Creating a budget will help you get a feel for how much home you can afford and what to expect in terms of the upfront and ongoing expenses.
Know What You Want
Once you have your budget figured out, you can start figuring out what you want in a downsized home. Since there is less space, rooms may be smaller and some rooms that you have in your home currently may not be in your downsized home at all. Working out what home features are a priority to you can guide you in your search for your new home. Do you want a hobby room? Choosing a home that has one more bedroom than you need can be a good option since you can convert that extra room into your hobby room. If you plan to have grandchildren visit from time to time, you might want to find a home with a nice yard they can play in. If you want a cost-effective fireplace feature, make sure you understand what makes a fireplace efficient in the first place. Identifying what you want in a home is one of the first steps to finding a home that has what you’re looking for.
Account for Accessibility
While plenty of seniors still have a spring in their step and live by the idea that you’re only as old as you feel, others may have a harder time getting around than they used to. One of the things that you should think about seriously is how accessible you need your home to be in order for you to be both comfortable and safe. Stairs and narrow hallways can pose a challenge, especially if you need mobility assistance in the form of using a walker or wheelchair. You may find it helpful to look for homes with ramps instead of (or in addition to) steps, single story homes, and homes with hallways and doorways wide enough for wheelchair navigation. Even if you don’t need these features now, you may later. Having a home that is already accommodating when it comes to accessibility can make it easier to age in place if that’s what you decide you want to do.
One of the more difficult parts of downsizing is letting go of belongings. Our things tend to acquire sentimental value over time, which makes it hard to let go of them. The problem is that what fits comfortably in your home now may not be as comfortable in a smaller home. In fact, it can easily go straight to horribly cluttered. Living in clutter isn’t healthy or comfortable, so you may find it necessary to get rid of some of your things. That doesn’t mean you have to throw out your memories though. Take pictures of sentimental belongings so you can look at them later and enjoy the memories those objects hold. You may be able to keep some of them in the family by passing them on to family members. The same may apply to your furniture as well. Moving to a smaller home may mean swapping out your furniture for smaller alternatives. You may find it helpful to wait to choose new furniture until you’ve chosen your new home so you can make furniture selections that fit properly in your new space. Make sure you give yourself enough time for this process. It’s probably going to be a bit difficult and you’re going to want to spend some time reminiscing.
Ask For Help
The actual process of downsizing can be tough, both mentally and physically. We suggest you assemble a team to help you. That team should include a trusted REALTOR® as well as legal and financial professionals who can help you make the best decisions for your future.
You may want to enlist the help of packers and movers. While you can absolutely do whatever you feel comfortable and safe doing, you may find it best to ask for help. Family members and neighbors can be of great help when it comes to moving, but in the case of larger or heavier furniture pieces and heavy boxes, it’s best to hire a professional to ensure everything arrives safely at your new home. Whatever you choose to move yourself, make sure you use safe lifting techniques to avoid accidentally injuring yourself.
This can also be a good opportunity to pass on some of your things to your family if that’s what you’ve decided to do, so take advantage of it if you can. We suggest hiring an estate sale professional to help you sell off whatever is left after sharing with family and moving to your new place.
Downsizing can be tough, but you can make it easier on yourself. Have a plan and a timeline for executing it. Account for any changing needs you may have. Remember to ask for help when you need it. That will help you make the transition to a smaller living space more comfortable as you adjust to this new phase of your life.