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Downsizing Your Home: When, Why and How

Senior couple downsizing and packing their belongings into boxes

If you’re like most Americans, from the moment you purchased your first “starter home,” you probably started thinking about adding on or buying a bigger house. One with room for a growing family or better for entertaining friends or just a better investment. After spending decades with the mindset of “bigger is better,” it can feel a little strange to start thinking about downsizing your home. But after the kids are grown and you exchange career pursuits for more personal goals, there are a lot of good reasons to find something that fits your new lifestyle better. Let’s take a closer look at those reasons, the benefits of deciding to downsize, and the best way to successfully accomplish it.

When is the right time to downsize?

It may have been decades since you explored the real estate market, but here are five signs it’s time to start considering your options:

  1. Retirement: As they see the end of regular paychecks, many people look to downsizing as a way to save money on basic expenses and increase their retirement income.
    A smaller and cheaper property can help reduce your property taxes, insurance and,
    if needed, mortgage payments.
  2. Too much to do: You already know owning a home means something always needs to be cleaned, fixed or maintained. Having a smaller home will give you less to look after and more time for yourself.
  3. Unused rooms: Think about the space you currently use. Are there rooms you rarely go into? If so, remember those rooms still need to be cleaned, maintained, heated and cooled. Now might be the time to simplify your life with a space that fits you better.
  4. The future: What do you want your life to look like tomorrow? What will you do if a medical emergency strikes you or your spouse? Are there  design issues — stairs, narrow hallways, etc. — that could make it more difficult to stay in your family home? What about in 15 to 20 years? As part of your downsizing exploration, you may want to consider a Life Plan Community like Grace Ridge. We offer a full continuum of on-site care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. That way you and your spouse are more prepared for whatever the future holds.
  5. Family connections: Now could be a good time to move closer to family and spend time with your grandkids. You can go to soccer/baseball games, have sleepovers or just go to an impromptu lunch. Even if you live in the same town, moving to a smaller home gives you less to look after and more time to enjoy the lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to create.

Six benefits of downsizing your home

  1. Get organized: Having a smaller home makes you eliminate clutter/unnecessary/unused items.
  2. Less stress: Only having what you need and needing what you have will lead to less stress and worry.
  3. More accessibility: A home that was perfect for you 20 years ago can become more challenging. Downsizing into a smaller home that fits your current and future needs will allow you to enjoy it longer.
  4. Fewer miles: If you currently live in a suburban neighborhood, you might  have quite a drive for groceries, restaurants, entertainment and other activities. Moving to a senior living community or more densely populated area can put you closer to everything you need.
  5. More time: With less space to look after, you have more time for hobbies, recreation, travel or just plain relaxing.
  6. Travel: Downsizing will give you more time and money to visit friends, family and new places. Choosing a maintenance-free retirement community means you can just lock and leave, knowing everything will be taken care of while you’re off exploring.

Seven downsizing tips

If you’ve decided to downsize your home, here are seven suggestions to help you get started.

  1. Do one  room at a time: The garage or a closet is often a good place to start. Don’t move on to another room until you’ve finished the first.
  2. Sort it all: Put everything in the room into four categories: Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash. A good rule of thumb: Unless it’s a sentimental item, if you haven’t opened a box or used an item in a year, it’s probably not a necessity.
  3. Go slow: If you’re unsure about an item, place it in the Keep box for now, but plan to revisit items in that box again in a month. At some point though, you’ll need to decide whether or not you can live without it.
  4. Have fun: Put on some of your favorite music. Invite a friend to help. Plan on a treat at the end of the day: maybe ice cream, a favorite cocktail or special dinner.
  5. Ask the kids. Consider inviting adult children to assist in the sorting process. They’ll surely claim some of the items placed in the Sell or Donate boxes.
  6. Cut the closet: To justify keeping clothing, it must meet two criteria: 1. It must fit. 2. It should be in style. Here’s a good rule: If  you haven’t worn it in two years, you don’t need it anymore.
  7. Clear the kitchen: Match lids to every container, then toss out anything without a mate. Plus, if you’re considering a move to a senior living community, they’ll probably offer several dining venues, so you may be able to pare down kitchen/cooking items.

Retirement Living – One Way to Enjoy a Fuller, Larger Life.

Just because your square footage may decrease doesn’t mean your lifestyle has to. At Grace Ridge, we offer a wide variety of residential options with one that’s  sure to fit your budget and plans for the future. Then you can start enjoying an active and engaging retirement with our diverse group of residents. If you want to learn more about our lifestyle, contact us here.