How to Plan for a Smooth Downsize as a Senior

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Many seniors decide to downsize after retirement. Some are only pursuing a simplified lifestyle, while others have more specific reasons in mind, such as family, friends, healthcare, finances, and/or amenities. Whatever your reasons for downsizing, it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding, and coming up with a good plan will help make each step of the process go more smoothly. From understanding the benefits to moving your belongings to the new home, here are some tips for planning your downsize.


Consider the Benefits 


Although it can be a taxing experience, downsizing is a great option for many seniors. For one, moving to a smaller home can allow you to release money from your equity or save money on you mortgage payment, and it can also come with tax benefits to boost your savings (e.g., tax-free capital gains). This means that you will have more money to do things you enjoy, such as traveling, leisure, and treating friends to dinner. 


Along with simplifying your finances, downsizing can allow you to have less clutter and maintenance responsibilities. As HomeAdvisor suggests, “Having fewer financial- and maintenance-related responsibilities will allow you to focus more on your happiness and less on your home.” Furthermore, you can strategize your relocation to make your goals accessible to you. For instance, you can move right down the road from your grandchildren, move to a different climate, and/or move somewhere that has certain activities readily available. 


Evaluate Your Goals 


When you’re deciding on a location, it’s important to establish your goals. This includes setting financial goals. How much money do you want to save on mortgage, cost of living, and other factors? Also, consider your lifestyle goals. Do you want to be close to family or friends? Do you need to be close to senior services or other kinds of medical care? Are there any particular activities or amenities you’re looking for?


Choose a New Home That Suits Your Needs


Along with the location, the type of home you move to will significantly affect your everyday life. For instance, a smaller house can provide the privacy and independence you’re used to, with the benefits of a less expensive mortgage and less maintenance. However, renting an apartment for a while can save you the most money per month. If you plan on traveling a lot during your golden years, building a tiny house or buying an RV could be just the ticket. Moreover, if you want to live among other seniors or need assistance with daily tasks, you may enjoy an independent living community or assisted living facility.


Start Paring Down Your Belongings Early 


When it comes to downsizing your belongings, you will want to start early in the process to allow yourself the time to sort through your items and decide what to keep and toss. Starting early also leaves you with more time to reminisce about sentimental items, which is emotionally difficult for many seniors. Here are a few other tips for downsizing your belongings.


  • Declutter room by room.

  • Make four categories: keep, trash, donate, sell.

  • Avoid bringing duplicate items to the new home (e.g., kitchen utensils, pots and pans, too many towels, etc.).

  • If you have any gifts to pass down to family members, consider giving them away early.


Get Help


Finally, don’t hesitate to recruit friends and family members to help you with the move. Packing can be taxing enough. Moving boxes up and down stairs, in and out of the vehicle, and into your new home is a whole different beast. If asking people to help you is not an option, look into hiring a senior move manager, who can usually do any moving-related work you need. 


Downsizing is much easier when you make a plan. Remember to go through the benefits, determine your goals, and pick the location and type of home that will help you realize those goals. Also, give yourself enough time to sort through your belongings and get help when moving your items to the new home. The process of downsizing can always be challenging, but following tips like these will help make everything go more smoothly. 


Photo Credit: Burst (by Shopify)

Mike Longsdon