The Wheaton Blog
Downsizing Tips for Empty Nesters
For many seniors and retirees, the home they have lived in for years or even decades is no longer right for their needs. You might find that your house has too many stairs, too much square-footage to maintain, is too costly for a fixed income, or is in an area where there aren’t the amenities that would make senior living easier. Consider that downsizing can be your best option moving forward.
You might be torn about moving, especially after spending so long in one home. Over the years you collect more belongings, and you might feel overwhelmed and discouraged about the idea of starting fresh. If you’re frustrated about your need to downsize, then here are some tips you can follow to help make the process easier.
Get Rid of Items that Require Storage Space
The most challenging part of downsizing is reducing the number of things you need to move and store in a smaller home. You can easily get rid of some things without any issue, but many of your belongings may still be useful or hold emotional value. However, keeping them will make downsizing impossible.
You can use a number of methods to really pare down material items, depending on what the item is.
A simple way to make reducing your belongings easier is to eliminate duplicates. For example, when all of your children lived at home, you might have needed two sets of dishes. However, except for the rare time you have company over, two sets of dishes simply take up cupboard space. Keep the one you like better, and pass on the other.
Use this same philosophy with other items. If you have two warm coats, then pass one of the coats onward. Don’t keep extras around in case you have visitors or in case you might need it. In your garage, you might get rid of extra bikes, superfluous camping supplies, and even any extra lawn or home tools.
In addition, you won’t need five sets of sheets in the linen closet anymore. Keep two or three sets and donate the others. Blankets, towels, wash clothes, and table coverings take up huge amounts of storage space. With fewer people at home, you won’t need a lot of linens.
As you get rid of stuff, you’ll be amazed at how well this single rule for downsizing helps. From your linen closet to your garage, this rule applies to everything you may have duplicated in your home.
Making Digital Copies
Another area that makes downsizing difficult is scrapbooks, boxes of photographs, old artwork, awards, and other memorabilia. If you have the knowledge, equipment, and time, then you can downsize these items by making digital copies of each one and then store them on an external computer hard drive.
You can even have these items printed into one book — which still allows you to take them out and look at them in a physical format, but in a cleaner, more condensed way that cuts back on storage.
You can keep hard copies of things that are particularly special, but limit yourself to a single plastic tote.
Getting Rid of Hardly or Never Used Items
Finally, even after eliminating extra items and moving many keepsakes to digital format, you might still feel like you are drowning in belongings. Now is the time to be ruthless. No longer keep things just in case. Instead, take a hard look at everything, including art and decor, and assess its use.
Clothes, kitchen appliances, tools, and holiday decorations might not have a place in your new home. If you have not used an item, or if you rarely use the item, then donate it. If you do use the item, but only once or twice a year, then check if it is something you can occasionally rent or borrow so you don’t have to move, maintain, and store it.
Pass Down Gifts and Heirlooms
There might be items that you’ve been holding on to so that you can pass them on to your children or grandchildren. Usually, people consider holding on to these items until they pass away, disseminating specific belongings in their last will and testament. However, there is no rule that says you can give these items to your family before you die.
For example, if you have a collection of antique quilts you want to pass on to your daughter, then give them to her when you move. This way you don’t have to move or store them. The same concept goes for large items like pianos or furniture. This also gives you the chance to see your kids enjoying and using an heirloom, which can help you feel better about downsizing.
Hire Packing and Storage Services
Remember, you don’t have to go through this process alone. You might have family who is willing to help, but you also might need more professional assistance. You can hire people to pack your items for you, giving you more time to look for the perfect new home.
If you are not yet prepared to sort through your belongings, then you can rent a storage unit to reduce clutter in your new home. You can then visit the storage unit and slowly go through your stuff without the stress of getting it done before your moving timeline.
For more information, contact us at Wheaton World Wide Moving.