Seniors' Guide for Downsizing

A Guide for Downsizing as a Senior: Choosing a New Place and Going Through Belongings


Photo Credit: geralt, Pixabay
 

Moving can be a difficult and stressful time for anyone, but those difficulties and stressors multiply if you’re a senior who is downsizing. For starters, it’s difficult to leave a home where you have lived for decades. Spending that much time in one place means you’ve probably collected a lot of items that you must part with before the move. Throw in the decision of where to move, and it’s clear to see how downsizing as a senior is especially challenging.
 
The Decision to Downsize


One of the most important decisions involved in downsizing is choosing a housing option. Possibilities include a house, apartment, condo, retirement community, assisted living facility, and more. Whichever option you choose, ensure that your health, social, and financial needs are met.

 
First, you should weigh the different costs of the options. Another important factor is the location. What or whom do you want to be near? You may wish to be near doctors, shopping, other amenities, or family and friends. Whatamenities do you want right outside your doorstep? Some people want to live in a community with a pool or gym, while others want social classes or meetings.
 
If your health status requires certainfeatures, such as wider doorways or no steps, make sure you choose a new home that has these features or that can be easily modified. But don’t just think about your current health. Consider your future needs that could arise as your health status changes. Will your home accommodate those changes?
 
Retirement Community Considerations
 
A retirement community provides housing and some services and is open exclusively to retirees. Even if you decide that this is the housing option for you, not all retirement communities are alike, so you still have more considerations to make. First, the housing itself can vary from freestanding houses to duplexes to apartment-style living. Consider the pros and cons of each type of home to help narrow down the retirement community that’s right for you.
 
Another consideration is whether to own or lease. Some communities offer one or the other, while others have both options available. Owning may be right for you if you plan to stay for a long time and if it provides better value than renting in the long run. Consider the resale value too. If you’re a younger retiree or senior, remember that the next retiree population will be smaller, and thus the demand for retiree communities may be lower.
 
Do not buy if you will need to spend more than 15 percent of your liquid net worth on the entrance fees, which can be quite high. Leasing provides flexibility so that if you were unhappy with the location, neighbors, or anything else, you could move more easily. When considering a lease, ask if upkeep and maintenance are provided and whether there are restrictions on renovating and decorating.
 
Downsizing Your Belongings
 
When you make the decision to downsize your home, you must also downsize your belongings, which means going through your house and deciding what to keep, give away to friends and family, sell, and donate. The best way to start is to visit your new place or obtain photos or floor plans so that you’re able to visualize how your possessions will fit. You’ll be able to figure out where to put items and which ones will no longer be necessary.
 
Once you’re ready to begin sorting, it can be easier to start with the unsentimental items. While giving up kitchen gadgets isn’t always easy either, starting with the kitchen can get the ball rolling so that you’re more ready and willing to tackle the living room and bedroom. As you go through each room, be able to articulate each item’s purpose if you’re keeping it. If it doesn’t serve a function or doesn’t bring you joy, don’t keep it.
 
While downsizing as a senior can be challenging and stressful, there are ways to make the process easier. First, carefully consider what is important to you in your new home’s location and amenities. Also, vigilantly sort through your possessions so that you don’t move more than you can fit into your new home. Following these steps helps ensure you will feel more comfortable and at ease in your new home.



Courtesy of: Michael Longsdon

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