Tips for a Smooth Downsizing Transition in Retirement
Downsizing has become somewhat of a trend among baby boomers and recent retirees. Smaller homes are much easier to maintain, and they cost less in terms of utilities, taxes, and insurance. If you’re thinking about selling the family home and jumping back into the real estate market, these tips can help ease your transition to downsized living.
Picking the Perfect Home Size
If you’ve lived in a large home your whole life, you may be concerned about feeling confined in a smaller space. However, it turns out we spend most of our time in just a few key rooms—the kitchen and living room. Downsizing is all about cutting out the excess and embracing simplicity. Chances are, you’ll feel more comfortable in a well-fitting house than one made up of empty bedrooms.
When deciding on a house size, think about your ability to maintain the home and how often you expect to host guests from out of town. A second bedroom can be tempting, but a house with more rooms will take longer to clean and cost more to maintain. Remember, there are plenty of ways to host guests in a small home!
Also, consider the possibility that you may have to make accessible home modifications one day. A larger two-story home may present problems in the future, but a home that’s too small may be difficult to maneuver around with a walker or wheelchair. Many seniors choose to downsize into a condo or house in an age-restricted community, so they don’t have to worry about these problems.
Narrowing Your Location Options
To narrow your location options, think about what you want to do with your time. Make a list of activities and hobbies that are important to you, so you can choose an accommodating location.
When you find a location in which you can see yourself living, explore the neighborhoods. The Balance recommends talking to the neighbors before buying. You can get valuable insight into an area from its residents. Ask them what they like and dislike about the community, and what kinds of socialization opportunities are available. Their answers to these questions can help you decide if the location is a good fit for you.
When choosing a location, you’ll also need to account for the cost of buying a new home. Homes in York have a median listing price of $197,000, but prices vary based on which neighborhood you want to buy in.
Sorting Through Stuff
To fit in a smaller space, you will need to get rid of some things. This can be the most difficult part of the downsizing process. Before you start, acquire a floor plan of your new home so you can avoid moving in possessions that won’t fit in your new space. Start small and try to tackle areas of your home that don’t contain sentimental items, like the bathroom. If you need to get rid of some furniture, hold onto your most accessible pieces. Keep your sturdy chairs and say goodbye to plush couches that are difficult to stand up from.
When you get to the tough stuff, try to differentiate between items that are really meaningful and items that you’re only holding onto because you feel guilty throwing away. You may have an easier time saying goodbye to unwanted clutter by photographing and scanning items and documents, or passing them on to family members. If you can’t make a decision about an item, you can always put it in a storage unit temporarily until you make up your mind. The average national cost of a 10’x20’ unit is $100 per month.
Managing the Move
Unfortunately, the hard work isn’t over yet—you still have to face moving day. Create a moving checklist and timeline so you don’t forget any essential tasks like booking movers or switching over your utilities. If you start your moving preparations early enough, you can avoid burnout by spending just one hour each day packing. Remember to also pack an essentials bag with items you’ll need during the first day in your new place. When it comes to hiring movers, review customer feedback to learn about which moving company is best for you.
Downsizing in retirement can help you create some breathing room in your life. Without all that stuff weighing you down, you can focus on the things that really matter, like spending time with family. Getting rid of clutter and simplifying your surroundings can be exceedingly refreshing, even if it takes a little elbow grease to get there.
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