Life as a retiree can take some getting used to – luckily, now you now have plenty of time for making those adjustments!

Depending on how you wish to enjoy your golden years, you may want to consider making a change in your living arrangements, possibly downsizing. The status of the real estate market continues to be good, home values are increasing, and there is a shortage of homes for sale in our area. Interest rates remain close to historic lows.

For those looking to move out of the family home, this is a great opportunity to possibly walk away with a good return on your biggest investment. But it is important to consider your future goals when considering whether to downsize.

Considering Your Goals

Today, there are so many options to consider when thinking about downsizing. It could be to a smaller, or one-story home, or it could be into a planned retirement community. Tiny homes are increasingly popular – but you may want to consider a more mobile option, like a houseboat or RV. What are your priorities?

Leisure: There are many communities that focus on leisure activities. Shared amenities can include tennis courts, walking trails, golf courses, swimming pools, lake access, community centers with scheduled activities, fitness centers and more! Homes designed especially for seniors may include a sun room, upgraded kitchen, space for an RV, and even guest suites for extended visitors.

Grandchildren: Frequently visiting with the grand kids can keep you active while also staying young at heart. If you plan to spend a lot of time with your grandchildren in your home, you will want space to play games, and burn off some energy. Will you have room for them to visit? Is there a playground close by? If you enter a senior community, you will want to make sure of any rules about children that may apply.

Travel: Getting out on the road poses its own set of decisions. It could mean a need for RV parking at your home base or it could be making your home-sweet-home near the airport (hopefully not TOO near!). Another consideration may be to ensure your home is rental-friendly to earn you some extra money while you’re on the road (think Air BNB or similar homestay lodging services).

Tips to Simplify Downsizing

Downsizing can be a daunting challenge after a lifetime of accumulating memorabilia and artifacts. Fortunately, in retirement you have the time to do this methodically over a couple of weeks or months.

Begin by separating out the easier to part with items. You probably already have a list in your head of items in the garage and kitchen that you’re willing to let go of. You likely also have at least a partial list of items you want your children, grandchildren and other family members to have. These are a great place to start.

Next, move on to rooms with less emotional attachment and rooms that you won’t have in your new home. Most people aren’t too emotionally attached to the laundry room and you may soon have to go without a 3rd or 4th bedroom and full basement. A good rule to follow is to sort things into piles to “Keep” and “Let Go”. A “Maybe” pile will drag out the process by making you think it through more than once. The exception for having a third pile could be a pile of what you will sell or take to a donation center.

Be sure to give each item a moment of your consideration. You’ll quickly find yourself developing a logical system to making the decision. Go through each room one at a time. You may have a different system for each room. You’ll also avoid regrets by giving everything at least a moment of thought.

Items that are easier to say goodbye to include duplicates and things you haven’t used in a few years or ever. That oversized roasting pan that you only use at Christmas might go to a grandchild who can bring it over once a year.

People have collections they find difficult to let go of. Photo albums can be digitized and kept safe on in cloud storage online. You can select a few special figurines and sell the rest for a nice chunk of change. Family members might be interested in at least part of your collection or maybe you can divide it among several relatives.

Be sure your family knows that a big part of your downsizing means letting go of your treasures. Ask them to tell you what they want. Giving away some difficult-to-part-with treasures can still bring you happiness. Giving your son the grandfather clock means you can see him enjoy it now and you can still enjoy it when you visit. You may also learn you have things you don’t think anyone would want but your granddaughter actually wants your old sewing basket. Pick a weekend to invite the family over for a day to show them what you are letting go and tell a few stories behind your fondest possessions.

One reason to start downsizing early is to give yourself time to reminisce. There’s a reason you’ve saved this stuff all of these years, even if you haven’t looked at it for a long time. Now you have the time and reason to enjoy it again.

Helping Seniors is our passion! Sharon Chase, our lead agent maintains her Senior Real Estate Specialist designation, and works with local retirement communities, estate sale companies and other resources to make downsizing as easy as possible for our clients. If you are thinking of making a move, let our team help!

For More Info about Downsizing and Retirement Communities Check out our Resources for Seniors.