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5 Expert Tips for Downsizing Your Home

Alicia Farley  |  September 29, 2022

Real Estate 101

5 Expert Tips for Downsizing Your Home

Are you starting the process of downsizing in the coming months? Alicia Farley strives to be your go-to resource at all stages of life. Unlike moving to a home the same size or larger, downsizing comes with unique challenges and opportunities. On top of obvious spatial considerations, individuals looking to downsize usually enter a new phase of life. This period is often reached at retirement (or soon after) and requires special considerations to accommodate physical limitations.

Since there are many moving pieces for those who are downsizing, it is ultra helpful to have a checklist of expert tips to guide you through this new stage. Explore five of the best strategies to help you downsize hassle-free.

Decide what will stay and what will go

Before you begin exploring homes for sale, one of the most critical parts of the downsizing process is deciding which of your belongings will stay and which will need to go. Over the years, you’ve likely accumulated dozens of items you no longer use. From outdated clothing to old board games, now is the time to decide which of your possessions will be coming with you to your new residence.

To start this project, organizing each room in your home is best. An initial organization session will help you clear out clutter and make it easier to decide what belongings are most important.

After organizing your home, you should sort all remaining belongings into the following four categories:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Throw away
  • Give to a family member or friend

Utilizing these categories will help you be more decisive and will help you avoid hanging on to items that could serve a better purpose. It is entirely up to you where you begin sorting through your belongings — there are no right or wrong answers. Be sure to pace yourself throughout this project and be realistic with your timelines. If it took you decades to accumulate your possessions, it would take a while to sort through everything! 

Consider interior layout options for your new home

Once you’ve decided which items you’ll be keeping (or have made decent progress), it is time to start considering what style of interior layout you’ll need in a new home. 

Your first decision will be whether to purchase a single or two-story house. Among retirees, the most popular configuration is single-story properties. This is primarily due to mobility and health issues that make climbing stairs hazardous or impossible. Even if you do not yet have significant mobility concerns or physical limitations, this style is wise for any future health issues. Not having to climb stairs regularly can significantly reduce the risk of falls, which is one of the most common causes of serious injuries in individuals 65+.

If you have your heart set on a two-story property, but either you or your spouse currently has mobility challenges that make this option difficult, consider the installation of a chair lift. Although they involve an initial investment, these lifts can easily transport you up and down the stairs with ease and safety.

On top of deciding whether a one or two-story home suits your needs, you’ll also want to decide what overall layout you’d like in your new home. Will you need guest rooms for visitors? Are you partial to an open concept? Create a list of your must-haves to guide you through the home buying process.

Look for amenities that fit your needs

As individuals age, various needs and preferences are bound to change. One of the perks of downsizing is that you can easily find a community with amenities suited to your current lifestyle.

55+ communities are becoming increasingly popular for their abundance of amenities. As part of one of these subdivisions, expect to enjoy social events, lawn care, game nights, a neighborhood pool, and more. Some places offer varying levels of assisted living, which is ideal for those with health challenges. Although amenities vary depending on your chosen community, you are bound to find an option that works well for your wants and needs.

Pace yourself and be patient with your emotions

Downsizing can be a slow and emotional process. As such, setting realistic expectations is essential. Trying to rush through each stage, or pushing your feelings down, will create a less-than-desirable experience. Be patient with the entire process from start to finish. Practice acceptance of this new chapter in your life, and try to look at the positives you can now experience.

If you continuously feel down and depressed throughout the downsizing process, contact a mental health professional to work through your more challenging feelings. 

Think about the future

Why is it important to consider the future when moving to a smaller home? First and foremost, downsizing usually marks major shifts and changes in one’s life. You are likely to face things you’ve never experienced before, and these changes will likely persist in the coming years. 

To ensure that you are selecting the right new home, try to imagine life in the next five and ten years. Do you plan on hosting guests from out-of-state (such as grown children or friends)? Do you have mobility issues that are likely to progress over the coming years? Do you want a space that can help you grow into a new hobby, such as gardening or yoga? Whatever your plans look like, have them in mind so that your new home can grow with you.

Ready to find the perfect, downsized home in your area? Contact Alicia Farley and her team of real estate pros today. After helping dozens of individuals work through the downsizing process, she knows what it takes to create a pleasant, stress-free home buying experience.

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