Downsizing Tips for Seniors: How to Go From Lost to Liberated

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Oh, the liberating feeling of downsizing. If you’re one of the growing number of seniors who have decided to downsize, congratulations! As you simplify your life, you’ll have less to worry about and more time to focus on your priorities. Chances are, you’ll have more money, too. If the thoughts of downsizing feel more daunting than liberating, though, read on for tips on how to make the process go smoothly.

1. Know Where You’re Going
Only you know your purpose in downsizing. For some, it’s to move closer to grandchildren. For others, it’s to fulfill a dream to live near the beach or to explore the country in an RV. Some find themselves feeling lost in a large house where they once raised a large family. Others simply don’t want to leave a lifetime of stuff behind that their loved ones will have to deal with. As you look for your next home, go into the search with a list of your needs.

  • Would you like to live in a warmer climate?
  • Do you need a single-story house because of mobility issues?
  • Is easy living your priority, with no yard work or maintenance issues?

After deciding where to move, you’ll want to get a feel for the prices of homes that are the right size for you. Plenty of sites, including and Redfin, make it easy to research home prices.

2. Decide What to Do With All Your Possessions
The smaller the home you choose, the more downsizing you’ll need to do. This leads to deciding what to do with all your stuff. There’s no getting around it; sorting through all your belongings can be hard work, both physically and emotionally. At all times, keep your eyes on the prize: lower living expenses, less housework, and a fresh start in your life.

If there are items you intend to leave for loved ones in your will, consider giving it to them now. Not only will you have the joy of seeing their gratitude, but also it will be less for you to move.

After giving select items to loved ones, prepare three piles and label them “Keep,” “Toss,” and “Sell/Donate.” Marie Kondo, creator of the KonMari Method, suggests discarding everything that doesn’t bring you joy. Create a set of guidelines for what you’ll keep and what you’ll get rid of, and really stick to it. The only items you’ll be packing are what you’ve placed in your “Keep” pile. For items in your “Sell/Donate” pile, consider selling some on eBay as well as researching organizations that will come directly to your house to pick up donations. For large items, consider having an estate or yard sale. When it comes to nostalgic treasures such as your children’s drawings, report cards, etc., consider archiving them digitally. Add them to your computer in a folder called “nostalgia.”

3. Organize a Smooth Move
At this stage of your life, you owe it to yourself to hire a professional moving service. Having them pack your belongings is invaluable, too. What would take you weeks will take them only a few days, and your fragile belongings are much less apt to break due to insufficient packaging.

In addition to making sure you have any essential medications and your phone charger with you on moving day, prepare an “open me first” box. A few things to have in it to minimize stress are:

  • Important paperwork
  • Toilet paper, a few towels and toiletries
  • Bedding and pajamas so you don’t have to hunt for them on your first night
  • Coffee and a coffee maker

Whether you choose a city loft in Manhattan or a tiny house in Oregon, welcome to this new chapter in your life. As famous poet John Petit-Senn once said, “Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.”

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