Getting ready to retire is a very bittersweet time in a persons life. This can mean moving to a different place, traveling, or simply staying put. But for many it means looking for a more affordable, smaller home that requires less maintenance, giving them more time to travel, spend time with family and care for themselves.
For so many, “downsizing” is an extremely daunting word. The accumulation of “things” we acquire over the years is hard place a tangible number on. In fact, an NBC news article in 2017 wrote that the average home contains 300,000 items. Let me say that number again…. 300,000!! So yes, the word downsize has every right to carry a daunting feeling along with it.
But it doesn’t always have to feel this way. Of course leaving your home, whether that is the home you have been in for your entire life, or a home you moved into just a couple of years earlier, will always be an emotional rollercoaster. You have filled it with your love and unforgettable memories. At some point, the time comes to begin your next chapter.
To help make this step in life a bit easier, we have laid out 5 ways to make downsizing a little less stressful.
1. Start early… not all at once
Procrastination was cool back in high school, but definitely is not something you want to fall back into when moving. It’s important to start at least a month before moving to your new space. This will give you time to work slowly and efficiently so it’s not overwhelming. Once you begin to rush, everything becomes unorganized. This make it extremely difficult to find some of your most essential things for your first couple of days in your new home. Once you have a settlement date (or if you’re a planner… start earlier!), begin gathering boxes… it’s a perfect place to start.
Start tossing out old food in your pantry that has been hiding in the back corner for months or maybe even years (anyone else guilty of this besides me?…). Declutter your closet the next time you put your laundry away. Begin giving your expired medications to your doctors or pharmacists. All these “little” steps can be taken to prevent getting overwhelmed when the real packing begins.
2. Create a plan
Make. A. List. In fact, make multiple! The more organized you are, the better. That’s why it is so important to sit down and create a plan. First, decide which room you are going to tackle. It is easier to begin with the rooms that contain the most items. This may be the living room, family room or kitchen. Take on the large tasks in the beginning and the later tends to seem a little less intimidating. When going through your things, make four different piles: 1. keep, 2. give to family/friends, 3. donate, 4. sell. It can be hard when going through personal belongings to decide if you should keep or get rid of them. If you’re moving and you haven’t watched Marie Kondo’s, “Tidying Up”, on Netflix, grab that remote ASAP. Marie Kondo’s entire motto is, if it doesn’t spark joy, toss it. It’s a wonderful way to declutter your home and come to terms with what “things” actually hold meaning in your life. If it doesn’t “spark joy”, give it away, donate it, or sell it.
Unsure where is excepting donations? Here is a link that provides a list of places willing to take donations when you begin decluttering your home.
3. Set firm dates
Secure a settlement date. This will ensure that you know you have to be completely moved out by X day. If you have set dates in your head, it is more likely you will make a plan to get everything done on time. If you are using a moving company, call the movers and set a date and time. If you are having a yard sale, set a date and label each item so that you are ready ahead of time. Call the place you will be taking your donations to and tell them a day you will be bringing your items.
4. Complete a changing your address checklist
When you move, there are many things you tend to forget because the act of moving is an extremely time consuming and emotional process. Here is a list you can follow to make sure you complete everything!
- Notify the USPS of your change of address and set up mail forwarding
- Notify the IRS and state tax agency of your new address
- Let the SSA know you’re moving
- Transfer your gas and electric accounts
- Call your cable and internet companies to let them know of your new address
- Transfer home insurance
- Notify your employer
- Notify your bank and credit card company
- If you have any outstanding loans, make the loan company aware you moved
- Notify doctors, dentists, vets, etc.
- And of course.. last but not least, your family and friends!!
Here’s a checklist with helpful links to guide you!
5. Bring your style to your new space
It’s hard to think about leaving a space you’ve made your own. Maybe you painted the walls just the right color, found a sofa that fit perfectly in your living room. It can be hard to leave. To make your new space feel a little more comfortable, bring a similar style to life in your new home as was present in your old! Maybe you choose to use the same color scheme, or you find out your couch actually fits PERFECTLY in your fabulous living room! Everything when you move doesn’t have to be brand spanken new. Sometimes keeping a little bit of the old can bring comfort and happiness in your new beginning.
Downsizing and moving is a bittersweet and sometimes extremely stressful adventure. Make sure you start early and are organized throughout the process. Happy moving!