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Downsizing Home Checklist: How to Downsize for Retirement


A Checklist to Get Started Downsizing Your Home

Congrats! You’ve made the decision to embrace the freedom of the turnkey active adult life. You’ve come to terms with disconnecting from a house that may indeed hold the memories of your family’s past but may not be suited to your active adult future. That’s a very big deal. You might say, you’ve already done the emotional heavy lifting.

Now the actual physical task of transitioning into the active adult community of your choice awaits. Even contemplating wading through decades of family accumulation can be exhausting. It’s basically a standoff between you and your possessions. What is headed for the trash? What will you donate? What will be coming with you in your new life? Though the process may be daunting, with a little planning and strategy, it can be a manageable chore – with possibly even some fun involved.   

Here are some tips to help seniors downsize efficiently and with minimal stress.

Rome Wasn’t Decluttered in a Day

When contemplating how to downsize for retirement, your time management skills will come in handy. This is a job that will almost certainly take longer than you think it will. Give yourself plenty of lead time before the move to properly address every step of the process. Begin making small steps as soon as you know your target date.

Downsizing Home Checklist – Your Guide to Organization

Create a checklist that includes the entire gamut of downsizing tasks and assign realistic deadlines to yourself so you can stay on top of things. Whether it’s decluttering, packing boxes, or gathering important documents, if it’s on the checklist, you’ll get it done!

Start Small

You may want to start the project by tackling items that are less important to you, thereby easier to get rid of. Don’t overtax yourself. After a few hours, walk away and do something fun. Designate special days for emotional journeys like sifting through the kids’ old artwork and old photos. Take all the time you need to stroll down memory lane. And, then move on!

The One-Year Rule

When you’re struggling with whether or not to get rid of something, apply the one-year rule. Think about whether or not you’ve used this item in the past year. If you haven’t chances are, you won’t need it next year either! The addendum to the one-year rule, is the doubles rule. Unless you plan to downsize to a restaurant, you definitely don’t need two ladles or two potato peelers.

Digitizing Saves Space

Who can even imagine parting with all of those precious family photos? But they do take up a lot of space that you may not have in your new location. The answer is: Go digital. Scan your beloved photos and old letters into a digital device and they are yours to view at any time, forever!

Ask For Help

An extra set of hands from family or close friends can make all the difference. Invite the grandkids over to help with the actual heavy lifting. Serve snacks and regale them with stories of their parents’ misspent youth. Grandkids make everything fun – even decluttering. If the grandkids are unavailable, grab a friend and entice them with the promise of takeout from your favorite restaurant afterward.

The Price is Right!

One way to help seniors downsize is a good old-fashioned yard sale. You’ll get rid of stuff you no longer need, make a few bucks, and have a chance to hang out with the neighbors. If organizing such an event is overwhelming, there are professional services that will come into your home and take over the process.

Your GO Bag

When moving day approaches, be sure your essentials are readily available and not packed away in a random box that you might not find for days after the move. Be prepared with a small bag of important personal items including:

  • Sleepwear
  • Bedding
  • Medications
  • Toiletries
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Kitchen and meal supplies

Start Thinking Ahead to Your Fabulous Future

It’s never too soon to transition into your new life as an active adult. While you’re navigating the process of downsizing, contact your Overture active adult community and become familiar with all the available activities and social opportunities. Get your hands on a monthly events calendar and start planning your social activities. Let your family know in advance - the more the merrier at an Overture community! Sign up for fitness classes or outreach courses and be ready to jump in as soon as – or maybe even before – you unpack your boxes. Be sure to your change of address to your beloved friends and family members!