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You’ve Decided to Downsize — Now What? 6 Tips for Seniors
By: Lucille Rosetti
There are many reasons seniors decide to downsize. For one, letting go of the burden of possessions during retirement can be incredibly freeing. What’s more, it can also help add an extra financial cushion to your retirement income. Regardless of your decision to downsize, there are a lot of bittersweet and stressful moments ahead. One of the hardest is also one of the most obvious — what to do with your current home. Here are three options to consider.
Rent Your Home
For many seniors, renting out their home can bolster bank accounts, add to a financial safety net, or foot the bill for adventure and travel. Bringing in money from rent can also add to your investments or give you the opportunity to sell your property later. As a landlord, make sure you have enough set aside to take care of maintenance and repairs for your tenants.
Sell Your Home
Selling your home can give you access to quick cash, which you can then use to purchase a new home, pay rent in advance on an apartment in an independent living center, or save for future healthcare needs. Selling some of your furniture and possessions can also add to that sum, giving you the opportunity to start fresh in whatever residence you choose.
Leave Your Home with Family
Letting a family member use your home after you downsize can help you keep your home in your family. This is especially important for seniors concerned about selling it to strangers. Not only could this help a loved one out, but it can also be a great way to maintain your home as an investment property, which can provide an important financial foundation during retirement.
Once you’ve decided what to do with your current home, you will need to plan what to take to your new home — and how you will get there.
Tips for Downsizing
Downsizing can be a bittersweet process. If you are moving into a smaller home, you will likely find that you have to let go of items that are meaningful to you.
Before you make those tough decisions, consider these simpler ones:
Purge items that you haven’t used in the last six months.
Donate duplicate possessions, like that extra coffee pot or second set of serving dishes.
Give hobby and craft equipment that you no longer use — like those dusty rollerblades or your decades-old sewing machine — to a family member who would enjoy it.
Tips for Moving Day
Hire movers to help manage the manual labor of moving day. Moving day is stressful enough, so taking one thing — one major thing — off your plate will free you up to tackle all the other challenges. Be sure to plan the movers in your budget; it costs a national average of about $1,081 to hire movers. It’s helpful to make a checklist for the day.
Pack an overnight bag so you have enough essentials for one or two nights in
If you have a pet, leave him with a friend or board him for the day so he isn’t in the way.
Label all the boxes by room so you start the unpacking process off well-organized.
Tips for Unpacking
Making sure all your boxes are clearly labeled by room and contents will make unpacking go much more smoothly. Also, consider:
Labeling your boxes based on priority. Make sure you know what needs to be opened sooner (pots, pans, and utensils) and what can be opened later (books and movies).
Unpacking your bathroom boxes first, since you’ll likely want to shower off the sweat and grime you accumulated during moving day.
There are a lot of good reasons seniors should consider downsizing their homes — but that doesn’t mean the process won’t be challenging. For many seniors, houses are more than just places to live; they are the places where memories were made. Trying a few of these tips might be a good way to feel good about making new memories in a new place.