The Savvy Senior: Simplifying for Seniors: Are You Ready to Downsize?

SS MelindaLaager


November 2021 Issue
By Melinda Laager

As a realtor of 18 years, I’ve noticed the culture of “more” shift to “less,” as homeowners pack up mementos due to life changes. Losing a spouse, divorce, kids leaving for college, or even the simple act of growing older has prompted the quest to find a smaller home that better suits shifting needs and lifestyle. Not only does a smaller home typically cost less, but it also takes less time and effort to maintain. I personally did this two years ago, and I have not looked back! However, no matter the reason for wanting to simplify, the process can seem overwhelming.

Here are five steps that can help guide you on what can be a delightful and empowering journey. Most of the time, people feel great about their decision to downsize and find that less is more—more comfort, more security and most importantly, more time and energy to spend on activities and the people they love.

Determine Your Goals and Limitations: Do you want to live closer to family? Are you hoping to cut down on home maintenance? Are you looking for a community with certain amenities? Are there any limitations that will impact the home you choose, like are stairs an issue? Do you need access to medical care? Make a wish list of features, and prioritize them from most to least important. A local realtor can assess the value of your current home so you can set a realistic budget for your new one.
Find the Perfect New Home: Once you’ve established your wish list, a local realtor can help you determine the neighborhood and type of home that will best fit your wants and needs.

Sell Your Current Home: Work with your realtor to employ tactics and strategies to maximize the potential sales revenue of your home through an aggressive marketing strategy to include social media platforms and traditional ads for maximum exposure.

Sort and Pack Your Belongings: A smaller home means less space for your furniture and other possessions. Sorting through an entire house full of belongings will take time, so begin as early as possible.

If you choose to do it yourself, parting with personal possessions can be an extremely emotional process. Start with a small, unemotional space, like a laundry or powder room, and work your way up to larger rooms. Focus on eliminating duplicates and anything you don’t regularly use. If you have sentimental pieces, family heirlooms, or just useful items you no longer need, think about who in your life would benefit from having them.

Make sure the items you keep help you achieve your simplifying goals!  For example, if you want a home that’s easier to clean, cut down on knickknacks that require frequent dusting. If you’re moving to be closer to your grandchildren, choose the shatterproof plates over the antique china. Some people decide to start fresh with a whole new look in their new home, selling most of their current home furnishings and enjoying finding a new style and feel.

If you’re helping a loved one with a move, be a patient listener if they want to stop and share stories about items or memories throughout the process. This can be therapeutic for them and an opportunity for you to learn family history that may otherwise have been forgotten.

Get Help When You Need It: Seek out friends and family members who can assist with packing and decluttering. If that’s not an option, or if you need additional help, consider hiring a home organizer, full-service moving company, or even a senior move manager, which is a professional who assists older adults and their families with the physical and emotional aspects of relocation.

Are you living your best life with simplicity?
  If your current home no longer suits your needs, maybe it’s time to consider a change. You just may find that downsizing your home and all that comes with it will upsize your life.

Melinda Laager is a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Hodnett Cooper Real Estate. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call her at 912-269-3197.

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