Often times when people think of downsizing, we think of things like “tiny homes” or empty nesters who are left with a large home after their children leave. Other than consistently living in a sustainable way, retirement or shortly after retirement is a great time to consider downsizing.
Living and taking up only the space we need is important in a number of ways. How to do it fairly easy is just as important, but can be a little tricky to pull off.
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What is downsizing?
To downsize means to make something smaller. Many different industries have used the term since the 1970’s and in the last 30 years, it’s gained popularity among homeowners, which has spread out to the general population.
Downsizing is usually the term referring to when you’re moving from one living space to another smaller space, such as moving from a hours to an apartment. It can also be used in reference to the actions you take as you are making the move to a smaller space. For example, “I’m downsizing to an apartment now”, means moving to a smaller home. Whereas, “I spent the weekend downsizing my wardrobe”, means getting rid of the items that are no longer worn or used, to achieve a maximum amount of space.
Does my living space need downsizing?
Knowing when is a good time to downsize can be tough, especially if you have lived in one place for a long time or feel deep sentimental attachment to a particular house or apartment. There are certain questions to ask yourself or your loved one to see if it’s the right time to consider downsizing:
Is there a feeling of being overwhelmed with maintenance? (Or would time rather be spent on pleasurable activities?) Are you spending all your free time cleaning or doing yard maintenance, when there are other things you’d love to spend your free time on? That’s a good indicator it’s time to go smaller.
Are there unused rooms in the home? If the only time you go into the 2nd spare bedroom or the kid’s old bathroom is to clean it, then you’re likely at a good starting place to consider moving to a smaller home.
Have there been major lifestyle changes? Retirement can often spur thoughts of downsizing, as can adult children leaving the home to pursue their own lives. Medical issues, such as those needing 24/7 attention or that prevent performing regular cleaning or home maintenance can also be good indicators.
Is the monthly budget stretched to its limit? If the monthly budget is being spent mostly on home maintenance issues, it may be time to think about lessening the strain by looking at smaller homes. Savings, retirement planning and emergency funds are more important that having a large home.
Does the home have features that are no longer used? If the home has a garden that takes too long to care for or has been left to the “wild” or if the pool has become just something that needs to be cleaned without truly being enjoyed on a regular basis, it’s likely time to consider a home with a smaller footprint.
Is the market going to be reasonable (or even kind) if the space is sold? If the market is good where you live and you stand to break even or perhaps make a profit on your home and you’ve answered yes to some of the other questions here, then considering downsizing is a great option for you.
Downsizing tips and tricks
Once the decision has been made to downsize, now what do you do with all your items, stuff, collectibles, heirlooms? Many times the phrase, “I’m not ready yet” is heard, but can often mean, “I don’t know where to start”. Here are some fabulous tips and tricks to get the mojo working:
Understand the space you’re likely moving into Knowing that you’re moving and how much space you’ll have will allow you to plan for how much to actually take with you. Get a floorplan, understand what furniture will go with you and will fit into the space (or is it already furnished?). Knowing what storage options you have or will have in the new space will give you the parameters of your future “stuff”.
Smart storage ideas will help with this. Many of us grew up with bulky dressers and wardrobes, but there are some terrific space saving organization units (especially for kitchens and closets). Have a look here for some ideas.
Allow time It took many years for your space to become what it is now. Don’t expect that you will pare down over the course of a weekend. You want to be smart about what you trash, donate, give to family and/or sell. It’s better to have Aunt Ruth’s ring down the line, rather than having realized that it was accidentally sent off to Goodwill in the rush.
Start small It can be easy to get overwhelmed. Start small by choosing the easiest places to downsize. A junk drawer, where it’s easy to throw thing away or bathrooms, where you know you have a lot of duplicates are good places to start.
Get support Everyone seems to have that one friend or family member who is good for being super objective and practical. Having them support you or even being present for part of the actions will provide you with much needed support.
Utilize the one year rule This one can be tougher in the years of the pandemic. If we discarded all the clothing we haven’t worn in a year, we might end up with nothing but loungewear! But generally it’s a good rule, even if you have to extend it to two years. If you haven’t used that Bundt cake pan in over a year, do you really need it?
Delete duplicates This is one of the best rules and the easiest. Do you have more than one of anything you don’t use often? Get rid of it. Not to mention, who needs 3 of anything?
You got this. Be easy on yourself, but determined at the same time. Kind, compassionate objectiveness will get you or your loved one to the goal.
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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact or call us toll free: 800-342-4197
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