Make Downsizing a Dream

Floor mat that says "Home Sweet Home"

by Amanda Scudder, MSW
Certified Professional Organizer and Senior Move Manager at Abundance Organizing
for Age in Action, a quarterly publication distributed by the Virginia Center on Aging

Moving is stressful, especially when it involves downsizing from a home you’ve lived in for years. Yet many of us plan to do just that. According to the Demand Institute, four out of 10 Boomers plan to move and 42% of these expect to move into something smaller. If the decision to downsize is keeping you up at night, you are in good company. However, with the right planning and support, your move can be a dream.

Dream Team
Downsizing takes a great deal of physical, mental, and emotional energy. Those who do it well delegate. Identify friends, family, and qualified professionals to help you. Senior move managers can be essential members of your team. With their specialized training and extensive knowledge of resources, they can help you plan, declutter, pack, manage the logistics of your move, trouble-shoot, make recommendations, unpack, and organize your new space, all of which will ensure that you rest easy in your new home.

Curate Collections
One of the biggest barriers to downsizing is the question of what to do with all the stuff. Over the years, acquisitions accumulate, and the older we get, the less energy we tend to have to deal with them. While it’s hard to confront decades, or even generations, worth of possessions, downsizing is a great opportunity to curate a lifetime of collections. A neutral third-party can be invaluable in this process, serving as a sounding board, documenting household inventory, supervising distribution of items to family, and coordinating the sale or donation of things you no longer need.

Sort it Out
Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of is easier if you start by sorting your belongings into categories, then evaluate the items using the following criteria:

• Function: Does the item meet a recurring need and does it do its intended job well?
• Form: Is it more attractive, suitable, or flattering than another that does the same job?
• Feeling: Does it make you happy or is it being kept out of guilt or obligation?
• Fit: Does it fit you, your new space, and your new lifestyle?

A floor plan of your new home will be tremendously helpful when making decisions about furniture. Choose furnishings that can serve double or triple-duty, like end tables with drawers and storage ottomans.

While making decisions takes some effort, it will save you time and money later. It is far less expensive to pack and move only what you love, use, feel good about, and have room for.

Have a Plan
There are a lot of moving parts in any moving plan. Work back from your anticipated move date to establish timelines with moving partners such as realtors, movers, cleaning services, residential communities, and others. Be sure you understand the scope of services they will provide, so that you can compare across providers; and always ask for references. The lowest bid is not always the best deal.

Move in Day
On move-in day, there is a lot going on: loading, unloading, placement of furniture, household goods to unpack, beds to make, essentials to stock. To prevent important items like wallets, glasses, medicines, and paperwork from getting lost in the shuffle, gather them up into a brightly colored bag or bin and put them in the vehicle in which you will be traveling to your new home.

Unpacking and organizing your belongings will take a substantial amount of time. Most movers only unload and place furniture and boxes in designated rooms. You will need to have a plan to get the boxes unpacked, the packing materials removed, and everything put away. Prioritize essential areas: bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen. You may also want to recruit help with provisioning your new household with supplies and groceries so that your first night will be as comfortable as possible.

Welcome Home!
Decluttering before the move and setting up organized systems right from the start will make your new, smaller spaces work as efficiently as possible and will get you up and running quickly and with a lot less stress. Now, it is time to relax and enjoy your new home. Sweet dreams!

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