Being comfortable in your home is dependent on having systems in place for the way you live at each stage of life. As you age, there’s often the need to “right-size” your home, whether that means moving to a smaller house or downsizing the possessions you’ve accumulated over the years to fit the way you live now. Many seniors have been in their homes for 30, 40 or 50 years and often have more space and stuff than they need or can use.
Here are seven steps for downsizing in preparation for moving. However, you can follow much of the same process to reduce clutter and allow your space to work better for you.
Step 1 – Develop a Move Plan
This is a picture of everything you’ll need to accomplish to deal with your belongings and implement your move. Your plan will include steps to:
- Sort through your belongings, identifying what is going with you and finding solutions for the things not going with you
- Determine furniture placement for your new home
- Find trustworthy movers
- Purchase packing supplies and, if necessary, line up movers, family or friends to pack your belongings
Planning Your Time
- Plan on 100 hours for sorting through and making decisions about your belongings. This includes identifying and documenting what goes with you and what will go to other places.
- Estimate about 20 hours to address selling, donating or disposing of items not going with you.
- Packing and unpacking will take about 40-60 hours, if your decisions have been made in advance and you have all the right supplies.
If this sounds like a lot of work and a lot of time, it is. You spent decades accumulating all your possessions, and it takes time to go through them and make decisions. But knowing the big picture is a good thing, because now you know when to start. Earlier is always better!
Step 2 – Think Strategically
Chances are your home is your biggest single asset so you want to get the most you can when you sell it. Preparing your home for sale isn’t an emotional decision, it’s a business decision.
The first step in preparing your home to be sold is to declutter it, but you’ll want to focus on what needs to be done first and will have the greatest impact – “strategic decluttering.” So what does working strategically mean? It means doing first things first. If your realtor wants to list the house for sale in one month, your focus might be on decluttering bedrooms and rooms on the first floor – the areas that will be in the listing photos, because this is what will bring prospective buyers to your door.
Once your house is on the market, then you can address the basement, attic and garage.
Step 3 – Develop a Scaled Floor Plan
A floor plan helps you visualize your current furniture in your new home and determine what will fit. It’s important that the floor plan be drawn to scale. Floor plans drawn by hand indicate where you want your furniture to go, but not whether it will fit. A scaled floor plan removes the guesswork from moving and avoids costly and stress-producing mistakes.
When we envision a move, there is a hierarchy of how we approach it. Most of us need to have the big picture before we can focus on sorting through belongings. The floor plan provides that big picture, and then leads the way to other decisions. For example, let’s say you plan to take your china cabinet, but not the buffet. But what about the two sets of dishes that are IN the buffet? Where do you plan to put them since the buffet is not going? The floor plan is the reality check that provides the incentive to let go.
Step 4 – Divide Big Tasks into Smaller Ones
Downsizing, preparing your house for sale, and preparing to move does not have to occupy every minute of your day. In fact, if your move is months – or maybe even years away – you can get it done with 15 minutes per day.
How? Break bigger tasks into smaller ones. Take the kitchen, for example. Sorting through your kitchen is a big job, but not if you break it down into 15 minute chunks. Sort through your spices on one day, the next day, baking pans. A third day, coffee mugs and thermoses, and so on.
Step 5 – Sort, Don’t Pack
One of the first things people do when they decide to move is start packing. Why? Because packing a box is much more fun than sorting through your junk drawer or garage. For many people, packing is a way of avoiding decision-making. Sorting will save money in the end. When you haven’t sorted your belongings, packing is inefficient and you take more than you really want or can comfortably fit into your new home.
Step 6 – Take Control
Are you warehousing things that belong to your adult children? It’s time to take control and have them take their things. Be firm, give your children a deadline, and stick to it. You have plenty of downsizing to do without having to deal with their belongings as well.
What about things you want to give your adult children? Sometimes they want the things you offer them, but often they don’t. What holds you up the most is that they don’t get back to you, or they decide, but don’t make plans to remove the items they have accepted. Once again, take control. Give your kids a deadline so you can make plans and accomplish what you need to do.
Step 7 – Hire Professional Help
This can be a challenging transition but you don’t have to do it alone. A Senior Move Specialist, such as Real Order Professional Organizing, LLC provides hands-on help, so you can be in control but not have the physical burden associated with downsizing and moving. Most of all, a professional provides objective advice and guidance throughout the process.
Real Order provides a complimentary, no obligation 60-minute home visit and gives an estimate based on the services needed. Services are a la carte so you can pick and choose what you need and can afford. And many people realize enough money from selling things they no longer need to cover the cost of a Senior Move Manager’s services.
Real Order can help in these ways:
- Develop a realistic move plan and timeline
- Develop a scaled floor plan
- Provide hands-on help for sorting and decluttering
- Provide resources for selling and donation
- Stage your home for a quick sale
- Refer movers you can trust
- Pack your belongings
- Unpack and organize your home so it’s move-in ready
Right-sizing, moving and dealing with decades of belongings can feel overwhelming. But you don’t have to do it alone.