Thinking about Moving and Downsizing?

There are plenty of good reasons why moving into a smaller home may be the right move for those of us in the later decades of life. A smaller home can mean lower costs. A smaller home can mean less housework and upkeep. A smaller home can mean less extra space we rarely use. A smaller home can also mean fewer stairs to climb. The list goes on.

Leaving a home where we’ve made roots and memories isn’t an easy proposition. Of course, it involves work and can be a stressful…even emotional… experience. But moving to a new place can also be an exciting adventure.

When it comes to moving, the right preparation can make the difference between a positive experience and a negative experience. The following tips are from folks who have survived downsizing from a larger home to a smaller dwelling.

A few tips from folks who have downsized…

  • Don’t jump in. Really think about your reasons for moving and how downsizing will make your life better. You don’t want any surprises or regrets after you’ve already made the move.

  • Think about what you need in a new home. It’s important to find a new home that’s right for you with a floor plan that works for you at your current stage of life. For example, you may want your master bedroom to be on the main floor instead of up a flight of stairs and/or you may not need a large dining room if you no longer do much entertaining in your home.

  • Be prepared for the costs of selling and buying. There are hidden costs associated with selling a home and purchasing another. There are closing costs, attorney fees, appraisal fees, etc.
  • Give yourself enough time. Moving is a time-consuming process. Make sure to give yourself time for everything that goes into it. Just sifting through all the “stuff” you’ve collected over the years will be a lengthy proposition.

  • Sort strategically. When it comes to tackling all your possessions, figuring out what to do with everything can be difficult. Separate items into four categories: Items to bring with you, items to donate to charity, items to give to loved ones and friends, and items to toss out.

  • Ask for help. Your family and friends can be valuable resources when it comes to downsizing and moving. When you’re sifting through your possessions, someone else’s opinion can give you a less personal or emotional perspective. Extra, and perhaps younger, hands are also valuable for lifting heavier objects.

  • Use a trustworthy moving company. Do not hire movers until you’ve done some research and made some calls. Professional movers should be reputable, licensed, and insured. Get prices from a few different companies and compare them. Make sure they’ll be able to meet your needs, and make sure everything is spelled out in the contract. Some movers also offer packing and unpacking services for an additional cost.

  • Pack according to destination. Pack items together that will end up in the same place in your new home. For example, pack kitchen items together, bedroom items together, and bathroom items together.

  • Label every box. When packing items into moving boxes, it helps to use labels. Make a label for each box that lists its contents and where the items will go in the new house. You may want to purchase a label maker, which can make things easier than writing everything down yourself.

  • Have one or two “Open me first” boxes. There are certain things you’ll want to have access to as soon as you arrive in your new home. Place these items in boxes labeled “Open me first.” List the items on the outside of the box as well.

  • Spread the news. The people, businesses, and other places or resources that need an accurate address for you can seem to add up to an almost endless list. It’s up to you to notify most of these contacts. Of course, you’ll inform family and friends, but you’ll also want to give your new address to your bank, your doctor’s office, your dentist’s office, your veterinarian, your place of worship, your lawyer, your insurance providers, your credit card issuers, etc. You’ll need to update your driver’s license and car registration as well. If you belong to any clubs or organizations, you’ll want to let them know as well.

  • Remember, it’s okay to feel a little sad. Even if you’re thrilled about moving, you’re bound to feel at least a little melancholy about leaving your old home behind. It might be especially hard if you’ve lived there a long time or you’re moving a significant distance away. Being sad about moving is completely normal. It’s nothing to be concerned about as long as the feelings are temporary, manageable, and don’t linger too long. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by sadness or depression, speak with your doctor. You might need a little help dealing with the emotions.

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