10 Tips for Downsizing and Making Way for Retirement

10 Tips for Downsizing and Making Way for Retirement

The idea of downsizing your home as you prepare for retirement can stir up a mix of emotions—excitement, fear, and anxiety—just to name a few.

But did you know that clearing a space in preparation for a move can be soothing to your mental well-being? Downsizing encourages you to look ahead to your new retired lifestyle and can help ease the bridge between uncertainty and clarity.

It’s important to think of downsizing as a process; it’s not something that can be done in a weekend. Also avoid tackling the whole house immediately. To lessen the stress, work on one room at a time. Other helpful tips include:

1. Use yes-no questions when making decisions.

Avoid asking “Which pots and pans should I keep?” Instead, presort the items to the things you know you need to keep, then create a yes-no option: “I’ve got my best small saucepan, a large pot, and a skillet. Do I need anything else?”

2. Take measurements, photos, and videos of the new space.

Measure exactly how much closet or cabinet space your new place has and take photos or videos of each room. This will give you a better idea—and a visual reminder—of what you will or won’t have space for in your new home.

3. Steer clear of creating a “maybe” pile.

Unfortunately, “maybe” items are what hamper us from truly decluttering and clearing out. A simple reminder is the OHIO rule: Only Handle It Once. Using the yes-no scenario as suggested in #1 should eliminate the need for a “maybe” pile.

 4. Select a small representation of favorite items.

If you collect decorative items like glassware or holiday décor, choose just a few favorites to keep rather than the entire collection. Also be sure to ask your family and friends if they would like any of your special pieces. If you have something you were planning to give as a gift or legacy, consider doing it now instead.

5. If you’re unsure of the value of an item, hire an appraiser.

Ask friends and family for recommendations in your area. You can also hire an appraiser from a reputable association, such as those listed in this Consumer Reports article: How much is your stuff worth?

6. Donate.

In addition to the Salvation Army and Goodwill, consider donating gently used items to organizations that could use more specialized items. Examples include taking books to your public library; old blankets and pillows to the local animal shelter; and kitchen items to a non-profit organization that prepares and serves food, such as a soup kitchen. Always call ahead to ask if they accept donations.

7. Take note of your most-used items.

The things you use regularly should be going into the “things you need to keep” group as suggested in #1. Don’t decide what stays and what goes by what is the newest and the best. Rather, make decisions based on what you currently use the most.

8. Toss it.

This one is easy: if it’s broken, stained, ripped, or chipped, throw it away. If you’ve collected quite a large pile of items to throw away, look into renting a temporary residential dumpster. They’ll deliver to your home and pick it up when you’re done.

9. Consider bringing in the pros.

Professional organizers can do as much or as little as you need. Whether it’s as simple as helping you with the donate pile or working with you to clear every room in your home, an experienced pro can provide the objective eye and the heavy lifting you need. Meth-Wick has three preferred providers in the area who help: Designing Moves, Get Organized!, and Caring Transitions.

10. Most importantly, be easy on yourself.

If something has been a part of your life and your home for decades, it likely won’t be easy to let it go. Don’t be afraid to lean on family and friends throughout the process.

Downsizing will have you looking back and reminiscing, but don’t forget to keep the future in mind, too. Looking ahead to the positives to come: less space to clean, fewer responsibilities and more time to enjoy retirement can help keep your focus on the end result.