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Downsizing home

A Senior’s Guide to Downsizing

Downsizing from your home after raising a family can be a stressful experience. Proper planning, gathering of advice, and correctly evaluating stuff are all important things in making sure your downsizing goes as smooth as silk.

Downsizing home

The first thing to do is to find solutions to all of the financial questions and issues that surround this move:

  • How much equity do I have in my house?
  • Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market?
  • What could be my potential new property taxes?
  • What are the closing costs?

The second major task on your list comes down to one thing: stuff. You have spent a lifetime of acquiring things and now the time has come to pay the piper. The good news is that there are many proven and effective ways that help people thin out their possessions.

Here are some tips on how to tackle both tasks smoothly and efficiently.

Financial Advice is Simple to Understand

Facts like the current amount of equity in your house, if it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, and the current value of the housing market are all relatively easy to get. Your bank and/or financial advisor will help you look over your current finances as well as evaluate the local market.

Have at least two real estate professionals estimate the value of your home to get a good idea of what your house is worth, and how selling would factor into your buying budget.

It must make sound financial sense to downsize. Bear in mind some of the hidden costs that professionals warn of, such as: 

  • Higher property taxes within the same district
  • Timing of multiple closings
  • Transportation cost to basic necessities after moving

Once you’ve crunched these numbers and considerations, you can accurately assess how much money you have to reach your specific life goals, such as:

  • Buying the type of house you want
  • Reducing debt
  • Increasing income
  • Investing proceeds
  • Prioritizing future ways of spending money
  • Reducing maintenance/living costs
  • Having a better quality of life

There is a lot to consider, so gather as much information and advice from the experts to make the most informed decision. 

What to do With All That Stuff?

Most people think the hardest part of downsizing is getting rid of their things. Fortunately, there are strategies that people have used to help. Some people use color coding systems, others use labels, or different sections of the garage to divide things, but however you decide, there are really only 5 things to be done with your items:

  • Bring to the new place
  • Move to a separate storage unit
  • Throw away
  • Donate/give away
  • Sell

Keep factors like sentimentality, family tradition, monetary value, usefulness to someone else, duplication, and physical dimensions when deciding what to do with items. Be decisive when it comes to the things you don’t need, but allow yourself to hang onto those that mean the most to you.

Also, advances in technology help very much in turning boxes of old pictures into tiny thumb drives and reels of Super 8 film into DVDs; convert to digital and watch your storage space multiply dramatically. Most people have at least one tech-savvy friend or relative who can help with this task, so ask around at your next family gathering, block party, or religious outing.

Do You Need Life or Medical Care?

Downsizing can often stem from a desire to be surrounded by people your own age. Other times, it’s out of an increased need for life/medical attention. Many times this transition can be made at a relaxed pace, but sometimes rapidly deteriorating health will force a quick move.

These facilities come in a few basic types.

Some are residences that can be bought or rented within a senior community that offer varying degrees of community activities and personal services.

Others are actual rooms or apartments within medical or nursing facilities. Some places take health insurance as part of the payment and others don’t. Consulting with your health insurance representative first is the best way to start to figure out which retirement facility is the best for you.

Downsizing in the 21st century has evolved. Making stress-free financial decisions and knowing what to do with your stuff is no longer a mystery or shot in the dark. Downsizing has become a simple and enjoyable part of life — don’t be afraid to embrace it.

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For more information and tips on downsizing as a senior, visit http://elderspark.com/.

Janet Campbell is the creator of ElderSpark. Her mission is to encourage people of all ages to live their healthiest and happiest lives ever. She strives to provide information on senior wellness and safety as well as ideas for how to make the most of this beautiful chapter of our lives.



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