Congratulations! You have reached retirement. It is time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You may want to travel, focus on family, or play golf. Whatever your plans, your don’t need to be weighed down by a home that is no longer helping you live your best life. Downsizing may be the answer. It means prioritizing what matters most to you while shaking off the excess.
Downsizing after retirement is more difficult than a normal move because it is all about simplifying your living space and planning for the future. However, if done right, downsizing can improve your life, allow you to focus on the things you care about most, and prepare your home to meet your future needs. To help you get started, we have created a 9 step guide specifically for those who are thinking about downsizing after retirement.
Step 1: Consider the financial situation
One of the most obvious reasons for downsizing after retirement is money. Reducing your monthly mortgage payment means there is more money to invest in your retirement. Selling a larger home and moving to a smaller and more affordable living space also allows you to pay off debt and frees you to do the things you want. Why continue to pay for space and bedrooms you don’t need? Take control of your money by finding a home with a lower payment and fewer maintenance costs.
Step 2: Find the right location
Your lifestyle has changed, so it makes sense for your home to change as well. In the past you may have bought a home based on proximity to your job or good schools, but now you may prioritize being close to family. As you plan for the future, you may also want to get a home that has easy access to important medical facilities. Cost and important amenities are also key factors related to location.
Step 3: Pick the right amenities
People often don’t think about amenities, but finding a home with the right perks can really make a difference. For instance, some town homes that are attached to properties such apartment complexes may include free lawn care. Other amenities may be a garage, access to a gym or a pool. Be careful not to pay for perks you don’t need and will rarely or never use. Look for only the amenities that will significantly improve your life.
Step 4: Plan to age in place
A big part of planning for the future is considering how you will age in place. Think about what your needs may be in 15, 20 and 30 years. You should consider future mobility and accessibility issues and choose to purchase a home that is only one story and that has few or no stairs. By thinking this through now, you can extend the usability of your home and protect your future independence.
Step 5: Measure and plan
Once you find the right home, your first step should be measuring and planning how your key piece of furniture will best fit. This will give you a good idea of what you can keep and what you will need to let go of. This is a good time to plan any custom elements. Be creative and focus on designing each room for convenience and to best take advantage of the space.
Step 6: Toss anything broken or unusable
Now that you have a plan for the new house, it is time to start purging your belongings so you only take truly important items to your new space. This might seem overwhelming, but a good place to start is with items that are broken or which can no longer be used. For instance, old phones, VHS tapes (they don’t even make VCRs anymore), and things with broken or missing pieces are easy to pick out and get rid of.
Step 7: Dispose of duplicates and bulk items
Next, dispose of anything you have more than one of. You don’t need multiple can openers or three tea sets. Keep the best and dispose of the rest. And, except in cases such as toilet paper or shelf stable food items, you don’t need bulk items. Focus on buying only what you need for each month. You should also get rid of anything that has no immediate use, but which can easily be replaced later. A good example of this is office supplies you don’t use very often. You can always buy more staples or paper if the need arises.
Step 8: Shred old files
Documents are often overlooked in this process, but they take up room and add to the general clutter. Now that you are retired, you can get rid of many documents that were related to your work. You don’t want to move filing cabinets that you don’t actually need. By shredding outdated documents, you protect your information and make it easier to find and protect the papers that really matter.
Step 9: Say goodbye to anything you don’t love
By this time you have sorted through the junk and tossed out the old, the redundant and the clutter. However, there is still a lot more that needs to go before you move. Now is time to make hard decisions to pare down your belongings. Get rid of any item (clothing, furniture, etc.) that doesn’t add to your life. Simply put, toss anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Only keep things that help you enjoy life to the fullest. Remember, downsizing is about making your life easier and more enjoyable. You may need to make the hard decision to let go of items you love in order guarantee your new home remains uncluttered and will best meet your present and future needs.
We know downsizing after retirement may seem overwhelming and emotionally draining, but taking the plunge now means you will spend more time focused on the things which matter most to you. It also means protecting your independence years down the road as you age in place. Start living your best life by downsizing.