Downsizing to a smaller home can be extremely rewarding for seniors who are looking to simplify things, but how does one begin the process? There’s a lot to think about, from packing up the home you’ve lived in for years to finding the perfect spot to move to. You may even be considering moving to a new city.
The first step is to figure out the type of living situation that works best for you. Many older adults choose to move to a senior community or assisted living facility, as these come with medical assistance and social benefits. Avista Senior Living offers a variety of options if this is the route you’d like to go, from independent spaces to communities with built-in help for your daily needs. If you prefer a house or apartment of your own, you’ll want to research the neighborhood, price range, and whether you can make modifications to the space down the road should you require them. Either way, this guide will walk you through the steps when you’re ready to downsize so you can prevent a stressful process.
Utilize online search tools
Many seniors choose to downsize from a house to an apartment due to the savings it provides, and also because apartment living requires less upkeep than a home. If you think an apartment might be the right choice for you, utilize online search tools like Rent.com to look for the best spot for your needs. Write down a list of must-haves, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, whether it comes with designated parking or a garage, and whether there’s a unit available on the ground floor, so you’ll be able to narrow down the options.
Consider the possibilities
If apartment living isn’t for you, consider buying a smaller house. This is a great way to retain independence and privacy while saving money and ensuring that there’s less to care for. Depending on the year it was built, you may need to consider making modifications. Common changes for seniors include widening doorways, installing grab bars and a stepless shower in the bathroom, or adding a ramp over the front steps. These are relatively easy upgrades to make, but they will add time and money to your move and should be considered very carefully. Keep in mind that you may qualify for financial assistance for the modifications.
Sort through your belongings
Once you have the right home in your sights, it’s time to prepare for the move by sorting through your belongings to determine which items you want to take with you. Depending on the size of your current home, this step could take quite a bit of time and effort, so you may want to ask for help from close friends or family members.
In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed, set small goals for each day over a period of time, such as cleaning out one closet in one room. Create piles for items you want to keep, those you want to sell, items you’d like to give to loved ones, and those you’d like to donate. You’ll also need some large trash bags, and add cleaning supplies so you can clean as you go.
Prepare for the emotional toll
The process of moving and going through your belongings can be extremely emotional, especially if you feel forced to give up items you’d rather keep. While a downsize means you can’t bring everything, there are some ways to hold onto things with sentimental value, such as utilizing a storage unit for items you’re not ready to part with. You might also digitize photos and convert music or home movies to digital files so you don’t have to keep the physical items. It can be helpful to have loved ones help you through this process, especially if the downsize is happening because you’ve recently lost your spouse. You might also think about looking for an online support group where you can talk about your feelings and cope with the life changes you’re experiencing.
Pack with a plan
After you’ve gone through your belongings and pared them down, it’s time to make a plan for packing. Having a solid strategy now will prevent stress down the road, so think about how you can make the process as easy as possible. Start by gathering all the supplies you need–boxes, packing materials, cleaning supplies, and pen and paper–and then go from room to room to ensure that everything inside needs to be there. This will make both packing and unpacking easier for you.
Pack one room at a time and write out a packing list to tape to the outside of each box. This will add a little time to the project, but it will be very useful in the long run. Be sure to save a few boxes for last-minute items that can’t be packed yet, such as cleaning supplies, toiletries, and a few dishes to get you through the time period before moving day.
Prep for moving day
You’re all packed up and your new place is waiting. Now what? It’s a good idea to start prepping for the big day by making plans for loading up, keeping pets safe during the process, and unloading. Who will be helping you? Will you be able to fit a few important boxes in your car? Talk to your moving company to nail down details and times, and look over your contract with them to make sure you understand the final costs. Take care of last-minute tasks, such as locating change-of-address forms from the post office, so you’ll have one less thing to worry about once you get to the new house.
Moving is a big job that requires a lot of planning, so try to stay organized during this time in order to prevent stress. Talk to your loved ones about how they can help during this time, and keep in mind that downsizing can be hugely beneficial to your health and wellbeing.
Interested in learning more about Avista Senior Living? Use this page to find a community near you, or near the place you’d like to move.