…It’s hard for anyone to move at any time; picking up all your belongings and relocating them to a new living space is both mentally and physically grueling. However, when you have settled down in one spot for decades, raised children there and enjoyed many, many milestones, it can be difficult to identify when you need to move on.
Empty-nesters everywhere often grapple with the idea of downsizing — when is the right time, if ever, to move to a smaller place, and should one do it economically and efficiently? Here’s a guide to downsizing your home, so you can decide what’s best for you.
Understand the Advantages
The advantages of staying put are obvious: You avoid moving. However, there are advantages to downsizing, too. Here are some of the big ones:
More time. When you have less space, you don’t have to devote quite as much time to home cleaning and maintenance. That means you could have more time to enjoy other things, like spending time with your friends or your adult kids.
Increased cash flow. If you are already paying a mortgage, selling your home and buying a smaller one with a smaller mortgage will free up some money that might be better devoted to other things, like hobbies, travel or medical expenses. Additionally, utility bills tend to be lower in smaller homes, which adds to the extra cash you might enjoy.
Fewer things. Studies show that people who own less stuff tend to be happier. This is because they expend less energy worrying about their belongings and instead invest energy in experiences or relationships, which tend to provide a greater return. Not only will you own fewer things, but you’ll have decreased the temptation to acquire new things because you won’t have space to store it.
Generally, when you start feeling stressed about managing your current household due to it size or scope, you should start planning your shift to a smaller space.
Have a Downsizing Plan and Schedule
Any time you move, you need a plan. Moving is always hectic, so having the ability to turn to a predetermined schedule is a good way to stay on task. Here is an example of a downsizing schedule that you might use during your move:
Start looking for a new living space. If you are transitioning to a senior living facility, you should tour your options — ideally those close to your family and friends — and compare prices. If you are investing in a new property, you can start looking at available options with the help of a real estate agent.
Make improvements to your current home. If you have lived in your current residence for some time, it’s likely that you need to make some updates to attract modern homebuyers. You can talk to your real estate agent to understand what buyers in your area are looking for.
Begin sorting through your belongings. There are dozens of ways to downsize your belongings. You might use this post from Oprah for some creative decluttering methods, or you can use the tried-and-true three-pile style. It’s a good idea to pace yourself, perhaps going room by room over the course of several months.
Organize the move. Once you have a move-in date for your new place, you can start arranging the details of your move. I used the web to compare Jersey moving companies, and you can do the same for your region. Decide what moving services you require and keep lines of communication open.
Change your address. You should contact your energy provider, your cable provider, credit card and insurance providers and everyone else to let them know of your move. It’s a good idea to submit a forwarding request with the USPS, and you might need to cancel some services and acquire new ones at your new home.
Your plan should be a bit more detailed than this one because it will incorporate details about your life. For instance, you should include must-haves at your new home, contingencies for pets, a floorplan of your furniture and more. Only after you have a plan in place should you launch your downsizing journey.
Appreciate the Emotion
Downsizing isn’t easy. Especially if you’ve devoted years and years to your current home, you will be loath to leave those memories behind. However, the benefits of downsizing are clear, and a smaller space usually leads to a happier life. If you allow yourself to experience the emotion of leaving your home behind, you will be readier to move into your new home.
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