Knowing When It’s Time for Seniors to Downsize

By the time you reach your senior years, some things become harder to do. You can’t run like you could 20 years ago, and you have less stamina or recover from big projects more slowly; maybe you tire more easily or you don’t quite have the energy that you used to. While you probably still have a lot of bounce in your step, some things are just more difficult these days.

This also holds true when it comes to your older home. Back when you bought it, you had different needs. You likely needed extra room to support your growing family. But now that you’re retired, a large, older home might not be the best option.

These days, more and more seniors are choosing to downsize. They’re selling their older homes for something that is smaller and easier to take care of. Here’s why downsizing might be great for you — and how you can do it more easily.

Problems with That Old Home

There are many reasons to downsize. Chances are, you’re paying for space that you don’t use. Even if your mortgage is paid off, you’re still paying taxes, homeowner’s insurance and maintenance costs. In fact, moving to a cheaper home can help you put extra money in the bank. If your new potential home is worth roughly half of your current home, selling and buying could net you a lot of cash — something that’s always needed in retirement.

Your older home can also be a burden at times, and this can worsen as you grow older. Mowing a big yard, shoveling the driveway, and trying to clean all those rooms can be more than just tiring. For a senior, it could be painful or even dangerous at times.

Downsizing is a great idea for most seniors, but as CNBC shows, you have to be smart about it. Selling a big house in the country and buying a condo in the city could actually be more expensive. The same can be true when moving to a region with higher home prices, like San Francisco. Be sure that you are making the right financial choices when you decide it’s time to move.

How to Keep Things Organized

Once you’ve found a new, more manageable place that will help you save money, it’s time to start packing. First, however, you need to get organized.

Moving into a smaller space means having less room for your belongings. That means you need to assess what you actually need to keep and what you can get rid of. If you haven’t used something in six months, then it’s time for it to go. Of course, there will be exceptions like rare books, heirlooms, and the like. But if you haven’t touched that treadmill or an old VHS player in forever, consider donating them to a local charity.

Moves for Seniors recommends splitting things into four groups: keep, give to family, donate, and throw out. Once that’s done, make a list of all utilities (including phone, cable and internet) and how to get them set up at your new place. Don’t forget to keep all important documents like leases and tax returns in a single, safe space.

Making the Move Safely

After you’ve managed to get rid of the clutter and you have a plan to set up your new house, now comes the actual packing and moving. Just be sure to take precautions to avoid injury.

Angie’s List suggests looking into a senior move manager. These are professionals trained to help seniors downsize, organize, and move. Even if you’re very healthy at your age, it’s still a good idea to have professionals on hand to do the heavy lifting and riskier tasks. Besides, they’re trained to know how to help seniors move safely and efficiently, which means you’ll be able to move and get settled more quickly.

Downsizing Can Be a Great Idea

By selling your older home and moving into a less expensive house, you can save money, time, and effort. And if you keep things organized and move safely, you can quickly be on your way to enjoying your golden years in your new space.

Jim Vogel and his wife, Caroline, built after becoming caregivers for their aging parents. Jim is passionate about promoting senior health and safety, and he enjoys sharing valuable information with seniors and their caregivers.