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Tips for downsizing into a smaller home as one gets older

Many seniors find themselves at this place one day: Be it for reasons of size, income, or physical ability, they simply no longer have the desire to take care of their large home. When this moment comes, the prospects of downsizing can seem daunting, as there can be an almost overwhelming amount of things to do in order to get out of their home.

Thankfully, there are things that can be done. Here’s a list of tips for seniors that are looking to downsize.

Start Early – This Will Take Time. One of the most important things you can realize is that moving, getting rid of stuff and packing will take lots of time. This is not something that you can do just by snapping your fingers. Moving takes months, and you should plan accordingly.

Set Aside Money for a Moving Budget. No matter how much stuff you try to do on your own, understand that moving is expensive. There may be equipment expenses, movers, packing materials, storage, and more. Don’t allow yourself to be surprised by how much this will cost: Do your research and make sure you have an idea of how much it will cost you to move. From there, start saving now.

Identify Local Charities for your Stuff. Emptying a house that you have been in for decades is bound to have a ton of stuff in it that you no longer want or need. If that’s the case, see if you can find a charity that will come to your place and haul away old furniture. Many charities will come right to you and take your things, providing you with a nice tax deduction while emptying your house.

Find Whole Rooms to Eliminate. If you know where you are moving, odds are good that you will have entire rooms in your new place that you no longer need. If that’s the case, you’re in luck: Find the corresponding room that you are moving to, and find what you can eliminate, throw out, give away, or sell.

Hire Help. Moving is tough for anyone, let alone seniors who may not be as physically fit as they once were. If you have the ability to do so, hire someone to help you do purging and cleaning. Remember, you may not need professionals to help you get rid of your stuff. Instead, find cheap help in the form of neighborhood teenagers who are looking for a few extra bucks. Remember, if you hire someone who isn’t a professional, you will have to keep a close eye on them in order to ensure that they don’t accidentally throw anything out that you want to keep.

Sell Things. Have something that might be too valuable to donate to charity? Looking to make a few bucks? In the course of your unpacking and selling, check out what you have lying around your house and examine programs like eBay. You may be surprised at how easy it is to sell some of your stuff and make a good amount of money. Mind you, there is a fair amount of work involved with selling old collections online: You’ll have to write compelling descriptions and take good pictures, as well as pay for high-quality shipping that comes with tracking. If this seems too daunting to you, investigate hiring someone to help you manage the sale of your stuff. There are plenty of services like this out there – just understand that you will lose a portion of your profit this way. 

Have Family Over. If you are downsizing and looking to get rid of your old possessions, it may be worth it to have family over and let them take their pick of things. Perhaps there is an old dining room table in your attic that they always loved. Just make sure they have the first shot at your old stuff. This is good for them and good for you!

There’s no question about it: Downsizing a home is a challenge. However, with time, effort, and planning, it can be done with minimal hassle.

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