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Are you a senior thinking of downsizing?

Downsizing is one of those words often used with the term “empty-nester.” A couple or individual deciding to move from a large family home to a smaller place is said to be downsizing. However, there may be many reasons why seniors might decide or feel compelled to downsize.

5 reasons seniors might downsize:

  1. High Maintenance with Larger Homes

A larger home takes more time and energy to maintain. Whether it is keeping the house clean, the yard work involved, or just making sure it is protected from the elements with regular upkeep and repairs – the responsibility can feel overwhelming. Even if you hire help, the expense can feel limiting if it keeps you from spending your time and money on more enjoyable pursuits.

  1. Retirement

You reached a time in your life when it feels right to retire. You’ve mapped out your budget, detailed your expenses, and it makes sense that a smaller home will cost less. Between property taxes, maintenance, insurance and property taxes, your retirement dollars can go further. Greater financial freedom might mean more travel, the opportunity to spend time with family or increased focus on your health or hobbies.

  1. Energy Savings

Naturally, it takes more energy to heat and cool a larger home. The same is true for running appliances for housecleaning. A larger yard often means more power tools to keep it maintained. You can also save on water consumption with a smaller yard.

  1. Empty Rooms

Living in the Bay Area, in Marin County, seeing rooms in your home that hold only a memory of their former usefulness, can create a vague sense of guilt. When one or two people live in a five-bedroom home, the empty rooms can feel like an unnecessary extravagance. The kids are gone, and their rooms are still full of the mementos they left behind. It could be time to sift through those items, downsize to a new place where you can age-in-place comfortably and let a new family move into a home where they can grow.

  1. Illness

No one likes to think about the pitfalls of aging. However, unexpected illness is a common reason why a couple or individual would downsize – even if it is only a temporary situation. Modern medicine being what it is, parts replacement like a new knee or hip, or a period of cancer treatment might mean a spare room is turned into a recovery room for a few months. What do you do with all the items the room contained? What if you require live-in help during that time? One more room needs to be repurposed. If the illness is chronic, a move to an assisted living facility might require a rigorous downsizing of possessions.

Challenges to downsizing

Whatever the reason, psychological barriers often exist to the changes required. You might experience anxiety about what to do with possessions. Family members might not want your mother’s soup tureen, or the stack of photo albums in the attic. Looking a bit deeper, some people view downsizing as a loss of independence and ownership. For others, they may worry about not having enough room for visitors or they feel very attached to the family home where the kids grew up.

Are you Ready, message on note paper, computer and coffee on table
Tips to make downsizing easier

Start early. Give yourself time to sort through the emotions that come up when special possessions ignite memories. It can be very helpful to have someone help you through the process. Letting go isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Give yourself at least a month.

Work on a small project first. Don’t try to plough through everything all at once. In fact, one room at a time might be the most you can expect of yourself.

Eliminate rooms that won’t exist in your new home. That sounds like a no-brainer, but if you are sorting through possessions in a room you love, and you won’t have anymore, tough choices will be required of you.

Get rid of duplicates. Another simple concept, but the difficulty is in the execution. Which collection of handblown wine glassed to keep, which to sell? What about the duplicate set of mechanic tools stored in the garage for years?

Consider disbursing special gifts early. Some people want to hold onto their possession until the very end, while others look forward to seeing their gift given early enough to witness it being enjoyed.

Not everyone embraces change in the same way. If you, or a family member is faced with downsizing, we are here to help you through the process. We’ve learned over the years that it is often an emotional undertaking that you don’t have to go through alone.

For a complimentary assessment, call us today (415) 827-5529.