Learn & Grow/Lifestyle/Downsizing Checklist
Lifestyle, Resources for Seniors

Downsizing Checklist

You’re ready to make your move to enjoy a more carefree lifestyle in a senior living community. But there’s just one obstacle standing in your way: decluttering and downsizing your current living space.  

Decluttering and downsizing could include selling furniture, getting rid of a garage full of tools and lawn equipment or sorting an attic packed with boxes. When you think of all of the personal items you need to go through, preparing to move may not feel like a minor obstacle at all.  

And though the challenge of clearing these items may be daunting right now, think beyond this step and see the bigger picture – a happier, clutter-free lifestyle.  

For now, tips for decluttering and ideas on how to downsize your home thoughtfully, purposefully and strategically will guide you through. Use these helpful decluttering tips, along with our downsizing checklist for seniors, to get you moving in the right direction. 

How to downsize your home 

Chances are good you’ve lived in your current home for many years. Maybe you’ve raised your children in it. If so, you probably have several rooms, like your kids’ former bedrooms, you don’t use that much. And those rooms may be full of furniture and other items your adult children left behind.  

As you start the downsizing process, give your kids a predetermined grace period to take what they may want from their old rooms. Then start clearing out those spaces first. Next, work your way through your home using this downsizing home checklist: 

  1. Find the right fit. Many senior living communities offer floor plans in a range of sizes and with options such as dens, balconies or patios, and walk-in closets. Choose a floor plan that works with your lifestyle, then start downsizing your current home to ensure everything will fit in your future residence. 
  2. Don’t think of moving as a 1:1 ratio. Even if you’re moving from a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom senior living dwelling, you’ll still need to do a fair bit of downsizing. That’s because your senior living floor plan may not come with a basement, two-car garage or attic. Focus on spaces like those and decide what you want to do with items in those spaces using tip #3. 
  3. Have a system. Create KEEP, DISCARD and DONATE piles and move everything into one of these three piles. Don’t make a MAYBE pile! 
  4. Be ruthless. If you don’t love it — if it doesn’t absolutely give you joy — discard or donate, and don’t look back. Do this for every single room in your house.  
  5. Not everything has to go. Scan important papers and mementos you want to keep (just not physically keep) — things like old tax returns, kids’ and grandkids’ artwork, photos and letters can all be scanned and saved digitally.  
  6. Don’t try to do it all in a few days. Downsizing takes time. You probably have lots of memories attached to the items in your home. Give yourself enough time to let go without regret.

Tips for decluttering your home 

You’ve decided what items will make the move with you and which items won’t. Now you’re ready to declutter your home to get it ready for sale.   

A good real estate agent will tell you decluttered homes tend to show much better — and get higher offers from buyers — than homes full of stuff. Here’s where to start and how to stay motivated: 

  1. Use the timer trick. This is a favorite of professional organizers. Divide each room into four quarters, then set a timer for 15 minutes for each quarter, so that you spend an hour total in each room. That’s your structured time to put your head down and start decluttering in earnest. It also helps keep you from getting overwhelmed. When the timer goes off, move to a different quarter.   
  2. Start with the little things. Everybody’s got small knickknacks on their coffee table, mantle, bedroom dresser and so on. At this point, they’re just dust catchers. Pack them away, get rid of them or hide them in drawers.  
  3. Scrutinize your entryway. Most buyers will enter through your front door, and that’s your chance to make a great first impression. Remove out-of-season coats hanging on the coat rack, stash multiple pairs of shoes, hats, and gloves, and get rid of the pile of mail stacked by the front door. 
  4. Pack away all your personal photos. Home stagers will tell you to make your home look like no one lives in the house. Why? You want buyers to imagine themselves living in the house. Artwork is fine to leave hanging up. 
  5. Remove oversized pieces of furniture. You want to make rooms look larger than they are. Think about the flow from one room to the next. Can people walk comfortably without navigating around couches or large overstuffed chairs? If not, move some pieces out.  
  6. Keep your kitchen spotless. Remove all items from countertops and take magnets off your fridge. Tidy up the food pantry. Clean all your appliances — prospective buyers don’t want to see spoiled food in your fridge or burnt food on the bottom of your stove. Stage your counters with a nice knife block, a mixer and a small bowl of fruit. 
  7. Create space in your closets. Make your closets look more spacious by removing most of your clothing, shoes and items that occupy closet shelves. Buyers will peek into your closets, so make sure they’re neat and organized. 
  8. Show off the bedrooms. In your bedrooms, you want buyers to see that their bed, nightstands and dressers will fit in the space. Use your own furniture sparingly to show off bedroom space. Clear away boxes of tissues, eyeglasses and books from your nightstand. Move under-bed storage out to the garage. 
  9. Clean up your bathrooms. Remove all personal effects from showers, bathtubs and vanity tops. Throw out half-empty bottles of shampoo and fold and hang up towels. Organize your towels and don’t leave any personal medications in your vanity or on your countertops. 

Possibly the best tip is to look at what you’re gaining instead of what you’re losing. Don’t fixate on the stuff you’re giving up. Remember, it’s just stuff.  

Instead, think of everything you’re gaining when you move to a senior living community: an independent, maintenance-free lifestyle, a community of new friends and possibilities, and an entirely new and opportunity-filled lifestyle. 


There are all kinds of ways to approach downsizing and decluttering. But regardless of how you choose to declutter and downsize, you’re making one remarkably smart decision: You’re proactively setting yourself up for an incredible future when you move to The Waterford. Let our senior living experts tell you more about Juno Beach’s only Life Care community. Simply contact us when you’re ready to learn more. 

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