We surround ourselves with things that make us feel comfortable, bring back fond memories and give us joy.
Until, that is, we actually have to downsize our home. That’s when we start scrutinizing everything more closely and ask ourselves: Do we really need all this stuff? And if we don’t need it, what do we do with it all?
If you’re a senior who’s starting the process of decluttering and downsizing your home, you’re probably wondering what to do with unwanted items you’ve amassed over the years. And you’re not alone: Decluttering and downsizing their homes is arguably the biggest obstacle older adults have to overcome when considering a move to a senior living community.
Start with these five tips to downsizing your home, which include decluttering tricks, specific downsizing tips, and ideas to clean up and clear out.
Once you learn these secrets, you’ll be downsizing your house like a professional.
1. Start NOW.
Seriously. Don’t wait to start downsizing, especially if you’re thinking of moving into a senior living community. Older adults often say they wish they had started the process much sooner to cause less stress for themselves and their family members.
So start early. It’ll take you longer than you think to go through a house of stuff. And the longer you’ve lived there, the longer it will take.
Set a realistic timeline for yourself – for example, two to three days per room, four to six days each for the garage, basement and attic – and go through everything. Give yourself time to evaluate, reminisce – mourn, if you need to – and then move on. Just don’t hang on to something and move it to your next home, thinking you’ll deal with it later. That’s known as the cardinal sin of downsizing.
2. Be ruthless.
If you’re not ruthless, your family members will be. Set aside what you’d like them to have, and discard or donate the rest. That giant grandfather clock no one else likes but you and your daughter? Give it to her. You’d probably rather give your family members items that have meaning to you – and may have meaning to them – than having it thrown out, donated or sold in an estate sale later.
3. Ditch the duplicates.
You don’t need two crock pots or multiple cookie sheets. If you’re moving to a senior living community that offers a dining plan, you might not need much kitchenware at all. Same goes for multiple sets of bedding or a linen closet full of towels. Save a few of each, and release the rest.
And if you won’t have to mow the lawn, do home repairs or shovel snow at your new address, then it’s goodbye garage items. Which means while you’re ditching duplicates, get rid of the one-off unneeded implements that take up space, like the leaf blower, weed trimmer, mower and edger.
4. Look forward to where you’ll be living.
If you have a new space you’re moving into, try to visualize where each item will go. If you don’t have space for it or can’t imagine how you’ll use it, let it go.
To figure out how your existing furniture will fit, sketch out your floor plan with the exact dimensions. Then measure each piece and place it in the floor plan. You know you can’t take everything, so don’t try. Take only what works in your new home.
By the way, The Waterford offers nine different floor plans in a range of square footages, which you can check out and compare on our Floor Plans page.
If you’re significantly downsizing your footprint, especially your bedroom or living room, consider selling some of your old large pieces of furniture. Buy a new, smaller bed or dresser, or a smaller couch, loveseat and coffee table. Purchase new wall hangings that fit better in your new space. It can be incredibly liberating to refurnish and redecorate a room or two of your new space. Plus, it may be cheaper than paying movers to pack up and move some of your older, heavy furniture to your new residence.
5. Don’t be a hobby holdout.
That guitar you always said you’d learn to play. The treadmill that’s become a clothes drying rack. All those baskets and boxes of yarn you thought you’d learn to knit into … something. And can we talk about all those models of muscle cars collecting dust on the shelves of your den?
Declutter by donating the items to a thrift store, selling them online or giving them to people who have an interest. It’ll free you up to explore new hobbies that you really do want to pursue.
If you’re moving into a senior living community, you’ll discover new hobby opportunities galore. Most communities have common spaces like woodworking shops, arts and crafts studios, gardens, fitness centers and swimming pools – and a community full of welcoming people eager to invite you in to learn how to carve, paint, plant or take the plunge.
Discover the upsides of downsizing to The Waterford.
There’s a reason we’re the hidden gem in the heart of Juno Beach. There’s so much here, waiting for you to discover. So take a break from downsizing and decluttering and learn more about The Waterford. Simply give us a call at 1.888.672.7494. Or complete the form on this page.