We’ve all heard the advice to downsize our houses when we retire. What that usually means, however, is that you should move to a smaller house or condo that requires less maintenance and other related expenses. Here are five tips to help learn how to downsize in retirement.
Be Ruthless — And Realistic
The first step is deciding if your goal is to keep everything or determine what can be eliminated. If you choose to keep everything, it may be time for an audit to see if there are items you haven’t used or haven’t used in years or space hogs that could be sold without breaking your heart. Once you have identified what needs changing, it is important not to rush into anything until all possible solutions have been explored.
Start Small, Give Yourself Time and Make a Plan
Before getting started, you’ll want to determine exactly what you’re downsizing from. Are you downshifting from a four-bedroom home with a finished basement and family room to a two-bedroom apartment? Or are you moving from an apartment to a townhouse? You can use this to determine how much stuff needs to be disposed of. If it’s one thing people tend to hang onto, it’s their memories. You can tackle your heirlooms head-on by making several trips over time. However, there are ways of breaking them down if they make moving difficult – for example, downsizing all your collectibles at once by setting up an online auction.
Document Your Current Space
If you’re downsizing to a new home, make sure to take photos of your current space. You should do this, especially if you’re moving to another state; it allows you to make sure everything that you think will fit into your new space does. You may be surprised at how much more or less room than anticipated. Also, don’t forget to document measurements, too! Use these tools for reference when packing up and making an inventory of what goes where. If you find many items you didn’t know about (such as old receipts or papers), consider using software like Evernote or Dropbox to document these items for future reference.
Donate and Sell Items You Don’t Need
Many of us keep special items in our house, objects we aren’t ready to part with because they hold some emotional meaning. But retirement is about more than sentimentality; there comes a time when we simply don’t need certain things, and keeping them around takes up precious space and money. Take an inventory of all your stuff and get rid of anything you no longer use. Think about what you might be able to sell online or at a local flea market; if it’s still in decent condition, you can probably find someone who will buy it from you.
Consider Hiring an Expert
If you’re selling your house, hiring a real estate agent can help maximize its sale price. Similarly, if you want to sell your collection of comic books or baseball cards, it is best to hire an expert dealer to determine which items are most valuable and how best to sell them off. If you’re planning on downsizing into an apartment, hiring a small moving company might save time and money over moving everything yourself. Experts help minimize surprises and unnecessary costs and they’re worth every penny if it means avoiding unpleasant surprises down the road.