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Start Downsizing Your Home

Downsizing so you can Upsize your freedom and lifestyle

When is the right time to start living your ideal retirement life?

After a lifetime of building wealth and working hard it can be somewhat scary thinking about what you need to do to pursue the things you have always wanted to after you retire. Whether it is golfing in Arizona, moving closer to grandkids or traveling around the country in a RV, there is no time like the present to start the process of making your dreams a reality. According to a Merrill Lynch survey, 61 years old is the ideal age to downsize and start enjoying the freedom that comes with making the move.

The key to a stress-free downsize is to have a solid plan and start the process early so you can maximize your retirement years, spending more time on your hobbies and with your favorite people.

These steps will help you accelerate into your future

  • Get started early and make a plan
  • Don’t get overwhelmed, focus on one space at a time
  • Plan out and visualize what your ideal lifestyle looks like
  • Make specific rules when it comes to what to do when decluttering
  • Organize and try to digitize
  • Ask for help if needed

Get started early and make a plan

Start as soon as possible, it will take at least 3 months to get everything done.

Even if you start way earlier than you move, simplifying your lifestyle will allow you to prioritize what is important to you.

Research different methods for organizing your belongings (KonMari Method, Four Box, One a Day, Closet Hanger)

Find a knowledgeable real estate agent that can help you determine where to spend your time and energy so you can maximize your home sale when you are ready. (make sure you define your timelines)

Don’t get overwhelmed, focus on one space at a time

It is easy to look around and think “I don’t even know where to start” but it’s important to remember that the key to taking on large projects is all about breaking it down into more manageable smaller pieces.

Oftentimes just getting started is the hardest part, pick a small task that you know you can complete.

Tackle one closet, getting rid of clothes that you don’t wear.

Go through the kitchen and get rid of any old utensils or containers that you never use.

Take an afternoon and organize a junk drawer.

Divide your home into sections, or start with one room or one area at a time.

Plan out and visualize what your ideal lifestyle looks like

This includes thinking about the ideal size of the space you will be moving to, how many bedrooms? Is there going to be a garage or an extra bedroom?

Evaluate if larger furniture will fit into a smaller space. Get rid of huge furniture that takes up too much space and you’ll find that when it comes time to sell your house, less is more. You want to make your home look decluttered and spacious. 

What kinds of activities will you be pursuing? No need to save a bunch of things that you can’t see yourself using in the future. 

Be very specific with your vision for the future, this will help you decide what to keep and what to give away.

This is your chance to reset and start fresh so take advantage of the move!

Make specific rules when it comes to what to do when decluttering

Without setting up strict rules it is easy to just keep moving things from one area of the house to another.

A good place to start is making 4 categories.

1 Keep it

2. Give it to a friend or family member

3. Sell the item or donate it

4. Throw it away 

Layout your own decision tree, for example…Do I want to keep it? No. Does a family member want it? Probably Not. Would someone buy it? Yes, list it on craigslist or donate it to goodwill. 

One thing that will help you keep up the good work is take a before and after picture of the area you declutter. This will show you the progress you are making on your new lifestyle.

If you are finding that it is hard to give things to family and friends, donating items is a great way to help people and as an added bonus some donations are a tax write off.

Organize and try to digitize

What do you do with old video tapes or birthday cards? Digitize them!

Take pictures of old gift cards or notes, then make a file backed up to the cloud. This way you can look through them whenever and wherever you want. Also record anything you remember about it in the notes.

There are also many companies that will transfer old home movies, photos and slides to a digital file. The added bonus to this is that the old tapes and photos will eventually be lost to time if they are allowed to break down a closet. You will find that having your movies and pictures in a digital format will give you more access to them and allow you to share them with the next generation.

This also goes for old paper work in shoe boxes and bulky file cabinets. There are many phone apps that allow you to take pictures and organize digital pictures of documents into files. 

Only keep the physical copy of really important paperwork. But having a digital copy of these documents is also a good idea!

Ask for help if needed

Trying to do everything yourself can be a daunting task and can seem impossible. 

Evaluate what types of things that you may need help with and ask for help!

There are many junk removal services that are fairly inexpensive, don’t try to move heavy cabinets and bulky furniture by yourself. You don’t want a back surgery to mess up your grand plans.

Asking younger family members and friends for help can actually be a great bonding experience. Make it enjoyable for them by following these rules.

Layout clear plans for the day, and don’t try to do everything in one day.

Be ready when they show up, if they have to watch you pack up boxes, they will be bored.

Have food and drinks as a reward for helping, a few slices of pizza goes a long way.

Don’t be afraid to give them stories about the things they are moving…but remember to keep the stories short unless they are asking questions.

Use this time to offer friends and family sentimental things that you want them to have. And don’t be offended if they turn anything down, they may not have room for the item.

Downsizing and organizing is very rewarding and it will make the next steps less stressful. Fight the urge to fill the space back up, that means really thinking about new purchases and what you bring home. Following your plan and downsizing and simplifying you current home will give you clarity and the motivation to keep pursuing your ideal Retirement. 

Hopefully this list will help you start the process and get you ready to accelerate into the retirement life you have always wanted.

Whether you’re ready to downsize this year or in a few years, reach out to us at the Nick McLean Real Estate Group if you have any questions about what things you should start thinking about to get your house prepared for the market, when you’re ready of course.

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