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A Step-By-Step Guide to Downsizing for Seniors

A Step-By-Step Guide to Downsizing for Seniors

While Americans still aspire to homeownership, their criteria for what makes a dream house have changed. In general, people are less interested in large properties and more inclined towards smaller, easier to manage spaces. This is especially true for baby boomers. One survey showed that some 42% would prefer to live in a smaller house. This makes perfect sense: As people enter retirement, they want to enjoy their free time. Without a doubt, you'd rather spend your days socializing or engaging in hobbies than doing housework. 

The additional maintenance a larger property demands not only requires more time spent on upkeep, it also means greater financial investment. This is another drawback for seniors who no longer have a steady income and are frequently worried about money. Downsizing, therefore, makes sense on many levels. If you are preparing to transition to a smaller home, let these guidelines prepare you for the process.

Decide what to get rid of

Since your new home will be more compact than your current one, you have to trim down your personal belongings before you move. This can be a stressful process, so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get it done, for instance by planning on sorting through one room of the house at a time. Sort your belongings into two categories, items that will move to your new home versus those you will leave behind.

When deciding what to get rid of, automatically nix any duplicates, broken items, or possessions you haven’t used in more than two years. Consumer Reports has a useful guide to disposing of old goods; there are special charities that collect everything from books to bicycles, for example, and designated services that will pick up old electronic appliances and trash them for you safely. 

Prepare to sell your old home

When looking for a new accommodation, do some research to get an idea of what the housing market is like in your target area. Getting an estimate of prices allows you to calculate how much of a down payment you’ll need to make upfront (usually 5-20% of the total cost). You can also go online to see what a current listing price would be for your current home by looking at nearby properties in a similar range as far as size and amenities.  

When preparing to put your property on the market, take the time to have professional real estate photos made. This increases the odds of a faster sale. Just make sure to have the interior decluttered and cleaned before the photo op. When it comes to actually listing the property, opt for the ad to go up on a Friday. This can result in a quicker sale and selling closer to the listing price.

Ensure a smooth moving process

Your down payment won't be the only expense as you downsize. Budget for a moving container company as well, keeping in mind that the costs are likely to increase if you’re planning a long distance move. With a moving container company, you can pack and load the container without rushing the process. When you’re finished, you notify the company, and they transport the container to the new house for you. Look online for the top moving container companies and their average prices.

Downsizing might seem daunting at first, but when you break it down into these manageable steps, it doesn't have to be. Focus on the positives of the move: You will find day-to-day home management easier and have more energy to devote to fun activities and travel. When you keep your sights set on these positive benefits, the actual downsizing process will be simpler.

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