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A Guide to Downsizing for Seniors

By Michael Longsdon

Retirement is a new stage of life, and many seniors want a new environment to go with it. That’s why so many older adults decide to downsize. However, this comes with challenges. Decades worth of memories, habits, and stuff makes moving complicated. ReverCare -- a go-to source of senior care tips, as well as information about senior-oriented products and services --offers a look at how to decide if you should downsize, find the right place, and make moving a breeze:

Is Downsizing Right for You?

Not all seniors need to downsize. However, it’s a good call for many. For example, many people live in large family homes in great school districts. This is perfect...when you have kids in public school. Once your kids are out of the house, however, you’re paying extra in heating, cooling, and taxes that you don’t really need. In this situation, a lower-priced home or neighborhood can be a good call.

Downsizing is also valuable for seniors who feel they have too much stuff. Generally speaking, clutter grows to fit the space available. If you downsize, you’ll be forced to make decisions you’ve been putting off, such as whether you truly need four slow cookers. Although going through your excess stuff is hard work, it’s well worth it. Research shows that having a neater, less cluttered environment reduces anxiety and improves happiness.

One of the most important reasons to downsize is if your current home will be unsafe or difficult to navigate as you age. For example, lots of stairs means lots of hazards. Even if you don’t have any trouble getting around your house right now, look at your space critically and ask if it will stay manageable as you age. If not, it could make sense to move into a more senior-friendly property.

Finding A Place

Once you decide to downsize, you’ll have to figure out where you want to live. Start by reviewing the local housing market.This can give you a sense of what kind of properties are available at your price point. Understanding your market is the first step toward figuring out what you should look for.

You could also look into retirement communities and assisted living facilities in your area. Retirement communities are a great option for seniors, and they typically come with plenty of amenities and a built-in community of your peers. Moreover, housing built with seniors in mind is sure to continue working for you as you age.

Even if you don’t think you’ll ever need assisted living, it’s worth checking out sooner rather than later. The fact of the matter is, the time might come where you need help with day-to-day tasks. Moving into assisted living will be a lot less stressful if you’ve already toured the options. Plus, you’ll have an easier time evaluating the facilities in your area now, when the pressure is off.

If you'd prefer to save more money on downsizing, then consider sharing a home with roommates. Not only can home sharing reduce overall living costs, it can help satisfy the need for socialization, and you can rely on someone to be there in case you're in need of assistance.

Downsizing and Moving 

You can begin downsizing once you’ve found your home, or you can start the process as soon as you begin your search. Either way, you’ll need to go through all of your stuff and figure out whether it should move with you. Start with items in storage. Generally speaking, the dustier something is, the less likely you are to need it. Throw out or donate all broken items, duplicates, and gifts still in their box. Evaluate sentimental items honestly, and only hold on to items that are truly meaningful.

When it comes to the move itself, your best bet is to hire movers. You don’t want to risk injuring yourself trying to lift boxes or heavy furniture in and out of a moving truck, and pros save you the trouble. Costs will vary depending on several factors, such as how far you’re moving, how much needs to be moved, and even the day of the week. However, making room in your budget for movers pays big dividends inconvenience.

Finding the perfect home for retirement might be complicated, but it’s well worth the effort. Your golden years are the time to relax, enjoy your loved ones, and explore the things you’ve always wanted to try. With the right environment, you’ll be able to live the retirement you’ve been dreaming of.

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