Kids off to new adventures? Thinking about downsizing? We know the ropes. And we can help.
Now that the kids are grown and on their own, that lovely home that served your family so well, for so many great years, may seem suddenly gigantic and strangely quiet. It can be tough adjusting to life as an empty nester, but once you settle in, you’ll find there’s plenty to love about this bold new way of life.
But first, say goodbye to that oversized home; otherwise, you’ll spend too much of your time and money maintaining it, instead of enjoying your new found freedom.
We can help! SkyBlue Portland Team Leader, James Bradley, holds the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation from the National Associations of Realtors and is a Certified Negotiations Expert. Give him a call at 971-804-4618.
Step One: Declutter Your House
There’s no point in moving things to a new home if you’re not going to keep them anyway, and if you’re transitioning to a smaller home, trying to fit everything in will make the space feel cramped and cluttered. Because sorting through a lifetime of accumulated belongings is time-consuming, consider taking care of this step before listing your home.
Here are several tips for paring down belongings:
- Call your kids. If you’re like a lot of parents, you’re holding onto a few boxes, if not entire bedrooms, of your kids’ stuff, so ask your adult children to retrieve any belongings they want to keep.
- Gift heirlooms and collectibles. There’s no reason to wait until you’re gone to gift or donate cherished family heirlooms and artifacts, especially if you don’t have the space to keep them.
- Sell big, heavy furniture. Unwieldy furniture is difficult to move and makes a smaller space feel crowded. Sell, donate, or gift bulky furniture, and replace with smaller, lightweight options that are more easily moved.
- Get rid of old, worn-out items. If you have belongings that are in need of replacement, sell or donate them now and start looking for something new for your next place. Start with big items. If, for example, your mattress is seven years or older, it’s probably due for replacement. Toss out (or ideally, recycle) your old mattress, and start checking online reviews to find a new, more comfortable one for your new bedroom.
- Digitize photo albums. Traditional photo albums take up a lot of space and print photographs degrade over time. Try scanning old pictures into digital format to save space and preserve memories.
Step Two: Find the Right House
After you reduce your belongings to the essentials, it’s time to go house hunting! Your needs in retirement may be different than when you were raising a family, and the SkyBlue Portland Team can help you find the perfect home.
On the positive side, downsizing lets you save money and reduces home upkeep so that you have money and the time to enjoy it.
On the negative side, it’s not always easy to find a house that meets the needs of older adults, and you may need to spend extra money to improve the accessibility of your home. For instance, according to HomeAdvisor, in Portland, a bathroom remodel can cost between $6,545 and $18,132. Keep this in mind when determining your housing budget.
Here are a few more things to consider:
- Stairs: According to the CDC, 8 million seniors are treated in emergency rooms for falls every year. Stairs pose a considerable risk, so choose a home without them, if possible.
- Lawn maintenance: If you don’t like the idea of mowing the lawn for 30 more years, consider buying a condominium, townhome, or home in a maintenance-free, 55+ community.
- Lighting: A well-lit home is essential for aging safely. While you can always add lamps, it’s more convenient to buy a house that already has plentiful lighting.
- Open floor plans: Open floor plans aren’t just trendy, they’re also more accessible if you ever need to use a wheelchair during a temporary or permanent disability.
Step 3: Keep it Organized
You’ve set yourself up for success by downsizing your stuff before the move, but the work of organizing your house isn’t over. A careful approach to home organization can minimize chores, make things easier to access, and reduce the risk of misplacing important belongings.
After all the effort of eliminating unwanted possessions, selling your house, packing, and moving, you may not feel up to the task of thoroughly organizing your home. Rather than turning this into a demoralizing chore, hire a professional organizer to make your new house tidy and fuss-free.
Even if packing up and moving isn’t your idea of fun, downsizing after the kids move out is a job that pays off. After the dust settles, you’ll be grateful to have a home that complements your lifestyle in retirement.
Contributed by Michael Longsdon, creator of ElderFreedom.net, advocates for the rights and support of seniors.