At some point, most of us face the prospect of a home filled with items - and space - we no longer need. If tackling a move is an obstacle to achieving your retirement vision, let these seven steps be your blueprint for getting there.
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- Make a must-have list of 10 items that have the most significant sentimental value. Try reducing it by one, two or even three items. Tell yourself that everything else in the house is up for downsizing – or Smartsizing as we like to call it – consideration.
- Begin by zero-basing your actual needs. Imagine yourself with no possessions whatsoever. Next, make a list of what you require for today’s lifestyle – and what you would need if you moved to smaller home or an apartment. Odds are that list will clear out a lot of garage and attic space.
- Remind yourself that reducing the amount of objects in your home adds value to it. Full closets, overflowing bookshelves, and rooms filled with furniture make a house look smaller. Buyers want a house they can grow into. You’d be surprised by how newly bright and airy a room can look by simply removing a few pieces of furniture or decorations.
- Invite adult children and grandchildren to come in and take any items they’d like to have in their homes – those that have not already been promised. Consider making it a day-long, family event, and give them plenty of notice so they can prepare. Set a deadline for children to have any old belongings you’ve been storing out of the house.
- Enlist help. A relocation specialist firm that has experience working with older adults will bring organizational experience and practical tips to the downsizing process. Bringing in an outside firm can also keep procrastination at bay. If you have adult children or friends who are ready and willing to help, schedule them for several downsizing dates.
- Get your supplies. Many real estate professionals advise pre-organizing by using different color sticky notes to mark items with Keep, Toss or Donate. Buy industrial-size (and strength) garbage bags, which can be found at any hardware store. Start with items that can be bagged or boxed. For the rest, rent a dumpster.
- Start small. Choose three areas that most need downsizing – even if it’s an area you don’t often use like a garage or attic – and start with one room at a time. If that seems too overwhelming, choose one room and start in one dresser or closet.