The Baby Boomer’s Mini Guide to Downsizing
Many of us are in our 60s and 70s at this point, so we’re looking for homes with smaller yards and fewer bedrooms. This mini-guide will give you tips about how to make the process more efficient and less stressful.
Plan Ahead and Begin Early
You’ll need plenty of time to plan your move and interview realtors to market your home. The National Association of Realtors can help. If you start early, then you can avoid making rushed decisions. We all know from experience where rushed decisions get us. Save yourself from sticker shock and begin early.
One of the worst things about the downsizing process is deciding what to give away and what to keep. Baby boomers have accumulated many items in their decades of life, so decluttering is no easy task. It may be advisable to hire a professional organizer.
Starting early makes the process less stressful because you have more time to dedicate to the decluttering process. You’ll have more time to measure the value of each item rather than rushing and, in the process, throwing away something of great value.
Take on the downsizing process in small chunks. I like to call it chunking. Instead of taking on the whole kitchen, just focus on one corner for the week. Then take on the other corner or two the following week. When you start the downsizing process early, you’ll have plenty of time to do this and it will not stress you out as much.
It’s best to start with the unemotional areas first. For instance, you could start in the exterior or interior utility room, getting rid of excess and nonessential linens, chemicals, and tools.
The rooms with the most sentimental items most likely will be the basement, attic, or garage because this is where we store our bins of memories, hobby items, and holiday decorations. Plan on saving a large chunk of time for these areas of the house. It’s also a good idea to go through these rooms in cooler weather since these areas of the house are generally more stuffy during the summer.
Think About Your New Floor Plan
When you declutter your home, try to keep your future home’s floor plan in mind. Will your new home have a garage? Office space? Will it be a townhome, condominium, or single-family home?
These are good questions to ask yourself before you start the decluttering process. You may need to donate or toss more than you think if your new home doesn’t have the room for space-specific items. For instance, if your new home’s floor plan does not have an office space, then you may need to donate or sell some of your office furniture.
Consider an Estate Sale
Estate sales are not just for our folks no longer with us anymore. Many baby boomers choose to hire an estate liquidator to help them sell items from their homes in preparation for a move to a smaller home. Hiring an estate liquidator can ease the process and help you get top dollar prices for your items in a sale. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to sell your items in your own yard sale.
The only thing about yard sales (in-person and online) is that people are looking to spend hardly anything and that’s all you’ll probably get. For instance, the average yard sale customer will want to pay only $10 for your $500 golf club set. An estate sale can help you liquidate your assets within days, and you’ll be on the road to your new home. If you do choose to hire an estate liquidator, make sure they are a member of the American Society of Estate Liquidators®. Also, make sure to have a signed contract detailing how unsold items will be handled after the sale and also what steps the liquidator will take to prevent theft.
You’ll want to notify family and friends before you take this step because they may be interested in family heirloom and sentimental family history items. Everything in your home will be tagged during an estate sale, so it’s very important that you understand that before hiring an estate liquidator.
Decide ahead of time how you plan to move. Will you use a commercial moving service? Will you have family help you move items in U-hauls? These are questions you’ll need to have answered after the downsizing process and home sale are complete. Some baby boomers find that hiring a senior move manager is helpful. Those with smaller loads find that renting a shipping container like PODs is an easier method to move their items from one house to another. If it’s a smaller load of items, this is an ideal choice if you have family and friends to help you unload furniture.
Downsizing is a complex process, but if you plan ahead, it can be less stressful and even a great bonding experience with family who want to help. Onward to new experiences and a more manageable home!
Please look for our detailed guides (coming soon) for more help and step by step instructions.
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This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.