4 Steps You Should Take to Downsize Your Home

This Guest Blog was written by Andrea Needham of Eldersday.org

Looking to move to a smaller home? Downsizing can be beneficial for many people, including seniors looking to simplify their lives in retirement. You can reduce your expenses and your stress with one move. To keep the process itself simple, though, there are some important steps you need to take:

Research Current Home Prices and Local Cost of Living

Many seniors are looking to downsize in order to cut costs during retirement. This can be a wise choice, especially since smaller homes tend to come with less maintenance and utility costs. Still, it’s a good idea to research home prices online first, so you can get a better idea of what that smaller home is likely to cost you. This kind of search will also provide you with a snapshot of local resources you can expect in any given area. In terms of cost of living, you can also use online resources, such as calculators and COL for various cities, to figure out average expenses for an area and how well your pension or other retirement income will cover those costs.

Part of your research should be finding a location to live in that you love. With warm temperatures and many miles of beautiful coastline and boardwalks, the Orange County area is a great spot to find a new home. Consider renting a vacation home in a neighborhood that you’re interested in to get a feel for the area and its amenities. For instance, if you’re an avid golfer, you may want to stay in Newport Beach, which is known for its impressive golf courses. Or you could stay in Laguna Beach which has stunning views and is located near many wellness centers.

Look for Senior-Friendly Homes and Community Features

Cost is important when it comes to downsizing during retirement, but quality of life is also crucial for seniors who are looking for a new home. Look for aging-in-place features that will keep you safe and comfortable. Complete a thorough walk-through of potential homes to assess any potential hazards that could pose a problem as you grow older. This can include uneven exterior lighting and steps without handrails, both of which can present fall risks. You may find that a home you love needs some remodeling to make it more accessible; in this case, you’ll need to factor remodeling costs into your budget. You should also research any community features that will make life more enjoyable, like access to transportation and convenience of retail shops.

Plan Enough Time to Sort Through Belongings and Emotions

It’s fairly easy to prepare for the actual tasks involved with downsizing. Being fully prepared for the emotions of downsizing, however, can be more difficult. When downsizing, you will need to sort through what could be decades of belongings. You should start this process as soon as possible, so you will only need to work on it for a few hours or so each day. This way, if you get overwhelmed by emotions, you can take a break and not feel stressed. If you can manage it, try to begin packing as you go through your belongings. This can be especially helpful for smaller, more fragile items, and can also be practical if you plan on a DIY move. Of course, if you decide to hire help with moving, you may be able to forego some of the packing, and you can also save yourself the stress of lifting heavy boxes or furniture.

Know That Settling into a New Home Can Take Time and Effort

Making such a major move after decades of living in the same place can produce some surprising emotions, no matter how well prepared you are. You may feel exhausted, anxious, angry or even helpless for a while after you have moved into your new home. Some immediate steps that can help relieve any stress include ensuring all utilities have been turned on, changing your address, and stocking your refrigerator and pantry. If you’re moving to a different neighborhood, you should also get out and start exploring. Go introduce yourself to the neighbors, or take your dog for a walk in the nearest park. The sooner you make new friends and get familiar with your new neighborhood, the sooner you will start to feel at home again.

Creating a downsizing plan takes some effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By being strategic about your move to a smaller home, you can save yourself a lot of worry. Using the above tips can help you start enjoying the golden years in your new home so much sooner.