Downsizing Tips for Seniors


People choose to move into a smaller home for many different reasons. Although you can easily justify the need to downsize, it can still be difficult and stressful. Trying to decide which possessions to keep and take with you, and which to discard can be heart-wrenching. So much so, you may decide you’d rather not move than be forced to make such necessary decisions. With this in mind, we’d like to share a few tips to help make your downsizing experience as painless as possible.

  • Ask for Help: Ask family members and friends to help pack and to help on moving day. As soon as you know when moving day is, let them know so they can get it on their calendar.
  • Plan Ahead:  If you can get a floor plan of your new living space, it will help you plan what furniture you’ll need and how much storage space you’ll have for other possessions
  • Begin Early: It’s never too soon to begin going through drawers and closets getting rid of things you no longer need or use
  • Consider Hiring a Moving Manager: Moving managers can make the move much simpler. They do things like help sort and pack, supervise the move, supervise garage sales and auctions and help arrange furniture in the new home.
  • Get Estimates for Moving Costs: Contact several moving companies to compare costs. Then, when you’re ready to move, you will already know who you intend to call. Make plans with them for the day of the move so they are available on the day you need them.
  • Make Lists: As you make plans and determine what needs to be done, create lists to keep you organized and help you remember what needs to be done. Your lists could include things such as shutting off utilities, forwarding mail, notifying magazines of the address change, etc. You can also create a timeline of when things need to be accomplished. As the day approaches, and stress kicks in, it becomes easy to forget and overlook things that need to be done.
  • Update your Address: Besides making changes to subscriptions and other things you get in the mail, you also need to change your address on other things as well, including credit cards, bank accounts, driver’s license, Medicare, Social Security, voter’s registration, car registration and investment/retirement accounts. You will also want to notify family, friends, churches, social clubs, insurance carriers, lawyer, accountants, etc. of your new address.
  • Use Up What You Can: Use up surplus groceries and paper goods prior to your move. This will eliminate the need to pack and move these items.
  • Mentally Prepare: Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can be the hardest part of downsizing. Many possessions have memories attached to them, but you can’t take everything with you. Be ready to make the tough decisions. If you need support during this process, get a trusted friend or family member to help you.
  • Take Photographs: If you have items that you’re forced to get rid of that you’d rather not, take pictures of them. This enables you to see the item and still have the memories the item evokes.
  • Pack Valuables First: Pack valuables first and then give the box to a trusted friend or family member for safe keeping until the move is complete
  • Organize Items: Label boxes as keep, donate and sell. As you go through possessions, place them in one of the boxes. This saves time by preventing you from having to sort things more than once. If you have items which you are uncertain about and might like to keep if you have room, create a “maybe” box. Once you have completed packing, you can go through the maybe boxes to decide if you want to keep any items you now have room for in your new home. Create a “first day” box, as well, for those items you’ll need immediately like prescriptions, toiletries, bath towel, washcloth, bath mat, kitchen basics, disposable dishes/silverware, cleaning supplies, basic tools, toilet paper, first aid kit, etc. This will make the first couple days and nights in your home much easier.
  • Label all Boxes: Each box should have a label indicating what is in it (basically) and where it goes, such as which room in your new home, a charitable organization or another person’s name if the items are to go to them.
  • Give Things Away: On items you have earmarked to give away or sell, you can make them available to family members or friends. As someone helps you sort through and pack up things and they express an interest in an item, offer to let them have it. It’s a great way to know things you love will continue to be cherished.
  • Use Technology to Save Pictures: If you have boxes of pictures that take up a lot of space, get someone to help digitize them for you. They’re much easier to sort and view on electronic devices as well.
  • Clean Incrementally: As you pack up areas of your home, dust and vacuum those areas. This incremental cleaning is much easier than trying to do it all at once right before or after you move.

As you contemplate downsizing, we hope you’ll consider Forest Hill, a vibrant full service retirement community in Monterey Bay. We have much to offer someone looking for an exceptional retirement experience in Pacific Grove. Contact us if you have any questions or would like to schedule a tour.

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