One of the hardest parts about moving from a home to a retirement community is the loss of space. While there are some retirement communities that have spacious apartments, most are a lot smaller than a typical house. Here are some tips for downsizing:
1. Make a list of your favorite items. Don't look around. Just sit down and make a list of the things that come to your mind first. They are usually the things that are the most important to you. This is also a great time to start a list of items you want to pass on to children and friends.
2. Decide what is necessary. Some questions to consider:
- How many dishes do you need? How many people can eat at your home at one time? How big of a table do you need?
- Which furniture pieces are multi-use (like end tables with plenty of storage)?
- How many Christmas (and other holiday) decorations will you need?
- Which books, magazines, and games will you really use?
- Do you have any extra papers that can be shredded? Most things are electronic now so you can get rid of most of your papers (keep three years of taxes).
3. Ask those close to you if there is anything they want. If they ask for something you still want, you can add it to your will. Give them a deadline to come and pick up the items so they will be out of your way when you pack.
4. As you sort through items, ask yourself if they spark joy. Marie Kondo, a decluttering expert, encourages people to only keep the items that "spark joy." Get rid of all:
- clothes that don't fit or that aren't flattering
- gardening and yard equipment, since retirement communities take care of all that for you
- unfinished "projects" that have been sitting around for ages
- items that have outlived their usefulness
- things that remind you of bad experiences or brings back unpleasant memories
- items that belong to others (your children can store their own belongings now!)
5. Bring plenty of color. Take the time to really "design" your new home. If the community won't allow you to paint, you can bring lots of colorful throw rugs, pillows, paintings, flowers and plants, photographs, vases, and other beautiful items. You will feel much more at "home" when you are surrounded with items you love. If you want to reinvent your style, now is the time!
6. Look forward to a simpler life. Everything you own requires care. When you get rid of all the things you no longer need, you will be able to focus on the things that really matter to you. Face your past so you can move into the future with happiness and confidence. Retirement communities offer plenty of fun activities, so enjoy the extra time you will have.
While the task may seem daunting, this is a great opportunity. Follow these tips and you will be ready to move when the time comes. Good luck!