Retirement Downsizing Guide: Moving into a Smaller Home

If you’re planning on downsizing and moving after you retire, you might have to wait a little longer before breaking out the La-Z-Boys and margaritas.

Downsizing can be a labor and time intensive job, even if you’re only moving into a smaller house down the street, but don’t let that stress you out! If you’re planning on a downsize in your golden years, here are some helpful tips to keep yourself from feeling like you’ve found a brand-new job when you’re supposed to be retired.


Know what to hang on to & What to let go of

Just because you’re downsizing doesn’t mean getting rid of everything you own. In fact, holding onto sentimental objects and treasured belongings is highly encouraged. These are elements that will make your new house feel like more of a home. However, you need to make sure you know the difference between sentiment and sediment. Moving useless items from one home to another can weigh down your moving process like rocks. When you’re packing up your house, try to develop a system of determining what you should keep and what you should let go. Sort between what you need, what you want, and what you can live without (then donate everything in that last category!).


Downsize over time, not all at once

Downsizing and packing in general, are big jobs that can’t be done all at once (no matter how convenient that would be).Everyone’s timeline is different, but try to spread out your packing and downsizing process as much as possible before your big move. Go one day, one closet, or even one drawer at a time. Breaking packing down into manageable projects will keep the task of downsizing from feeling too overwhelming, stressful, or even depressing. De-clutter slowly, giving stuff away to charity and to family piece by piece, rather than all at once.


Use small boxes and detailed labeling for packing up

When you’re downsizing and moving, it’s easy for stuff you’re actually keeping to get lost in the shuffle. To help your future-self avoid moving day chaos and the classic “Wait, what box did I put that in again?” confusion, try to pack with small boxes and a detailed labeling system. This will help avoid personal items getting lost in the shuffle. For example, don’t simply label a box “books”, try to specify the box’s content as much as possible! Use labels like “Scrapbooks”, “Children’s books”, and “Mystery novels” to keep things detailed and organized.


Keep in mind the differences between your two homes

A move is a move, whether you’re moving down the street or across the country, and you’re facing some pretty serious packing in your future. When you’re packing up, it’s important to keep the differences of your new home in mind before you start throwing things in boxes. Consider the size of your house, the type of house you're moving into, the climate of your new home, and how you will be moving to your new home. All these factors will affect what you pack, how much you pack, and how you transport your belongings to your new home.


Commit to a true downsize

A downsize can be a huge relief post-retirement. There’s less space to worry about, less clutter, and more time to focus on enjoying retirement! But we hear the same thing from Realtors time and time again, prospective home buyers have trouble sticking with their commitment to downsizing! Prospective downsizers tend to end up in homes only a few hundred square feet less than their original home. If the purpose of your move is to truly downsize, make sure you stick to that commitment so all the time you invested into pairing down your belongings doesn't go to waste.


Surprise! Prepare for competition with 1st time home buyers

Believe it or not, you’re going to be competing for homes against young, first time home buyers! These days, smaller sized homes are hot ticket items as millennials prepare to buy their first “starter” homes, and Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation look to downsize into smaller, more manageable properties. This means that the smaller sized homes you’ll be looking at are hot ticket items, so prepare for some unexpected competition when you’re house hunting!




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