In the earlier stages of adulthood, we typically experience seasons of growth—bigger jobs, bigger families, bigger houses. But as time goes on, that period of expansion often cycles into one of scaling back as the kids grow up and head off to start their own lives or when we decide to say farewell to work life and transition into our retirement years.
When that happens, there are obvious factors to consider like sources of retirement income and, often, whether or not to move to a smaller, more manageable house, condo or apartment. In such cases, you’ll often find that when you move to a new place, you’ll have way more stuff than it can comfortably accommodate. But with a little thought and planning, you’ll find that getting from Home A to Home B doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
You’ll need to make some decisions about this lifetime of personal belongings that you (and possibly a spouse) have accumulated. From keepsakes and holiday decorations to books and furniture, you’ll have to figure out what stays and what goes. Successful moves always start with a plan, so consider these downsizing strategies.
• Shop for a storage facility and make your leasing arrangements before you start the relocation process. This will be one more thing off your plate once you start your move, and you’ll already have the space in place to make an easy transition from your old home to your new one.
• Take inventory, one room at a time, of all your belongings. Seeing everything on paper will make it easier to evaluate everything you have and start making decisions about what stays and what goes.
• Be honest with yourself about what you’ll really need and what you won’t need during your retirement years. Chances are you won’t actually need or use many of the things currently taking up space in your larger home. Try to envision what your day-to-day life will actually be like in the years ahead, and that will help give you a picture of what likely won’t get a lot of use in the future.
• Talk to local charities about their needs and see if anything on your list meets those needs. Even if there are no specific needs, organizations like Habitat for Humanity can always take in items that deserving families can benefit from in the future—and at affordable prices. Knowing your donations are helping someone in need can also help make letting go of your items a little easier.
• If you still wind up having more stuff than house when you make your move, remember that you have storage options in play. Sentimental items, seasonal decorations and other non-essential items can always go in a storage unit. And if it turns out that you need something in the future, it will always be there. Having a storage unit will allow you access and extra space without all the worry.