Seniors Can Reap Big Benefits in Downsizing

There comes a certain time in many of our lives when we’re simply ready to move somewhere smaller. It could be because it’s becoming more difficult to manage a large property, the fact that the children have flown the coop, or even just because you want a change. There are numerous benefits to owning a smaller home from ease of cleaning to being more energy-conscious.

Here is a guide to help you get started.

How to pack the household for transport

Packing for a weekend getaway is one thing, but packing your entire house is quite another. The first part, and often the most difficult, is going through your things and coming up with what you can say goodbye to. A smaller space will, unfortunately, mean less room for things. Start by either going through your clothes and letting go of possessions that don’t fit or don’t make you feel good about yourself, or things you’ve not worn in over a year.

You could also start in your kitchen and get rid of the gadgets you don’t use, or the pots that are too big or too small for practical use. Once you have completed your purge, think about packing a first night box, full of stuff you will immediately need—from dinner supplies to your toothbrush and pajamas. For larger items, or if you simply have too much to do by yourself or with a partner, you may want to hire a company, not only to transport your items, but to pack them for you, too.

How to transition with pets

If you have pets, this is going to be a stressful experience for them. However, there are ways for you to mitigate their anxiety. If you stay calm through all the many stresses of moving, it will help your pet feel safe. If you introduce them to things slowly, it will help them as well. Take them for a few visits to the kennel where they will be staying during the move, introduce them to the new house or apartment before moving in, and get them crate-trained so they associate their crate with safety and comfort.

How to choose help

Research is going to be incredibly important during this time. You want a reliable moving company that is known for consistency and commitment to excellence. It’s one thing to get a recommendation from a friend, and that is often a good place to start, but you need to do a lot of digging. There are many websites you can visit to do some background checking, such as the Better Business Bureau, to get a few names. Once you have a few companies to pick from, get estimates and compare. It may be a lot of work, but it will be worth it to choose the best company possible for your budget.

How to take care of yourself

Moving is full of stress and uncertainty, so it’s extra important to take care of your own sense of well-being. Staying organized will help immensely when juggling the seemingly endless tasks ahead. Having a schedule will help keep you on track and succeed in keeping your blood-pressure down. Once you arrive at your new home, get each room organized so that you can really start the settling in process (this room-by-room guide will definitely help). Take your time unpacking each room, and as the moving boxes disappear, you’ll find that you are able to truly relax.

Balancing your schedule perfectly may not be enough to keep a level head, so find ways that work for you to relax. Whether it is working out every morning, doing yoga in the afternoon, reading your favorite or newest novel, or even taking a long hot bath twice a week, do something to unwind and keep yourself sane.

Downsizing can seem intimidating, but it’s worth it if it makes your life easier. Less things to look after, smaller spaces to clean, less stairs to navigate all can improve the quality of your life and open up more of your time to find things you enjoy. These truly are the golden years and rather than spend them cleaning a large house you just don’t need, make time for yourself and your loved ones and truly thrive.

Written by Lydia Chan

Downsizing the Family Home without Throwing Out the Memories

Photo credit: khongkitwiriyachan, Freedigitalphotos.net

Downsizing a well-loved home is no easy task. It can be stressful, painful, and even emotionally taxing. So how do you decide what items to keep, donate, or throw away? Downsizing everything you own, especially items with sentimental value, is a major project.

But don’t let the fears of getting rid of precious objects and forgetting memories stop you from all the benefits of downsizing your home. In fact, downsizing can provide a great opportunity to get rid of the clutter and have some fun.

In an article published by Forbes, Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand, authors of the book Moving On, say their best advice for downsizers is to keep the memories and get rid of the stuff. They encourage families in the process of downsizing to talk about the memories, honor the people, and remember the experiences. When objects that hold sentimental value are remembered, it is much easier to throw or give them away. “Telling each other stories along the way can also make it easier to let go of some of the objects, because for most people the memories connected to the objects are more important than the objects,” Hulstrand says.

Hetzer suggests writing memories down in a journal or memoir, taking photos, or making videos of people talking about those experiences. It will be much easier to get rid of something when you know that you have taken the time to properly remember it.

Downsizing a home and its collections of objects and memories is a large-scale project, so take your time. Allow a few months to go through everything so you do not have to feel rushed or stressed. If the project seems daunting, start in one room and work your way from there.

Going through your home can not only open up a great opportunity to reflect on times past but doing so can also be fun. Hulstrand invites families to gather together to go through the home and remember together. “If you can build in the time for family members to reminisce and just enjoy being together, as well as going through what can be a pretty tedious task, it actually can be fun.”

What might start as an impossible project can turn into an opportunity to create new memories for the whole family to cherish together.

— Stephanie Bahr Bentley

Sometimes Downsizing is Hard on the Ego

Photo by Phiseksit, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are many benefits to downsizing, such as less space to take care of and smaller monthly bills. But with smaller bills, comes a smaller house—which can sometimes be hard on the ego.  

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, a retirement expert pointed out some pertinent questions regarding downsizing, one of them asking if your ego can handle a downsize.

Often we see our homes as the showcase of our hard work, so a large or spacious home signifies success. But with downsizing, that likely means giving up that image. If that is a major deterrent for you and your quest to downsize, consider other benefits that might still allow you to showcase your life accomplishments.

Furnishing a smaller home

Even if a home is smaller, it can still look impressive. New furniture, paintings, and other artwork can go a long way to showcase the home and its owners. Size is not all that matters when giving value to something—order and style contribute greatly to the image of a home. And with a smaller home, it will be considerably easier to keep everything organized. You also might be able to afford those new leather couches.

Traveling the world

Nothing says luxury like travelling. With less house expenses, you can now hit the beach in Hawaii or Baja California. Take the long-awaited cruise to Alaska or the Bahamas. Consider a trip with the grandkids to Disneyland or Harry Potter World. Start a blog and post pictures and tales from your trip. Downsizing can lower your home expenses and open up new avenues for travel adventures.

Buying a vacation home

Once you’ve cut your house bill in half by downsizing, consider investing in a vacation home. If the beaches or mountains call your name, look into purchasing property for a getaway home. A second home may require some work and time, so make sure you consider the costs and upkeep requirements. Sometimes there is nothing better than a cozy stay at your cabin in the woods.

It is never easy to part with one’s home, especially if it is full of cherished memories and mementos from your family. However, downsizing may just be the right opportunity to keep some of the most important memories and start creating new ones.

— Stephanie Bahr Bentley

Downsizing Your Home is Never Easy

Whether you’re thinking of downsizing your home because of financial issues, health challenges, time limitations, or simply because the kids are grown and you want something smaller, the process is never easy. Fear is often a major issue as you worry about your future life and whether you’ve made the correct decision.

Take heart. People move every day, and, after time, adjust quite well to their new lifestyle. They make new friends, get used to their new surroundings, and soon they feel right at home.

The other day I was reading Chicken Soup for the Soul – Count Your Blessings: 101 Stories of Gratitude, Fortitude, and Silver Linings. I came across this true-life experience shared by Karen Kosman. It’s a wonderful message of how she overcame her downsizing fears with faith. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Stress-free downsizing

 

Homeward Bound

“The movers pulled out of our driveway. I glanced for the last time at our home of twenty-two years. We’d planned to spend the rest of our lives there, but health issues and financial issues forced us to sell. As we pulled away from the curb, I burst into tears.

Startled, my husband slammed on the brakes. “Karen, what’s wrong?”

“I’ll be fine. Reality just hit home.”

“I know, honey, but you’ve been so strong. Your sudden outburst scared me.”

“I’m okay,” I said, smiling, trying to look convincing.

As we drove through heavy traffic, I closed my eyes, and my mind flashed back a few months. John had been on disability. He’d been fighting an ear infection that had resulted in severe hearing loss.

Sitting in our doctor’s office, we anxiously waited while he looked at John’s latest audiologist report.

“Good, looks like you’ve gained back some hearing. I think we are finally getting that infection under control.”

“That’s good news. My disability is coming to a close, and I’m retiring for the last time,” John replied.

“You and Karen have worked long and hard for that retirement,” Dr. William said reassuringly.

Later that afternoon, John and I sat in our front yard sipping iced tea. I glanced at the “For Sale” sign, and sighed.

John seemed to read my mind and said, “Karen, I think we should back out of selling our home. We don’t really want to live anywhere else.”

“John, we really need to stick to our decision. We’ve sat down with our financial advisor, and he agrees we are doing the right thing. Do you remember what we learned six years ago?”

“Yea, I remember, the bluebird.”

“Yes, you’d been retired for four years and because I’d been forced to retire early we were struggling. We were talking, and praying, when we noticed the bluebird. We watched as he dug up a peanut, and we marveled at his ingenuity. He’d stored up food for when he needed it.”

“That’s right, and then the phone rang. It was my former employer asking if I wanted to come out of retirement. They needed qualified, experienced supervisors to work on a special project. It was supposed to last nine months, and it lasted five years.”

“John, we need to count our blessings. Because, you were were able to work we were able to stay here longer.”

Later, that afternoon, our real estate lady, Trudy, called and said, “I have a beautiful home to show you. It’s a three-bedroom, manufactured home in a beautiful park. The price is right.”

The next day, John and I drove out to the desert community. The clear blue sky against the rolling hills seemed to welcome us as we pulled into the park. As we parked in front of the home a bluebird landed in a nearby tree. I smiled, and said, “I wonder if that’s the same bluebird?”

John laughed. As we entered the living room, it was love at first sight. I walked through a dream kitchen, and knew I never wanted to leave. John loved the spacious master bedroom, and the family room.

That afternoon, we made an offer. The next day, Trudy called and said, “They’ve accepted your offer.”

“Look at that sunset,” John said, bringing me back to the present. The movers were waiting for us. Two hours later, we sat in our family room staring at boxes. The next day our family showed up and the unpacking began. We were grateful to have the help. As it was, it took a couple of months to settle in.

We started walking every afternoon. Soon we began meeting our neighbors and using the clubhouse and the other facilities. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the beauty that surrounded our park, the peacefulness, and the marvelous sunsets every evening.

Then one Saturday, we went up to Orange County to visit family. Later that evening when John pulled into our driveway, he said, “It’s good to be home.”

I smiled. “Home is where the heart is.”

“That’s right, Karen, as long as we’re together–we are home.””

*****

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings. 101 Stories of Gratitude, Fortitude, and Silver Linings, pp. 229-231

Story told by Karen Kosman

Book authors are Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Amy Newmark, Laura Robinson and Elizabeth Bryan

ISBN 978-1935096429