Downsizing Made Easy
So it’s time to downsize and move to a smaller place.
Now what? How do you decide what to do with a lifetime’s treasures? Your outlook will depend on your reasons to move of course, but a move to an adult lifestyle community will ease much of the stress. Your neighbours have gone through the same process and you will have a good support group from day 1.
Where to start?
Moving from a 3,000 sq.ft. house with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a dining room, a kitchen with an island counter, a laundry room, double garage and full basement, to a 1800 sq.ft adult lifestyle home means something has to go.
Start by being realistic.
Go though the house room by room and eliminate everything but the essentials. That treadmill you rarely use. The king-size bed with a fancy headboard. Bookcases full of books you always meant to read but never quite got around to. A dining room table that seats twelve. Massive sofas and coffee tables. A garage choked with tools and a basement filled with things the kids left behind when they left home. Stuff you store “just in case”.
Make a scale floor plan of your new adult lifestyle home and create paper scale images of your furniture to place in position to see what might go where. Be honest with yourself. If you haven’t really used anything in the last year, could you live without it? These are difficult decisions and compromise is inevitable. Many items hold strong emotional ties but hard choices have to be made.
Involve the family from the start.
Our children and grandchildren lead different lifestyles in the 21st century and may not want any of our surplus “stuff”, but take pictures of all the items you will be making available and ask them to choose.
After your family has chosen what items they want you have to, dispose of the rest. You might want to donate these items to your local charity shop, the Salvation Army or Value Village to save you the hassle of advertising and delivering such heavy items. If you prefer to sell your surplus furniture you can use online sites such as eBay, Craigslist or Kijji. As you scan these sites you will see what the average prices are and be guided in establishing your price offer.
If you have one of those huge cabinets that used to hold a cathode ray tube television, a receiver, a turntable and dozens of LPs, a VCR and DVD player, cassette player, assorted remotes, cables, connectors, multiple speakers the size of a refrigerator, and instruction manuals about installing Windows software, it’s time to think about upgrading.
Your local electronics store will be able to supply you with newer technology with fewer wires, lighter electronics that combine obsolete technology, and wireless headphones to dispense with bulky speakers.
Your entertaining lifestyle my change, so go through each item you have and select only the essentials. Will you really be giving dinner parties for twelve? Do you need that bread-maker you haven’t used in two years? Measure up the actual cupboard space you will be using and downsize accordingly. Over the years you have collected many duplicate items you can throw out.
Closets and drawer space
As with your kitchen cupboard space, measure how much closet space you will have and assess how your clothes will fit in the new house. That will have to include winter storage of heavy parkas, snow boots, gloves, hats, scarves, and umbrellas. Go though all the drawers and throw out all those useless plastic bags, empty bottles, bits of string, bag ties, expired medications, beauty products and containers you thought may come in handy one day.
As you try to eliminate surplus material and find it hard to decide, try putting it in storage for a trial period. If you haven’t used it by then – throw it out.
This is the hardest stuff to downsize. Dozens of family albums filled with 2 1/4” square black and white photographs, hundreds of colour slides, dozens of VCR tapes of family vacations and early childhood vidoes, a chiming mantle clock you meant to get fixed, Uncle Fred’s hole-in-one golf trophy, baby mementoes, paperweights, vases, and a host of knickknacks you mindlessly dust in memory of someone or something.
Decision time comes when you realize much of this must go. If you have enough lead-time and computer skills, you might consider scanning your favourite images and videos and putting them on a CD or DVD. If your budget will allow it, go on line and select a local company who will do this for you. Make enough copies for the family and throw away the originals.
Plan backwards from your moving day and make sure you tackle each room to completion. If in doubt, throw it out.
Always remember, if you don’t your heirs most certainly will!