Retirement begins a new chapter in life. It is a time when older adults typically enjoy more freedom and flexibility. One question that often arises soon after retiring is how necessary and practical it is to remain in the family home. While a lot of space may have served you well when you were raising kids, the maintenance and financial upkeep can put a crimp in retirement plans.

Sometimes a senior will move to a smaller home or a condominium. Others move to an apartment or villa that’s part of a retirement community. Wherever they choose to move to, most are surprised to find how much joy comes from rightsizing their lifestyle.

Rightsizing is a term aging professionals coined to refer to the process of aligning your goals for the future with your home space needs. For example, do you still need a big house? Or would a small home, where you are free from the burdens and financial demands of maintaining a large home, be better?

How to Downsize Your Home during Retirement

The process usually begins with decluttering and rehoming items you no longer want or need. If you are considering moving to a smaller home or a senior living community in the months or years ahead, cleaning out your closets, basement, attic, and garage now helps ensure a smoother transition.

So, how can you get started? We have some useful suggestions:

  • Start with the easy stuff: Unless you are fastidiously organized, it will help to make a quick pass through every room to eliminate obvious clutter. Keep a trash bag and a box with you. Throw away items you don’t need and can’t give away. Pack items you want to donate in the box as you go. Remember, this isn’t a deep cleaning. It’s just a warm up lap around the house to get started.
  • Purge paper goods: Most of us accumulate a shocking amount of paper products around the house. The longer you’ve lived there, the worse it usually is. Old catalogs and magazines, outdated utility bills and credit card statements, and unneeded receipts are a few common types. Shred items with identifying personal information and recycle or dispose of everything else.
  • Prevent junk mail: Another battle many households face is keeping up with junk mail. In just a few days, it can really pile up. You can cut down on the amount you receive by signing up for the National Do Not Mail List. Though time-consuming, it also helps to email catalog companies directly and request they remove your name and address from their mailing list.
  • Clean closets: Closets often harbor clothing, shoes, and accessories that haven’t been worn in years. Apply the 12-month rule to every item in your closet. If you haven’t worn or used something in the last year, you probably won’t do so ever again. The only exception might be formal wear and seasonal accessories. Donate everything to a local shelter or nonprofit resale shop.
  • Pare down linens: Like clothing, linens can accumulate easily. Be honest with yourself about how many sets of sheets and towels you really need. The same holds true for old sets of curtains, blankets, tablecloths, and placemats.
  • Scale back holiday décor: Whether it is patriotic decorations, Thanksgiving décor, or Christmas ornaments, seasonal items often take up a lot of space. Many of us periodically buy new without getting rid of the old. This is another area where you need to sort through every box and be realistic about the future use of every item. Veterans’ centers, day care centers, preschools, and women’s shelters usually appreciate receiving these types of gently used donations.

One final tip is to frequently drop off donations to the charity of your choice. Waiting until you finish a room or two can easily result in items finding their way back into a closet or drawer.

Selling Your Home during Retirement

If you or a senior loved one has decided to sell your home, we have some tips to help make the process a little easier. How to Prepare a Senior’s Home to Sell covers topics ranging from starting early to making inexpensive updates to increase the selling price.

Should you have questions about senior living, we encourage you to call the Heritage community nearest you. We’ll be happy to help!