Downsizing your home at 50+

cottageAfter reaching the age of 50, many people like to prepare for approaching retirement and the “golden years” of leisure by downsizing – often as an acknowledgement that now the kids have flown the coop and the mortgage is as good as paid off, there’s no need to be maintaining such a large house. A smaller home is cheaper to buy, rent or run, plus it makes travelling easier after retirement and makes the transition to residential homes in the future more simple, as less clutter means less hassle with moving and storage. As with all major life changes, however, it pays to be well prepared…

The emotional rollercoaster

While many retirees and over-50s are past masters of organisation and planning, they can often be sideswiped by the unexpected emotional impact of downsizing. At the start it is very easy to be focused on the thrill of starting a new phase in one’s life – so much so that when the inevitable feelings of nostalgia hit, along with the wrench that comes from leaving a place so brimful of happy family memories, they can find themselves quite overwhelmed. The good news is that this bittersweet feeling is quite natural, so if you’re ready for it, you can even enjoy the feelings. The trick is not to kid yourself that downsizing is a mere practical activity – there’s emotions there which are worth acknowledging.

Size does matter

That said, one does have to be practical – downsizing is a complex process. When examining a prospective new home, it’s vital to measure all living areas and all existing furniture and bulky possessions. It’s unlikely that all will fit in your new abode, and there may not be sufficient storage space for the rest. Ask yourself if you really want to keep an item, and if not sell it or give it to a relative. For this activity you really need to be hard-headed, otherwise your new place will be knee-deep in clutter before you’ve even settled in.

Ask the family

One way of bridging the gap is to ask children or other family members what pieces they may be interested in, or maybe you know a young couple struggling to furnish their first home who would be glad of a couple of thoughtful gifts. Remember that it is much easier to say goodbye to treasured pieces of furniture when you know they’re going to a good home.

Picture from Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdpm/3669491630/sizes/z/in/photostream/

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