Adventures In Real Estate

elderly couple downsizing on moving day

Downsizing Tips for Empty-Nesters

Guest Post by Mike Longsdon of

The kids have long since flown the nest and all the space that once felt cramped now feels, well, empty. And while re-purposing the extra bedrooms was novel at first, you realize it’s simply more to clean – and to heat. Now you’re considering downsizing, but how do you decide what to get rid of? And will you be comfortable in a smaller home?

These are big questions, but their answers can renew your sense of freedom, give you the financial means to relax and enjoy the years ahead, and allow you to start another chapter, free of higher housing costs and constant cleaning and maintenance. To make the transition as smooth as possible, follow these tips for painless downsizing to enhance your golden years.

Finding The Right Home

You’re obviously in the market for something smaller, but that hardly narrows things down. Before you contact a Realtor or put your current home on the market, create a short wish list for your new property. (This Define Your Dream Home Worksheet from the National Association of Realtors will get you started.)

Maybe you like that your sink overlooks the living room so you don’t feel isolated while cooking or doing dishes. Do you prefer a garage to avoid scraping snow in the winter or for added storage? Will you need space for hosting holiday gatherings or could you pass the torch to one of your children? Would a condo be a worthwhile option if it allowed you to say goodbye to lawn maintenance and included certain amenities, including the opportunity for new friendships? These are all things to consider and inform your future Realtor of so he or she knows what you’re looking for.

But while you should definitely dream big for your new space, it’s also important to remain realistic. A property that checks off every item on your wish list might not appear on the market, so be prepared to compromise. If a small renovation is all that’s standing between you and an almost-perfect home, the cost and inconvenience may be worthwhile. Conversely, beware of biting off more renovations than you can chew. You’re simplifying, not taking on projects that could go on for years.

There are also financial considerations to evaluate. If your current home is paid off (or nearly there) you’ll have the chance to buy something considerably lower in cost and pocket the remainder. This strategy allows you more financial security, if you set a chunk aside for rainy days, but it can also fund enjoyable activities and travel, giving you an opportunity to finally experience those adventures you’ve always dreamed about.

Deciding What To Get Rid Of

Once you’ve decided on a smaller space, you’ll be tasked with downsizing your belongings – which means deciding what will go and what will stay. Saying goodbye to a hefty portion of your personal property is a sentimental and difficult process, but it’s nowhere near impossible.

Start by gathering up the items you intend to give to your children. Create boxes for each and fill them with stored baby items, heirlooms, and household items that you’re getting rid of and know they want.

If you’ve secured a new home, tape newspaper squares into the dimensions of your larger furnishings so that you can move them around in the new place and see how everything will fit into the space. The furnishings that won’t be coming with you can be sold, donated, or offered to friends and relatives.

Once you’ve thoroughly downsized, you’ll be amazed at the amount of possessions you can live without. These belongings can be sold online, through a yard sale, or donated to a worthy cause. You might consider giving your loved ones a last chance to adopt these items before you get rid of them.

Why You Should Consider Hiring Movers

Not only is moving physically strenuous, but it can be emotionally trying. Saying goodbye to a home where you’ve created years of memories can leave questioning your decision to start a new chapter. Hiring movers allows you to avoid the turmoil of emptying your home and outsource the heavy lifting. If you can’t stomach the expense of a traditional moving company, you might consider renting a truck and offering a little cash and a pizza dinner to friends and relatives who can help.

Safety Precautions for Lifting

Of course, movers or not, you’re going to end up lifting something heavier than you expected. To avoid injury, be sure to bend at the knees and lift with your legs when lifting objects, as well as when setting them down. It’s also important to avoid twisting or turning during a lift and when in doubt, get someone to lend a hand and lift large furniture and excessively heavy objects together. Click here to learn more tips on safe lifting.

Downsizing can be tough, both physically and emotionally. While it’s important to look back and remember the wonderful memories you’ve created in the home you’re leaving, it’s also important to remember that downsizing is about looking forward – and you have plenty of new memories and experiences to look forward to!

Guest Author Michael Longsdon is the creator of, which advocates for the rights and support of seniors.

Featured Image: Copyright feverpitched via 123RF Stock Photo.

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