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Downsizing for Seniors


This post regarding downsizing for seniors was written by Guest Blogger Shirley Martin. Recently, Shirley decided to turn her love for perfectly organized closets, drawers, and cabinets into a career by becoming a professional home organizer. She created Tidy Life Today as a way to share her own expertise and all the handy tips she picks up along the way.

Senior couple holding hands while walking on the beach to illustrate downsizing for seniors

There comes a time in everyone’s life where less is more. That brings me to the topic of downsizing for seniors. Sounds simple enough, right? You’re moving to a smaller home, which offers plenty of benefits such as less house to take care of, lower cost (mortgage, utilities, property taxes, maintenance), improved accessibility, heightened safety and possibly a home that is conducive to aging in place. It’s true you’re going smaller, but downsizing is still a big process. To make sure everything goes smoothly, be sure to avoid these downsizing mistakes:

1) Waiting Until Downsizing is a Necessity
Downsizing will have instant effects on your present situation, but it drastically impacts the future, too. Experts say don’t wait until you have a health scare, you’re overwhelmed by the maintenance, or your retirement income is inching dangerously close to the red zone to consider downsizing. Remember, downsizing doesn’t mean you let aging win – it means you’re tackling it head-on in order to continue living independently and safely in a home that ages with you, not against you.

2) Do Your Research
It makes sense that a smaller home will be less expensive, but this isn’t always the case, as list prices can be deceptive and hidden fees abound. On the other end of the spectrum, you may find that houses with sticker prices just outside of your budget are actually selling for a price you’re more comfortable with. Researching the housing market can certainly save you from spending too much. You should research the areas you’re considering as well, taking into consideration the neighborhood and whether you want to live in pedestrian-friendly downtown, enjoy the amenities of a retirement community, or stick with familiarity and stay in your current neighborhood.

When you look at homes in your preferred neighborhood, make sure they have the amount of space you need, rather than having too much unused space. Also, be on the lookout for homes that have accessibility features, such as minimal steps, non-slip flooring, and low maintenance both inside and outside. The home you choose should also have the feasibility of adding aging-in-place modifications when you need them.

3) Speeding Through the Decluttering Process
Experts suggest you downsize your items before moving into a smaller home, but this can be difficult when you consider how many memories, and keepsakes you’ve collected. It’s an emotional process and one you’ll need to take your time on. Start with one room and narrow it down even further by focusing on one box or shelf. Let yourself feel the memories and reminisce, including family members in the process to lend a helping hand and emotional support. You don’t have to give away everything, but perhaps you could send some things to a new home, such as gifting family heirlooms or giving an item away to a friend that’s admired it for years. You may experience sadness and grief, but it’s normal. Stay connected with others, lean on your friends and family, and talk with your primary care doctor if you don’t start feeling better.

4) DIY: Trying To Do It All on Your Own
How hard can it be to pack up your home? Just grab some cardboard boxes and go, right? You can probably handle packing smaller items into boxes and labeling them, and if you’re tech-savvy you can use an app such as Sortly that uses a QR code to scan what’s inside. Furniture is a different story. In order to protect your furniture, you’ll need some heavy-duty supplies like packing tape, bubble wrap, stretch wrap, and furniture covers. Once you manage to wrangle it all together, you’re left with the conundrum of how to get it to your new home all in one piece. The safest and most stress-free route is to hire a moving company, which can ensure your belongings arrive at the new home safely.

Downsizing is a huge change for anyone, especially seniors, but it’s a change for the better. Don’t let all the benefits get overshadowed by downsizing mishaps. Read the tips above and create a game plan. Then you can get the downsizing ball rolling.

I’d like to personally thank Shirley for sharing this important information about downsizing for seniors.

Meantime, if you’re considering downsizing, please call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at After all, moving to a more intimate home might even mean moving to a dream location. For example, I recently sold this elegant condo in the coveted Bonnymede enclave and this charming Montecito cottage near the beach. I’d love to hear from you.


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