Moving from a house to an apartment or condo can be a daunting task, especially for older adults. However, downsizing can be a smooth transition with the right mindset and a solid plan.
It’s important to understand that downsizing to a smaller home means letting go of some possessions, but it doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort or style.
Downsizing to a small apartment or condominium means making the most of less space. That’s why it’s important to carefully evaluate your current home – determine what should stay, what can go, and what needs to be replaced or rearranged in order for everything to fit into your new place.
It may help to enlist the assistance of a friend or professional organizer to help sort through the details and maximize efficiency in your new home. With careful planning, downsizing can be an easy transition – one that offers comfort and a renewed sense of independence.
And the best part? Most people find that downsizing their home leads to reduced stress levels and a greater appreciation for life’s simple pleasures. This is especially true if the yard work, property taxes, and utility bills are lower than before.
Here are some tips for downsizing as stress-free as possible:
1. Start with a Plan
The first step is to create a plan. Planning is essential when it comes to downsizing your home. This means making a list of the actions that you need to take. These following steps can help you.
2. Decluttering Is The Biggest Issue
The downsizing process begins with deciding what you want to keep, what you want to donate, and what you want to sell. Consider the size of your next home and what will fit comfortably in the space.
For safety, you don’t want too much stuff cluttering up the living space. It’s too easy to trip over things when the space is cluttered.
It can be helpful to create a floor plan of your new home and map out where your furniture will go.
When sorting through your belongings, reflect on the memories associated with each item. It can be challenging to let go of sentimental items, but it’s important to prioritize what is most important to you.
2. Be Realistic About What You Need
While it’s tempting to keep everything, evaluating what is necessary and what can be left behind is essential. Ask yourself if you have used an item within the past year and if it will serve a purpose in your new home. If the answer is no, it may be time to let it go.
Consider the functionality of your new space and prioritize items that will make your new home comfortable and practical. Invest in furniture and storage solutions that maximize your space and serve multiple purposes.
A home office can also be a guest room. A living room can double as a dining area. Get creative in how you use the space and think about what you really need versus what would just look nice to have. This will help keep your home clutter-free without sacrificing style or comfort.
3. Embrace the Change
Embrace the change. Moving to a smaller space can be a positive and liberating experience. Enjoy the new opportunities and experiences that come with downsizing.
The new community you may be moving to may offer a variety of activities that weren’t available before. Take the time to explore and find new places and people that could become part of your life.
4. Use a Moving Checklist
Moving day can be chaotic, but a checklist can help ensure everything goes smoothly. A comprehensive moving day checklist covering everything from packing and labeling boxes to arranging transportation can be a lifesaver, especially for seniors with additional needs or concerns during the move.
5. Get Help When You Need It
Downsizing can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Feel free to reach out for help when you need it. Ask friends or family members for assistance sorting belongings or packing boxes.
Consider hiring a professional moving company to help with the physical aspects of the move.
Remember to take breaks and prioritize self-care during the moving process. Moving to a new home is a significant life change, and it’s important to take time to adjust and settle in.
6. Consider the Community
When downsizing, it’s important to consider the community you’ll be living in. Take the time to research the neighborhood and what amenities are available nearby, such as grocery stores, medical facilities, and recreational activities.
Consider the accessibility of the community and whether it will meet your current and future needs. If you’re an active senior, look for a community with access to parks, walking trails, and fitness centers.
7. Stay Connected with Loved Ones
Moving to a new home can be emotionally challenging, particularly for seniors who may leave behind a lifetime of memories in their old home. It’s important to stay connected with loved ones during the move and maintain those connections afterward.
A better idea may be to host a moving sale or a farewell party to say goodbye to your old home and to connect with friends and family.
At What Age Do Most People Downsize Their Home?
Many people choose to downsize their home when they reach retirement age. It is a common trend for those over the age of 50 to look for smaller, more manageable housing options such as condos, townhouses, and apartments.
“Roughly 51 percent of retirees ages 50 and over move into smaller homes after retirement…” – seniorliving.org
People may be looking to reduce their monthly bills or maintenance costs by downsizing. I know that when I moved from a large house, which was a 4700 square foot home to a 2100 square foot home my utility bills were cut in half.
Who doesn’t want some extra cash in their savings? Especially when you’re older! For me, moving from a larger space to a smaller one was absolutely the right decision.
I also found that my new home required less maintenance and it took less time to clean and to take care of. This was a huge bonus for me – less time spent on housework and more time enjoying my life.
Many older adults become empty nesters which means they don’t require as much square footage after the kids are grown. With less square feet to maintain, older adults can live a simpler life and spend more time doing what they love.
Smaller homes can also provide greater accessibility for those with physical limitations or impairments. For example, choosing a home on one level or adding features such as grab bars, stair lifts, and raised thresholds can make life easier.
Whatever the reason, downsizing as an older adult is becoming increasingly popular among retirees. It can provide a great opportunity to save money and simplify life, allowing for more freedom and enjoyment after years of hard work.
Downsizing can also open up exciting possibilities for travel or other activities that may have been put on hold during earlier years.
While there is no set age at which people should downsize their home, many retirees choose to do so in their late 50s or early 60s. At this age, most people have been retired for several years and are looking for ways to simplify their lives and save money.
Additionally, many older adults may be transitioning into a smaller home due to a decrease in family size or no longer needing the same amount of space.
No matter what age you choose to downsize, it can be an incredibly freeing experience. Whether you’re looking for financial freedom, more time, or simply want to simplify your life, downsizing can be a great way to achieve your goals.
Considering Renting An Apartment vs. Buying?
It can be a good idea for retirees to downsize to apartment living. The best way to enjoy the freedom and convenience of a smaller space with fewer expenses is by renting an apartment.
Apartment living can offer amenities like on-site laundry, clubhouse access, and more that can make retirement living even better. Plus, you won’t have to worry about maintenance, property taxes or lawn care.
Renting vs. Owning For Seniors
When it comes to housing options for seniors, one of the primary considerations is whether to rent or own.
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and the decision will depend on a variety of factors, including financial considerations, lifestyle preferences, and personal circumstances.
Here are some of the key points to consider when weighing the pros and cons of renting versus owning for seniors:
Advantages of Renting for Seniors:
- Flexibility: Renting allows seniors to be more flexible with their living situation. They can move more easily if their circumstances change, such as if they need to be closer to family or if their health deteriorates.
- Low Maintenance: Renters don’t have to worry about the maintenance and upkeep of their home, which can be particularly beneficial for seniors who may have limited mobility or health issues.
- Amenities: Many rental properties offer amenities such as on-site maintenance, housekeeping, and social activities, which can be particularly appealing for seniors who value community and socialization.
- Lower Upfront Costs: Renting typically requires less upfront costs than buying a home, which can be especially important for seniors who may be living on a fixed income.
Disadvantages of Renting for Seniors:
- Lack of Equity: Renting does not build equity, which means that seniors are essentially paying for someone else’s investment rather than building their own.
- Limited Control: Renters may have limited control over their living space, as landlords may have rules and restrictions regarding modifications, pets, and other aspects of the property.
- Rent Increases: Renters may face rent increases over time, which can be particularly problematic for seniors on a fixed income.
Advantages of Owning for Seniors:
- Equity: Owning a home builds equity, which can be a valuable asset for seniors to tap into if they need to access funds for healthcare, long-term care, or other expenses.
- Stability: Homeowners have more stability in their living situation and can generally stay in their home for as long as they wish.
- Personalization: Homeowners have more control over their living space and can customize their home to meet their specific needs and preferences.
- Tax Benefits: Homeowners may be eligible for tax benefits, such as deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes.
Disadvantages of Owning for Seniors:
- Maintenance: Homeownership requires ongoing maintenance and repairs, which can be a burden for seniors who may have limited mobility or health issues.
- Higher Upfront Costs: Homeownership typically requires a larger upfront investment, including a down payment, closing costs, and other fees.
- Limited Flexibility: Homeowners may have limited flexibility in their living situation, as selling a home can be a time-consuming and expensive process.
- Decreased Mobility: Homeownership can limit seniors’ mobility, particularly if they have a large property that requires a lot of upkeep.
Renting offers more flexibility and lower upfront costs, while owning provides equity, stability, and more control over the living space. Seniors should carefully consider their options and consult with a financial advisor or real estate professional before making a decision.
Moving From House To Apartment Checklist
The moving checklist I linked to above has a few items that you should look through. Here are some more to help you with the process of moving from a house to an apartment:
- Create a moving budget and timeline: Determine how much money you can afford to spend on the move and set a realistic timeline for getting everything done.
- Declutter and organize: A smaller space means less furniture and other items. Go through all of your possessions and decide what to keep, sell, donate, or discard. Start this process as early as possible, so you have ample time to get rid of unwanted items.
- Measure your new space: Get the measurements of your new apartment or condo, including doorways and hallways, to ensure each piece of furniture and your appliances fit.
- Take inventory: Create a detailed list of all the items you’ll be taking with you to the new place.
- Obtain moving supplies: Purchase or rent boxes, tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, and any other moving supplies you may need.
- Pack strategically: Start packing room by room, labeling each box with its contents and destination room. Use bubble wrap and packing paper to protect fragile items.
- Hire a moving company: Research and book a reputable moving company that specializes in apartment moves, and read online reviews to ensure their reliability.
- Research Storage Units: If you need a storage unit, research the ones that are nearby.
- Notify service providers: Let your utility companies, cable and internet providers, and other service providers know about your move, so they can transfer or disconnect your services.
- Update your address: Change your address with the post office and notify any relevant parties, such as your employer, bank, insurance company, and friends and family.
- Plan for parking: Ensure you have a reserved parking spot for the moving truck, and arrange for any necessary permits.
- Pack an essentials box: Pack a separate box with all the essentials you’ll need for the first few days in your new place, including toiletries, bedding, towels, and a change of clothes.
- Conduct a final walkthrough: Before leaving your old home, conduct a final walkthrough to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything, and to make sure everything is clean and in good condition.
By following this checklist, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free move from a house to a smaller apartment.
Downsizing can be a chance to simplify your life and enjoy the benefits of a more manageable living space. By planning and preparing for the move carefully, you can ensure a smooth transition and minimize the stress that often accompanies major life changes.
It’s important to remember that downsizing is not just about giving up possessions or moving to a smaller place. It’s an opportunity to focus on what truly matters, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, and enjoying a more relaxed and comfortable lifestyle.