So, you’re thinking about downsizing your home and moving to something smaller and more manageable. Congratulations! You’re joining a larger, multi-generational movement to slough off the unnecessary, the unwanted, the unused and superfluous stuff of life.
More Americans at all stages of life are hitting the consumption pause button to reflect more deeply on what they want versus what they need to lead simpler, less cluttered lives. They’re taking the advice of The Minimalists, Marie Kondo, and the Swedish concept of Döstädning to learn what to get rid of, and how.
The downsizing trend isn’t exclusive territory for people heading to or in retirement. Today’s seniors and Millennials (you read that right) share a similar desire to downsize and declutter their homes and finances. The downsizing trend, from the larger houses seniors want to leave, to smaller homes younger adults covet, comes with the trends of minimalism and greater affordability.
Downsizing is growing in popularity for two main reasons: money and convenience. Smaller homes, including condos and retirement communities, significantly cut down on the cost of living, as taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utility bills run over 3 percent of the value of a house. Seniors and Millennials save a lot of money by downsizing to smaller properties that have the basic essentials, rather than unnecessary additions.
Generally, the smaller your home is, the less time you spend on general upkeep and cleaning. All age groups are realizing that time is precious and should be spent doing things they love and enjoy, including having more quality time with family and friends.
Modern senior living communities are proving to be the perfect way for seniors to experience all of the benefits of downsizing — simplifying, and decluttering without giving up all the things that made living in their homes so special, like the friendship of close neighbors, a space that suits their personal needs and accommodates their own sense of style, and the freedom to live as they like.
Three Crowns Park recently invited relocation specialist Marnie Dawson of Dawson Relocation Services to address some common questions about downsizing.
Marnie thinks a better term to describe American’s trend to living more meaningful lives outside their possessions is “rightsizing.”
“Think about your possessions in layers,” she says. “You don’t have to get rid of everything. Choose the belongings that best represent you and let go of the things you no longer need. Make choices as to what is important for this stage of your life.”
Marnie offers the following tips to begin rightsizing for your next home:
Tip #1 – Create a furniture plan for your new home
Visualize your new home. How will you use the new space? Recreate the important spaces you actually use. If you’re not using the space in your current home, it probably does not need to be recreated.
Houses tend to have formal living room spaces. In smaller living spaces, like apartments, the main room is more multi-purpose and less formal. Plan this room for your everyday living.
Sometimes furniture needs to be re-purposed to fit into your home. For example, if the dining room set cannot fit, maybe the buffet piece from the set can become the new television stand in the living room.
Or if you want to keep the china cabinet — the top can remain a decorative spot. But the bottom of the cabinet can become a storage place for towels and sheets, books or photo albums.
Tip #2 – Start the sorting process with something small and easy
Rightsizing requires sorting through your home and making decisions on what to keep and what to let go.
It really does not matter where you start the sorting process. You just have to start somewhere! You might start with the Marie Kondo method of a category, such as clothing. Or, choose one area of the home. Marnie suggests starting with a space that is small and more contained, like a closet, bathroom or guest bedroom.
At first, the sorting process will be a bit challenging. You’ve spent a lifetime collecting and bringing things into your home. Now, we are asking you to go in reverse. But you can build the “giving away muscle.” And for most folks — after some time — it becomes easier to make decisions on what to keep and what to “let go.”
Tip #3 — Your new home cannot be a warehouse for your children’s stuff
Are your kids storing things in your home? Did they leave their stuff behind when they moved out? It is time for them to deal with their own possessions. Ask if they actually still want it? Will they come pick it up? Can you ship it to them? Do you have permission to get rid of it?
If they’re on the fence or can’t commit the time, deadlines are really helpful.
Tip #4 — Curate your collections
Some sorting areas are really tough. One of these are our collections.
Of course, we LOVE and feel as if can’t live without our collections. They represent time, memories, the people who gave us the pieces and the thrill of the hunt.
Try not to look at the collection as one thing. It really isn’t one piece. It is made up of many individual items. If you stop and evaluate each one, you’ll find that there are some pieces you can let go.
Maybe it was a gift from someone you don’t like anymore. Or the piece is broken. Or it never was your favorite.
And sometimes you realize that there are pieces of this collection you can share with others. And they can enjoy having a part of your special collection.
If you do this, you’ll have a smaller and more manageable collection of only the most personally meaningful pieces.
Tip #5 — Consider gifting family heirlooms and legacy gifts — now
Is there an antique clock in your foyer that you plan to one day leave to your son? Maybe a china collection your granddaughter adores? If there are certain heirlooms or pieces you plan to leave to your family in your will, consider giving those gifts now.
“I know when my grandfather gave me a painting that I always wanted — it meant so much to me. And it was wonderful to share with him the place of pride it takes in my home,” Marnie says.
This a good time to ask your children or grandchildren if they want anything from your home. You might be surprised. They might not want much — but they might want something. And it might not be the thing you expect.
So, be part of a national trend. Downsizing can seem intimidating. But a little organization and commitment to the task is worth it. Ultimately, it will make your move — and your life — easier. Fewer things to look after and smaller spaces to clean can improve your quality of life and open up more time to spend on the things you enjoy.
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Newcomers to Three Crowns Park can take advantage of Marnie Dawson’s rightsizing expertise when planning their move, at no extra cost. Talk with us about your plans – call us as 847.905.1234 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.