The thought of having to go through a lifetime’s worth of memories is daunting, even if you know it’s the right thing to do. Downsizing can be a positive and freeing experience and you don’t have to do it alone. Be sure to ask your adult children or caregiver to help you, and be sure to have a few laughs along the way.
Follow this downsizing checklist for some guidelines on how to manage the process...
Start downsizing early
Even if you haven’t decided exactly where you’ll be living in the next stage of your life, it’s best to start the downsizing process early. By planning ahead, you can start reviewing your possessions and make the transition easier on yourself and everyone involved.
Since downsizing isn’t a quick process, the earlier you can start going through your belongings the better. Once you find the right place, the downsizing may have to speed up considerably if your home sells faster than expected.
Go through each room
In order to get a handle on exactly how much stuff you need to organise, go through each room with different coloured sticky notepads and a marker. Sort the items into categories:
Must have - your most treasured items and important documents that you’ll be taking with you.
Nice to have - items that you like but are not that meaningful to you if there’s no room for them in your new place.
Don’t need - these are items that you don’t want, but you’re happy to donate or give to friends and family.
Throw away - old, broken, unusable items that can’t be donated, but could be recycled i.e magazine/newspaper collections or glass housewares.
It’s always easier to do the sorting part with an adult child or caregiver as they can give you an objective pair of eyes, and practical suggestions.
Distribute family heirlooms
If you know that certain family members have their eye on a particular item, then offer to gift it to them now. Explain that you’re downsizing and that they’ll be doing you a favour if you take it off your hands. The more clutter you can clean out before you have a set deadline to move the less stressful it will be.
Know your dimensions
Once you’ve given your house a good going over, it then makes it easier to know what will fit into a smaller house or unit. But you may still have to revisit the ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’ categories to downsize further later. You don’t want to have so much stuff crammed into your new place that you can’t move about easily.
If you sell before you buy then you may have to store your furniture and household items in a storage unit. Since you’ll be paying for storage per cubic metre, this can be good motivation for not being too sentimental.
Selling your home
It’s normal to feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster when you're selling a beloved family home. But once your home is on the market, you’ll feel a weight come off your shoulders. You can start looking forward to your new life and going house hunting.
If you’re not sure who to engage to sell your home, consider using a service like agentselect.com.au. This platform allows you to compare the best performing local real estate agents, their experience and their fees.
Take time to settle in
Once you’ve bought a new place and moved in, take your time to adjust to your new living situation. This might take a few weeks or a few months, but that’s ok. Ask your family or caregiver to help you unpack a few boxes when you first move in, so you can set up your favourite pictures and knick-knacks. Having familiar objects around you will help you to settle in and make things feel like home.