Top Tips for Adults Who Are Ready to Downsize

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Real Estate

I'd like to thank my client Mike Longsdon for writing this amazing guide for my blog. Enjoy!

When you look at your overall lifestyle, is it time to do some editing? If you feel ready to pare down on how much “stuff” you have in your life, both literally and figuratively, downsizing can be the key. Less house and lawn to tend, and fewer belongings bogging you down, can be ideal for your golden years. Here’s how to turn your idea into a reality.

Figure Your Finances

Any time you’re entering the housing market, it’s important to have a good feel for how much you want to spend on your next abode. You might have an idea based on your current mortgage, or if you paid off your home a while ago, you might be considering a purchase with cash from selling it. Dave Ramsey notes that downsizing can be an ideal time to pay off other debts as well. In this way, you lighten not only your housing-related upkeep burdens but financial ones at the same time.

Plan for Renovations

Before you go too far with your financial plans, you might need funds to fix up your current home to enhance its marketability, and you also might want to make renovations at your next home for aging in place. Kitchen and bathroom upgrades, for example, both boast great ROI and are likely candidates for senior-friendly modifications. Costs for upgrades vary in accordance with how much work you want done, the supplies used, and where you live. To give you a basic idea for planning, a kitchen remodel in Minneapolis typically costs between $16,206 and $37,357.

Considering Your Next Home

A smaller, low-maintenance home is generally ideal for seniors. Seniors should also look for a home that will be supportive if they experience mobility concerns. With that in mind, search for a home that is structurally agreeable and easy to amend, with an open floor plan, one-story living, and at least one zero-step entrance. An aging-in-place checklist can help you evaluate potential properties and decide on modifications. Some adjustments are simple and quick, such as adding grab bars (which you can find at retailers such as Lowe’s starting at around $20), while others can be more time-consuming, like reframing a bathroom.

Leave Some Elbow Room

Regardless of how extensive your modifications are, some experts recommend budgeting 10 to 20 percent above work estimates to prepare for any unexpected expenses. Timing-wise, the work can take as little as a few weeks or as long as several months. Better contractors tend to be booked far in advance, so that can impact your timeline as well.

When it comes time to hire someone, This Old House recommends getting references, doing phone interviews, and meeting in-person before settling on a contractor. Make sure you like who you’re working with and that they are qualified — the last thing you want is for the work to be subpar. With a timeline set, it’s time to start packing!

Begin Culling Extras

Downsizing and decluttering go hand-in-hand. It can take a surprising amount of time to sort, sell, donate, and pack things up, so get started on paring down as soon as possible. This can be challenging in many respects, so one suggestion is to begin by pulling items you have in duplicates. From there, cull things that aren’t useful or highly sentimental. For large items that aren’t practical to move but that you might want to “revisit,” consider taking photos and making some notes about them. A digital scrapbook, for instance, allows you to continue enjoying them without dedicating the space.

Moving On

Moving companies come in many forms, and the industry is plagued with scam artists. Ensure that you hire a good moving company by getting recommendations, screening potential movers, and having them look at your belongings to give you written estimates before you commit. You don’t want someone taking your money and running, nor do you want them holding your things hostage, so review this guide before you settle.

With a solid strategy, downsizing can be a very freeing experience. So, do some serious editing, shop for a perfect home, and prepare for the move. Soon, you’ll have less house, less stuff, and will be ready to enjoy your golden years.