Moving house is, all the studies show, one of the most stressful life events we experience. And that’s even for the young and strong. It involves planning, measuring, sorting and packing. Downsizing at a later stage in life has the additional agonies of getting rid of what might be almost a lifetime’s worth of possessions. It needs to be thought through carefully. For most people, it comes as a relief to be in a house that’s not too big, too remote or with too many stairs for your needs. Some leave it too late and prefer to put up with imperfect living arrangements to avoid the stress of downsizing.
There are many companies that offer to help. They each have their own methods and costs. It is worth bearing in mind that this service is not cheap.
You can find one through The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers APDO or through The National Association of Senior and Specialty Move Managers NASMM. They can manage the entire move process for you and help with unpacking and resettling issues if you can’t be there.
First you need to weigh up the pros and cons of downsizing
Greater convenience: right size property, maybe on one floor, maybe with better transport links
Reduced bills in a smaller property, such as electricity, water or heating
Increased retirement income: sell, downsize, release equity and increase the size of your retirement pot
Superior standard of living resulting from these savings
Emotional attachment to current house
Community- friends in the neighbourhood
Downsizing and decluttering is hard work and it is emotionally draining to part with possessions
Tips for downsizing:
Help make a list of those items you absolutely must keep. These are the things that bring joy on a daily basis or are essential for healthy living.
Study the floor plan and measurements of the new home and carefully select only those items of furniture that will fit in well and still leave good clear circulation areas – with room for further adaptations as required.
If belongings have been kept with someone in mind they make the nicest presents – but be aware that the younger generation may not have the space for large bits of old fashioned furniture or share your taste in pictures and collectables!
This is usually the most tedious and unrewarding part of the downsizing process. Often your perceived value of your possessions is much higher than the true market value and this can be a crushing blow. Whether it be a reputable auction house or a local salesroom it’s rare to be thrilled by the offers. You could try listings on eBay and Gumtree but this is time consuming and often unsuccessful.
Choose a charity, if possible one that has relevance, and complete Gift Aid forms whenever possible for additional funding.
If you don’t need a certain item and it can’t be donated or sold, then the last move is to discard it. The local recycling centres are very sophisticated in how to dispose of our goods.
There will be an extraordinary array of decades old bank statements, cheque books, headed stationery and insurance claims. They need to be shredded. Personal identity theft and data protection are very real issues, and worth the cost of a shredder to avoid.
It’s a good idea to try to enlist the help of a professional home organiser. We list some in the first paragraph above.
Start now – before it’s urgent
You do not need to wait until you have decided to move home to start the downsizing process! It’s much less stressful, possibly even enjoyable, without time pressure.