7 tips to help you downsize for retirement

Boxes moving concept
Photo by Billion Photos/Shutterstock

This stage of your life is supposed to be all about crossing items off your bucket list. But if you don’t downsize after the kids leave the house, you’ll spend just as much time maintaining it. Moving to a smaller place can simplify your life, giving you more time to travel, indulge in that creative hobby you never got to, or simply hang out with your grandkids. But figuring out exactly what to fill it with can be tough, which is why we’ve put together these seven tips.

Make a list of must-have items

There are undoubtedly a few items in your home that you absolutely wouldn’t want to live without. Some have dubbed it your “burning house.” In other words, what you would take with you if your house was on fire. It’s probably a combination of practical, valuable, and sentimental items, but it says a lot about you and your priorities. Once you have those items pulled out from the pile, going through everything else will feel a whole lot easier.

Sell your stuff, or make someone else happy

Once you consider how much money you can make off a bunch of stuff that’s just collecting dust in your closet, you’ll be more apt to get rid of it. If your things aren’t worth much, you can also consider donating them. It may be tough at first, but just imagine a family happily playing those board games you never touch, or someone proudly donning the sweater that’s been at the back of your closet for years.

Ask yourself some important questions

Before you start rifling through your closets, make sure you have a few key questions in mind. For each and every item you pick up, ask yourself how often you use it, when you used it last, and what purpose it serves. It’s important to ask all three of these questions, because even if you used that extra set of dishes to feed holiday guests a few months ago, if you’re moving to a 400-square-foot condo, or perhaps even the cottage, you likely won’t be the one hosting enormous family dinners moving forward.

Get into the 21st Century

It’s 2017, which means if you haven’t already digitized all of your photos, now’s the perfect time to do it. Not only does it give you the chance to ditch old boxes of photos that never made it into albums, but having a digital file is handy if you lose the original or want to get more copies printed. Although you need to keep a hard copy of important documents like birth certificates, passports, wills, and property deeds, most documents can simply be scanned to a computer and uploaded to the cloud using services like DropBox or Google Drive, or saved to an external hard drive alongside your photos.

Have a floor plan handy

Having a floor plan will give you a better idea of how much room you have to work with. Or should we say, how much room you don’t have to work with. Either way, you’ll know whether or not you can fit your big dining room table or if you’re going to have to start shopping for something a little more compact. If you can do some planning ahead of time, you won’t have to waste a bunch of energy moving furniture that doesn’t fit.

Get inspired

Even if it will make you happier in the long run, going through all of your stuff and figuring out what to toss can be draining, and even make you feel a little bummed about the move. To keep yourself excited and anticipating the change, be sure to check out lots of blogs on tiny living. We’re confident that all those inventive design ideas and storage solutions will leave you feeling inspired to maximize a small space of your own.

Don’t throw out everything

When you’re downsizing, you have to distinguish between what’s sentimental or important and what’s not. And yes, you have to be ruthless. Of course there are always exceptions to rules, and when it comes to downsizing, there are some things you shouldn’t throw out. Important documents like those mentioned above, family heirlooms, unexpired medicine, emergency supplies like batteries, flashlights, candles and a first-aid kit, and original artwork should always make the cut.


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