Cleaning and Downsizing Tips to Make the Process as Smooth as Silk

There are many upsides to downsizing.  Moving into a smaller, more manageable home can ease your maintenance burdens, which means freeing up time and money for enjoying your golden years.  However, the actual process can feel pretty painful in some ways.  Here are some tips for making your move as smooth as silk.

Start eliminating “stuff.”  While it may feel like you should find your new home before deciding what to keep and what to part with, it can be such a time-consuming process that you’re better off starting earlier.  On top of reducing the amount of items you own, you also have the emotional issue of eliminating belongings.  You can gather some supplies, such as a few boxes and some tape, and take your time working in sections.  My Move recommends considering the influence of weather when you are deciding where to work on sorting and organizing.  Some of the toughest areas to cull are greatly affected by weather conditions.  Your garage, workshop, basement and attic probably accumulated a great many things that will bring memories forward, such as hobby- and holiday-related items.  Choose mild days when you can spare some time for focusing on those areas.

Clean out.  You should make only two piles when doing your sorting - “yes” and “no.”  You can go back through your “no” pile later and divide items by giveaways, garbage and items to sell.  Avoid keeping duplications of the same thing.  Assess your old or worn-out furniture; you may have bulky items that are better off being rehomed.  If your mattress is older than 7 to 10 years, it’s probably at the end of its life cycle.  You might decide it makes the most sense to keep it until it’s time to move and buy a new one for your new place.  Check online mattress reviews for your best buying options.  To help with your smaller decisions, one idea is to ask yourself if you would replace each item if it were lost.  If you have items you wouldn’t replace and aren’t worth your time or trouble to sell, consider putting those things at the curb in a box labeled “free.”  Excess spatulas, plastic cups and such are not likely to be worth your gas to take to a charity or thrift shop.  If you want, you can send a monetary donation instead, and you’ll likely be surprised at how quickly those things are snatched up from the roadside. 

Find the right place.  When deciding on your smaller home, there are several factors to consider.  HGTV points out location is always a big player for homebuying.  Consider the proximity to shopping centers, public transportation, major highways, and medical care.  This is your opportunity to support your lifestyle in new ways.  For instance, you may wish to be close to tennis courts, grandchildren or a dog park.  Write out your priorities, then think of whether you prefer a house or condo for your future.  A one-level home with easy landscaping chores and maintenance-free siding can mean easier upkeep for your senior years, or you may choose a condo to pass the burden of care onto others.  USA Today recommends researching association fees relating to potential choices so you aren’t in for any financial surprises.  

Cleaning up.  Once you find “the one,” you’ll have even more work to do.  You need to box up the remainder of your belongings, clean your old house top to bottom, and move into the new place.  Cleaning in and of itself can be a major undertaking, and while your home is for sale, you want it spotless.  An online cleaning checklist can keep you on track, or you may wish to hire pros to manage the work.  When it comes to packing your things, be sure to label boxes clearly with room and contents.  Many seniors hire senior move managers to assist with the process, or you can recruit friends and family for help. 

By starting early, you can make downsizing much easier.  Sort and prioritize carefully.  There are many benefits to downsizing, and you’ll enjoy the best results with a thoughtful and organized plan.