Downsizing in Your Senior Years
Some seniors find that they need to downsize to a lifestyle that’s a bit easier to handle. This usually means simplifying and cutting back, and quite literally living in smaller spaces. Essentially, downsizing means living with less all the way around. And this is not necessarily a bad thing!
Here are some tips, ideas, and suggestions for downsizing in your senior years.
1. Downsizing the House
Older people may find that their homes are too large, dilapidated, expensive, etc. for them to maintain. Large homes that were perfect for a growing family can be a burden in your later years.
While sentimental family members may not be too keen on the idea, selling your home and moving to an apartment or retirement community can be a great benefit. For one thing, you have the proceeds from the house to help you with your finances. Another benefit is that you will have less space to clean and maintain than a large home, and you won’t have to worry about putting the home in your will. The latter can be difficult if you have multiple children – who gets the house? So selling your home is something to consider.
2. Downsizing “Stuff”
There’s no doubt about it – even seniors who have periodically cleaned out their homes often find that they have accumulated an enormous amount of stuff over the years. Going through it and getting rid of things can be emotionally traumatic for some, so if you find you need to go through your stuff, you might need some tips to make it more palatable. Here are some things that may help.
* Work at your own pace. Don’t feel like you have to purge the entire house in 24 hours. Choose a room or section of a room to go through and move as slowly as you need to – just make sure you’re moving forward!
* Have friends and family come over while you’re cleaning out. You can share stories evoked by the various objects you turn up. In fact, you can make it an open invitation on the days you plan to clean out and let people take whatever they like home with them. The helpers will feel compensated, and you will be relieved of one more item you no longer have to deal with.
* Call your local charity to come to your home and pick up things so you don’t have to haul it away yourself.
3. Renting versus Owning
Building on #1 above, you have to make the decision to move to a smaller house that you own, or rent a smaller space. Here are some things to consider as you make this decision.
* Renting will free you from home maintenance. This is a good thing if you feel burdened by it; but it’s not so great if pleasures like gardening, yard work, and general home repair is something you enjoy.
* Owning means you will stay where you are for some time, and if you need to move on, you’ll need to sell. Rental property comes up for lease every year (or thereabouts), and you can choose to renew or not. Some people might not like what feels like a lack of security, while others may appreciate the flexibility.
* Repairs like plumbing problems, appliance breakage, and other difficulties can be handled by a landlord if you’re renting. If you own, you’ll need to hire someone to do the repairs (or ask a family member).