As homeowners near retirement age, downsizing becomes a more frequent discussion. The idea of selling your larger home and moving into something more manageable and financially friendly is appealing. But, there is also a fair amount of apprehension — probably because you’ve heard horror stories of downsizing gone wrong.
To make sure your experience is a successful one, avoid these common mistakes.
Not Planning Ahead
Downsizing requires a lot of physical and mental energy. Anyone over age 50 should start thinking through their future plans sooner, rather than later.
Many homeowners are forced to downsize after a major life event...maybe the death of a spouse or a sudden health issue. These events are stressful enough without adding in a complicated move.
Remember that downsizing effectively comes down to time and thoughtful consideration. If you don’t plan ahead, and give yourself plenty of time, you’ll end up making mistakes.
Cleaning Out Your Possessions All At Once
It’s not likely that you’ll be able to fit everything you own into your new home. As part of the planning process, make sure to leave yourself time to critically go through your belongings. The key to is to purge things you don’t need without getting rid of things you do need. This sounds simple, but for many of us it’s not.
Keep any items you currently use or use seasonally, and sell or give away items that no longer have a practical purpose. To make it easy, follow the one-year rule: if you haven’t used a particular item in the last year, you’re unlikely to use it at all.
Also, look carefully at the layout and space in your new home to determine what furniture pieces will work. For instance, you may be able to keep your dining room table, but the accompanying hutch probably won’t fit in the new space. It’s better to make these big decisions before you move so you don’t end up paying to haul or store extra furniture.
Prioritize comfort over things. It will be impossible to enjoy your new home when it’s crammed full of ill-fitting possessions.
Decluttering is definitely a difficult and emotional task for many homeowners because so many possessions involve memories. To make it a bit easier, consider giving items to friends and family. It can be comforting knowing cherished belongings are going to someone you love. For anything left over, schedule a pickup with an organization like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, which accepts donated furniture and then sells it and uses the proceeds to build homes for those in need.
Not Considering Lifestyle
A big mistake many transitional buyers make is not considering their needs and lifestyle. Imagine that you get all settled into your new place only to find out you can no longer take part in the hobbies you love, or you realize that amenities you were used to are now farther away. This already difficult and emotional move will soon become a very negative experience.
Not Setting Expectations for Children
The downsizing process can often be just as emotional for adult children as it is for the homeowners, especially if they grew up in the home. Convissor says every family dynamic is different, but he’s had several experiences with clients whose children were resistant to the change.
Start the conversation with them early, and involve them in the process as much as possible. But, be careful not to let their emotions about the house stop you from making the right decision for your future.