Downsizing benefits older adults financially and emotionally

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By Lydia Chan

An estimated 40 percent of Americans ages 50 to 64 intend to move within the next five years, releasing about 26 million houses onto the market. Many of these retirees are choosing to get rid of most of their belongings and relocating to smaller homes–a process called downsizing. Downsizing has various benefits:

  • Having a smaller house saves money on utilities, insurance, taxes, and–depending on the situation–rent or mortgage.
  • A smaller house needs less upkeep, reducing the time required for housekeeping and home maintenance.
  • Smaller homes are generally one story, which makes them more accessible for people who have difficulty climbing stairs.
  • Fewer items to take care of frees up time and money for pastimes like traveling.
  • Downsizing helps older people start this new chapter of their lives.
  • Deciding to move to a smaller home provides the opportunity to choose an area best suited to your situation, whether that be by a body of water, closer to grandchildren, or in a long-dreamed-of location.
Moving when Downsizing

When it comes to downsizing, getting rid of old junk you don’t use and finding your new dream home are the fun parts. However, the not-so-fun part is the moving process. From selling your home to packing to getting all your stuff from point A to point B, moving can be very stressful. But it’s nothing you haven’t dealt with before.

As an experienced adult, you’ve probably got the moving basics down. Use this handy checklist to ensure you have everything covered so you can get through the process as smoothly as possible.

  • Establish a moving day timeline that keeps you on track. Four weeks before, gather packing materials and supplies, box nonessential items, and label boxes with their contents and instructions on how to load them.
  • Hire a reputable moving company to help with packing and heavy lifting. Contact various local businesses, get estimates, and check online for reviews and credentials. You can also ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Be wary of companies that ask for a large deposit—they may be running scams that will leave you high and dry when your moving day rolls around.
  • If you have a four-legged best friend, keep Fido or Kitty safe during the moving process. To ensure their safety, you may need to lock your cat or dog in an emptied room with their belongings while movers are cleaning out the rest of the house. If this won’t work, consider boarding your pets so they are out of harm’s way.
  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this stressful transition. While it may be tempting to stay up until the wee hours of the morning packing and planning, it’s important to get plenty of sleep to prevent illness and injury. If anxieties about your moving process mount, take time out of your hectic schedule to release them with exercise or meditation. Big transitions often come with a lot of stress that can be harmful to your health; it’s important to practice self-care during these times to protect your body and mind.

Downsizing can be beneficial and improve your quality of life during your retirement years. If you do decide to move, creating a moving timeline, finding a good moving company, planning for your pets’ needs, and taking care of yourself can reduce the inevitable stress and make this life transition much more manageable.

About the Author

After her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Lydia Chan struggled to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She founded AlzheimersCaregiver.net as an online resource for fellow caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia writes articles about a range of caregiving topics.