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Top Tips to Make Senior Downsizing as Easy as Possible

By Michael Longsdon

Are you thinking about downsizing? Moving into a smaller, more manageable home is smart for seniors. Thinking things through is the key to making downsizing an easy transition.

Learn the Market

One of the best things you can do to prepare for a downsize is to become educated on what the housing market offers. Spend some time researching online so you are more familiar with housing prices in your preferred locale, and pay special attention to homes in the size range you’re seeking. You may want to make comparisons with the value of the property you intend to sell, especially if you have substantial equity in the home. You can use a house price calculator for a starting point of what your home might be worth, although it’s wise to have a professional appraise your property before listing it for sale.

Pare Down in Advance

It’s in your best interests to start the process of decluttering long before it’s time to load your things into a moving van, especially if you lived in your current home for a long time. Most people accumulate a lot of stuff, and the process of cutting down is lengthier and more complex — and possibly more emotional — than you might expect. To get started, divide your possessions into those you will definitely take to the new home, those that should be thrown out or recycled, and those you will either donate or sell. Bear in mind, however, that many items are not worth nearly as much as you paid for them, and a yard sale or thrift shop might be your best bet for unloading a bunch of things at once. On the upside, whatever money you make can go toward your move or buying things for your new place.

Future-Friendly Features

When selecting a home, it’s smart to look for a place that will allow you to remain independent and mobile as you grow older. Finding a property with accessible features, or one that can be easily modified, can be a boon to most senior house hunters. As Professional Builder explains, there are more houses than ever offering accessibility, thanks to ideas such as universal design. This is a design concept promoting safe housing regardless of age, size, or ability. Look for properties with single-story living, open floor plans, and wider doors and hallways than typically found in traditional homes. Some changes you can make relatively easily, such as swapping traditional door knobs for lever-style handles. Think about what changes you would be willing to make and what features you feel are must-haves upfront. A printable universal design checklist can come in handy when comparing prospective homes.

Planning the Move

Boxing up an entire house can be a major chore, so it’s wise to start early on the project. Good Housekeeping suggests a minimum of eight weeks to pack your home. If friends and family are going to help with the big day, be forewarned that it’s backbreaking work and any number of considerations can impact your plans. Weather, traffic, assembling and disassembling beds can play into your moving day schedule, and you should plan your time frame accordingly. Many seniors decide to hire professional movers. This option can uncomplicate the big picture quickly, especially if you elect to pay for packing services. However, as the Sun-Sentinel warns, moving company scams are on the rise, so research movers carefully.

Many seniors downsize with the idea of having less home to tend as they grow older. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to find a property that will keep you comfortable and independent as you age. If you are planning a downsize, think things through for great results.