If you’re planning to move to a senior community or smaller residence to cut down on maintenance costs, you will need to downsize. This means paring down the number of items you have in your home and in storage, whether that’s large furniture items or collectibles.
But when is the right time to start downsizing? It depends on your wants and needs, but we do have some advice to offer when it comes to deciding when is the right time for you.
Downsizing for Seniors: When to Start
After living in the same home for years or decades, the idea of downsizing can seem overwhelming. That’s why there’s often no better time to start than the present! Consider the following factors as you prepare.
- Health. How’s your health? How’s your partner’s health? Do you really want to be worrying about downsizing when one or the other of you becomes ill? Think ahead and consider moving to a community that offers a home for the rest of your life.
- Time. Taking care of a big house takes time. Downsizing to a smaller home can free up time spent better on spoiling grandchildren, traveling, honing your craft, and so on.
- Safety. This applies to two different spheres: protection from crime and physical safety. When it comes to safety from crime, senior living communities offer things like 24-hour emergency monitoring systems to protect your safety and privacy. Also, you should consider your physical safety. Many homes are not safe for people with balance problems, low vision, memory issues, or difficulty walking. Make it a priority to move to a home that is handicap-accessible or an independent living or assisted living community where you can receive help in the future.
- Transportation. You may be able to drive now, but unless your present home is on a transit line, you are going to have problems if you can’t drive in the future. Even if you are able to drive, it can be a hassle — and an expense.
- Other interests. If you downsize, you’re likely to have more time to pursue other interests. This is especially true of travel. If you downsize to an apartment home in a senior living community, it’s easy to leave town and trust that everything will be just as you left it when you return, without having to make extensive arrangements.
- Opportunity. If you see another place where you’d like to live, get it now. Many living communities for older adults, such as independent living communities, have waiting lists. This may be a good time to take advantage of that opportunity.
- Socialization. Scientific research shows that your number of friends decreases as you age. Some of that decrease is caused by aging issues that make it more difficult to see friends. Making and maintaining friendships benefits mental and physical health. Retirement communities help make that easy by providing social opportunities and a built-in community.
- Ease of downsizing early. Many people put off downsizing until they’re forced to do so by ill health. Granted, moving is never easy, but it will never be easier than it is right now.
Downsizing to a Retirement Community
If you were reading through this list and found yourself agreeing with most of the points, it may be time to consider downsizing. Even if you aren’t quite ready to make the move yet, it can’t hurt to begin downsizing your belongings to make things easier on yourself in the future.
Here are some resources that can help you get started:
- Make Downsizing a Pleasure not a Pain
- Downsize Your Home, Upsize Your Life
- Downsizing Dilemmas: What to Discard
Also be sure to check out our free guide Downsizing and Decorating, to get some ideas on how you might like to decorate a new apartment home or cottage.