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9 Tips From People Who've "Been There" and "Done That"

Overcoming the Downsizing Hurdle

Living a “minimalist” lifestyle has gained popularity among people of all ages. No matter how trendy it becomes, the truth remains: scaling down presents challenges.

“In our experience, when you’re facing downsizing, at the very beginning, it’s a huge task – insurmountable really,” said new Chapel Pointe resident, David.

Sound familiar?

We talked with a focus group of new residents who all agreed, so we’ve compiled some tips from our discussion. If you’re struggling over the downsizing hurdle, read on:

  1. Determine Your Goals

When David and his wife moved to Chapel Pointe, one of their goals was to experience a maintenance-free lifestyle. “This was our first winter here. It was wonderful to look out the window and see people shoveling the snow, and I didn’t have to tromp to the shed to get a shovel,” David said.

You may have financial, lifestyle, healthcare, family, or even weather goals. Whatever they are, identify your goals and keep them in mind during your decision-making process.

  1. Calculate Your Current Costs

The costs of insurance, utilities and home repairs can add up, even for homeowners who’ve paid off their mortgage. Calculate all of your expenses so you can compare your financial resources to your various downsizing options.

The biggest financial benefits of moving to a non-profit continuing care retirement community like Chapel Pointe are that you maintain complete control of your assets, AND once you buy into our community, you’ll always have a home – even if your money runs out.

  1. Plan Ahead and Start Early

“Take lots of vitamins and pray,” joked resident Colt* when we asked for downsizing advice, but her quip holds truth. The year she spent in prayer helped her to develop a plan for moving and downsizing, which made the actual process go more smoothly.

Our resident focus group shared that it took an average of four months to downsize after they made a plan. Planning ahead means you can take your time downsizing while you’re agile rather than rushing through the process during a crisis.

  1. Find a Sorting System That Works for You

Some people only keep the items that make them happy. Others create piles to “keep,” “donate,” and “trash.” Often, the decision comes down to: "Do I have room for this in my new home?"

Colt decided to move everything she wanted to take to Chapel Pointe into her garage. Segregating the items she wanted to keep in a single space allowed her to see all of her items together and simplified her decision-making process.

If you need help creating a system that works for you, consider hiring an organizing consultant or a senior move management company, like The Relocation Project.

  1. Know Your Future Floor Plan

Your favorite piece of furniture may become a burden in your new home if it doesn’t fit well. Multipurpose pieces, like tables with build-in storage, can maximize your space. Plan which furniture you want to keep based on the layout of your new home.

At Chapel Pointe, we provide a floor plan with dimensions for your new townhome or apartment so you can plan in advance. “I love it here; my apartment is my haven. It’s wonderful!” said Phyllis, who took her time decorating and purchased a new sofa so she would have the perfect pieces to compliment her floor plan.

  1. Seek Out Help

There are many free or cost-effective ways to find downscaling and moving help.

“I hired an auctioneer, and he came through my house and took everything I didn’t want,” said resident, Fred. He cautioned that an auctioneer may not have given him a fair price for his antiques, so he sought out an antique dealer separately.

Gloria told her friends and family that she and her husband were moving, and invited them to purchase or take items that they no longer needed.

Keith and his wife said that a large church group packed all of their belongings in a truck in less than two hours on moving day!

  1. Take Pictures of Sentimental Items

Your wedding dress is beautiful, but you’re probably holding onto it because of the memories it evokes. Frame a favorite wedding photo for display, and take pictures of other treasured belongings so you can hold onto the memories while making room for items you use every day.

If you just can’t part with Dad’s favorite shirt, consider using the fabric to make a decorative item such as a pillow, or for small items, like his pocket watch and military ID, create a shadow box with a piece of the shirt as the background.

Friends can often offer a beneficial objective opinion when it comes to deciding whether to save or set free some of your belongings.

  1. Give Belongings a New Life

Sometimes it’s easier to part with items when you know they’re going to a good home. Research charities and non-profits that are close to your heart, and see if they have any needs you can fulfill.

Fred was a champion of causes when he minimized his belongings. His donations to a yard sale helped to raise money for cancer research, and a private school’s woodworking shop now makes good use of the tools he no longer needs since the maintenance department at Chapel Pointe is only a phone call away. “It’s so freeing that you don’t have to worry about it,” said Fred.

  1. Sell Your Home

Selling your home is often a key component of downsizing. We keep hearing from realtors that it’s a seller’s market right now. Of the three Pennsylvania homes listed by residents in our focus group, one sold in three weeks, and the others sold in one to three DAYS!

We can’t promise you the same results, but your home won’t sell if you never try. It’s free to take the first step of finding a realtor you trust!

To learn more about the benefits or process of moving to Chapel Pointe, call 717-249-1363 or email us. We’d be honored to walk with you every step of your way.

*name changed for privacy

About the Author

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