How to Decide What to Keep When You Downsize your Home

A senior man puts his arm around his wife and the couple sit on a couch

Practical Tips for How to Downsize

The ideas of downsizing and decluttering your home are having their moment in popular media lately, but — unlike some other trends — downsizing has real benefits, especially if you’re considering moving to a senior living community in Greenville, SC. Living with less clutter can enhance your everyday experience in your residence and offer peace of mind for the coming years. In fact, many people prefer the term “rightsizing” because it more accurately explains the concept: You’re tailoring your surroundings to your current lifestyle — you’re making your living arrangement right for you. If house upkeep is beginning to feel like more of a chore than it used to, if yardwork is becoming more difficult, if you find yourself staying home rather than taking the trips you’ve always wanted to, it might be the right time to rightsize.

1. Know What You’re Taking On

If you can, start the process of rightsizing before there’s a crisis. Whether you’re going through your own home or helping a loved one, you should expect the process to be emotional as well as physical. Sorting through a lifetime of belongings will likely be very nostalgic, and parting with long-held items might be challenging. As much as possible, honor the journey, honor your feelings, and try to look for solutions that highlight the excitement of starting a new chapter.

2. Speak to Someone Who Has Already Rightsize

If you feel lost when it comes to how to downsize or if you’re hesitant about moving to a senior living community, draw inspiration from people who have successfully navigated this journey, like Rolling Green Village Resident Betty Sierra. She moved from a 4,300-sq.-ft. house into a studio apartment, but she found that the services and amenities provided here let her live easier with less. Seek out those people who have come to the other side of this undertaking and are happy they did. That kind of perspective can make all the difference when you’re just starting out.

3. Make a Plan

Likely you’ve accumulated quite a bit over the years, and creating a plan can help you change a monumental job into a series of achievable tasks. Before you begin, take pictures of important spaces. Notice the layout of furniture and the placement of pictures on the wall. That way you can recreate your familiar setting in a new place.

When you begin to sort belongings, organize each item into one of four categories: Trash, Donate/Sell, Document, or Keep.

Organizational Categories for Downsizing Your Home:

  • Trash: Unnecessary, out-of-date, invaluable items can be thrown away or recycled.
  • Donate/Sell: Items of value can be donated to a nonprofit, passed down to family members or sold.
  • Document: Organize beloved photos, treasured letters and important documents into albums to save them in a compact way. If there are items that are particularly difficult to part with, consider taking pictures of them, so you or your loved one can continue to enjoy them, even if they don’t make the move.
  • Keep: Of course, there will be some belongings that you’ll want to take with you to make your new home feel comfortable and familiar. These items will take on even greater meaning when they come with you to your new residence.

There may still be too many items in the Keep category after the first round of organization. Go back through and reevaluate some of your choices. Ask yourself some key questions to determine if that item needs to make the move with you.

1. Is it necessary?

2. Would I use it regularly?

3. Will it fit comfortably in a smaller space?

4. Do I absolutely love it?

5. Could a family member or friend benefit from it more than I would?

Remember your goal is to create a new space that feels like home while making room for new experiences in your life. And by donating or passing down your belongings, you’re creating opportunities for others to find joy in them.

4. Consider Your New Space Carefully

To set yourself up for the greatest success, create a scaled floor plan of your new residence, and as you decide to keep pieces of furniture, create scaled models to help you imagine how they will fit in the space. Keep safety in mind when you’re laying out your new residence. Physical limitations may require extra thought. Minimize tripping hazards and consider mobility challenges when placing furniture. Take into account aging eyesight and make sure it’s easy to maneuver around in the space.

Some retirement communities offer extra storage space separate from the residence. This could be a great place to store holiday decorations, important documents you won’t need every day, extra leaves for your dining room table, etc. Find out what storage solutions your community offers to help determine how much to take with you.

5. Hire a Professional

If organizing and moving is too physically taxing or too emotionally overwhelming, there are companies to help you. Many senior living communities offer services to help you move or can recommend a trusted company in your area. These organizations offer more services than a typical moving company. With your direction, they can help you plan the entire process; choose a real estate agent; sort your belongings; help with downsizing; arrange donations, auctions and estate sales; even unpack in your new location.

If you think it will be too stressful to declutter and downsize, there are many ways to make the experience easier and happier. Think of the goal as rightsizing, and imagine yourself as happy and settled as Betty Sierra.

If you would like to know what sort of moving support Rolling Green Village offers, or if you’re simply interested in discovering more about our lifestyle, contact us. We’re excited to share our expertise.