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Options for Downsizing from the Big House

Options for Downsizing from the Big House
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BY STEVE NUBIE

It’s so hard to do. We live in a house for years and years and it becomes home.  We raise our kids, watch pets come and go and then one day we find ourselves sitting on a couch and the kids are gone. They’re all grown up and married or living on their own and we’re in a house with 3 to 4 bedrooms and wondering why we’re still there.

Many people in their 50’s and older confront this change-of-life and it’s hard to give up.  We’ve collected a lifetime of possessions, memories and memorabilia.  We’ve planted most of the trees in our yard and our gardens are special as we’ve watched them come and go.  Then we figure it’s time for us to go.  Tough stuff.

The facts 

More and more empty-nesters are coming to terms with the fact that they have to make a life-change for a variety of reasons with regard to their living arrangements.

  • They can’t afford it anymore.
  • They don’t need it anymore.
  • It just doesn’t make sense.

Making the decision 

The hardest thing to do is to simply make the decision to move on. But once the decision is made the real work begins.  The biggest challenge is knowing where to start.  That begins with what will become an ever-expanding to-do list and the most important aspect – deadlines.

Create deadlines

The best way to manage this decision is to decide on key dates in the calendar for the critical steps. The key is to give yourself enough time.  This is tough to do in a rush.  Pace yourself and go a day at a time, but stick with the program. 

The first steps (Getting ready) 

Decluttering

It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulate over years and years.  It’s not just our stuff but our kid’s stuff as well.  It’s time to get rid of a lot of stuff and the kids have to step up.  The parental storage unit is closed.  Get this stuff out of here.  Sell it, store it, give it away or throw it away but Mom and Dad don’t know what to do with it.

Garage sales are an option depending on weather and time of year.  Estate sales also work, in addition to online selling on eBay, Craigslist and even Facebook, which is now offering online sales for local areas as a virtual garage sale.

Storage units also give you a chance to catch your breath.  Monthly rentals vary but you can always store some stuff in the short-term until you sort out what you want to do with it.

Charity Donations are another way to declutter from clothing to furniture to tools and equipment.  Make sure you get a receipt for the donation because the donations are typically tax-deductible.

Gifting to family and kids is another way to declutter.  Especially if the kids or family members have their own homes.

The dumpster is another solution.  It’s hard to throw some things away but once you get started it gets easier to toss it rather than move it or store it.

The goal of decluttering is to create sense of space and to improve the appearance of the home interior.  The fact of the matter is that your selling a house, not furniture.  However. some furnishings can help with a home sale if it’s selectively arranged.  The key is to create clear pathways that invite someone into a room.

Basic repairs are also important. Now’s the time to spackle those nicks and holes and repaint.  The same applies to trim, light switch-plates, and anything else that seems a bit tattered or worn.  Major repairs may also be necessary if an important and functional appliance or piece of equipment isn’t working,

Curb appeal is a term commonly used by real estate agents to describe the appearance of a house on approach.  Make sure the lawn is moved, gardens are mulched, trees are timed and the house is painted.  Also, pay attention to the appearance of the front door.  You also might want to seal the driveway if it needs it.  

Finding a real estate agent is critical.  The best approach is to ask friends, neighbors and family members for recommendations.  If someone has recently bought or sold a home they may know of someone who impressed them.   Your agent can also help you price your home based on their experience and local listing prices.

Finding the new place can be as difficult as selling the old place.  Odds are it will be smaller in terms of square footage and then there’s the old challenge of packing and moving often with dual closings taking place on the same day.  However, there are options.

Renting a home or apartment is simpler than buying if you’re okay with that option.  One of the benefits is that you can rent before you sell your home and slowly move possessions from your old home to your new apartment or rented home.  This can also buy you some time if you haven’t found a new home yet, or need to save some money for a purchase.  One thing to keep in mind if you rent an apartment is that you’ll probably have less storage, and certainly won’t need all of those yard and garden tools.

Regardless of how you downsize it will have numerous benefits as you adjust to your new place and live a simpler lifestyle. It’s hard to leave the place you always knew as home, but your new place will soon become a place you know as home.

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Steve Nubie
Steve Nubie has been writing professionally for 38 years. He is a published author with 10 books to his credit, has written for CBS Entertainment for the Twilight Zone series, and has written hundreds of articles for magazines and the Internet. He has served as Chief Creative officer in the marketing and advertising industry, was an Executive career-coach, is a chef and has traveled extensively living in Asia for two years, and London for two years.