How to Downsize Your Life for Greater Happiness in Retirement

How to Downsize Your Life for Greater Happiness in RetirementHaving a lot of stuff—and a lot of space—can hold us down more than we think. As we reach our golden years, moving into a smaller home starts to look like an attractive, refreshing change from our regular yard work and chores. In fact, according to HomeAdvisor, “Having fewer financial- and maintenance-related responsibilities will allow you to focus more on your happiness and less on your home.” If you’re ready to take the plunge and simplify your life, consider some of the following tips to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Start Simplifying Slowly

The first thing to do before moving is to minimize your possessions. While this can initially seem overwhelming, the payoff is well worth it. You’ll find that your life feels lighter when you’re no longer surrounded by clutter.

It can take a very long time to sort through a lifetime’s worth of possessions, so don’t try to tackle it all in one day. Start with a single dresser drawer or a small section of your closet, and make sure you can complete each decluttering project in a single session. Allow your personal preferences to guide your strategy instead of strictly following a trendy strategy. You can use these popular decluttering methods for ideas, but you’ll enjoy your decluttering sessions more if you adjust them to fit your schedule and personality.

Sell Everything You Can

As you file through your possessions, sort your unwanted items into piles for giving away, donating, throwing out, and selling. Try to sell anything that you can; you can use the proceeds to outfit your downsized home with new décor or splurge on a new piece of furniture! AARP recommends selling locally if possible to save on the hassle and costs of shipping. You can use Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or OfferUp to find people willing to buy your unwanted items. Or, if you want to keep it old school, host a yard sale!

Take a Trip

When you’re ready to search for a smaller space, narrow down a couple of locations you’d like to live and visit each one. While you’re there, talk to the locals, visit shops, ride the public transit, and find out what kinds of events and groups are available to join. If you’re having trouble deciding on a place to move, Forbes recommends asking yourself a few important questions. What will you do to fill your days? Will you be able to visit family as often as you like? Is medical care easily accessible? What do you dislike about your current location? Your answers to these kinds of questions will help you pick a location that really makes you happy.

Look for Potentially-Modifiable Homes

The process for choosing your downsized home will involve many of the same considerations. While you should put careful thought into the exact location of your home, you’ll also want to consider the specific features of the home itself. If you intend to age in place, ensure the home can be modified to fit your changing needs. For example, you may want to limit your search to one-story homes so you can eliminate the burden of a staircase. If you anticipate mobility problems down the line, look for homes with zero-step entrances and open floor plans.

Pack Strategically

Try to follow a packing strategy as you get everything ready for the big move. There’s nothing more overwhelming than arriving in a new home with a bunch of unlabeled boxes full of mismatched items. As you pack, label each box with its contents and the room it’s intended for. You could simplify this process by numbering each box and keeping an inventory list in a notebook. Remember to pack a suitcase of things you’ll need during the first night in your new home so you’re not digging through boxes to find your chargers, clothes, or toiletries.

Downsizing can seem like a lot of work — because it is! Take your time and approach the process with a strategy. In the end, you’ll be glad that you put in the effort to reduce clutter and eliminate unnecessary maintenance so you can focus on the things that make you happy.

Picture Credit: Yannes Kiefer