Downsizing during retirement needs a lot of preparation and planning beforehand. It entails organising your current residence, donating unwanted items, listing your residence for sale, and moving to a new location.
If you are approaching retirement age, you might be noticing that your house feels a little too big. Children’s rooms are now empty or repurposed, and your six-person dining table is rarely used. You are paying for more house than you need now that you only use a part of the space you own.
Downsizing can be a clever idea if done correctly. You may not only walk away with more retirement funds but also with a simpler life and lower home maintenance and utility costs for years to come. To achieve that happy outcome, you must avoid the unexpected pitfalls that make downsizing so risky.
Here are four common downsizing pitfalls during retirement and how you can avoid them:
- Not planning ahead
It is tempting to put off downsizing until the last minute but doing so may leave you feeling overwhelmed once you get started. The most meticulous downsizers will begin planning their move a year or more in advance. That is because you have lived in that house for decades and have amassed many possessions that will take some time to sort through. Furthermore, you need time to prepare your home for the best results when it goes on the market while also finding a lovely home to downsize to. Here are some tips to help you plan:
- Cover all expenses in your budget
- Start small and create a timeline
- Analyse what needs to be decluttered or thrown away
- Consider existing mortgages and home loans to be settled
- Not downsizing chunk by chunk
“Decisions about what to keep and what to do with the rest can create decision paralysis,” Anna Novak, downsizing expert, and owner of Simply Downsized LLC. “It’s a huge reason people have a hard time getting started.”
Do not let the clutter accumulate; sell or donate your items as soon as possible. After you have gotten rid of most of your possessions, you can consider the next step: downsizing your entire home.
Begin small – start with your most used rooms. For example, if you spend most of your time in the kitchen, start there. Then, move on to less critical areas such as guest bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Decide what to throw/Donate
Donating furniture, clothing, books, toys, and other items to help orphanages and other charitable organizations. They offer low-income people jobs and training programmes. They also supply free storage space for donated items.
- Decide what to store
If you are like most people, you have some items lying around gathering dust that are occasionally used. Renting a self-storage unit is the best solution when you have too many sentimental items in your current home. A self-storage unit helps in supplying more space while downsizing to keep items like furniture or appliances safe.
- Decide what to take
You will discover that many of your possessions are not necessary. Consider donating or selling those items to a charitable organisation.
- Not hiring professionals early
When it comes to downsizing, it may be tempting to do some DIY (Do It Yourself), but those countless hours of stress are not worth the money you would save. Do not wait too long but allow yourself to hire help—after all, this is the time to focus on yourself!
Make sure you have a vetted list of:
- Real Estate Agents – Real estate agents can alleviate some of that stress by removing one of the most stressful aspects of downsizing: buying and selling your home. They can also advise you with any existing housing mortgage or loan.
- Financial planners – Will you downsize to a smaller home and use the extra money for your retirement lifestyle or investments? Have you thought about renting a house and using the money and time you save by not having to keep it but instead travel? All of these are questions that an experienced financial advisor can aid you in answering and making the best use of your retirement savings.
- Decluttering experts – There are great professionals available to aid you at every step of your downsizing journey, so do not be afraid to ask for aid and hasten your happiness!
- Not dealing with emotions
Last but not the least, talk to someone if you are experiencing emotional distress. Invite a friend or family member to aid you in sorting through rooms.
Loved ones can listen to you reminisce about sentimental items while gently pushing you to let go of things you no longer need. “If something’s been a part of your home life for 40 years, it’s not easy to say goodbye.” Mary Kay.
It is normal to struggle with the emotional part of letting go of your home.
Here are a few pointers to help you get started:
- Write down your reasons for relocating
Write down your reasons for downsizing as you decide. Journaling is therapeutic and helps us grasp the finality of a situation, according to a study published in January 2018 by Cambridge University Press.
- Prepare yourself for unwelcome news
If you receive a low property offer or overhear a potential buyer’s comment on your lighting fixtures, it is critical that you do not take it personally.
- Consider it a breakup
Use the same coping skills you would use to end a relationship — vent to friends, exercise through the pain, eat your favourite comfort food – but accept that moving on is in your best interest!
- Control your stress
Regardless of how you feel about the house, selling it is a stressful process. To relieve stress, use stress management techniques such as yoga or meditation.
It can be difficult to follow through on downsizing your belongings without the hard deadline of a move, especially if you are waiting for family members to come to pick up their own items. Be firm with yourself as well as others. Call your family and inform them that their belongings will be donated to Goodwill after a certain date.
Downsizing can be an amazing opportunity to rejuvenate your life as you head into your next chapter, whether you are trading a large house for a beach bungalow, a smaller quieter countryside home, a retirement overseas, or planning to simplify at home. We hope that it can, however, be a rejuvenating experience. Concentrate on the positive aspects of the transition and strive to make your new space feel like home!