A Senior’s Guide To Downsizing Without The Stress

Guest post by June Duncan of RiseUpforCaregivers.org

Whether finances have you moving across town to a smaller home or you’re moving across the country to an assisted living facility near family due to health concerns, downsizing can be an emotionally difficult time. The wide range of feelings that come with decluttering and parting with long-held treasures, the physical side effects of lengthy labor, and the worries about how you’ll manage it all are concerns you’ll need to address.

With some organization and careful planning, though, you can carry out this major life change smoothly and with minimal stress.

The best way to manage your move is with your own personalized moving timeline. This schedule will include activities during the months leading up to moving day, so you’re not cramming everything into the final weeks. While everyone’s timeline may look a little different, let’s look at a basic timeline to get started.

Six Months Out

 Set up a binder/folder where you’ll organize all of your moving research, paperwork and to-do lists.

  • Create a moving budget.
  • Determine what portion of the move you’ll be doing, and what portion you’ll have hired done. For example, do you want to pack your own belongings?
  • Gather packing supplies. If you’re not purchasing moving supplies and you intend to pack yourself, you’ll need to start collecting boxes now at various stores you frequent.
  • Start the decluttering process. This includes cleaning out closets and drawers, and organizing into keep, donate, and discard piles. The idea is to downsize your “stuff” as much as possible, but if you’re not quite ready to let go of some of your bigger items, consider putting them into a storage unit or leaving them with family until you’re ready to part ways with them. The less you have to move, the better.
  • Develop a contingency plan. What will you do if your home sells more or less quickly than anticipated?
  • Find a doctor at your new location in advance. Oftentimes, it takes longer for new patients to be seen, so get an appointment scheduled now.

 Wellness Tip: Practice sitting quietly with a stress ball, meditate, or try a senior yoga class. Each of these is scientifically linked to reducing stress levels.

 Three Months Out

 Hire movers. Meet and get estimates from several companies before making a decision.

  • Take a good inventory of what you plan to move for insurance purposes.
  • Discuss with your insurance agent any changes that may be needed, such as homeowner’s insurance cancellation or obtaining renters insurance.
  • Make a list of everyone who will need notified: family, friends, credit card companies, banks, utility companies, etc.
  • Start packing anything that won’t be needed.

Wellness Tip: Listen to music while packing.

Two Months Out

  • To avoid moving furniture that you won’t have room for, plot a floor plan to see what will fit.
  • Have a garage/yard sale.
  • Collect and organize records from doctors, veterinarians, dentists, lawyers, and accountants.
  • If moving to a new state, check to see when you’ll need a new vehicle license and registration.

Wellness Tip: Ask family/friends to help with your garage sale and packing.

Six Weeks Out

  • Confirm moving date with mover.
  • Firm up any necessary travel arrangements.

              Wellness Tip: Good sleep will help you manage stress better.

Four Weeks Out

 Find a new phone, cable and internet provider.

  • Contact utility companies for disconnection and connection.
  • Make arrangements for your pet on moving day.

Three Weeks Out

 Close and open bank accounts, if necessary.

  • Get your car serviced.
  • Complete a change of address form with the post office, either at your local branch or online.

Two Weeks Out

  • Reconfirm moving details.
  • Run any errands, such as returning library books, picking up dry cleaning, etc.
  • Finish packing.

One Week Out

  • Pack an essentials bag for your travel time and one or two nights at your new location.
  • Set aside anything you’re personally moving.

Moving Day

 Upon the movers’ arrival, point out any items that need to be handled with care.

  • Make sure to read all moving paperwork carefully before signing it.
  • Do a final check before vacating your old residence.

Downsizing to a new residence doesn’t have to be stressful. By carefully planning your move and focusing on some important self-care, you’ll be ensuring the move goes as smoothly as possible. Give yourself time to acclimate in your new home and be sure to focus on the positive things, like less housework, increased cash flow and fewer responsibilities.

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