If you’re considering a move to a retirement community, the difficulty of downsizing a lifetime’s accumulation of possessions has likely crossed your mind. United Methodist Homes offers the following suggestions to make the process easier.
Think about the large items you may no longer need once you move to a cottage, apartment or room at a retirement community. If appliances and furniture are provided at your retirement community, you may not need any or all of those items you currently own. Once you know if your new home will be furnished or unfurnished (or if some combination of the two is an option), you can make decisions accordingly. If your new home will be unfurnished, or furnished only with essentials, choose key pieces of your current furniture that will be most useful in main areas such as the living, dining and bedrooms.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the totality of your task. Start in one room (it may be helpful to start in the room you use least) and organize items into the following categories:
A good rule of thumb, especially for clothing, is that if you haven’t used it in a year, you don’t need it.
Set an egg timer and limit your sorting sessions to a maximum of two hours at a time so you don’t burn out on the task.
If thinking about the task feels overwhelming -- even one room at a time -- ask for help. Family members, friends and neighbors are usually willing assistants in sorting, tossing, cleaning and moving items, especially if you live alone and will need help moving boxes to the curb for garbage pickup, or into storage.
The cuckoo clock that you have marked for the garbage may be just what your nephew has always wanted. Duplicates of essential housewares (dishes, etc.) may be useful to a young friend, relative or neighbor just starting out. A church may appreciate a donation of pots, pans, tools, books, etc. Ask relatives and friends if they would like to have items you no longer want or won’t have room for in your new home. This is a wonderful way to pass on family history and provide a unique memento for special people in your life.
Whether you’ve collected baseball cards, teacups, antiques or books, now is the time to assess your collections. When downsizing for a move to a retirement community, it’s wise to select a favorite piece or pieces to take with you to represent your collection. For the rest of your collection, consider hiring a professional appraiser to provide an on-site evaluation of your items, whether you wish to sell some of them before you move, or wish to have certain items appraised for insurance purposes prior to your move.
When you’ve completed your task, you still may have more items than you’ll have room for in your new home. It may be worth it to rent a storage unit for these items until you enter the retirement community, are settled in and are sure what you have room for and want. You can always give away or sell something later, but it’s more difficult or impossible to get it back if you change your mind!
If you’ll be moving from a single-family home to an apartment or other retirement community accommodation, make a list of outdoor items you won’t have a need for, such as a lawnmower, picnic table, outdoor furniture, shovels, rakes, etc., and decide whether to trash, sell or donate them.