Tips on Downsizing for Retirement

November 9, 2021

Retirement can be both a very exciting time in a person’s life and also a time full of hesitation and second guesses, as retirees use this moment to consider all the many ways life may soon change. Downsizing is one of the most prevalent things that some seniors are curious about when preparing to retire. While it may seem intimidating at first, there are a number of reasons why downsizing is exactly the kind of first step to take to ease into this next phase of life.

Why downsize? With benefits like these, why not!?

What many don’t immediately realize is that downsizing from a private home to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) doesn’t just mean getting rid of physical stuff, but also freeing up room for more, including money. When you live on your own, costs like mortgage, repairs, and everyday household items or tasks often add up much faster than you’d anticipate each month. Downsizing to prepare for this move is just the first step. With the dollars saved each month, there’s now more time and opportunity to enjoy new experiences and favorite activities. According to recent research, CCRC residents cited “having less need for property maintenance, access to communal facilities, and availability of 24-hour support and domiciliary care on-site” as the main reasons for moving. Once those types of concerns are no longer taking up precious mental real estate, you’re left with more time and money to spend on what means the most to you.

Retirees who downsize also feel better both physically and mentally. The same ARCO study reported that CCRC residents are significantly happier, healthier, and have a greater overall sense of well-being than those who choose to stay in their own home. In fact, 55% of residents responded that their quality of life was better than the year prior, with new relationships, new opportunities, and less worries being among the contributing factors.

Where to begin?

Now that it’s clear how much of an impact downsizing can make, your next question after “why?” is probably “how?” To get the downsizing process started, there’s a simple list of steps every retiree should follow.

  • Identify your reasons
    • Are you simply shedding innocuous items to live a more minimalist lifestyle? Is this a necessary change due to space constraints? A clear understanding of your ultimate goal for downsizing, along with a target amount of things worth keeping, is a good place to start.
  • Take inventory
    • Make yourself a list of what you think is worth keeping. A general inventory of your belongings can help as you envision what will fit inside your new space.
  • Look at what’s left
    • After your initial inventory, double check to see if you’ve missed or overlooked any items. You may in fact realize that some of the things you set aside to keep could actually be let go, freeing up more space for the truly important items.
  • Hold onto what matters
    • Why do we keep so many things? Is it the memories they bring back? The things they do? The way they look? There’s one question to ask yourself when downsizing that’s more important than any other: What does this item mean to me? If you can answer that clearly, then the item is worth keeping.
  • Let go of what doesn’t
    • For everything you own that means something, there’s likely several others that don’t mean much at all. Sort these items into “Sell,” “Donate,” and “Toss” categories. When you’re all done, send each item off to its proper destination, whether that’s Goodwill, an online marketplace, or the trusty old trash can.
  • Name new essentials
    • Life in a CCRC, or Life Plan Community, comes with a slew of added benefits and amenities. That means some of the everyday items that always took up space in your home are no longer necessary because they’re readily available right on campus. Take stock of what you know will be available right outside your door so you can figure out what does and doesn’t belong inside your new residence.
  • Go digital
    • As impressive as a fully stocked bookshelf or music and film collection looks, in the year 2021, it takes up a lot more space than necessary. Digitizing a media collection is much easier to do now than it was only a few years ago, especially with apps and services like Spotify, Plex, and Kindle that can play all that same content on nearly any device.

By following these simple steps, the fear of downsizing can be swept away and replaced with the excitement that comes with all there is to discover in retirement. If you’re ready to begin exploring your senior living options, get as clear a picture as possible of what your future could look like to make sure it’s the right fit for you and your family. A community like eliseoTM could be exactly what you’d hope to find. eliseo has even partnered with Seniors Better Together to help explain why moving to a senior living community makes more sense now during a pandemic than before. Once you’re ready to learn more about us, we’ll be more than happy to talk. Contact us by calling 253.319.3947, or schedule an appointment to visit our Tacoma, WA, campus.