How to Downsize for Retirement

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Many people downsize for retirement.
Many people downsize for retirement. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Many people nearing retirement are also thinking of paring down belongings and moving to smaller spaces. These couples and singles have possessions that have built up for decades to sort through. Moving ranks as one of the top stressors and it can become overwhelming. There are ways, though to downsize for retirement and perhaps enjoy doing it.

Use the services provided by entrepreneurs who call themselves "senior move managers" if this move is totally overwhelming. You can work along with them, or have them downsize your belongings for you.

Focus first on sorting. Do not work more than three hours at a time as people notoriously burn out after a few hours on a taxing job.

Sort the things you do not want or need any more into three major categories of "Throw Out," "Give to Charity" and "Give to Relatives."

Put items in storage if you don't know what to do with them as you downsize your belongings. You may decide after a few months that you don't need the items and you're ready to part with them.

Keep only the belongings and furnishings you need and actually have space for in a smaller retirement home.

Give yourself plenty of time to say good-bye to your old home and possessions before you move.

Allow yourself to realize the benefits of having fewer responsibilities and clutter, and begin to feel that wonderful sense of relief that paring down belongings can bring.

Invest the profits from the sale of your old home, if there were any, and draw on the investment account to pay the rent or the smaller mortgage in your new home. This can ease the pressure on your other retirement accounts and Social Security income, further reducing your sources of worry as time goes on.

Consider moving into a condominium or town home development that provides maintenance and lawn services for you, unless you specifically enjoy maintaining properties and landscaping. This can ease the physical pressure on you as you get older. And if you have maintained a home with a large lawn for years, you may be surprised at how much more free time you have once the work is done by someone else.

Consider moving to a less expensive area. This may not be an option, of course, if you want to remain close to family and friends who live close to your current home, but you could be financially better off in retirement if you forsake an expensive part of the country, such as San Francisco or New York City, for less expensive environs in a different region.

Tips & Warnings

  • Replicate your old environment by displaying some of the same items and photos in your new retirement home.

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