Downsizing In The New Year

By Corinne McKeown, North Shore’s Seniors Real Estate Specialist

By Corinne McKeown, North Shore’s Seniors Real Estate Specialist

The start of a brand new year is the perfect time to downsize your living situation and experiencing a less demanding lifestyle free of the burden of property maintenance and possessions that are no longer necessary. 

Reason’s for downsizing vary, but the logistical realities are the same: you will have to to decide what to keep, what to sell, what to give to away, and what to recycle.  Whether you are moving to simplify your life or helping a loved one come to terms with the need for change, the following tips can make the process less painful and more productive. 

1.Work with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) for your move.  A certified SRES has experience supporting clients who are downsizing, and can offer a full service approach to the tasks at hand – including introducing you to a team of other expert senior-focused professionals to assist you with the logistical, emotional, financial and legal aspects of your undertaking.  

2.Ask yourself the hard questions. When beginning to assess what lies ahead of you, ask yourself, honestly, when was the last time you used this item? Will it really fit in with your new home and lifestyle?  Does it bring you joy?  One rule of thumb in the world of Feng Shui is we should only be surrounded by things that bring us joy! 

3.Make a list of the things you want to take to your new space. Once that list is compiled, it will be easier to start deciding which of the remaining possessions you want to sell, donate or gift to family members or friends. If you have adult children, this list will also help them decide what they might want. Your Seniors Real Estate Specialist can connect you with charitable organizations that offer complimentary pick-up services for furnishings and appliances and, for your more valuable items, the best resource for appraisal and resale. 

4.Start with the easy stuff. No matter your reason for moving from a familiar place that has been your home, there are feelings involved.  Some rooms and items will affect more emotions than others. Start with the less sentimental areas of the home and work your way up to the more memory-rich ones.

5.Ask a friend to help. Invite your most organized friend to come over and help. Sharing your memories with a friend as you make the hard choices can relieve a lot of the stress of this process.  Have a sorting-and-packing party and try to make it fun.

6.Give sentimental items to friends and loved ones. If your oversized heirloom dining table won’t fit in your new home, make it a gift to a dear friend or family member or someone in need. For hard-to-part with items, knowing where your treasured possession will live next can be a great comfort.

7.Calculate, don’t guess.  Get the exact dimensions of your new space – room by room. If the new space is an assisted living or retirement community or new construction, ask for and make use of floor plans and planning guides. You’ll quickly start to see what will fit and what will not.

8.Decide on a system and stick to it. Whether it’s putting color-coded stickers on items as you decide where they will go, creating room by room lists or even using a spreadsheet, decide what system works for you and use it.  There are a variety of proven strategies for downsizing and decluttering. I’ve listed my favorites in Forward Move: A Guide to Real Estate And Housing Options For Seniors And Their families.  (Learn how to get a free book below).

9.Time Block  Set aside specific blocks of time to work on your downsizing decisions and you’and youdownsizing decisionsme to. A  couple of hours at a time is good.  Itgood.  ItItGuide to Real Estate And Housing Options For Seniors And Their stretch.  

10.Practice Self-care during the downsizing/moving process. You cannot get everything done if youprocess  ItItGuide to RealPlan a reward for yourself each time you hit a benchmark along the way.  

11.Hire an Organizer. People who do this for a living can bring a fresh perspective to a potentially daunting task. I recommend North Shore Coach for Life and Home, Beth Munro ( Prior to listing a property, I send Beth over to discuss options for preparing the house for sale. Some organizers specialize in helping people move. The National Association of Professional Organizers is a good group to contact to find special help in your area. An SRES can also put you in touch with the best resources.

12.Talk to a Move Management Professional. Companies such as Home Transition Resource Boston North ( can assist in every detail of the moving process. A few of their services include creating a customized action plan and coordinating your packers and movers, making your to-do list much shorter. This is a service you deserve!

The desire to downsize can result from changing needs as your age, or the desire to embrace a simpler more minimalist lifestyle that is more about who you are than what you have. Many of my clients have learned that a later-in-life move can be like ‘coming home to yourself’.  Whatever the reason for embarking on this journey, resources are available to support you every step of the way. You don’t have to go it alone! 

This article was written by Corinne McKeown, North Shore SRES and Broker Owner of Storybook Homes Real Estate and Author of ‘Forward Move’ A Guide to Housing Options for Seniors and Their Families. Call Corinne for a free copy of the book 978-225-0289.

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