5 Downsizing Tips for Retired Seniors

5 Downsizing Tips for Retired Seniors

  • Betsy Phillips
  • 03/28/22

When going through the retirement planning process, millions of Americans make the decision to downsize and move into a smaller, more affordable home that is perhaps closer to family and friends. Or, perhaps it’s a dream home on a warm beach.

Once you’ve made the decision to downsize, there’s a lot to consider, and it takes a lot of planning. But if you have weighed the decision and know it’s best for you and your family, the benefits will tremendously outweigh the tough work and lengthy process of de-cluttering, selling your home, and moving.

 These 5 steps will help guide you through the process

1. Give yourself ample time 

Waiting until the last minute to move can amplify an already stressful event. Experts suggest downsizing and de-cluttering little by little, room by room. Start small by focusing on rooms you don’t use as much, and stretch the packing process out over a long period of time. 

The process can take at least six months to a year to complete, so give yourself that time and plan everything out well. It can help to write down what order of rooms you want to start with and crossing them out as you go. There are also multiple planners online that offer plans for different time periods (12 week, 16 week, etc.). 

2. Be realistic 

Downsizing can be an emotional experience because you have to let go of so many items that you’ve accumulated for the past 20-30 years. It’s important to talk it out and set boundaries when downsizing. Ask yourself “Do I really need this? Or do I just want it because I’ve had it for so long and feel attached?” 

Being realistic isn’t an easy thing to do, and it’s especially difficult to attempt on your own. Inviting outside help in on the project can be a huge benefit. You can hire professional downsizers, for example, or even some family friends to help you sort through what to take and what to toss or donate.

3. Donate, sell, or toss 

When selling your house, de-cluttering is a necessary task to take on. Time to roll up the sleeves and go through items to get rid of a good portion of your belongings. You’ll feel so much better and lighter after lessening your load. Additionally, having a de-cluttered home will be especially beneficial in the home selling process, as potential buyers will likely be attracted to a clean, spacious, fresh feeling home. 

When organizing for the selling and moving process, separate your items into three categories: Donate, sell, or toss. 

Selling the stuff you don’t need is a great way to make some extra income while downsizing. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist can be your best friends during this process. 

Donating your items is also a great option, and you can gain peace of mind knowing your belongings will truly benefit others. Salvation Army and other donation sites can even pick up your items from your doorstep.

4. Prepare yourself for an emotional experience 

Downsizing and moving is not only physical hard work - it can also be emotionally taxing. This might be the home you’ve lived in and raised a family in for multiple decades, and you’ve accumulated a lot of cherished items along the way. The important thing is to remember your “why” and focus on your next big adventure - your future home. 

If going through old items brings up anxiety, or you’re having trouble coping with separation, the best course of action is to talk to loved ones. Talking to a friend or loved one after a long day of unpacking and de-cluttering can help keep you calm and focused on your long-term goals.

5. Have the right help

Help can mean hiring a downsizing expert, getting emotional support, and finding a great real estate agent and professional stager to sell your home for its maximum price and help ease the burden of the process for you. This is a team effort, and these specialists want to ensure you get from point A to point B as easily and stress-free as possible.


Downsizing and selling your lifelong home can be both physically and emotionally draining, but the long-term benefits are worth the process. To make things easier on yourself, follow these 5 tips, give yourself grace, and focus on your exciting adventure ahead. 

When selling your current home and looking to buy your future forever home, it’s important to have help from a reputable, seasoned real estate agent. To learn more about Betsy Phillips, visit her website.

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