Tips for Seniors Downsizing into a New Home

Whether you’ve had a change in income, a mobility issue is making getting around difficult, or you’re simply tired of yard work, as a senior, there are plenty of good reasons to want to downsize. For some, downsizing means selling your current home and moving to an apartment, condo, or assisted living community. But for some seniors, owning a home is still the goal – you might just want to make that home a bit smaller and more accessible. Here are some tips for seniors looking to downsize into a new home.

Consider your best financing option

If you currently own a home and are looking to buy a smaller home, there’s a chance that you’ll be able to use the proceeds from your sale to buy your new home outright, depending on whether you have paid off your current mortgage, have a very low amount left on it, or are currently living in a substantially more expensive home than the one you plan to move to. For seniors living on a fixed income, or those who simply don’t wish to incur any more debt in their life, buying a new home outright can be the best option.

If your situation doesn’t allow for this, you’ll obviously need to borrow to finance your new home. For seniors with low monthly income and/or not a lot of savings in the bank, downsizing to a smaller, less expensive home may not just be the smart option, it may be the only option. If you have steady income from social security, pension, investments, or other sources – even if you are retired – you may be able to get a traditional mortgage. If you don’t, purchasing with a reverse mortgage may be an option.

Learn how to make hard choices when it comes to your belongings

Downsizing isn’t just about moving to a smaller residence with fewer upkeep requirements – it’s also about getting rid of some of your possessions. As we age, we accumulate a lot of stuff, and not all of it is really vital to our everyday lives.

When downsizing to a smaller home, there are some ways to make the process less painful. First, you should start early and start small. Instead of trying to make hard decisions in the week before the big move, it helps to slowly go through your belongings so you can do a true inventory of what you need and what you don’t. You can even hire people to move items into storage.

“Avoid diving into such a big room at the very beginning. You have years and years of things to sort through. Start in an area with little emotional attachment. The laundry room or linen closet are good options,” suggests

Throw away or pack for donation immediately. Don’t leave items sitting in a “maybe” pile, as this makes it less likely you’ll get rid of them. Think of the burning house scenario. If the house was on fire, what would you save first? Family photos? Heirlooms? Pack and save these items first.

Hire help

Hiring moving help is one of the best investments you can make as a downsizing senior. You can ask the moving company to also move your trash and donation piles to their proper locations. Packing as a senior is fine, but physically moving incredibly heavy boxes and furniture from point A to point B is a recipe for injury. Be smart and accept help – be it from professionals of from your family.

You can still love your current, long-term home and love the thought of downsizing too. As a senior, it’s very hard to maintain a large house – both physically and financially. Downsizing can give you more freedom in a variety of ways.