A lot of people who find themselves approaching retirement look around their house only to realize that they have a lot more — more stuff, more space, more cleaning — than they really want to deal with during this exciting time of life. That’s why many seniors consider downsizing their homes and belongings. Downsizing may involve a smaller home, but it actually frees up a ton of time and space in your life. Depending on how well the whole process goes, it can even save you money and add a little padding to your nest egg.
When thinking about selling your home, do a little research about how much it will cost based on where you want to move. With the high price of homes on Long Island relative to other parts of the country, there are many places where your money will go much further. Depending on your current home’s value (as of last month, the median home price in Suffolk County was $415,000) and the kind of property to which you wish to move, you can end up netting a profit after selling and then buying a new home in another area.
The Big Clean
Whether you’ve started looking at houses or you’re months away from even thinking about the real estate market, the right time to start cleaning out clutter is as soon as possible. However long you think the process will take, it will likely be longer. The more time you give yourself to sort through belongings and get rid of items you no longer have use of, the less stressful the experience will be.
Organizational expert Marie Kondo suggests cleaning out your home room by room. Do not move onto another part of the house until you are completely satisfied with the area you leave behind. It may be easier to start in a room that does not hold a lot of sentimental value — for instance, if you have a home office, you likely won’t be tearing up going through old documents that need to be shredded and recycled. Going through an easier room serves as a warm-up so you’re more emotionally ready to clean out the rest of your home.
Additionally, the earlier you start your big cleanout, the more time you give yourself to dispose of things properly. If you have big-ticket items like furniture you want to get rid of, starting early means you can list these things online, and you’ll have a better chance of getting top dollar for them. Have family members stop by to go through their left-behind belongings and pick up any heirlooms they’ve had their eyes on. As you inch toward your moving date, have a yard sale where you can unload any items that haven’t been sold or picked up yet. You may not make a ton of money, but you’ll likely earn a little spending cash that you can use on moving expenses. Once your yard sale is over, schedule a pickup with a local charity that can use your gently-loved items to help improve the community. After you’ve finished decluttering, you’re going to have to clean your home before the new buyers move in. At this point, it’s best to call in a professional cleaning service to give your home a deep clean (maid services average $329 in Amityville). If you don’t want to mess with this, there are even companies that will buy your house as-is, and deal with cleaning out or donating whatever you decide you want to leave behind.
Housing Options for Retired Seniors
If you’re simply looking to buy a smaller home close to where you are currently located, that’s great! But it’s not the only housing option for retired seniors who want to downsize. Some seniors don’t like the idea of buying in retirement. Renting an apartment, condominium, or townhouse means you no longer have to pay property taxes, your home insurance is super cheap, and you are no longer responsible for maintenance issues that happen in retirement.
Other housing options for seniors include:
- Home sharing with other retirees
- Subsidized housing programs
- Co-housing communities
- Life plan communities
- Tiny homes
- RVs or campers
Downsizing allows seniors to live with less in order to reduce stress and responsibilities. Depending on how the downsizing goes, it can even help some seniors add more to their retirement savings. Whether you want to downsize tomorrow or you’re not quite sure, start cleaning out the clutter as soon as possible. The more time you have, the more options you have for getting the most out of what you no longer want to keep. Once you’ve pared down possessions, start considering what kind of living situation best suits the retirement you foresee happening.