5 Downsizing Tips for Empty Nesters

A man and woman laughing and drinking wine

To Have and To Hold?

One day you will pass, but let’s not get too morbid. After all, empty nesters are often moving into an exciting period of life where they have increased independence and time, potentially even arriving at or nearing retirement age. This is a great time to re-evaluate your need to keep those heirlooms and mementos that you are planning to pass on as inheritance pieces. Do you really need to hold onto that giant china cabinet, so Susan can have it when Mom’s gone? Does Susan really want it? This applies even if your child is not named “Susan.”

Check in on these assumptions and avoid holding pieces that will ultimately continue their lives elsewhere. As tough as it can be to confront the reality that a precious memento is not as valued as it once may have been, any items that can be eliminated from your space will save you the time and expense of moving an unwanted item. Consider selling upscale pieces through consignment, have a garage sale, or make a large tax-deductible donation to a thrift store.

Get Some Help

Organizational experts can expedite the sorting and packing process. They can also take a more objective view of your current situation and future needs, guiding you through the sometimes-difficult decision-making process.

What Wood You Do?

Some of your downsizing decisions will be incredibly easy. Why? Because you won’t be able to fit all your furniture into a smaller space. The master carpenter’s maxim of “Measure twice, cut once,” applies here. Make sure that your new space is measured with exacting detail and use a modeling tool or good old-fashioned graph paper to ensure that your high priority items will fit where you want (and through the doors of your new home). And if your giant six-seater couch doesn’t fit in your new sleek townhouse, many people don’t mind an excuse to do a little shopping to outfit their new residence.

Cold Storage

You either need it or you don’t. Buying or renting a storage facility will only add more hassle to your life, when you should be focusing on the freedom that comes with simplicity. A storage facility comes with an extra bill that has to be paid every month. Maybe the nearest facility is a great distance from your new home. And, most importantly, shuttling back and forth between your new home and a storage facility with all of your “old things” could be an emotional roadblock to embracing your fresh lifestyle.

Find Your Why

Maybe you’re an empty nester who wants to downsize without leaving your established home. In addition to using some of the clutter-clearing approaches mentioned earlier, consider converting a former bedroom into a hobby space. When children leave the house, you have time to rediscover or re-invent your purpose. 

If your new hobby doesn’t require a room of its own, you can also consider renting a room out and turning a tidy little profit on an underutilized area. Does a long-term rental sound like too much work? Consider using Airbnb or another short-term rental option, local laws permitting.

Whether or not you choose to re-locate, emptying the nest can be an exciting transition. Nothing helps prepare you for a new lifestyle, nimble and ready to jump at any opportunity that pops up, like downsizing, simplifying, and focusing on the things that matter most. If you’re ready to find a new home to match your new phase of life, contact Iowa’s most trusted realtors, Jessica & Sarah, today!

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