Family Health Magazine - MODERN LIVING
Time to Downsize
Ways to take the stress out of moving
Have you outgrown your home? Perhaps you find yourself living in a house that is too big, with mounting utilities and repairs that are more of a hassle than they once were. If so, it may be time to downsize.
Reasons to consider downsizing
- You are in your late sixties or better.
- Your children have left home.
- Utility and tax payments are more than you can easily manage.
- You have less ability or interest in keeping up with home maintenance.
- You are using only a few rooms regularly.
If you have lived in your home for many years, it can be hard even to imagine where to start. The work and hours involved in downsizing and moving can seem so overwhelming! The very thought may be alarming enough to make you put off making any changes at all.
Downsizing and planning a move can be emotional, stressful, and time consuming, especially if you are going through it for the first time. However, with the right planning, the experience becomes much more manageable.
Making downsizing more manageable
Start small. Break the tasks down into manageable pieces. For instance, begin with a closet instead of a room. Commit to spending only two or three hours at a time before taking a rest. As you go through your belongings, place them into one of four categories: keep, toss, give away, or sell. Label four boxes with these titles, and put each item into one of the boxes as you decide. For larger items, either keep a list or use colour-coded stickers to keep track.
Map out the floor plan of your new living space. Ask for a floor plan with measurements, so you can plan where your big pieces of furniture will fit. Although your new home may seem small compared to your current one, remember to leave plenty of room to move around each piece of furniture.
I might need it someday . . .
With each item, try to decide quickly. Trust your gut instinct. If you are downsizing from a house into a one or two bedroom apartment, you definitely will not be able to keep everything. Keep your smaller space in mind. Start with necessities, planning where their new home will be in your new apartment.
For each item you are keeping just in case you might need it in the future, ask yourself how many times you have in fact used it to date. How functional is it?
If you are moving into a seniors’ residence, remember that services offered there will make certain items unnecessary. For instance, most seniors’ residences provide meals. You will not need to take many of the things you currently have in your kitchen.
Look into efficient storage solutions. A good closet organizer system will allow you to store more and stay organized. Consider furniture that will also serve as storage, such as a lidded footstool.
It’s too good to toss!
Within the categories of ‘give away’ and ‘sell,’ several options exist.
- Consider family and friends – are there certain things that have been passed down through generations or that your children may want to keep?
- Donation to charities –some charities will pick up donations from your home. It may be easier to part with items that have emotional or sentimental value knowing someone in need will use them.
- Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) – Freecycle is an on-line gifting network of people who give away and receive used items for free.
- Ebay (www.ebay.ca) and Craigslist (www.craigslist.ca) – two on-line resources where items can be posted and sold.
- Auction houses and consignment stores – with certain items such as antique furniture, you may be able to receive some value for the item by selling or consigning it to a third party. That third party, whether an antique store, auction house or consignment store, will normally take a percentage of the sale price.
Finding a mover
Identify a few reputable moving companies and contact them for quotes. Consider asking friends and family for recommendations. Keep these questions in mind when looking for a mover.
- Variations in hourly rates – some moving companies charge less for moves that occur mid-week and mid-month. Be sure to ask about minimum charges. Many moving companies have minimums of two to four hours.
- Move consultations – ask if the mover will send an employee to your home before providing a quote. This usually allows a more accurate quote on the number of hours needed to complete the move.
- Insurance – hopefully the move will go smoothly with no breakage. Still, accidents do happen. Ask about the policy on insurance claims. Some companies charge a small flat amount to cover the insurance. Others expect the customer to pay for the deductible, possibly several hundred dollars, if there is a damage claim.
- Packing materials – if you are purchasing boxes from the moving company, ask if you will get money back when you return the boxes.
Other ways to make your move less stressful
- Get help – take advantage of family members’ and friends’ offers to help pack. The task is more time consuming and tiring than you may expect. Seniors should certainly avoid lifting packed boxes on their own. Enlist help in unpacking as well. Unpacked boxes cluttering your new home are a fall hazard.
- Change of address notifications – remember to send out change of address notifications to friends, family, service providers, and subscription services.
- Meet your neighbours! Moving into a new neighbourhood or residence is an exciting opportunity to make new friends. Get to know your neighbours and your community. Enjoy your new home!
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1 [ML_FHd08]