Life is an interesting journey. Couples buy the big house when they start their families. But when your children grow up and start their own lives, you’re stuck with a home that is too big and no longer fits your needs or lifestyle. The thought of downsizing and starting over can be daunting. Downsizing individuals can loose their way during this phase. Here are some tips to help keep you on track when downsizing:
No one loves your stuff as much as you do: the first three things you as empty nesters should do to get their house ready to go on the market is declutter. It’s amazing how many things you can accumulate over your lifetime. As we age, we tend to hold on to things that connect us to our past. Unfortunately at this point in time, things that we think that are or will be important to our children may not be, and things that we think are disposable may have an intrinsic value to our loved ones. Here’s how you can fight the urge not to purge:
- Hire a professional: if you have found excuses for the last 25 years not to purge, it’s unlikely that you can do this alone. Many people who are preparing to downsize work with professional organizers and/or estate sales companies to help them. A professional organizer can help you sort through decades of paperwork and belongings. A professional estate sales company can help you sort through which items have value and which do not, and then sell them for you.
- Declutter on the front end: if you get something now, throw something old out. If you have too much stuff, change the ratio.
Move when you can, not when you have to: don’t stay too long. It’s easy to do. You’ve raised your family in a home, and have a lifetime of memories there. It’s a growing trend for empty nesters to modify their homes—by installing elevators and creating wide spaces to accommodate wheelchairs or other mobility devices to meet your needs as they age. Unfortunately, not every home can be properly modified. It happens way too often—as homeowners start to age they start to loose the ability to maintain their home, whether it’s financial, physical, or other age-related reasons. Some people don’t want to leave their multi-level homes, despite advice from others.
Have the tough conversations: no one likes to discuss estate planning. It brings up tough conversations and intergenerational differences and conflicts. It is infinitely easier to have these conversations when everyone is healthy and it is more of a hypothetical one.
Bottom line: have a meaningful conversation with your loved ones while everyone is healthy and understand what people really want.
Source: Toronto Star
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