Downsizing has become a popular word; aging boomers are increasingly looking to lighten the load and sell the family home. They aren't like seniors of previous generations, deciding that it's okay to start a new chapter and not wait for the book to end.
Easy to say, downsizing, but it is a daunting task to sort through all the memories and figure out what can stay and what should go without hurting loved ones who gave gifts over the years. So where do you start?
I've worked with many seniors going through this transition and have suggestions that may seem simple but are difficult and it's for that reason I tell clients to expect it to be a long process with many emotions.
The hardest step in the whole process but will help the most, is to detach emotions from the property; to start looking at the home as a house; a product to be sold in the marketplace. It will make it easier to sort through things, prepare the house to sell and move onto the next chapter.
How does one go about detaching their feelings to a home they built a life in and holds years of memories? Start by designating a room specifically for storing things to take to your next home. In here, should only be those things that are absolutely loved. The next chapter is about you, your turn, so it's important to be surrounded with the things that make you feel loved and define who you are.
To rid of guilt usually experienced with letting go of momentos, gifts from loved ones and crafts made by grandchildren is to take photos of each one individually. Put each photo in a photo album or better yet, go online and put together a real book at either Album Pro, Snapfish, or Shutterfly. If you don't know how to do that, it could be a great opportunity to create fond memories for a grandchild, child or friend to help you with this project. There are also places you can take your photo files to, such as Staples or Costo print shops.
Take all your personal photos off the walls and put them in your "treasure" room for your next home. With the walls bare, you can determine if you need to paint and if so, choose a soft beige that coordinates with the colour of your flooring. A paint supplier is really handy with such suggestions. Don't fear of it being "too cold" or impersonal. Today's staging techniques are to make potential buyers envision living in the space and like it enough to move in and personalize it themselves. This can only be accomplished with a blank canvas.
By the time you've reached this stage you'll feel great about looking forward, searching for your next home while further preparing the house for sale. Doing this will help you to start envisioning your life after the transition and likely getting excited at the prospect of not having to maintain your property, travelling without worry, socializing, making new friends, doing any of the things you've put off because of the responsibilities you've carried over the years.