As a real estate agent for the last 30+ years, I talk to people every day who want to know, when is it time to downsize your home? It is definitely so overwhelming. They say things like, “I don’t have time, it’s too much work, I don’t know where to start, what will I do with all that stuff, the kids will just have to deal with it once I’m gone.” Really? You would do that to your children?
I know it’s hard because I’ve done it twice. Needless to say, I learned alot. Plus I’ve been giving advice for the last 10-15 years to people who were on my 5 Year Plan to declutter their life and downsize their home.
What I’ve always known about my 5-Year Plan was you had to start it 5 years before you retire. Not start it when you’re ready to retire. Because the average baby boomer takes 5 years to get the job done and by then it’s too late.
When is it Time to Downsize Your Home?
My best advice is if you are 55 + and are living in a home that you will not be able to stay in until you can no longer take care of yourself, the time is right for you to downsize your home.
The earlier you do it, the more freedom you will experience. It doesn’t mean you have to go as small as I did, that was my choice. But it is important to move to a home where you can stay til you move into your 4th act.
And doing it while you still can, so you can make your own decisions about where you will live and the possessions that are important to you should be your decision.
My short answer is the best time to downsize your home is while you still can.
But if you don’t do it while you can, someone else will be calling all the shots for you – including the call to the dumpster people. Your kids don’t care about your stuff. They don’t want it and the quicker it goes away, the faster they can get back to living their normal lives.
There is typically a point in life where you have passed the time to declutter your life and downsize your home on your own. Hopefully you’re not there yet.
The 3 Steps in Selling Your Home
Many baby boomers tell me they aren’t ready to move. What they don’t realize is the move has little to do with it. The real work is in the 1st two steps of selling your home.
Step one is going through your stuff and step two is upgrading and preparing your home so you can sell it. The 3rd step is the actual selling process.
If you haven’t moved in the last 10 or more years, you’ve more than likely got some real work ahead of you. Once you survive sorting through your stuff and updating your house, the actual move is pretty much a piece of cake.
Those 1st two steps could take you years. As a baby boomer, you’ve probably got a few good years left, where you could travel and cross some things off your bucket list. I commend those baby boomers who make the decision to spend their best years left really enjoying life, fulfilling their dreams, embracing new adventures, and creating new memories that will last them the rest of their lives.
The End Result
My friend, Dana, recently sold her house and moved south to a warmer climate. When I asked her about the transition she said, “OMG! Best decision of my life. Wish I had done it sooner!” She said, “It’s your responsibility as you age, to make your life simpler. We’ve done that and can now relax knowing we’ve done the hard part.”
Dana and her husband had a vision for their 3rd act in life and are taking advantage of the time they have left. There is plenty of time to sit around once you reach that 4th act and hopefully you’ll have some fond memories of how you spent your last few good years. One thing for sure, you’ll never regret the decision you make to stop babysitting your stuff and moving out of a home that no longer serves you.
Downsizing is Reality
You probably are going to move someday, whether you like it or not. And it could be what I call a medically induced move. Either you can no longer care for yourself or you fell and your current home will not support your new lifestyle. Or maybe one of you needs more care. It’s going to happen – but when?
When people in their late 70’s and early 80’s are still in the big home where they raised their 5 kids, they have definitely waited too long. If you are one of those 5 kids, you’d better either leave the country or plan on that project when the time comes.
What You Think Versus What Your Kids Think
Baby boomers tend to think their kids want to help sort through boxes of memories. “It will be a fun way to bond with your brothers and sisters as you sort through each box piece by piece. You can come over after church on Sunday and spend the day going through the boxes in the basement with me.” Most kids would rather do anything else, like call the dumpster people.
Often times it might be in your best interest as the child to suggest to mom and dad that they need to do something fun with their best years they have ahead of them rather than stay in that big old house they no longer need.
Maybe they would be better off in a maintenance provided community or even an apartment where they would have more time for enjoying life versus taking care of the family home.
After all, as a baby boomer, at some point, you just want to have a simpler life to kick back and relax and do nothing if that’s your choice. But until you declutter your life and downsize your home, you don’t have that flexibility. That project will always be hanging over your head like a dark cloud. You go to sleep thinking about it and wake up thinking about it.
Smart baby boomers take the necessary steps to declutter their lives and downsize their homes by getting out from under the stuff that’s causing them to live their best years to the fullest.
My Own Experience
I remember before I downsized from my 3,500 square foot home, I hadn’t gone to the finished basement for months. I know how that sounds but there was no need other than to clean and maybe run the water and flush the toilet.
My kids tried for years to get me to move but I wasn’t ready. And then came the day that I woke up and I was ready. I was mad as hell and I wasn’t going to live my life in a home I no longer loved with stuff that I no longer cared about.
So the journey began. It took me a solid 3 months of hard work to get through 3,500 square feet of stuff, making decisions and updating my home to prepare it for the market.
I moved to an apartment while I thought through what the next few years of my life would bring. Between taking care of my mom and helping with my grandchildren on a daily basis, I hadn’t had much time to think about myself and what was important to me.
Those years in the apartment were fine. I liked where I lived but it didn’t seem like home to me. What I really wanted was a different experience for myself. It was hard for me selling real estate and not being a homeowner. One day I make the decision to see what was available in my price range and there were 4 houses for sale.
The only one that looked decent is the one I bought. After a few updates and changes, I had the house to where I could live my 3rd act until I could no longer care for myself.
Downsizing Brings You Freedom
After downsizing twice I discovered the freedom it brings when you get past something that no longer brings you joy. To me, it was very much like the end of a relationship. I knew it was over, when was I going to tell my house I no longer loved her? It was a hard break up but once you do it, you’re thrilled with the results and the new way it makes you feel. You’re not erasing the past, you’re creating your next chapter.
Are You Ready? Do You Have What it Takes?
If you’re ready to create some freedom for your next chapter, check out our programs that will help you get there.
There’s plenty to choose from:
- Declutter to Downsize Challenge 2021
- DIY Home Study Course
- 90 Day Boot Camp
- 6 Month Intensive
No matter what your needs, do something while you still have time to enjoy your best years that are waiting for you!
As the programs are rolling out in early 2021, contact us here for more information.
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