Many of you are considering downsizing, so my current situation may allow me to start a helpful conversation. If we’ve been online friends for a while, you may remember that I moved to a smaller home and sold or donated many of my possessions a few years ago. Even after numerous downsizings, my house remains full of objects, furniture, and rooms I rarely use. I have been planning another major edit for more than a year, so the time has come to try to sell my home and make even more life changes.
Remaining positive and flexible throughout life cycles is healthy and more pleasant for everyone. However, the most challenging part of adapting to change can be accepting the process and the timing. I am watching my aging parents and friends as they agonize over the necessary decisions to accommodate diminishing health, physical abilities, and sometimes limited financial situations. I’ve learned a great deal from their examples. Don’t wait until you are too old to make changes or enjoy the results of your labor.
Significant changes come with many decisions and options. Sometimes we must consider what is best for the other people in our lives, but some of us face these decisions alone. It can be extremely daunting. But when I realized I was spending most of my time on maintenance and tasks that did nothing to fulfill me, I decided to make some changes.
How are you dealing with downsizing and the life changes that come with retirement? Have you learned helpful lessons in letting go? Many (including me!) could benefit from sharing tips and encouragement in the comments below.
I have given family heirlooms to cousins with children, although many young people today say, “No thanks, Mom.” Fortunately, my next home will be significantly smaller, so a brutal edit is necessary. I will share more about this as the process continues and I get settled in the new life. Until then, I hope you have a lovely spring.
As I am helping a parent (much older than you!) downsize, this post is coming at a perfect time and I look forward to updates on your progress!
The best possible theme. I can get guidance on how to accomplish everything I think, it’s just hard to accomplish because I can’t get rid of my own and the 2-3 generations of objects I have in front of me yet. I look forward to the ways of implementation. Thanks.
it is daunting but exciting also, I wish you the best as always. You have taught me many things which I use constantly and I am honored to have found you…I trust your research and recognize this endeavor as a daunting one…. look forward to seeing what the end result will be
Will be very interested in the steps you take to downsize again. Hopefully others who have downsized can offer helpful tips as well. It is so true that we should start the process before we “have to “. I found this out from my own parents. We often wait until it’s almost too late. Susan you wished us a happy spring, does this mean while you are planning your new change, that you are taking a break from your blog ?
I will blog as often as I can during this very busy transition.
Wishing you the best as you make changes, downsize, etc. I’ve moved and downsized twice in 7 years since my husband passed. While it is daunting, it is also freeing and such a good feeling. Less is really more. While it is difficult, it is do-able and so rewarding.
I look forward to hearing much more about this project! I don’t need to downsize so much as edit!
This is going to be fascinating! Not that this is my recommendation, but my 82 year old father up and moved from MA to Florida after my mother died, selling the house and everything in it, bringing only his clothes. He bought a small furnished home and lived 10 happy years there!
I did it 10 years ago and dont regret it at all. Much luck with your move and look forward to hearing about and seeing your new home.
TAKE A PICTURE! This was the advice my sister gave me when I was downsizing. I was having trouble letting go of things that had belonged to my parents as well as clothing I never wore but had kept for the good memories it evoked. It seemed as though everything was a memory and it was hard! But I did as she suggested and donated many, many items. The truth is, I don’t miss them and when I stumble across the pictures, I still get the same happy feeling from the memory. I also took pictures of my house before it was “dismantled,” even closets, garage, contents of drawers, flower beds, view from the front door – yes, everything! I get such floods of memories when I see my falling-apart favorite gardening shoes by the door, the cabinets full of too many dishes, the cosmetics & perfumes in the bathroom cabinet, my desk strewn with papers and knick-knacks, my collection of rocks, the hall of family photos, and the bottlebrush tree in full bloom. With digital cameras, you really don’t have to leave any of it behind. Hope my sister’s advice helps someone else who’s in the same boat I was in. Susan, best wishes for a smooth move and more fulfilling times in your new “digs”!
We downsized a few years ago. It is daunting, but as others have said, very freeing. Good luck with your new adventure!
I really look forward to following this new life phase. It is so timely! Unfortunately, most leave it up to their children. The process can be rewarding and freeing. Glad you chose to share this with your loyal readers.
I would love any advice on downsizing. We are not selling our home but we have accumulated so much “stuff” over the span of our lives and I simply want less. Oh my goodness, where to start? Thank you, Susan for sharing and good luck!
It is overwhelming to face all the stuff. I am four years older than my sister and may pass before her. I do NOT want to leave her with the “treasures” of my life to deal with, so that is my motivation to simplify and keep just the things I need to enjoy a comfortable, happy life. Adventures and memories are now more precious to me than objects. Too soon old, too late wise.
Susan, You make some great points and I and wish you all the best with your downsizing! I am very resistant to change, but I think it’s great to downsize while we can do it, rather than under duress and so that others don’t have to do it for us- especially without our own children in the picture. I became the keeper of all family heirlooms and photos after my parents were forced to downsize and passed away many years later. So we do have it all spelled out as to which nieces and nephews will get specific items one day, but the big house is still a lot to keep up now. My big brother just passed away at age 71 and it’s got me thinking about what’s really important going forward.
Susan, this sounds like a smart decision on your part. I wish you all the best as you navigate this new downsizing stage.
My husband and I ( both 65 years old) have lived in the same home 4-bedroom for 31 years. Having downsized my late mother’s homes twice, I certainly do not wish to leave this task to our son and daughter-in-law.
We have been donating, recycling, and tossing . We have asked our son which items he would like — there are very few that he feels strongly about. Since you asked for helpful thoughts on downsizing, here are the criteria we came up with.
Items remain in our home only if:
1) We have used them at least twice a season in the past year for a practical purpose. This includes tools in the shed and even large pieces of furniture.
2) We absolutely love them and use/wear them frequently AND they are in very good condition.
3) For sentimental items — They are keepers only if we actually take them out and look at them on occasion, such as our wedding album. Many other photos can be stored digitally.
Our biggest challenges were the sentimental items. Eventually, we were able to store our keepsakes in two plastic tubs. We learned not to think too much about each item and I truly can say I don’t miss anything we have given away so far. We even gifted our large artificial Christmas tree with ornaments to a family who lost theirs in a flood. I replaced mine with a lovely, much smaller tree that takes up very little space.
We are still a work in progress. Best of luck to everyone! Thank you again Susan for sharing so much of your life with us.
Susan, brava! It is an adventure to embrace. One year ago, my parents (much older than you) decided to be proactive and downsize to a retirement community so they could make the choice of where to live next, instead of leaving the decision to my brother and me. While downsizing them was a major undertaking, I have never been so glad that they made that choice themselves. THEY chose the community; THEY made the design choices for the renovation of their retirement cottage; THEY have immersed themselves into their new community with an enthusiasm that I did not expect, but for which I am thankful! Just today, I found myself trying to clean out our garage, moving too many things around and realizing we have too much stuff! An edit is sorely needed here as well. Good luck with this next adventure. I can’t wait to see how you go about it with your normal grace and good sense.
I look forward to following your new life, Susan. I am currently sifting through our various housing options. Even though we have a small home in a 55-plus community, there is too much maintenance involved
Will Mr Mickey be downsizing, too?
He is already in a maintenance-free two-bedroom home with a beautiful lake view. So he made an excellent choice for his retirement home.
I downsized from the large family home to a two bedroom home in an active adult community after my husband passed 4 years ago. Random thoughts/ tips I learned:
-Make the decision before it is taken out of your hands because of age or illness..
-your children don’t want most of what you offer(don’t be offended, they have their own style).
-as you pack items to get rid of, take the boxes to the thrift store the same day- in a few days time you will forget what you gave away
– I offered large items to the buyer for free and they wanted them (dining room set, treadmill, bedroom set, porch table, etc. – easier than paying a hauler to take them away). People love free stuff.
– there were some items I didn’t know what to do with- so they came boxed up with me to my new home and are still boxed in the garage!
– I told my adult children that I gave them a great gift – doing most of the clearing out already, it will be much easier for them when my time comes.
Hello Susan. Glad to hear that you are being responsible and thinking ahead! If I can give just one piece of advise it would be not to buy too small. We downsized and although I love our villa I wish we would have thought more about the things we really loved doing. Like entertaining. There isn’t enough room to comfortably do this. Also I so miss my sunroom. While it’s nice to downsize you also don’t want to feel like you have given up on the things that make everyday life enjoyable. Just my 2 cents worth of regrets. Best of luck to you!
As a 60 yr old caring for an aging parent in my home with my hubby that began almost 5 yrs ago it’s not easy dealing with all things aging. My mom had to get rid of almost everything she owned to make the transition from another state but much to my surprise she did it without any regrets. I just recently took truck loads of my own things to a thrift store in order to simplify my life. Almost 90% of the things I donated were brand new. My sister in law who is a widow recently sold her home and purchased a lovely duplex in order to downsize and especially leave the maintenance and pool behind. She is in a gated community which is perfect for her and less stress of maintaining a yard. Change is necessary especially as we age and I wish you blessed days ahead as you navigate your next lifestyle change.
Oh, I’m SO excited for you! We are already in our smaller place and I tell anyone and everyone that I love it more than anywhere I’ve ever lived. Someone else mentioned the FREEDOM and that’s one of the things I love the most. Any time we want to travel, we just go – the mail goes into a slot in the door, the grounds are maintained by someone else, and the utility bills are negligible.
I know you will love it and I can’t wait to hear more.
Having gone through this process with 2 sets of parents, I’m keenly aware of the need to minimize how much my kids have to sort through when I pass. I’ve been carefully working through various areas of the house, with the goal (75% achieved!) of being able to open doors or drawers and see what’s there – no hidden or buried things. As others have noted, it’s so freeing.
One important point though – make sure not to purge so thoroughly that those who go through your things won’t find something that brings a smile and happy memory. There’s joy in that!
I am very interested in your downsizing ideas. Hoping to get ideas for the downsize in my near future.
Wishing you well in your process.
Susan, you are so wise. I am regretting not ‘purging’ sooner. Now l lie awake at night agonizing over it. I hope your experience will continue to inspire the rest of us not to procrastinate. I know you will deal with it all efficiently as you always do. It’s such a pleasure to click on your name and find another positive message each week. Best of luck with your new adventure.
Change..so constant in our aging lives. I downsized once before retirement and again once post retirement. I shed a few tears during the process but looked forward to meeting new people and learning to love my current home. I now am traveling more on the spur of the moment, visiting my family more, and have more time to read and have begun water color paintings of my beautiful flowers. I donated many of my yard tools to a young family just starting out on their journey. I carefully picked my favorite pieces of furniture and family glass heirlooms that made me happy. You need to free up as much time as possible to enjoy life in your later years. I have dedicated much more time to eating right , praying, and being outside in nature. Keep us posted of your journey.
Having downsized from a 6 bedroom home with a full attic and basement (and no children) I understand the challenge. Just a few thoughts: 1) all of my rooms were furnished but I realized most items, much as I loved them, had been purchased for a special place in that house. When I no longer had the house I really no longer had a need, or want, for those items so it became not only easy, but freeing to let them go. 2) you don’t have to make final decisions as you begin. If you have items you are on the fence about keeping you can always rent a storage unit to set them aside and then reevaluate after you’re in your new space. 3) along that same line, you may also find when in your new space you want new things to match the new aesthetic. Then just purge all the old with no regrets. 4) keepsakes and heirlooms can be hardest but it is ok to let stuff go. Take a photo, make a drawing, record a video. Whatever, but don’t be bogged down by something someone else wanted you to have. Focus on the memory, not the stuff. 5) Allow yourself plenty of time to make thoughtful decisions about what, and where, to donate, sell, keep or consign. Different objects have different potential. 6) embrace the new adventure, think of it as similar to the diet changes you’ve made, less has become better, as this will be.
You are smart to make the move now. Five years ago, when I was 59 yoa I sold my three-bedroom townhouse and bought a spacious one-bedroom condo. There was no need for me to have three bedrooms because I rarely had house guests and I began to dread the non-stop yard work and additional exterior maintenance tasks. I am happy in my condo, but it has 100 square feet more than my former dwelling, so I’m not sure this is a true downsize. The bottom line is that it’s been a carefree existence for me and I am glad I did it.
My husband and I are in our 70s. We finally had Wills prepared along with power of attorney and medical directive. We have lived in the same home for over 50 years. We raised 5 children here. I am working on downsizing. It’s incredible the amount of things we acquire. There are several sites dedicated to minimal living. They are helpful. We have collected antiques through the years. Unfortunately many have lost value. I feel I am making progress. We don’t want to die and leave a mess to our children.
Good for you realizing that a smaller home would be easier to keep up. Keep us posted.
We downsized 2 years ago and are so pleased we did. We had a ball giving things away. Our previous home was on a corner in a popular walking spot so putting items unwanted by charities out on the footpath with a “free” sign was reasonable and led to some great moments. The record was 15 seconds for a large cane verandah lounge. Hillarious. People asked us to put a “taken” sign on large items while they fetched their trailer. We made some great temporary new friends and gave so much pleasure – almost as much as we enjoyed. It was however a very stressful time which we are glad we experienced sooner rather than later. Hope it all goes well fmor you.
If you haven’t already read it I would recommend the book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”. While the title sounds a bit morbid, the book is not! As you mentioned, it is a gift to your sister or who ever will be dealing with your estate. One idea is to have a box with your keepsakes that are important to you; she suggests labeling it with a note that it is OK for the contents to be destroyed after you pass away. Before you start downsizing do a little research to see where things can be donated; some china and figurines were donated to my local Botanical Garden’s annual Christmas Mart. I donated excess quilting fabric to a local group that makes quilts for charity. It made it easier to let things go if I knew they would go to someone who would appreciate the items.
Good luck to you as you move through this next stage! I’m curious if you already have made a decision on where you are moving or just beginning to look at your options?
I have made arrangements for the near future. My priority, for now, is to remain in the area to help my sister care for our parents.
Cara Susan,ero rimasta un po’ indietro nel leggere i tuoi articoli,ma stamattina mi sono dedicata a te, è sempre un piacere essere in contatto i tuoi consigli sono utili e gli
argomenti interessant, riguardo ridurre gli spazi e cose che ci circondano da una vita ,non è semplice ma ad una certa età è necessario.noi dopo la pensione abbiamo rinunciato a vivere in pieno centro storico a Bologna in un appartamento abbastanza grande e ci siamo sposati in un altro piccolino dove tutto è più semplice, questo ci ha permesso di tenere la nostra amatissima casetta in montagna al confine con la Toscana.felicissima in più in città ho un piccolo giardinetto che non mi fa rimpiangere la casa più grande.meno spese e più libertà
A presto buona giornata.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and life choices! Your work is a valuable part of my life, and I never regret time here!
We are in the same head space as you are.
We still live in the home in which we raised our children in Ohio, but this year we tried snowbirding in Florida.
I was very resistant and didn’t want to do it, because I thought we were too young. I am 62, hubby is 64.
Now after a few months, I’ve discovered that I love it!
We feel so much more alive down here in the beautiful weather, and there is so much to do, IF we want to do it!
We now can look forward to selling our Ohio home and changing our lifestyle, and that has helped me get over the sentimental hump of letting go of our family home.
So this summer, we will be emptying our home and releasing it.
We bought a home in FL in a gated, 55+community in Port Charlotte.
It is on a golf course, with a 2 mile loop which is handy for walking.
I feel like I live in a botanical garden with an aviary because our community is an Audubon sanctuary.
If we ever become limited in our mobility, we do not have to leave our community to experience the joy of life.
Nature is just outside our back door, and we have a small lanai from which to enjoy it all, if we want to be indoors.
Your point about making changes before it is necessary is very important.
I thought we were too young to be here (I am often in denial about my age, I guess), but the reality is that we’re old enough to be here, but young enough to enjoy it!!!
This experience has freed me from being tied to my possessions and allowed me to explore other options.
I highly recommend being open to a sense of adventure!
Exactly! I don’t want to be tied to my possessions.
I had to help clean out my mother’s home when she moved into a smaller place years ago, and I made the decision that I never wanted to do that to my kids. She was a child of the depression and never got rid of anything and I mean anything. My husband and I downsized to a house last year that is about half the size of the last one, and though we got rid of a lot of stuff, we still have much more to get rid of. My husband has a much more difficult time parting with stuff than I do. I would’ve happily moved into a retirement community where yard work, etc, would’ve been taken care of, but he wasn’t ready. Good luck on your next venture. 🙂
Good luck on your downsizing. I did this a year ago and am still struggling with all the clutter. I feel like you do about leaving possessions to others to take care of after I’m gone. I’m curious to see what you do to downsize as I’m still letting things go.
Oh boy! Daunting is correct. Having recently lost my husband, I am agonizing over the same issues. I am not in a place, emotionally, to make such drastic decisions yet! Have you purchased a new home already Susan?
I’m so sorry to hear that your husband passed away. I will stay in the area for now, but I hope to find a condo someday closer to the beach. I am renting space, for now, to keep things simple.
Our problem is we are both collectors. We did move from one 4 bed house to another in a totally different area near the sea, we are in the UK. My husband had lived in the previous house for 36 years so we did have a massive sort out and moved with far less but have added a few more possessions over the last two years. We are considering moving to a retirement village and have set a time scale of 2/3 years. I am 70 this year (how did that happen) and my husband is 74. This move will mean parting with a lot more of our pottery, china, glass and trains!! So difficult to get rid of things you love and hand picked. I am so interested in hearing about your journey.
Susan, this topic is close to my heart. My husband and I have had the hard task of settling our parents’ estates. I do not want to leave my daughter with so much to do, so we have decided to downsize to a smaller home closer to her and our granddaughters. I will be very interested to see how you tackle this and am sure I will get many helpful ideas from what you share. Good luck on your journey.
We downsized six years ago after our children were all out of high school. It was a terrific choice, and several details about our new, much smaller home have helped. We are located now in the historic area of our city with really great walk ability to so much. Everyone walks, and the views are charming. So (1) pick a great location that expands your life. Our home includes a nice sized, level backyard where my husband has vegetable gardens, a hobby he loves. I enjoy the flower gardens. So (2) we didn’t give up elements of home that are good for our spirits and health. We have a large screen porch that becomes a three season family room we love for company and ourselves. So (3) look to have expandable spaces with a smaller home for more options. When you move to a smaller home you only keep the furnishings you are really attached to, things that speak to you, and that is really nice! Don’t give away all the toys your kids loved. We have grandkids now who love them too.
We left our home of 39 years last summer under difficult circumstances and moved into an industrial 2 bedroom apartment. It was the best decision ever. I love every bit of this space and the fact that home maintenance is a thing of the past. My children have homes full of their own possessions and took very little. So to help me purge, I signed up for the course, Uncluttered, by Joshua Becker, to keep me moving along before the move. My apartment is very curated now and I am still wary of allowing clutter to creep in. The freedom this move gave me has been life-changing. I hope to complete my life here and leave very little for my children to clear up.
Best wishes in this next chapter of your life. I appreciate you talking with us through your decisions and change as we face similar edits
Susan, your plan sounds great. One thing I don’t see a lot of comments about – and I suspect this is something you’ve already thought about – is consideration of the new physical space you’re looking for. I’m not thinking so much about things like accessibility (although that’s an important future concern), but about whether you want the morning sun in your bedroom or kitchen, will higher ceilings give you the feeling of more space, those sorts of almost intangible issues that can make a very big difference in you finding a space you’ll truly enjoy. Thanks for sharing your plans.
Smart girl, Susan! Sell while the market is high, rent until you’re ready to settle in Florida…you can do it!
We are in the same phase as you are, moving from our home of 21 years to a condo ( no lawn maintenance/snow removal) and are shedding possessions left and right. We plan on taking very little furniture with us as it won’t fit in the smaller space. I am grateful to be able to bless others ( our kids, charities) with our items and don’t seem to have much problem letting go. My spouse is having a much harder time. Since we can no longer move ourselves the question I ask him is “ do you love it enough to pay someone to move it”. My goal is when we pass is to leave a space my kids can clear out in a weekend. My mother and mother in law are leaving us houses stuffed with items to deal with and I am determined not to do that to my children.
I have been thinking of this change in my lifestyle lately too. My husband has health issues so most of the upkeep of our home rests on my shoulders. Why oh why did I create so many flower beds :). We are also three hours from family so I would like to be closer. I look forward to your posts on how you navigate this next stage in your life. Thanks for all your inspiration!!
I look forward to following your adventure. Ten years ago my single sister passed way. Her home was 2400 square feet with another 2000 square foot basement filled with “treasures”. It was a daunting task as she lived in another state. I vowed not to do this to my children.
It’s true we spend the first 50 years collecting items and spend the remainder of our lives trying to get rid of them!
My husband and I downsized almost 8 years ago. We sold our 2300 square foot home, moved across country, and bought a condominium near both of our children. We have never regretted our decision!!! The house, yard, and pool had become more than we wanted to continue to maintain. We set aside the items we wanted to keep and move with us. Our children took what few items they wanted, and we sold the rest of our household items in an estate sale. With the proceeds from the sale of our home and household furnishings, we bought the condominium and furnished it with the furnishings we wanted in our “new life”. We have never looked back or regretted our decision. Plus, we continue to live debt free with the (fewer) items we love.
My suggestions would be to wait until you are ready to downsize before making such a drastic decision. Also, realize that the valuable antique heirlooms which have been in the family for years are only “stuff”! Being attached to “things” makes downsizing difficult, but when the decision to downsize is made, it is SO LIBERATING!
Another idea is one that my cousin made when she moved from a large home into a smaller home located in a retirement community which provides progressive health care if needed in the future. She hired a company which inventoried the furnishings she wanted to move with her and provided a floor plan showing the best location of this furniture in the new home. The company packed her furnishings, moved them, and set them up in her new home. She had a week after her move to go back and bring any other items she decided to keep in the new home. After the week, her remaining items were sold by this company. This option provided her with a relatively easy, painless move.
I will definitely be following along during this transition. We’ve moved many times due to my husband’s career. Ten years ago we had our retirement/last house built. Much smaller yes, but still enough space that our kids could come stay with us when they visit. The one mistake we made is we bought a piece of land that is too big! It didn’t look that big at the time but now we will have it maintained by a company for the first time this summer. Although I love gardening, my back is not co-operating, so I won’t be doing much of that any longer. We did get rid of a lot of stuff when we moved here, but we still have to get rid of a lot more. I love traditional things and have lots of treasures that were gifted to us when our parents died. Our kids on the other hand love modern, so none of these things will stay in the family – this is the part I find hardest to deal with. To my surprise though, our daughter told me she would like to have my china set when I no longer want it! From now on I will be more careful to not get rid of things before checking with both kids. I had been browsing around to see if I could sell my china which I still love. I don’t want to burden our kids with our stuff….I’ve told them so.
All this to say, we are thinking of moving again into a place that is maintenance free and smaller again. My husband had a health scare this year which got me thinking about having to do all this on my own if he was too ill. My biggest problem is where we will move. Whether we stay here where we have family, or move somewhere where the weather is better particularly in the winter. Lots to think about.
I wish you good luck with all of this Susan.
I enjoy watching the YouTube videos and reading the articles on sixtyandme.com. Margaret Manning is lovely. There are a lot of articles on sixtyandme.com that relate to downsizing and minimalist living. I’ve found them very helpful. Wishing you all the best in your new adventure.
I sold my California home when I retired 2 1/2 years ago and moved to North Carolina into a 2 bedroom apartment. I wrestled and prayed for 3 years trying to decide if it was the right thing to do. I could not be happier. I no longer spend weekends doing yard work and don’t have to spend money on repairs and upkeep. I want to spend that money and time on things that I love doing. For example, a trip to Italy next year, time with friends and family. I have the most wonderful maintenance men here who take care of what needs fixing. I own less and still find things to give away. And I’m much more sentimental about things I’ve saved than my grown kids are!
Look forward to hearing about your process, as it leads you to a new home for you to love. Best wishes Susan.
Congratulations on entering a new phase of your life’s adventure! You don’t say whether you are looking at existing property or a new build, but one piece of advice I would offer is to carefully evaluate the properties on either side of the one you are considering. Friends of mine downsized into a new home they had built in an over 55 community. While they love their home, the neighbors’ dogs have caused them significant stress as they are extremely aggressive. It prevents them from enjoying time in their back yard, terrified their own dog, and their granddaughter is afraid to go out there if the neighbor’s dogs are outside. They are now looking to sell this home and move back to the area they left.
Susan, I think this is so wise for you to do. We are also planning a transition. I can’t wait to follow along with you on this journey. Best of luck. Debbie
I am grateful for this topic of conversation. My life has been full with stages of this transition and now I must find homes for objects from several generations of households. My toughest challenge is to figure out how to get rid of things be they personal or household after no one who is offered wants them. I have already donated quite a bit. I know I could sell some of it but freeze at which avenue of sales is best to pursue. I’m very interested in how to sell! Unfortunately some of my things are antiques that nobody seems to want these days. I’ve been told that brown furniture is “out” for the current generation of buyers and that old lovely dishes are discardable. I hope enough readers engage in this conversation to help steer my thoughts and actions! Thank you, Susan, for addressing what most of us must tackle at some point.
I’m finding it most difficult to determine the “when.” Timing is so important since we cannot see into the future to make timely decisions based on circumstances. Thank you for this series.
This video has excellent information about retirement, passing on personal possessions, and life changes. I used the workbook with my own mother and it was very helpful. https://extension.umn.edu/transferring-non-titled-property/who-gets-grandmas-yellow-pie-platetm-video
I’ll be following closely. I downsized from a 5-bedroom house to a 2-bedroom townhome seven years ago, but I still have too much stuff. I do miss having a yard and a flower garden.
Hi Susan. I can offer some info, not from personal experience, but from dear friends and next door neighbors of 25 years. They purchased a smaller one story home and during renovation stored contents of their entire 4 bedroom 3000 sq ft home. The storage expense was quite high and when they moved into the one story home found that hardly any of their belongings worked. They told me they wish they had sold or given away all the furniture before they moved. They had to deal with disposing of many rooms of “stuff” and replacing with more modern and to scale furnishings. This is something to keep in mind when downsizing. After seeing what they went through, we immediately sold our dining room set that included a large China hutch full of dishes & glassware. We opted for a sleek new table with only a sideboard and shipped off lots of family objects from my husbands mother to our 3 children. It was such a relief to have that sorted through and done. We are working towards having less and keeping practical so when the time comes it won’t be a burden to the children. Just lesson learned here. I know this is a daunting task for you but with your great organizational skills and good taste you will succeed in making this move happen. All the best!
Changes. Our lives are certainly destined to meet them. My husband and I are in the planning stages of a move. How interesting that you are also doing the same. We love our home on a lake. All the upkeep of the dock, boat, and the shoreline plus house is getting to be a lot. I find there is less time to enjoy it all even though we have hired some help. I’ll be so interested in reading how you navigate the move. We are planning to move to a 55+ community closer to our children. Our children would like some of our family things and that it so heart warming. I also read most of your readers’ comments and find those are often helpful too. The best to you in your journey.
Today I’m flying from SF Bay Area to San Diego to sign a lease for a 1 bd/1ba apt in a 55+ community. How appropriate that you should post this blog today! The apt came up suddenly and I had to make the decision to take it or leave it. (I was on a waiting list to get in.) Rent starts today after lease signing. I don’t even have a moving company lined up yet. Wow. The way I look at it though is I can be flexible with the move in schedule as the place is now mine!! I’m separating from my s/o of 14 yrs and moving closer to family. I’m excited to have a place of my own and know I can afford to live alone. I’m 76. Look fwd to reading more about your progress. I will share my downsizing techniques as well.
I am struggling with decisions that involve major lifestyle changes. Like Toni, we bought in a gated 55 + community in Port Charlotte, Florida, and have become snowbirds. We also own a home in Grand Rapids, Michigan where my parents (88 and 92), and 2 of our sons and grandchildren live, plus a cottage 1 1/2 hours north of our home. We love Florida living, and our summers at the cottage. We are very blessed, to have 3 places, but it is too many to take care of. My husband wants to sell our Grand Rapids home, since we are only there a few months out of the year, and do 6 months at the cottage and 6 months in Florida. I am struggling with moving 1 1/2 hours away from family. I feel responsible for being available when my parents need something, and love being close to my grandchildren. I would love to hear from Toni as she makes the transition to living in Florida permanently. It’s so good to hear how other people make these decisions. Susan, I look forward to sharing in your next adventure!
Hi Susan. I appreciate this post and the perspective that you bring. Will you be staying the same area/region? I’ve been trying to sell (for very reasonable prices) pieces I’ve collected and some family objects and have found that people just don’t collect the way we used to. I’ll be interested to follow your journey and wish you great success in finding another beautiful home.
Thank you, Geri. I will remain close to my family to help care for my parents. I will get a condo in a warmer climate when the time comes, but I will not have much to move after the current edit.
I am trying to move my husband along in this process. He was reluctant for a few years, but now agrees to look at some 55+ communities locally. We are both 74 with no children. I keep telling him we need to do this now.
I will be most interested in accompanying you on this journey.
Take digital pictures of favorite items or heirlooms–then let them go. You can browse through the photos when you want to remember, and you can quickly press “delete” when the pictures no longer bring joy.
Thank you for this. I’m in a similar situation myself. My husband died last October. I live in Mississippi with no family here. I have one son that lives in South Carolina. I am currently having paint and floors done to aid in the sell of this two story house.
I have a wonderful son who has helped me through all of this. I am 72 and looking forward to the next chapter in my life living in South Carolina.
Susan, I’ve learned so much from your posts in the past year. I admire your style and your common-sense wisdom. I look forward to reading what you’ve learned in the process of downsizing. I’m going through the same process myself albiet at a much slower pace. I agree that we need to get rid of “things” that are no longer useful or that no longer bring us joy. Creating lasting memories is the best use of our time. Good luck and best wishes to you.
Best wishes with the transition and thanks for this positive post. I will take inspiration and the advice and look forward to the next chapter of your interesting life.
This is a very important topic for me as i need to make decisions about the best future care. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Beautiful, Susan! As we travel this journey called “life,” our treasured possessions can ultimately weigh us down unless we are willing to “release” them back into the universe for a higher purpose. A few years ago I was struggling with what to do with a collection of “funky western art” that I’d always dreamed would go into my imagined cozy cabin the woods. Well, the cozy cabin in the woods never came to be so, when a wonderful local horse sanctuary requested donations for their silent auction fundraiser, I realized that this was the highest and best use for my collection. This donation raised more than $1,000 for the horse rescue sanctuary and the deep-down great feeling this gave me was actually priceless, thinking of all the poor horses that would ultimately benefit as well as the freedom of no longer having to drag these precious “things” cluttering up my house around any longer! Love, Peggy in AZ
Susan, I do wish you the best in your transition and hope all goes well. I have enjoyed your blog so much and do hope you will continue with it as much as you are able! I hope yours and Mr Mickey’s health is well and that you both are enjoying life daily.
Thank you, Teresa. I will continue to blog soon.
How timely (once again) your post is today… It is no wonder that I sometimes (or often) think of you as a personal friend. I wrote to you a little while back, after my husband had died, to tell you how you had inspired me to not let myself go at that difficult time. I have been thinking for a while now that living alone in this big house really makes no sense. I, like you, find myself spending a lot of time maintaining it although I do get a lot of enjoyment out of it. However, I find that it is a very expensive “pastime” and sometimes think of how I could spend my money elsewhere… I dread downsizing but don’t want to leave the task of getting rid of heirlooms and prized possessions to my children. I wish I had some magic solution but will be reading with great interest the contributions of your followers. Good luck, Susan. Once again, you inspire me. I only wish I have the courage to follow in your footsteps this time…
This is soooo timely as I dread going down into our basement and purging. I know downsizing is in the near future and I can’t wait to hear about your process.
Always enjoy your post. I am around your age and look forward to reading about your next move. Enjoy your spring.
My mother (80 at the time) packed her whole house by herself (as I could not help her at the time) She did this over a 3-ish month period. A bit at a time. We found her a house near us. We moved her in. While she got rid of a lot of stuff, we still have a lot more to go through. I think purging is a process. A bit at a time. Saying goodbye is hard, even when it’s to things. Remembering doesn’t stop once the things are gone though. I will say things you keep for family and friends rarely is as important to them as it is to you.
We are just thankful we got her here before Covid struck. Timing is everything.
Susan, thank you for addressing this topic as it is highly relevant to most of your audience.
This is exciting! You’ve got this!! We just completed a similar task that was 15 months in the making. I’m more of a minimalist as the years have rolled by. Letting go of many “years treasured” items was easier than I thought it would be. We’ve begun settling in at our new spot and I still have items to pass along to others. It’s a very cathartic process. Once our energy caught back up with us after the big self pack up and move 1,800 miles away- we are at peace with our decisions. Here’s to you being buoyant through this, Susan!
Susan I wish you luck as you begin the process of downsizing. After my parents passed my brother and I had the task of clearing their home.. We actually kept no physical items only our memories. My husband and I recently downsized to a much smaller home. We gave away, sold or donated items we should have kept and of course moved items we didn’t need. It is a daunting task and we were surprised by the emotional attachment we had to some items. We are assuming it reminded us of happy family times. Susan you will be making new memories.
What a wonderful post! So often we hang on to the current situation because change makes us feel like we are ‘declining’. I want to have lunch with friends, continuing teaching my yoga classes, go on a spur of the moment trip to visit my grandchildren or take a spa getaway weekend. I do NOT want to be tied to a home that takes all my time keeping up the gardens, cleaning rooms I never use or spending money on repairs. I enjoy this time in my life ( I am 67) so I want a lifestyle that supports my current life. Thank you Susan for your perspective….and your lovely outfit as well!!!
4 years ago I downsized from a house of approximately 3000 sq ft with an attached double-car garage to a 1250 sq ft condo with a carport but no garage. I love my tiny condo, but settling for no garage was a costly mistake. There’s no room to store things like tools, out of season bedding and clothes, potting soil, etc. I’m currently renting a storage cube for these things, and watching the rent increase dramatically every 6 months or so. I wish I’d found a place that included even a small garage. That said, I have no regrets about downsizing. Be prepared to go through everything and make piles of donations, discards, and things to save, and keep the “save” pile as small as possible. I’ve scanned my music, photos, and even letters, and I now store those items digitally. I’ve moved my beloved DVDs into binders. It’s sad to part with things, but don’t let yourself get stuck in the sadness. an Embrace the adventure of downsizing. It’s an opportunity to free ourselves from being bound by possessions. I miss my garage, and yet it feels good to have fewer things to manage. Sending best wishes to anyone who is downsizing.
Best of luck on your new venture. Looking forward to reading more about it.
Thirty-three years ago , after the kids finished college and moved out we moved to a much smaller house. At the time we thought that it was too small and talked about getting something bigger. As the years passed we ‘grew’ into the house.
Now our single level, two bedroom, one and thee-quarter bath home is a perfect fit. With an attached garage, no carrying groceries in the rain. (Big smile1)
I hope that your down-sizing is as rewarding as ours has been.
I could write a book! After cleaning out 2 sets of parents homes/farms – with one set a hoarder and the other parents with dementia, I vowed not to leave such a mess to my only child – then he died suddenly. I needed a new plan.
When downsizing from a larger house with large or custom furniture that won’t fit into a smaller place, my great realtor said put prices on everything we need to sell. She held a large Realtor Opening and invited some designer friends and they bought almost everything we wanted to sell long before the house sold. We only moved 2 beds, our books/art, along with clothes into a small Brownstone Condo that should last quite a few years.
With our parents living out of town or out of state, we hired an Estate Company that was recommended by the Realtor and they made quick work of so many items no one wanted or needed. All of this said, being POA made us realize we needed to update our Will and Trust documents since there is no qualified family member to handle last affairs, close bank accounts, sell cars, etc. It’s a huge job!
Hope this helps anyone facing any of these circumstances!
I’m so sorry that you lost your son. Thank you for sharing your beneficial tips.
Good luck with your downsizing projects! My husband and I moved into a town house 8 years ago! We do not miss the hours of lawn and garden maintenance, gratefully pay our HOA bills and love that we don’t have to do all the common area maintenance! Hope it all goes well!
What a great example for us! Look forward to learning from you and finding motivation myself! 🙂
Susan, I am looking forward to your tips as you begin the daunting (to me) task of editing your possessions for the move.
My guess is that many of your readers will as well. Thank you in advance!
Best of luck Susan. Looking forward to seeing your transition.
Best wishes as you navigate downsizing and the start of another chapter in your life. Preparing for life changes and facing our mortality is something we all should do. I was left to handle the homes and contents of two sets of parents, neither of whom did any purging through the years. I promised myself I would not leave such a cumbersome task when my husband and I pass. So far I’ve not practiced what I preach. At the age of 67, my husband and I find ourselves not quite ready to downsize as we still entertain between 15-20 people every month in our home, have frequent guests for dinner in groups of 6-10, and will have our annual potluck party this year for over 90. We still play with cars and are in the process of building another building to house the collection. Rather than downsizing, we seem to be expanding! We must be slow learners! I look forward to reading the tips and tricks as you post them and will keep them for future reference because I know our day to tackle the task is coming.
I am glad you are addressing this issue. We will be facing the same thing in a short while. I have trouble getting rid of things (especially sentimental) things so I am dreading the process. I know you always find a positive way to look at new situations, so I am looking forward to your future posts. Thanks!
Well done to make a change at this age. Too many people wait too long. Often, after they have made a move to a 55+ community, their remark is “I wish I had done it sooner.” I admire your grace.
I live alone with family nearby but spent most of my life in a Houston. Raising a family I have moved (downsized) twice in the last ten years. I now live in a comfortable 1 bedroom ground floor Apt. in a small town. I don’t regret most of the things that I have given away, sold or donated but I am missing a few things and wish I hadn’t gone so small. I would love a garage to park my car and my bicycle and I would love a small courtyard garden so that I could plant a few flowers or vegetables. No lawn mowing please! An extra bedroom would be wonderful too, a room to work on my projects that would easily switch to a spare bedroom for a visitors. So I guess I’m looking to upsize just a little which seems to be an impossible size to find in my area. A close friend of mine who is in a similar situation and I are looking for a duplex, A place where we could each own half and help each other out when needed. Both of us have been alone alone long enough to know we need our privacy, I am still looking.
Looking forward to following your changes and for inspiration for my own.
Susan, I totally understand. After 10 years of widowhood, I decided to let go of my beautiful home that my husband I built. I struggled with the decision until I finally let go and then the events started to rapidly unfold.
I now live in a different part of my state and am living in the home of my dreams. I have everything I want! I am surrounded by a woods, a lake and wonderful neighbors.
It was all waiting for me just like I dreamed. I only had to let go and it all fell into place.
I wish you the best. Trust your instincts!
Looking forward to following your changes . I’ve been trying to take the leap for the last 10 years. Really need inspiration from everyone. Best of luck.
I am another aged 80 finally realizing I need and want to do this. I am interested in your past steps Susan, as you have been preparing for some time. Where to begin, firstdecisions, etc, If time allows this would be helpful. Best wishes for your future adventures, ann lee S, b.c. Canada
My husband & I downsized from a 4200 sq ft house on acreage to a 400 sq ft apartment. It was quite a difficult process to get rid of so many things but it’s also freeing.
I have already learned some valuable lessons by reading comments from others and look forward to learning more from you, Susan.
I downsized and moved 400 miles back to my hometown when I retired three years ago. I have a much smaller house which I love except for the closets. Be sure your new smaller house is not lacking in closets.
Oh Susan, it will be a pleasure to go through this process with you. I’m about to retire tomorrow. We’ve thought of downsizing often, but I’m in the process of taking care of all of that for my parents…and it is so overwhelming. I hope to do this for myself and husband in a while so my own children don’t have to do this. I agree, our children don’t want the stuff, heirlooms, and collections, they have their own piles of stuff. I am sad though that we are not longer passing down true heirlooms to stay in a family, but I completely understand. I have no good words of advice other than “it’s just stuff”…and I also don’t want to spend too much time maintaining “stuff”.
So exciting, will you be staying in the same town?
I keep thinking we need to do the same thing but we want out of California.
I will stay in the same area for now. We have countless new residents from California now.
Thank you for this.
I am struggling with a second downsize. My husband is not as on board with this as I am but hopefully he will be persuaded.
We live in a lovely community, many friends etc. However, I know it is time to think about the next chapter and choose where I want to live. I love my children but don’t want them choosing my last home.
It will be a condo in an area where there is a hospital and we can walk or bus to everything.
Wonderful post! Your article is so “spot on” and I can relate. Losing a younger sister and my parents in a span of 3 years has taught me a lot. We spend most of our life accumulating things only to discover in our later years we realize the importance of life and people as we journey through our life. I found your blog exactly at a time when we had downsized our home and moved out of state. I have followed and enjoyed ever since. Meeting new people was to be my challenge but your post at that time spoke to me as I had many challenges, making new friends, finding where to shop, setting up a new house when I loved my former house! I was grieving although excited to move to be nearer to daughters. Changing to a smaller home I realized I could still make my new home a “little jewel” as well. Good luck on further changes – change made me a better person.
You have been so wise in downsizing and giving special heirlooms to family members. We have lived in the same, ‘forever home’ for 25 years, recently my husband passed away. Now I have a big house, full of incredible treasures. I must make brutal decisions to thin my possessions and then downsize as my house, even though I love it, it is too large as is the garden for 1 person. I’m looking forward to your future posts as you share your ideas.
I’ve downsized many times, and will have to do it again if my husband passes before I. My brother said to me the first time, “Honey, in a few years, you won’t miss any of it.” He was right! I had a company come and make an offer for everything I had in the house, because I didn’t want to move it as far away as I was moving. All my beautiful furniture, antiques, treasures from Paris, etc. were picked up and hauled away, at a pittance for what I paid for them, but so what? Travel was light and I was excited to start over. A second time, I held an estate sale that lasted for four weekends, then donated the rest and took four walk-in closets full of shoes and clothing to consignment shops. I got checks from them for more than two years. My new digs were very small compared to my old home, but I loved furnishing it and living the downsized lifestyle. It truly was wonderful. I moved from my small home when my husband and I married, and now I have SO MUCH STUFF all over again! I love it all, but it will be easy to downsize once more when the time comes. I enjoyed everything I had, but miss nothing. And some of it was really hard to say goodbye to–and probably will be again, because our children and grandchildren don’t want our china, silver, paintings, antiques, etc. Each time I moved, I saved a few small things that were inherited and I’ve always kept memory boxes with photos and other mementos that take me back to places and people I’ve known since I was a child. Those two boxes hold my true treasures: A lifetime of happy memories. Main thing: Let it go! A treasure is no longer a treasure when it begins to weigh more than you can carry. For me, getting rid of things as expeditiously as possible is the way to go. It is said that parting is such sweet sorrow, but it IS sweet!
In 2017 I sold my home because it was way too much upkeep and downsized, or so I thought. I still have too many “treasures” which are now in storage as I’ve had to temporarily move to help my elderly mother. Life sure throws us curve balls.
Like you expressed, through this experience, I’m learning I need to make lifestyle decisions now and not burden someone else. After all, i have lived without these treasures for a while now and honestly can’t recall all that’s in the 8,000 lbs in storage..!!
As I reflect on my life’s happiest days, it was living in a small, one bedroom condo in a very walkable city. I hope one day to replicate that lifestyle. Wish I had realized this 30 years ago…!
What an important and timely topic! I’m greatly looking forward to you sharing this part of your journey and I’m grateful you’re adding this to your repertoire of fashion and lifestyle posts! For me honesty is the guiding principle—I must be honest with myself to recognize I don’t need or use something any more. Even then it can still be hard to say goodbye to things!
Hi Susan, I wish you all the very best for your next move and look forward to seeing how you go. Both my partner and I are looking to downsize ourselves this year and I’m trying to get rid of stuff that we just don’t use or need.
You mention the maintenance and its a problem for sure especially as we age.
Are you looking at a smaller home or an apartment ( these are choices we are trying to make)
So excited for you.
Well I think I am in my house for life, although, it technically and legally belongs to my son now. It is on a poultry farm that i and my deceased husband owned and operated for 22 years. After his sudden death I have since turned the farm over to our son and his wife who live right beside me. I am remarried now and my husband is 20 years my senior. But we will live in this home until our deaths. It is too way big if I lived alone. One of my granddaughters lives with us and her sister will probably come to live with us when she graduates high school as this one did. Some days I would love the house to be smaller when I’m cleaning but I have a large family of 6 children, 12 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.
I am looking forward though to watch your blog on this. It will be very interesting. I very much enjoy your blog.
You are exactly right. A couple of years ago we found ourselves spending all free time on pool snd yard maintenance rather than enjoying that free time. It was very difficult. It Meant eliminating many personal items etc but we’re setting in and finding we’re enjoying less burden from all those unneeded “ things”. Still miss some of our “ things” but remind myself of what’s important in my life. Best wishes as you make this transition
Best wishes as you downsize. I admire your courage in making the decision. I live in the family home that my late husband and I purchased fifty-two years ago. I’m eighty-five, drive my own car and thankfully I am physically and mentally healthy, and very active. However, the time may come that I will need to downsize. My home is approx. 2900 square feet, and I spend most of my time in three rooms. Right now, I just do not have the courage to part with my china, my mother’s china and my grandmother’s heirlooms. And my books and MUCH music, as I am a pianist. HOW does one do this? How did you reach the decision that it is time for you to downsize?
Please communicate with your readers as you make progress. Please share with us about how you’re making some of the decisions. I very much like and agree with your tasteful fashion choices . . .I also wear a size 8 . . . I’m 5 ft. 4 inches tall, weight about 135 . . . and I’m originally from Memphis,TN.
Best wishes, Susan. Please continue with your blog!
My best as you downsize. I did the same a few years ago. I passed along many loved pieces to grandchildren and kids. It’s been fun to see how they made them new again with their own style has been satisfying. I continue to enjoy them, just in their new homes.
Susan, At age 79 and single, I’m at that same point as you right now. Have a huge house I don’t need. I’ve been trying to downsize for two years and barely making a dent. It’s a daunting task. Life has a way of getting in the way oh my progress. I only have one son who has no children, and he doesn’t want many of my things. I live on the Gulf Coast of Alabama; he lives on Denver and wants me to move there closer to him to better care for me if my health declines. Big decision! At this stage of life I wonder why on earth did I collect all this stuff? My goal is for a very simple uncluttered life, with no home type responsibilities. So I continue, a day at a time of letting go of things. – it’s been a pleasure to follow you over the years. I especially appreciate the fact that you have shown us how you minimize and rewear your clothes to come up with so many outfits and looks using a few basic pieces to create an entire new wardrobe, without continuing to buy new. It’s very encouraging. THANK YOU. You are an inspiration to us all. I look forward to see what is in store for you in your next move.
Than you Susan!I am at that point as well.After my husband passed I waited 1 year before I made a chang from a 5 bedroom 3 bath house to a beautiful 2 bedroom 2 bath in a beautiful over 55 community.
I thought this would be my forever home.Then the unexpected happened.My daughter decided she was unhappy in her marriage and moved 3000 miles away.Now I no longer have family close by and declining health.
I am praying that I will be able to move closer to one of my sons but I love my home.It is a difficult decision but I know it must be made.Best wishes on your decision and thank you for bringing this subject up.
You are an amazing woman, and it is so wonderful that you are sharing the next step with us. I think renting is a great way to “test the waters” to help you decide on the way you want to go next. Best wishes
Like you, I have found I spend a lot of time looking after all my collected possessions, which over the years – I am now 69 years old – has grown so much that some people (including my husband haha) might see it as hoarding. We are downsizing next year from a 5 bedroom home which has lots of cupboards to a 2 bedroom unit and the simple fact is that I am not going to be able to keep or fit all that I have now into our new life. Knowing this is a fact that I cannot ignore I have started to clean out all the cupboards and to my surprise rather than the activity making me feel a bit sad and despondant I have found it is very cathartic and uplifting. Of course I have kept a few treasured items but truth is most things that I have squirrelled away over the years don’t really belong in the life I live now anyway.
I have painters here now getting my 3 level 4600+ house ready to put on the market at any time. I have let the years sneak up to turn 78 this month. Problem is; where do I go? I would love the feeling of freedom that has been witnessed by so many. I know Mr. Mickey is supportive, but would not want you to move away, should it happen? . I love a person with a plan. I may have procrastinated too long. I almost went to condo living 7 -8 years ago in a very affluent area, and now many or leaving the area due to crime. I look forward to following your new adventure. Best always, Pat
Your post is very timely! Just this morning, I went through my hats and pulled out every one that I haven’t worn in awhile. They will go to the local charity shop, which uses proceeds to help local folks who are in need.. The hats I kept are of 2 types, several casual ones with wide brims for being in the outdoors, and several dressier hats. Perhaps in a few months, I’ll be ready to reduce those hats down even further.
Over the past several months, I’ve been removing clothes from my closet, and giving the items to the local charity shop. I’m keeping mostly casual things that will travel well in our new camper-van. My wardrobe will be “RV Style,” with 2 or 3 dressy outfits. It feels so good to reduce my possessions. I still have much work to do, though!
Sending prayers and best wishes for a smooth transition to this next exciting phase of your life. My husband retired three years early late last year. It has been a major adjustment for us both. It took us several months to explore our options and to decide to move closer to one of our children and build a new home in a 55 and older community near the beach. It is an onerous task trying to donate and discard furniture, clothes, etc. that will no longer fit in our new home. We have 24 year old twins, both engineers, and they cannot fit any of the extra furniture into their apartments.
I retired last fall and am considering downsizing my home, but having more outdoor space for other pursuits. This will be my 2nd time downsizing in 10 years and while I’ve purged so much my home is still full of things I infrequently use or don’t use at all. In past years I’ve seen this as a bit of a loss feeling sad in letting go. Today I’ve begun to see it as freedom. And as I get older freedom is more and more important to me. I’m renovating a home which is 2/3 the size of my current one so I’m making the most of the design to maximize my use of the square footage. My parents are selling the family farm which has been in the family for over 100 years and moving in with my sister. As we transform the way we live to achieve our objectives and prepare for the future, it still can be a challenge. It is nice to know we aren’t alone in choosing to move forward. Thanks for sharing your story.
Hot topic! Four years ago at 68, I retired, moved from my big house in New York and moved to a golf community in California. It was overwhelming to decide what to save and what to get rid of. We’re now in a 1900 sq. foot condo and it’s plenty of space. We worked through all of our stuff for a good year. I offered items to friends and colleagues at work and was thrilled when they took them. Big items were picked up by charities. It’s a relief to be out of a high maintenance house especially during hurricane season and snowstorms. We’re enjoying our new adventure in SoCal. Best decision we’ve made!
I’m right there with you….It’s very daunting & lots of decisions need to be made….. We’re cleaning up & redoing some of our landscaping & have painting & some new flooring to put down…. I’m reading a lot about minimal living & how freeing it is. Our daughters have homes of their own, but do want some of our things. We’re living in Ga. after living in the Midwest most of our married lives. Our Daughters live in Fl. so our next move will be there, but much smaller than what we have now…. Both of my sisters have downsized & live in condos. I don’t like all the politics of that because we also have it here with our HOA…… Our daughters don’t have that & we’re looking forward to something like that for us….I know there’s pros & cons. Right now I’m going through family pictures that we have from us as a family & both of our parents pictures……The pics are now being boxed up for us to take up to Ohio for our siblings to go through or we need to pitch….we’re thinking of scanning some of them into our computer…..Right now I’m just tired & need it to be done, but I do have a deadline & that keeps me going…..
Ohio here we come the first of July for our Family pics to be completed….Furniture will be easier. I only have a few pieces I want to keep or Hope our daughters want….I think they do….. Can’t wait to see what you have to share with all of us……Thanks Much……Online Friend…….Peggy
We downsized 3 years ago. I cried when my dining room table sold due to the memories it held. However, the dining room table would not fit in the new smaller home. Neither would the styles of some of my furniture fit. But we made the decision to sell and move on at ages 59 and 63 while we still had the physical strength and full mental capacity to do this without help from our children. We are loving our new smaller home. Bills are less. Cleaning time is less. Absolutely the right time for us.
parabéns pela decisão Susan! Sempre é tempo para se renovar. Meu marido e eu estamos planejando isso também, mas diga-se que é uma decisão difícil. Sucesso em seu novo propósito.
Thank you!! I need all the downsizing thoughts & ideas possible!!
My home is a perfect size for me- 1475 sq ft. I divorced 19 years ago and retired 9 years ago. I’m now in the process of purging and want a new decor for my home. I’m having fun at 73 on my new adventure of decorating and keeping only those items that I dearly love. I’ve donated items to a nonprofit that helps the homeless and children instead of selling them. Good luck and enjoy the process!
We have lived a self-suficient lifestyle for fifty years. It was wiped out by the famous Australian black summer bush fire in Dec. 2019. Since then we have built a new home and veggie garden and planted some fruit trees. At 70yrs of age we realise that we need to face the decisions of progressive change. However, our burnt property in worthless on the market unless we clean it up. Three years of work. It is something that we did not bargain for. On the farm we have fresh air, free fruit, eggs and vegetables. We know from where the bulk of our food comes. We are not reliant on supermarkets nor fluctuating prices. Change to us …..does not mean downsizing .It means a complete change of lifestyle. After the fire we lived in a shed and were forced to shop at supermarkets. My husband with chronic kidney disease saw a decline in his wellbeing and stamina. The whole experience has made us more reluctant to face the change which is undoubtedly ahead of us. My elderly parents who had a healthy diet soon grew weak and sick within in their first three months of living in a nursing home. I had to tackle the management on providing fresh fruit and vegetables. The future to us looks forbidding.
Wishing you luck and happiness in your new home when the time comes, hope you have a speedy sale, I’m sure it will be snapped up as you have made it very beautiful and when you do find your forever home you will put your wonderful style stamp on it, looking forward to sharing your journey. X
Oh my goodness Susan, it doesn’t seem 5 minutes ago that you downsized before! And your current home seems great – well, certainly with respect to storage for your out of season clothes. But you’re absolutely right. If one can, it’s best to adapt your living space to suit your current circumstances and (so far as possible) future needs. And it’s never a bad thing to retain as much flexibility and adaptability as we can into our older years. My blunt way of putting it, after seeing elders sticking in the house they’ve lived in forever, even if it’s become unmanageable/unsuitable, is “I don’t want to leave this house in a box”. I know what you mean about being in a place that has become a burden in terms of maintenance. My house is really too big for me – bought in the unfulfilled aspiration that my children and partners would be staying with me from time to time – and the garden has become unmanageable without hiring a gardener. Please share all the stages you go through in your Grand Project – I look forward to hearing about your progress!
Good luck Susan on your house sale and downsizing journey. I think you are very wise to make this decision now.
My friend who is now 83yrs has been dithering and dallying for years whether to sell her 5 bedroom house on suite showers, Wet room, family bathroom and numerous toilets! She has an attic full of life’s treasures, as well as around the home. Her husband died many years ago and has kept all his work and study Paraphernalia.
Now she finds herself awaiting two knee replacements and a downsize has been left too late
I downsized many years ago and I liked your remark about certain tasks not fulfilling you, I used to love a good old clean through and when finished at end of day a nice earned hot bath fresh clean bedding and that satisfying feeling of chores all done. I don’t get that feeling anymore as the challenge of a thorough clean is now daunting as I get older. I am glad I made my choice to move to a smaller home when I did and have never looked back.
I look forward to all your posts on this journey an exciting time for you, but don’t over do things as a move is challenging and stressful, as though you need me to tell you that.
Good luck and best wishes.
Pamela from Wales UK .
I love your realistic and logical approach. Good luck to you. I will look forward to reading about your next season.
I downsized seven years ago when I was in my early sixties. I wanted to move before I got too old.
I’ve got a two bedroom bungalow that’s in easy walking distance of my town centre, buses run at the end of the road, 10 minutes from my local airport and the best thing is trains into London take less than an hour, great for the theatre and of course shopping!!
I was worried about moving but I’m in a lovely friendly community. It was the best thing I ever did.
HI Susan, I have not had to move in 41 years. I know at some point we will have to move and downsize but not at this time. We have a basement and I don’t know how it happens but we need to clean and clear our the storage space again. I try the 5 year rule. If I haven’t used it in 5 years – donate. Then if the room is still not tidy enough I go to 2 year rule. If I still need to go further – 1 year rule. It’s amazing how many things can go in the give away pile with this process.
I have seen my friends go thru the downsizing process and it’s not easy but at some time, it does make life easier with less to deal with. I applaud your positive attitude towards downsizing and I know you can make it work for you. If possible, take your time deciding on some things that pull on your heart. If you are not in a hurry to move right away, there is no need to push yourself to make a decision immediately. Put those things in the “I’ll decide later” pile.
Good luck and Hi to Mr. Mickey.
Hi Susan! Downsizing is a journey. A reflection of prior choices, which materialistic objects actually serve you physically or spiritually. It is a time of intense evaluation..What is important? Only you can reflect and begin to address these questions. It comes in stages. I began with the classic..Henry David Thoreau “Life in the Woods” (“Walden Pond”) was calming. Tiny House Movement and videos showing how others managed smaller spaces fascinating. Marie Kondo YouTubes and books offered practical advice on folding and creating space. Marie’s “Spark” theory helped me decide what to keep! Like you, Susan I witnessed dwindling financial resources of my Mom. Income that seemed generous at retirement age 65 was just above poverty 28 years later! Mom was determined to stay in her own home until death (at age 93). This required conservative management of her limited income. My sister, husband and I were awake nights figuring this out. As 7 out of 10 women experience widowhood and the loss of one of the spouses social security, finances are concerning. Only God knows when He will call you home … however longevity runs in our family with relatives living past 100 and financial preparedness needed. A smaller home is a smaller footprint with reduced taxes, insurance and energy needs. For all of those reasons, we drastically downsized! As with all real estate it’s location, location, location! We now have a 390 sq foot condo on an Island in Florida where we are outside most of the time. To get out of summer heat, my husband lovingly restored a 600 foot cabin on a lake. It’s in an area of family heritage for both of us. And as I found on my journey Love is the basis. Any activity not done in Love is wasted. All the best on your journey, Susan.
Thank you so much!
Sound advice! One of my challenges is all the family photos – some printed, some still on my phone. Every summer I set out to organize them and they still are in boxes and bags! Any ideas will be appreciated.
Keep us inforemd of your progress – wishing you the best!
This is me. Thanks for the affirmation. Was needing to hear this.
Wow, how difficult that must be. We are in our 70’s in a large home and I would love to downsize. However, my husband loves this home and I must admit I love our neighborhood and friends that live in it. I know I will face this one day and I do my best to keep clutter out of our lives. Good luck with your next move and I will enjoy reading about it,,,,,
Susan, we just went through this and could not be happier! We donated a truckload of items and don’t miss anything! Once you decide it is the right time and you find the best new place, then start the process.
We also spent the money to hire a company to come in and pack us, move us and unpack us. It cost us about $4000 to move 1200 sq ft of furniture and boxes in Dallas. Best money we spent. Yes, we tweaked where things were, but it was all here!!
We do not miss our house or the yard maintenance. My husband is relaxed and cheerful (I can’t guarantee that to other couples )
Best wishes to Susan and others contemplating this major change!
God bless you Susan . Thanks for sharing.
My husband and I downsized from a 4000 sf house on more than an acre of property to a 900 sf condo in our favorite city about 13 years ago. Our grandchild was about to be born and we wanted to live nearby. As you say, the work of doing this is daunting (we got rid of everything through sales, auctions, donations and giving to family members ). We decided to start over and furnish the condo in a completely different style. Leaving behind the many years of memories in our house was bittersweet but the overall feeling was freeing. We actually felt lighter. We turned our attention to finding and enjoying all of the wonderful things our new location had to offer rather than maintaining a residence that we were no longer really using . I hope the downsizing goes smoothly for you and that you experience, as we did, the joy of giving the possessions you’re not using a second chance with someone else.
“Don’t wait until you are too old to make changes or enjoy the results of your labor.” I think that statement says it all! Enjoy the adventure of downsizing and moving one last time. My husband and I did it in our late 50s. It was unplanned but necessary due to a significant health issue. We have learned to live in less space, with less stuff, and less maintenance and we couldn’t be happier!
Looking forward to your helpful advice. A year ago my husband passed away after a lengthy illness. I spent some of that time contemplating where I needed to live for the next chapter of my life. I moved from a 3600 sq ft to 1800 sq ft. I was lucky in that I sold quite a bit of furniture to the buyers of my large home. I donated most of the other household belongings to the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. I bought new smaller scale furniture and with the treasures I kept from my previous home, I have embraced my new home and lifestyle. So much easier (and cheaper) to maintain. Enjoy your ride… can’t wait to hear all you want to share!
I am having a lot of anxiety over these issues. It is so hard to let go. I need to “clean out” also. Looking forward to your tips!
Doing this right now. I don’t want to wait until I am unable.
We moved and down sized last year. We moved into our previous home with 2 full sized PODS, and moved out with 1. We had garage sales, sold items on fb marketplace, gave things to family and friends, and donated many items. You are so right when you say kids don’t want our things. All 4 of ours live in fairly small spaces.
Many times during this process I would find myself hanging on to things I knew I wouldn’t have room for. I would stop and watch an episode of hoarders, giving myself a hard look at what can happen when we give THINGS more importance in our lives than they deserve, and how joyful people were with out the things cluttering their lives. Every time I stalled, watching an episode would kickstart me into action. I’m happy to say we do not miss anything we got rid of. Life is good.
After my husband’s cognitive decline diagnosis in 2015 it became evident to me that we could no longer maintain our 5-acre homestead with my art gallery business, his blacksmith shop and many acres of gardens, animals etc. I began to make a list and search various communities within an hour or so drive (I wanted us to stay close to our grandchildren, friends and doctors.) I also began to list and sell items on Facebook, Marketplace etc. and search out businesses who would take an entire estate intact. In the meantime, I made a list of what spiff up projects that had to be done on our property and began doing those projects one or two each summer (paint the garage doors, stain the pool house etc.) My original goal was to sell out in 2022. Then the home market burst wide open, and it became a “seller’s market”. I took a year to plan for our Living Estate Sale, lined up 10-12 friends to help us that day of the sale and set a date. I created the advertisement myself and placed advertisements in newspapers all around our community. In the county, estate sales and farm sales are held on holiday weekend’s so I planned for July 4th 2017. At the same time I shifted into gear, found a realtor and put our country home up for sale. It was a very intense and tiring two years process between finding homes for my chickens and barn cats, the sale itself, packing, and moving. In the same time frame I spent a winter researching condo living and then in the spring I bought a condo in a nearby town near my brother (in the event I needed help as the years progressed.) I found out that not many people want used furniture (but vintage and antique items do sell well) so even though our sale did well, I still had rooms and rooms of items to donate. I donated my art items to two different art schools, and the rest to a church based resale shop where the proceeds would be going to the same town I had lived in for the past 20 years. My strategy worked well, but having a bit more time for distribution would have been even better. In hindsight it is now 2022 and IF I had waited to list and too long to sell the interests rates would have been high again and I am sure would have effected my selling in a very rural area. So even though I had a good plan I was guided by a higher power and the timing was perfect in the end. Because of my husband’s decline, I handled this entire project myself and honestly, I was totally exhausted and spent our first summer in the condo recovering. I also bought a condo mostly furnished to save on moving costs, and to have the right “scale” of furniture for a tiny 1,258 sq. ft. condo (vintage and antique furniture is larger in scale for the time that homes were large and families had many children and sometimes servants.) You might consider offering the condo “fully furnished”. In our tourist area many people have two homes; their primary home where they work and a summer condo where they go for weekends, holiday and to have family come and visit.
Susan, your posts are so thoughtful, timely and informative! In 2013 due to a job loss we had to sell our farm with a large house, pool and acreage to care for. At the time, I was devastated as we had designed everything. But God had a plan and we ended up in a 1500 sq ft villa in a retirement community that we love! It was hard downsizing and selling or donating treasures but we are right where we should be. As you shared, it is just stuff! Please keep us posted on your journey and take care,
Best wishes and good luck!
I recently moved out of my home of 43 years and it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I had roughly six weeks to move. I too gave away to family members and charity many things. I am completely remodeling my home. I will never ever go back to having so many things in my life that are really not necessary or actually used very much. I pray for you the best in downsizing to a smaller place. It will be home once you settle in.
Susan I wish you the very best in this new challenge. I am facing the mindset of deleting the majority of my things I have collected through the last 20 years. It’s daunting!
I am so interested in reading how you downsize. I had to downsize after a divorce and living in south FL. I was offered my teaching position in Northwest TN so I determined “stuff is stuff” and the most important things are not material. I moved back in 2011 and in 2013 bought a small house 1 mile from my school. It’s still 3/2 and in a subdivision where I can walk safely (just outside of town). I have wonderful neighbors too so that’s been comforting since I don’t have relatives nearby. Now, the challenge is to decide if I should move to Indiana where my son and his family live (5 hours north). I’ve looked for 6 years (I retired after 42 years of teaching 5 years ago) and as you know, this market is crazy. Higher home prices plus low interest rates are changing. My home has doubled in value and the inventory is extremely low here. I know I could sell my home in 24 hours, so my search continues in Indiana. The difficulty is leaving my friends, church, and way of life to move near my son (and 2 grandchildren). I wish you all the best and certainly understand downsizing. You discover so much peace letting go and living a more simple life. God bless and be with you…..Keep us posted.
This post hit home for me….. we work most of our lives to acquire and maintain what is important to us and in our retirement years we agonize over what to do with all the “stuff” so as not to burden our children with the decision….
Thank you for sharing your experience with us…
I wish you years of peace and happiness in your new home…..
Thank you in advance for sharing your experiences during a difficult yet exciting time. It couldn’t be more relevant to me!
Wishing you all the best. Moving is a huge change to deal with, but the end result is all worth the stress and effort that goes into it.
I admire your willingness to embrace the inevitable cycles of life while you’re still young enough to be pro active. I have many friends who have no plans for their later years and it honestly baffles me. We also will be downsizing from a large four bedroom home to a small two bedroom home. Goodwill is my new best friend. I find editing very easy when I realize how little meaning “things” hold for me now. I keep only that which makes me happy to look at or evokes a joyful memory. The rest is just stuff that does nothing but take up space and cries out to be cleaned. Gone! If you get overwhelmed I suggest hiring some help. Wishing you all the best in the transition ahead of you.
You are an inspiration.
Saying a prayer for you as you make this transition. There is wisdom in it, and there will be freedom on the other end. God bless you, may he give you energy, clarity and peace as you make these changes.
Some of my friends have hired an estate sale expert. This allows you to let go of furniture and possessions that may not fit into your new surroundings. One friend moved only her master bedroom furniture. She bought a small condo and this allowed her to buy new furniture to fit her new space. It also saved money on moving coct.
The Estate sale people do all the work in pricing and organizing the sale. I hope this helps. Good luck with your move.
Patricia Lewis in Daytona Beach.
I would love to downsize, we need to for health reasons. But my sweet husband can not get rid of anything! Are there any male bloggers out there to help me convince him?
Thank you so much Susan! You have been a great inspiration for me as I hone my style and adapt to my age and lifestyle. My health issues were similar to yours so many years ago I made the same kind of changes to my diet. I moved several years ago and thought I had downsized but I have been shedding more and more each year. I recently had to turn down invitations from my family which would involve travel and it saddened me to realize that we could not help as much but in turn may need help. We have much to be thankful for so with God’s help we will accept our new stage of life with grace and dignity. And once again, you have inspired me.
I had to give up my precious expensive gorgeous furniture I just loved because they just didn’t fit in my smaller place. I mourned their loss and remember them fondly. But I did not want to be a slave to material things. I’m glad I downsized and updated my new home. We have different phases in life and new opportunities to express ourselves.
I wish you well as you go through another downsizing. A daunting task no matter how many times you do it or how much you want to make the change.
One of your comments that the younger generation in your family was NOT interested in many of your items. My two children were not interested in family heirlooms so I sold them. That was hard but we were moving from Indiana to Georgia as we had retired.
Susan, I will miss your blog and your outfits and stories. Looking forward to your return when the move is completed. Best regards, Peg
I am in exactly that situation regarding a downsize. I love my home so it’s not easy to let go although the sensible and practical thing to do.
I am 70 next year and think this will be the bench mark for finally putting my house on the market. I’ve started thinking about divesting myself of the things I’ve been hoarding over the years and have so far filled a large skip in preparation, both psychologically and physically, of a big change ahead. Any further preparation hints and tips would be well received.
By the way, I really enjoy your style suggestions some of which I’ve taken on board. I decided to let my hair grow out to it’s natural silver grey a few years ago and sometimes struggle with the best colours to wear so thank you.
I’m posting in hopes that this will motivate me and maybe help others in a similar situation. I lost my soulmate five years ago and am still surrounded by many of his things. I have given many things away and donated many things (he was a voracious reader with more than 3,000 books) the local library was thrilled. I can’t imagine moving out of this home, but am ready to clear it out and make it my own. I’m moving in fits and starts, but every day I have a clearer picture of what the end result will be. Like most folks these days, children and grandchildren children are not interested in having “keepsakes”, so more donating is in the future. I welcome any and all suggestions from your followers. Have a wonderful day. I look forward to your posts especially on this topic.
Downsizing is one thing but downsizing and moving away (for logical reasons: better climate, closer to family, etc.) from dear friends is a step I do NOT recommend. It is much harder to establish a new network of friends when you do not have young children. I have sought out and joined groups where I could meet like-minded people. I still miss my dear friends. We talk on the phone. We do zoom calls so we can “see” each other. But it’s not the same. I treasure our infrequent in-person visits. The miles separate us.
We purposely purge every year and do give items away. It actually feels good to do this. Good luck on your next adventure.
Susan, thank you for sharing your life’s ups and downs with us. Blessings as you move forward in your new home adventure. My husband passed away 2 months ago so I am not ready to make any changes yet. Keep ,sell, give-away, toss -enjoy every moment.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you have friends and family to help and comfort you.
I will be reading each and every post on this topic as we have been talking about this very thing for five years. I want to downsize, but, as another poster wrote, I also don’t want to give up the things I enjoy. So top on my list would be a large room in which to run my home-based embroidery business/hobby. Also, a sunroom and a small place to plant flowers outside. These bring me great joy and I would wither if I didn’t have them. I’m 73 and I don’t need ten acres and 4632 square foot house any longer. I don’t cook as I used to or entertain on a large scale any longer, so I can cut corners there. I have been actively working on letting go of possessions for about a year now. It isn’t easy to find them a home.
I have loved pictures of your home. If you decide to have a garage/moving sale, please let us know. I’d actually drive to TN to help you downsize.
Wise move, doing it now on your own.
Good luck. I look forward to your “story.”
Do keep us posted – this is vital info for those of us who need a little encouragement to let go!
My husband & I downsized & moved from CO to MT in 2016 to be closer to family. We gave away at least half of our furniture, clothing, gadgets, etc. To this day, I’ve not missed or thought about any of it! Our house & yard are much smaller & that means less upkeep. Win-win! BTW, we are in our mid 70’s.
Funny that you have broached this subject as this time. I have been dealing with aging parents who had to move to assisted living from 3400sq ft home. What I learned while cleaning out there home: 1. No one wants your stuff. If they do give it to them and let them enjoy it. It’s of no use in a cabinet or closet and unless your items were of high quality and expense they are not worth what you think. 2. Any clothing that you have keep for more than 2 yrs without wearing becomes useless to others. Even for donations. Out of style or faded no one wants it even for free. 3. It is very expensive and time consuming for others to do this for you. It really is selfish for you to leave it to others. Thanks Susan. Always enjoy your insights.
Thank you so much for sharing this, Susan. I have recently retired, and am in the process of cleaning out my house full of 40+ years of “stuff.” We still have many items from our parents’ homes, complete with their paperwork. It has recently occurred to me that I need to downsize my wardrobe now that I am retired, and need to donate many of the professional outfits I used to wear. You have been incredibly helpful to me over the years, and I look forward to reading about your progress, as I know you will continue to inspire me. You actually inspired me to wear white pants to a special event last summer, and I realize now how wearing white pants opened up new outfits. Thank you again. God bless you as you continue your life’s journey!
We’ve downsized a couple of times. This last downsize we didn’t really go small enough but we still have our two college daughters living with us. They will be moving out within the next couple of years, and then we’ll reevaluate what we might want to do. Until then I am really cleaning things out. If my daughters don’t want the things that I’m getting rid of, I donate them. I feel I can still downsize my things while we continue to live in our current home.
I really love our home, it’s in a wonderful, convenient location, and the lot is manageable, for now. I hope to live there several more years, but with fewer things to take care of. As I empty out closets, cabinets, attic, and other areas of the house I feel lighter. The emptiness gives me a sense of peace.
I must say I am proud of you for being realistic. We downsized 5 years ago. One level and much less space. We have a yard which is not so big. My husband loves working in the yard, but it’s not as easy as it once was.
It is definitely a hard job, but I could still let go of more items!
My husband was diagnosed with dementia. We’re both in our sixties. Everything was so overwhelming until I decided to start cleaning out our house and garage. Our children live in other states and wanted very little. I gave away or donated most of the things. When our children visited they were so surprised at how bright and light our home now looked. We may stay here until things progress with my husband but now I know we can change/move pretty quickly if we need to. His memory has faded and mine is stronger than ever. The “things” were never really important. Good luck with your upcoming changes.
We’re not downsizing but trying to reduce our possessions somewhat. It’s wise to do it while we still can but hard to part with things that are of sentimental value. I know our children won’t want most of our things and it’s not fair just to leave everything for them to sort out .
Good luck with everything and any tips will be appreciated.
I so appreciate how open and real you are about this life decision. We all have to face this reality at some point and you recommend doing it sooner rather than later. Thank you for talking about this on the blog.
My husband and I were in charge of moving 5, yes, FIVE! elderly relatives in the past 16 months and we are at our snowbird home right now, literally unpacking their excess.
1) If you didn’t use it during the pandemic & it’s not sentimental or party/experience related – get rid of it.
2) We used auctions, estate sales and yard sales – estate sales were the best (if you’re moving, take what you want and leave the rest to a professional estate seller).
3) You really only need 2 measuring cups – the 1/3 and the 1/2 (we actually saw this in 2 of the homes!)
4) Place all non-functional sentimental items for one person on a table – choose 1 or 2 items only, then photograph and donate the rest. Repeat.
5) Send photographs to a professional scanning service (who will scan each for pennies); they even scan directly from albums.
6. Finally (and most importantly) – Keep only what you Use and Love!
Following your blog has shown me how much we all change and that just as a bi-annual review of my clothing is necessary, so is an annual review of each room in my home.
Thank you so much Susan for all you’ve taught me!
Best of luck on your downsizing and move again. We moved to Tennessee 3-1/2 years ago into a much smaller home (1500 sq ft 3 bd 2 ba, but we are also looking to downsize into something more manageable as we age. Lawn care and maintenance are beginning to overwhelm us at times. We will perhaps find a condo or apt. in Johnson City to be nearer to shopping and doctors. We currently live in the outskirts of Sneedville and are very isolated.
With that said, I understand your situation and you are very smart to start now. God speed on your your new “adventure”.
PS. I have followed you since we moved to TN but actually found out about your blog from a friend in Florida. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of your topics.
My husband and I did a major downsize about a year ago when we turned our home over to our daughter and moved into a 55+ community. We moved from 2200 to just shy of 1000 square feet. This was our second downsize. We had just recently retired and wanted to do a lot of traveling. Attitude is key here. This was something we both wanted and were committed to making it work. If we couldn’t use it we got rid of it. We didn’t put anything in storage. While hard at the time because we got rid of a lot of meaningful items, I can honestly say we don’t regret or miss anything. We spent the winter in Mexico and will soon be leaving for three months to our summer destination. It is turning out to be one of our best decisions. It’s all just stuff. We will not take it when we leave this world. Live life and make memories while you still have your health. It’s so much more fulfilling than stuff.
If you have any advice on how to reduce the amount of paperwork I keep, I would be very grateful. I always look forward to your posts, thank you.
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson (available on Amazon) holds great insight for just this time in our lives.
We recently downsized to a smaller home but we did not look close enough to what was going to be needed in our new home. I was instantly in love with the large kitchen but didn’t take a real close at the condition of the cabinets. The bathrooms also had cabinets that need to be replaced and the inside needs a fresh coat of paint. Our current financial restrictions with inflation and a looming recession have put a stop to these repairs, plus we are restricted by our age to do the job ourselves. My best advice is for older people who may be looking at a smaller home is to raise and lower the windows, examine cabinets closely, look under sinks, check all lights and finally make sure the floors are level and sound. If I had been more diligent I wouldn’t be writing this and I’d be much happier with this house. Good luck to all and to you Susan on your search. Love your posts, keep on trucking.
I look forward to hearing about your process. I have been have the exact same thoughts. Thank you so much.
I am one of those who “waited too long” to make a change. I am 87 years old and am adjusting to a cochlear implant; my husband is going on 90 and has short-term memory loss. I am very healthy and active. Our house is large, beautiful and located on the DuPage River in Shorewood, IL. We are very close to many stores and choices. Our life is peaceful; we have beautiful views of nature through the huge picture windows in the back of the house. There is an island across the river so we never close our shades. However, as you mentioned, it is time for downsizing. My husband loves our home. Our children are located in California, Nevada, and Virginia–in other words, far from us. I just cannot do it. I keep looking at smaller places, but I just cannot give up my beautiful home. So, I will be interested in your journey. I enjoy your emails very much. Good luck.
Amen to the above blog Susan. My husband has declining health and I too need to make a huge decision about moving. It’s very challenging in many ways. Do we stay in the same vicinity because of the children? Do we relocate to a warmer climate with more outdoor options? What to do, what to do?
You are a brave and savvy woman, Susan, as well as beautiful and smart. I applaud you for your wise planning. My husband and I are retired and have downsized twice. My beautiful, wonderful Mother passed nine weeks ago so we are now thinking about our next steps while trying to consider our future needs as we age. Good luck to you. I will be looking forward to your progress.
Good for you! We have downsized nice and we didn’t go small enough. My biggest take-a-way has been that the first things that go are the hardest and then I realize I like the space more than I miss the “stuff.” That being said, I have a long way to go toward getting rid of “stuff”. This will be an interesting conversation. Your clothing advice has made it easier to have fewer clothes. I enjoy your posts.
Susan you continue to inspire. I have gained so much from this post and all the helpful reader comments. By sharing your journey, you are helping us accept life’s stages with grace. Thank you for the motivation to simplify and prepare for the changes ahead.
This is very close to my heart. I did this for my mom while she was still alive, and I’ve since done it myself in two successive downsizing moves first from Virginia to Toronto, then to California. I had three huge houses at one point, and the best of my mom’s stuff. I now live in a one bedroom apartment. I curated my things and started with everything I love. I used graph paper to choose a place for furniture in the new home. Having buried two husbands, a brother and my parents, I’ve found that memories are very important to me. I kept valuable items if I liked them. If not I sold, donated and gave away. Books were difficult—no one wants them. But I found libraries and managed to reduce hundreds of boxes to 15. Art was hard to let go. Gave away what I didn’t want. I was brutal with clothes and shoes and purses. I can see those items may be challenging for you, but I’m sure you’ve got that. But I go back to the graph paper suggestion. Find a place for everything in your new home. If you haven’t chosen it yet, make lists. Kitchens are very small. Keep only the stuff you use daily – and be kind to yourself. Keep nice things to use daily. Keep stuff for entertaining—you’ll still want to—before Covid I was hosting dinner parties for ten in my little apartment. Knick knacks are hard – but small. I kept furniture that I could store stuff in, and I still display the things I love. I am not a minimalist, but I believe in quality. So do you. You’ll enjoy this process. Have fun.
Excellent post! I am so impressed with your thoughtful and pragmatic approach to life. Both my parents died in 2021 at 88 and 90 after living rich and full lives. My brother and I had coordinated support and care for them since 2016 keeping them at home with private home health care – minus a few hospital and rehab stays – until they died. They decided to give their home to my brother who renovated it and lives there now – they moved into an attached in-law apartment and lived there for the last year of their life. We began the downsizing process for their house in 2018 – it was hard as they had been in the house for 47 years. I did a lot of it working with my parents. Fortunately my mom was willing to part with lots, which I had not expected. We gave furniture to family and friends and donated a lot of items downsizing to what they needed day-to-day and what they actually used and wore in terms of clothes and shoes. Over the last five years, I observed my parents experience and learned that I will need a lot less than I think.
As I turned 60, I realized – like you – that I do not want to be weighed down by possessions nor do I want to leave this to my goddaugher who will have to deal with it when I am gone. I am about 5 years from retirement. I will likely move from California to Texas to be near my goddaughter. In my 34-year career, I have moved all over the country as I move up the career ladder. When I retire, I want to find a place to enjoy life with friends and activities I like such as reading, cooking, walking, and hiking and perhaps some volunteer work. I am beginning to think about what type of place I want to live in as I do not want to maintain a yard or have lots of maintenance. I want to travel as much as possible. I am currently renting a three-bedroom house and am in the process of decluttering. I am doing it by category and room by room, eliminating all but what I feel is essential. I am doing this by category because it feels intentional and helps me to see my progress. For example, I got all my DVDs together and donated to a public library as I use streaming services now. I am working my way through far too many books (I am a librarian so it is an occupational hazard). As I read, I am donating to the public library which either adds to the collections or their Friends group sells donations to raise funds for the library. When I get rid of all the books, I can sell or donate the bookcases. I am selling clothing and accessories on Poshmark, eliminating things I am not wearing or loving any longer and things I know I will not wear in retirement. And I am buying less – whenever I see something, I ask this question: Will I wear this in retirement or for travel? If no, I don’t buy. I am keeping the work clothing I need, but am selling items that are uncomfortable or I don’t wear. I also donate to Dress for Success as I am a volunteer for my local group. I will tackle the kitchen next. I have already identified furniture that I will sell when I move from California and downsize to a smaller place.
I look forward to hearing more about your progress and know that I will learn from your experience. Good luck!
Oh, Susan, I do relate to the downsizing challenges you and others face! I have a suggestion that might make parting with special possessions just a bit easier: take pictures of them. A good friend who has accumulated special items from several chapters in her life is making vignettes of related items to remember the events.
For example, she used to show award-winning German Shepherds. One vignette includes her competitor’s bib, a ribbon and trophy, and a photo of the winning dog. She says it’s fun to style the vignettes, doing so brings back good memories, and afterward, it’s much easier to part with the items (and easier to revisit them via the photos). Just a thought, but perhaps useful to others.
We downsized to a single level home in Florida almost 5 years ago. I still wake up every morning and think I am on vacation. I gave away or got rid of lots of things I never used. My extended family benefitted, and so simplified. Lots of nicknacks and clutter can be unsettling. So it is gone, and we love the simple life. Good luck with the move, and all the decisions that have to be made.
I think this is incredibly helpful for all of us to hear. We will face this, too. And I think you are certainly wise to do it now, while you are able. I’m 65 and I am looking forward to hearing more about your journey. Your posts have been so helpful with the clothes. I feel more comfortable going for the classic look, as I feel that has been my center for years. I’ve wavered over the years, thinking I needed a different look, but I’ve now returned to that with more confidence, thanks to you. I am grateful to you for taking the time to post and share your wisdom and experiences. Have a great day!
I did it 5 years ago when my husband was ill and I wanted to be closer to my family. We moved to a condo in a 55 and older community and it was the best decision I could have made. No outside maintenance and my home is lovely. It’s small and perfect for me now that I’m a widow. I love being nearer to my family. Good luck to you Susan in your move and downsizing. It is really an ordeal moving and getting rid of things. But it’s just stuff and it feels good to have less.
My husband is 65, me 63, and just last month we were saying “let’s move when we want to, and can, instead of when we have to.
We knew this time would come – in our house, that we bought 42 years ago, all the bedrooms are upstairs. He likes to golf, so we looked for something bordering a golf course, and closed on the lot last week. We told them we would not start building for 3-4 years, and that seemed perfectly ok.
I don’t golf, but I explained we had the acre yard for me all these years (avid flower gardener) it was time for him!
I dread the part of downsizing our things, but there are so many things we’ll be able to incorporate into our new home, I think we’ll be ok.
It’s going to be another experience new to us, but I honestly think we’ll do just fine. 2 of our 3 kids live close, and one will be a great reason to travel to visit. We have 2 sons, both avid golfers, so I really think this whole thing is going to be fun!
My husband and I have cleared out the homes of 4 elderly family members. We have learned so much. The first rule is your kids don’t want your stuff. We are in our 60s and have started getting rid of things that we don’t use. I am a purger. My husband is not. We have a two story brick shed and my always “speak the truth” daughter has told us if we don’t clean out the shed before we are gone, she is going to burn it down. Seriously, I realize that physically it’s going to get harder as we age to get the job done.
I really want to hear how you go through this process of change. We (my husband & I) Have pretty much decided to stay in our home. It is one story with one step down to the laundry room. We have a patio the lenth of the home and have it furnished. We have a beautidul wooden shed in back. All our needs are met. It’s a little cottage just perfect for us!!! Plus, it’s paid off!!! Praise the Lord!!!
I am delighted that you have addressed this situation, Susan.
Three years ago, my husband & I ( retired 12 years) decided to sell our home & move into our large motorhome, permanently. We gave items to our children and then held an estate sale. It was the best decision we ever made. It is so easy to maintain & there are no property taxes! We now have the opportunity to spend time in Florida, by our daughter & grands, as well as VA by our son & family. There is so much storage inside & under; cleanup is a cinch. Depending upon where you park, you can still garden, which I do. Many Motorhomes like ours, come with a washer-dryer, dishwasher & 2 bathrooms. Our profit off our debts; it also allows us to travel as well as spoil our kids!!
I really enjoy your blog and helpful ideas.
I have made several purchases from your suggestions.
Thank you for helping so many people!
We recently sorta downsized and it is difficult but also freeing. I had a huge estate sale !
Before eliminating I sat in each room and choose items in each room that I loved and decided things that I could let go for someone else to enjoy. Children came to shop and then the sale! I have enjoyed “less is more”.
House cleaning is so much easier.
Honestly, clothing was hard . Not sure why !
I am retired and dress more comfortable and casual .
I kept too much, and now going through again !
But, then like to buy some new items .
Love your ideas ..
Please keep writing!
Your Texas friend
Best wishes for a fairly smooth and uneventful downsizing. You’re right, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews don’t want “things” that have been collected, nor “brown” heirloom furniture/antiques. It is much better to reduce while we are capable, rather than leaving it to others when it is beyond our capabilities.
I did a brutal edit when I married unexpectedly at 55, sold my house and moved to FL. We had no need for two houses filled with stuff, and have pared down further in the past 10 years. Dealing with my mother-in-law’s house and possessions was hard enough when she died. Now we’re faced with my mother’s lifelong collecting, a house beyond stuffed, her imminent passing, and she’s about 3500 miles away.
There’s a lot to be said about “Swedish death cleaning.”
Good luck with your new adventure.
I love getting your emails.
My downsizing was a had to do situation and I still miss having a special craft/sewing room and library office.But things happen and now I am in a 3 bedroom with my 40+ year old daughter with health problems and my 25 year old granddaughter with Lennox Gestaut syndrome. I am here because it was meant to be and as long as I am able, I will do my absolute best to make the best of it all and appreciate what I do have at my age of 77.
I love your casual outfit. It always amazes me that I can have the same items in my closet but for some reason, I never put them together until you do. I appreciate you more than you could imagine and good luck with your new downsizing.
I wish you the best in your endeavor.
You are such an inspiration to so many of us with your wisdom and guidance. Here is another opportunity for you ( and other readers) to share advice on this topic that inevitably most of us will face at some point in our lives. Selfishly, I will miss your frequent blog postings during this time of transition. I do hope you continue the “essentials” theme, maybe even discussing jewelry basics. I need to de-clutter a lot of jewelry that I have accumulated, and a post from you would help me decide what is worth keeping. Wishing you the smoothest of transitions.
I would not be so quick to downsize, being surrounded by things you enjoy to look at and have mean a lot to your well being. From the pictures I see it looks like you have an association that does outside maintenance, inside maintenance is a part of life. Sitting in a 4 room apartment is not for me and I am in my 70’s I believe you should enjoy what you have and be glade you have it.
I do not need or want a three/four-bedroom, two-level house, nor do l want to leave all the stuff I’ve collected over my lifetime for my younger sister to deal with, should I pass before her. I’ve already given her everything she wants. The timing is right to eliminate the unnecessary and sell my home so that someday I can move to the climate I want to enjoy in my later years.
Susan, I’m right where you are with the too much room and to much upkeep. Struggling with making the decision to sell or now that I have major renovations done, staying to enjoy them.
Will look forward to your future post to see where this takes you. Condo, garden home, Apartment?
Hi. My husband and I just sold our home. I grew up there and then raised my family there. But the years have gone by and I’m still in my sixties. So we are downsizing now too. It’s bittersweet for me but the house needs a new family to enjoy it. Hard to say good bye but looking toward the future and we will be moving near the grandchildren which should keep us young at heart. Good luck to you and you new place.
17years ago after the death of my husband I moved to a smaller house. Seven years ago I moved to a town home. As we downsize we miss the many rooms we’ve left behind. It becomes necessary to get creative. I’m an artist and had a full-size studio. In my town home there is a separate dining room that gets used perhaps four times a year It has become my studio, after all how many places does one person need in which to eat. Just think outside the box and you will be surprised how many ideas you have.
I have always felt that maintaining a house and all that it entails was too much for one person and preferred apartments and condos. My single working life left no time to maintain a house, yard, and everything else homeownership requires.
My life is different from most as I have no children. I am a widow that was left with a home to maintain. After three years I was reminded of why I never wanted a house. Every moment I wasn’t at work I had more to do at home. My late husband’s college-age children came to help when they could but had their studies and lived a distance away. I sold the house after asking his family to come by and choose what they wanted. It was mainly artwork, his guitar and sheet music and a few other items. The business suits went to his son. A new Engineering grad.
Wishing you the best!
My husband and I are retired and struggling with that decision now. I think I’m ready and then I look around and think about all the memories made in this house with our children, and, I start to waiver. We have decided to clean out a lot of the stuff we have collected over the years. We have set a goal to have this task done by July. Then we shall decide if we are ready to downsize. Even if we don’t downsize, we will have donated a lot of stuff we don’t even look at or use anymore to Goodwill, and that is a good thing.
God bless you in your endeavor!
Dear Susan, enjoyed your story of downsizing. My husband an I made that move three years ago from a large home to a much smaller condo close to our old home. We wanted to keep close to familiar friends and establishments we frequented. We both turned 80 this year, both in good health, and moderately active. I commend you that you’ve decided to make the move at a younger age. Wish we had. That saying, we wish you well and look forward to hearing about your journey. I am a great fan of you and your style.
Best of luck with downsizing and your move! I will be interested to read how you dispose of family antiques and pieces of furniture that are no longer of use. I am presently living alone in a lovely home that’s over 100 years old, filled with antiques. I need to start disposing of some of my antiques soon, too.
My husband and I are working through “death cleaning;” trying to eliminate all the unnecessary stuff so our kids don’t have to deal with it. We have piles for Goodwill, a local charity, and things we’d like to sell. I would love to hear your methods for selling your things. Maybe a post idea?
As a former Realtor I congratulate you. Most people wait for way too long before making a needed change in their living situation. It often takes an “effent” and at that time, control is invaded by necessity. Best of luck braving the market and get an experienced respected agent.
Love your site and all your advice about life and clothes and just everything. I ‘ve raised 3 grandchildren and still have an 18 yr old one at home and I’m 75!
Daunting but also exciting. My husband refuses to move from our large (land) property and I really to fear that if I am left I won’t have the energy to go through the process of a major downsize – it is a real worry to me. You are wise and sensible, I shall look forward to learning more of your adventure
I could write a book on this topic.
First, analyze what you need in your new home.
While most people downsize in retirement, technically we upsized. I say “technically” because our former home had a full basement that was not included in the computation of the square footage. Our new home needed two guest bedrooms plus a guest bath because we were moving away from the part of the country where our children live. Since our new home is on a lake, we added a “Cabana Bath” – a bathroom that can be accessed from outside so that people with wet bathing suits don’t have to walk across the wood floors in the living room to use the bathroom. Our house is single story with doors that are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair should the need arise. The shower in the master bath is zero entry for the same reason. We have a bonus space above the garage which we chose to have finished out. This space has a bathroom, an office/bedroom area and a closet. Should we ever need to have live in help, this would be where the help would stay.
Once you have identified where you will be moving to, focus on the new home, not the old one. If you can get the dimensions of the rooms of the new home, graph them out to help you determine what will fit in each room. I was able to do this online by identifying a furniture store in my new area that offered a designing tool on its website. This will help you determine which pieces of furniture that you currently own will fit in your new home and which pieces of furniture you will need to get rid of.
Determine the style of your new home. This will also help you decide what to keep and what to replace. Keep what matches the style of the new house. Consider replacing or getting rid of the items that don’t blend with the style.
If you are looking to replace furniture, be aware that older furniture is typically solid wood. Many new pieces – even at stores like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware & Ethan Allen – are MDF with a wood veneer, or a lower quality wood that has a painted finish. Some solid, high-quality wood pieces are still manufactured, but they tend to be very expensive. If you need to replace your current furniture but you don’t want the expense (and reduced quality) of new furniture, consider shopping estate sales, antique malls, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
Charities like Goodwill were not taking furniture items at the time of our move. I sold some of my unneeded furniture on Craigslist. I found a furniture resale store in my city that specialized in my style of furniture, and I had good success selling my remaining unneeded furniture at this resale store. Goodwill and similar charities are great for getting rid of extra household and decorating items, as well as unneeded clothing. I took a photo of every item that I donated, determined what it (or a very similar item) was selling for as a ‘Buy it Now” item on Ebay, and deducted these donations on my income tax return. Of course, this only works if you are able to itemize your deductions on your income tax return.
Finding a good realtor can be a challenge. Be aware that investment bankers/brokers are buying up homes, renting them out for a period of time and then reselling them. An investment banker will expect to pay less than market value for your home. We learned about this the hard way. A realtor contacted us, telling us that she had a “client” that was interested in purchasing our home. We gave the listing to her. Without our knowledge she represented our house to the market as having a foundation problem that it did not, in fact, have. Her misrepresentation drove away potential buyers. However, an investment broker in another state “was interested in making an offer.” But first he was going to have to have his guy determine the “extent of the problems with the foundation.” We fired the realtor. Shortly thereafter a number of other realtors contacted us. It seems that some realtors check to see which houses that were listed didn’t sell. Then they contact the owner to see if they can get the listing. Actually, one of the realtors that contacted us was excellent. We gave him the listing, and he got us two offers within a week of listing. And that was during the off season.
Moving companies are also a challenge. We did our homework, and we chose the one that was ranked the best. The estimator was great, and so were the packers and the truck driver. However, they were having difficulty hiring and keeping the guys who loaded and unloaded the truck. One dresser was torqued, with all of the drawers stuck in at an angle. A chunk of wood is missing from a headboard. Almost all of the furniture was scuffed and scratched. It is advisable to make sure that your move is adequately insured.
Generally, understand that things have changed since the Covid shutdowns. There is a shortage of materials and a shortage of labor. If you are moving into a pre-existing home that is move in ready, this should not affect you. However, if you are planning on building or remodeling, expect long delays. Also, be sure to inspect the materials for defects. As I write this, our builder is replacing the defective wall tile that was installed in two of our bathrooms.
Sorry this comment is so long. Hopefully others will find some of this information useful.
Downsized after a nasty divorce. I am a long time fan of yours. Love staying in a smaller place and still getting rid of stuff. We need very little to be happy. Interested in hearing about your next journey!
My husband and I, aged 62 and 61, didn’t necessarily intend to downsize but in 2008 we bought a 1,000sf loft in Minnesota while we still owned a 3 bed 2 1/2 bath home in Florida that we couldn’t sell then without losing $. (That was already a downsize from a 5 bed 3 1/2 bath house in Virginia.) A too long to read story of careers keeping us in both Florida and Minnesota landed us in Minnesota full time in 2018 and deciding to live permanently in the “temporary” small home. Best decision ever.
After taking care of the estates of 3 of our parents (father-in-law still going strong at 91) we made a point of making an estate plan then meeting with each of our two children to go over it. I applaud everyone who is striving to get rid of stuff so their loved ones aren’t left with the task, but please don’t forget to take care of wills, powers of attorney, and other documents that can save your next of kin a lot of time and frustration that just deepens the grief of losing you.
Looking forward to see the choices you make Susan as the pics from your current home’s interior look very much like our place in Virginia that I thought I would miss forever when we left it 17 years ago. I stopped missing it about 16 years 11 months ago!
I say dear because I think of you as my blogger friend.
First of all I’m wrapping my arms gently around you for the task you are dealing with. It’s gigantic and I imagine you are doing all or most of this all by yourself. In between all this and looking after your parents needs. It’s not easy being a care giver as you well know. I have so much respect and admiration for you, thinking ahead and planning for the future is critical. Freeing yourself of all the things that you once embraced is not easy, however cleaning out of most of your treasures that you just don’t have to have will be so cleansing. No one knows better than you what is going to work for your long term plans. You have such a solid head on your shoulders. You are always thinking ahead.
Owning several homes and a second home for twenty two years we know what cleaning out and down sizing is all about. You are so organized I have no suggestions to add.
During this trying time I just want you to know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
I have enjoyed your fashion tips/ideas and appreciate your common sense, practical approaches to living graciously the last thirds of our lives. In the last 24 years, I have moved my mother from her home of almost 50 years into independent, then assisted living then healthcare (at age 104) in a retirement community. She was initially enervated by losing responsibilities for an older house & yard., but over the years, she needed more help. You are correct, sequential downsizing requires divesting ourselves of our belonging. If one truly values one’s things, sell or give them to someone who will appreciate & enjoy them, whether related or not. Our children/grandchildren frequently do not want our “brown” (antique) furniture nor do they value what we perceive to be family heirlooms.
Wishing you plenty of energy for the editing process and your move,
After having to go through all my mother’s possessions when she was put in a nursing home, I decided then and there to start downsizing all the collections I had acquired over the years so no one else would have that job when I am gone. I was able to donate mostly everything to be sold to make money for good causes. Then I started cleaning out all the clothing and home decor items I no longer used and giving to the Disabled Veterans, and continue to donate more every year. This helps me, as I don’t have to store all the things I will never use again, and it helps others. It’s liberating! Now if I could just get my husband to follow my lead. Good luck with your downsizing and move, look forward to hearing how you are accomplishing your goals.
Thank you for your wonderful blog and this conversation. My husband and I moved from a house in the country on a small acreage to a new house in town on a very small lot. Our three adult daughters were concerned that we were giving up on life, but we have really enjoyed ordering our life for the next few years in a different way. There is something very cleansing about having dealt with the history in the attic, basement, and rooms. We now can enjoy the items and collections we curated for the new house that were most important to us from our years together, yet we are not overwhelmed with the contents of 40 plus years. We no longer have to mow a large yard, yet we can enjoy a small, sweet, English flower garden that is very manageable. Our downfall was in not preparing the family more completely, but we know it was the right decision for us.
Congrats on your new endeavor; having read your blog for several years I know that with your organizing skills, business sense, and positive attitude this will be a wonderful new venture for you!
I have some ideas/tips to share with you and others here, but first, here’s a little background on why I am SO passionate about this topic, and have been my whole life. I write it from my heart and I apologize if this sounds like an ad; that is not my intention at all — my intention is to help others with what I know, and have lived for a very long time, so since you asked for suggestions, here goes!
My husband and I are 65 and 63 1/2 and never had children. We have been married nearly 42 years and have lived around the U.S. Last year he retired from his full-time 41 year career in real estate lending, but we had already moved in 2018 to the Phoenix area from SoCal where we had lived for 19 1/2 years, after living in the Midwest before that. We have moved a total of 15 times since we married in 1980, living in everything from houses we bought and DIY fixed up, to nice rental apartments with concierge services and a handyman on-site, to a little 922 SF CA beach condo we bought and remodeled ourselves, to now a 748 SF modular home we bought in a 55+ community with lots of amenities, activities, a little golf course, and no garage but we installed a shed under our carport. Yep, we have been around the housing block. 🙂
Unlike many Americans, we have always chosen small home spaces purposely, with the exception of one house that was 1650 SF and too big for us after I became ill in my 30s so we moved/downsized at the time back to an apartment. I also moved many times and traveled as a child due to my father’s 40-some years airline career. This taught me to be highly organized, (plus I’m of German descent so organizing is in my DNA, I freely admit). 🙂 After growing up this way, and for other reasons, I started my own organizing company when I was in my 30s to help others who struggled with disorganization and I ran it for several years back then helping people with their office clutter, moves after divorce or change, etc. and teaching organizing seminars I developed. Anyway … here are some things I have learned through all this that might be of use to you and others here as you embark on this stage of life:
1. Moving in your 60s or later is much harder, even if you consider yourself very healthy, than when you are younger, for a variety of reasons both physical and emotional. Also, age is just a number and it’s better to consider your physical and emotional abilities rather than your exact numerical age as some people feel/function young at 80 and others are old at 60. Everyone and every family situation is different too so go with what works best for YOU with your abilities and also finances. Take input from others, sure, but make your own decisions and listen to your own heart in the end. That being said, don’t try and do this alone physically no matter how “fit” you think you are; get help.
2. A big binder, with a zipper around it, (so that everything doesn’t end up on the street if you drop it during the bustle of a move!), is your BFF during a move and house sale. Even with so much digital, you will get hard copies of business cards and other documents and you can tab the binder inside for house sale, house purchase, rental apt., realtors, handyman cards, you name it. Buy EXTRA WIDE divider tabs. Amazon has them and they come with an index you can put in the front. This will save you time and lots of stress! Keep this binder with you all the time during the downsizing and moving process and you will have everything you need with contacts etc. This was born of all my real-life moves and saved us countless times, and everyone I have told this tip to has thanked me, multiple times. Put a heavy velcro pocket inside the front for keys too etc.
3. Plan as much as you can on paper before a move, but remember it’s a “loose plan” because no matter how much you are organized, things can and will go awry, no matter how well you plan. An example from our San Diego to Arizona move: The night before we were to leave, the car transporter still had not shown even though they assured us all was well, so we had to hot foot it (pun intended!) to Car Max and sell our second car. Luckily our car was older and we had planned to replace it in a year or so, so it was no big deal really, but that meant we also had to buy a car after we got to AZ as my husband was still commuting for work at the time, so having to sell our second car suddenly and buy a new to us used car was not so fun right after moving. Life lesson here is plan and check and double check and triple check. Even then, it might be a challenge! It’s just life.
4. Make sure you have excellent and reputable realtors on both ends of a house sale and house purchase. Super important that you also like their communication style as there are many details flowing back and forth both by email, phone, and maybe in person, depending. You might like phones; they might like email. Find out their style before you hire them!
5. This might sound harsh to some, but I’m going to say it anyway. 🙂 Nobody is their stuff. Not you. Not me. It’s just STUFF. 🙂 Now, this is coming from a gal who loves pretty things, mind you. But I know they are just things and could go poof tomorrow, for any reason, so I hold them lightly in my life, yet enjoy them now. You have the memories in your head of things like say, your dining table with all the family meals around it memories, or you can take photos if you want to remember your house or a certain possession. And please don’t take it to heart when your kids don’t want your stuff because they have their own stuff, their own family dynamics, challenging jobs and schedules, and it’s a new generation who wants to blaze their own trail! Remember how YOU were at their age? Just a thought! And they will remember YOU anyway, not your stuff. I can honestly say in all my personal moves there are two items I wish I had not consigned, but even then, when I really think about it, it’s fine! As the old saying goes, “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul.” Sorry! 🙂
6. It is so freeing to live in a smaller/downsized home, and much money, cleaning time, etc. is saved too. Although it’s not for everyone, I do admit, and what seems “small” to one person is not to the next person so figure out how you want to live and the family dynamics/needs too before buying another property as many times it’s the wrong one and retirees move again. Take your time if you are able with a new home or condo purchase; not everyone can do that. (We could not our last move; we had one weekend to find our next life phase house, for a variety of reasons.) And yes, you can entertain in a small home; I have done it many times.
7. For those who feel they need help and/or have waited “too long” to downsize/go through things, I highly suggest hiring a Senior Move Manager (Google it for your city) and/or a professional organizer who specializes in moves. They offer a variety of services and be sure to interview them well and hire someone who has lots of hands-on experience and a solid team/plan they customize to you. During one of our moves I was ill while in my 40s so we hired a company to do this for us and it was worth every penny. They packed, moved it with the moving company, and unpacked while I stayed in a hotel. When I came home to our new home it looked like we had lived there for years and they did an amazing job so it was worth every penny. They can also just do a walk-through of your home and new place and give you suggestions as a consultant and then you can do the actual physical work if that’s applicable or if you are on a tight budget this helps too to just do a walk-through consult.
8. There is no forever home on this earth. There, I said it. 🙂 That’s a popular term these days but one I feel is inaccurate given my work and own life experiences, because life changes all the time and people come and go. Sometimes suddenly. So the home you are in now, or retire to, thinking will be your last home, probably will not be. Or as my husband said the other day and I wrote it down as a great quote to keep in my files: “There’s your plan and there’s God’s plan and God’s plan trumps your plan every single time.” I think he’s right, personally. That’s why I like a “loose plan” and then let go and let God and go with the flow!
9. There is a beautiful book called “Lightly” for anyone struggling with not being able to let go of or decide about possessions. The author has several books but this is my favorite. Search Miss Minimalist online/Amazon. I have known many organizers personally and read many books on organizing and simple living, (I visited Walden Pond in person in my 20s so yes, I know how to have a great vacation, ha!), and this book is beautiful in my opinion, as well as helpful. I do not know the author personally, but by her book, she has a beautiful presence on this planet, I think, and a good message to share.
10. Lastly, I wrote a book called Small Space Organizing: A Room by Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space in 2012 based on my life experiences and work and last year my book publisher contacted me that ten years later they were repackaging it as Maximizing Your Small Space: A Room by Room Guide and re-releasing it in mass market paperback, eBook, and now audio, available on Amazon or more info on my website at KathrynBechen.com. I have loved hearing from others how my book helped them and as a 60-something now I consider this book to be my legacy as it’s gone ’round the world. I also self-published a purposely-short eBook called Moving With Ease years ago which is a comprehensive checklist style so you will not forget one. single. thing. It was based on all of our real-life moves. And ironically, I just wrote a post in February on my blog about moving to Hawaii which tells the tale of two women I knew who moved to Hawaii, (one was 92!), and how I now use “Moving to Hawaii!” as a game I play with myself to declutter our home. Trust me, it will help you decide on things!
BTW, to sum up how our pre-retiree move turned out in AZ from 2018 to now as retirees is we have enjoyed living in our new 748 SF modular home in Arizona very much. At the time we bought it, we had only one weekend to find a home, but I had done lots of online research prior to our trip here to look and narrowed it down before we came to look in person. I suggest this as a good m.o. before a move if you have time. If you read the community newsletters they have published on their websites, you will often get a “flavor” of the community before you visit in person.
Our latest home FUN: We are in the process of making a “secret garden” right now out of our carport area and it’s been a lot of fun and is turning out great! Little white light ambience, a bistro area, and a seating area to lounge. It can be done; life is what you make it!
If you are seeking to retire in Arizona, this state is huge on modular homes for seniors and gives another housing option to stick houses and condos and apartments and townhomes. That being said, the prices on these kinds of homes have doubled or nearly doubled from what I now see online compared to when we moved here four years ago. If you are considering a modular home, do your research as it is a different kind of housing if you are used to a stick built dwelling and there are many variances in the homes and communities, of course. But we really like ours. And yes, it’s HOT here in AZ in the summer, but as a former longtime Midwesterner who nearly froze to death multiple times, as I love to say, “We don’t have to shovel heat!” Personally, I will take heat any day! Also, in the summer here the luxe resorts offer wonderful discounted specials of all kinds and extra off if you are an AZ resident. People take their kids/grandkids to their pools for their birthdays etc. Great fun! This is a beautiful state geographically too.
I sincerely hope my tips help everyone who reads this and Susan thank you for your beautiful blog; I have enjoyed it very much and found your wardrobe tips most helpful for my aging body. 🙂
Oh my goodness your my hero…..we are in process if putting our business on the market. We have so much stuff and we are finding ourselves wanting to gift to younger family members things we have cherished from our parents. They want nothing. Stuff is not important to them. Off to goodwill it will go. With this being said, I commend you on moving forward. I don’t envy you having to chose what to keep and what to let go … all the very best and good luck.
I look forward to all future posts!!!!
I’m trying to do the same and downsize from a 3 bedroom/2 bath home to something smaller and more manageable since I do all the house and yard work. It seems the more room we have, the more stuff we acquire or hang on to. I’ve offered my adult kids family “herilooms” that they’ve turned down. They have no direct history with or attachment to things that I’ve cherished. The older I get, however, I realize that thy are just things and the memories that go with them will never go away. What’s the use of keeping things in boxes, closets, or collecting dust in an unused room if nobody gets joy from them? As an empty nester, I get much more pleasure from experiences these days by traveling with my other half and often our dogs, too. Not having a big house full of stuff makes it easier to pick up and go.
If something is dear to you and it still makes you smile when you use or look at it then by all means keep it!
Wishing you all the best! Can’t wait to read updates on your journey.
Susan, this is my first time commenting. I have purged so much since our seven adult children moved out. We enjoy living with just essentials. Helpful resources for me were:
1. The Joy of Less by Francine Jay
2. Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown
3. The Minimalist Home and The More of Less: finding the life you want under everything you own, both by Josh Becker
Looking forward to hearing about your process. Although I am a petite-size 63 year old, I love classic styles like you do, so your posts are really fun for me.
Good for you. I will be interested in watching your progress. I live in a small cottage on one level. 4 steps out the back and 6 to the front with excellent railings. I am starting with books and clothes I don’t wear. Some kitchen things and extras. See what that looks like!
We too recently downsized. Our home was filled with beautiful things, and we had a beautiful garden-large garden. We realised that we spent most of our spare time trying to keep everything clean, ordered and beautiful and then we were too tired to enjoy it.
It took a health issue, for us to realise things had to change.
We were very lucky that we found a home that had been a “display” home for a developer. We basically purchased a brand new home that no one had lived in.
Susan, we had 3 large skip bins for all the things we knew we no longer needed, charity places benefitted from so many clothes, all our photos were either put on the computer or given to relatives, crockery/cutlery were given to friends with beach houses etc and we started afresh in our new home.
We updated the home, painted some feature walls, and changed the small garden to a pretty garden
We never regretted the move and we love our new home
This is a very timely conversation for me. I can’t make up my mind!! So much ‘stuff’ ….and clothes I never wear! Will be interested to hear from others much more organised than me!!
I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed your wonderuful helpful and most interesting mails.
I’ve also picked up marvellous helpful tips in most areas. You are quite exceptional in many aspects of your daily living. You are a beautiful and wise woman.
I am presently having to scale down for the second time after 22 years! It is daunting for me as Im 73. but at heart still 53!! However, due to lockdown and covid my financial position is not what Id thought it would be. This sadly will be the decision maker for me.
So looking forward to more of your suggestions, plans, thoughts and desires going forward.
Warm regards and blessings
Maureen from S.A.
I downsized almost two years ago to a brand new maintenance free one level Townhouse and love it. My children wanted me closer to them after my husband died and I finally gave in. I am so glad I did. It was hard to let go of my house that I had been in for 25 years & some things were tough to let go of but it was so worth it in the end. Actually it was freeing!! Now I get to see my 3 children & grandkids & grand pups all the time!! As I said, it won’t be easy to move and purging can be brutal but I don’t think you will be sorry when you settle into your new place. Please post pictures when you can.
Read with interest your latest post and have passed it on to some friends. My husband and I downsized and moved from the Toronto area 7 years ago to a new area 2 hours south of us. After retiring early, our thoughts were the same as yours – – we were spending too much time maintaining a house that was much too large. We were successful in finding a smaller home with less work that we could stay in for many years and especially if something happened to one of us. We carefully purged and packed since our belongings would be in storage for 4 months while our new bungalow, condominium townhome (with double car garage!) was being built. We sold most of our furniture that suited the older home we were moving from and love our new furniture bought to complement the home we are now in. Each week I now look out and say that I’m cutting the grass whereas, in fact, a lawn crew is doing this in our condo development. We pinch ourselves, almost daily, that we made this decision and plunged into moving into a new area, initially without friends, and haven’t looked back for a minute. All of our needs are being met and we are happy and content.
You are so wise to downsize while you have your health and vitality. You have more choice in where you land and I think you’ll be much happier in the long run. I love reading your blog. You have such helpful suggestions. Good luck to you on your move!
All the best to you for a smooth transition to your new home. I know you’ll be organized and make good decisions in your planning. I have enjoyed your blog for many years, and will remember the best fashion tips by Susan! I hope to see your blog as often as you have time. ❤
I have seen the problems of not downsizing….my parents are still living, my Dad is 90 and Mum is 85 (though she has dementia). Both are still living in our family home of 50 years, and as you can imagine, full of things that represent 50 years of history.
I am an only child, so their care falls to me. They are now in a position where I feel it is too late to move them. I know it would be way to much for them to cope with, especially my mother.
These are valuable lessons for me – don’t leave things to the last minute. I guess we don’t believe we’ll ever be in that situation, but we all get old (it’s a gift). We need to be prepared to make changes to accommodate our changing status. I admire your resolve and forethought in this. I look forward to following along with your journey and learning things for making changes to my lift in preparedness for each new chapter.
Susan: I have been following you since about a year before we “downsized” which was 5 years ago, so I am sharing with you. The kids had moved away and we were spending WAY too much time and money maintaining a lawn in the Austin, TX heat. We moved to a newly built townhome community in Bethesda, MD (DC area) where I have a small, fenced, and paved backyard for just enough gardening (and a place for our cats) but very little maintenance. I love my townhome, though it took 5 years to get used to “vertical” living, after living predominantly on one floor for 27 years in TX. My utilities are SO much lower and my relatively small HOA fee takes care of snow removal and external maintenance of the subdivision. I have no rooms that go unused, as even the smaller “extra” bedrooms have dual purposes–a home office/study/sewing room for me and one (a man-cave) for my husband who still works part-time. I purchased 2 American Leather queen sleeper sofas (neither is actually leather, btw) which are the most comfortable sleeper sofas on the market (no bar under the mattress) as well as being attractive comfortable sofas to sit on. I have privacy, QUIET, and a low-maintenance house without unused space. I also have plenty of room for my 2 adult children (and their partners) to sleep comfortably and privately when they visit separately or at the same time. Just sharing for you to keep in mind when deciding on your next “home”. I don’t think I could ever be comfortable in a multi-family building. I made sure of the party wall STC ratings before I bought my townhome and I do not hear my neighbors! Wishing you the best and looking forward to your latest “adventure”.
Down sizing can be difficult. But I also don’t want all kinds of things that I don’t use or that cause more maintenance on my daily routine. I have down sized to a smaller home and I could not be happier. I have tried to be consistent and if I no longer use something or wear a piece of clothing I donate. It is becoming harder and harder to donate because there are so many retirees doing the same thing. I keep trying to find places that will accept things. Again as you said many young people do not want many of the things I am trying to relocate. It took me a very very long time to even get my little house. I think lots of people are happy in a condo, but I wanted to control what I wanted to do with my home. New roof, lawn care, and how I arranged my yard. Hope some of this is helpful, but I know you are a very savvy lady and I am looking forward to viewing your new adventures. Again Thank You so much for all your tips. I enjoy every post.
looking forward to your story, process and downsizing comments. thank you.
Susan – Good for you for realizing you need to downsize, again. We did that…moved to a smaller home that still had to maintained and lived there for 10 years. Five years ago we retired and knew we had to make a plan – looked at 55+ places up and down the east Coast and then found Willow Valley Communities. It is a continuous care community – so we are set for the rest of our lives.
But, yes – nobody really wants your stuff. Does not matter – we donated a lot and it is so freeing to have less stuff around. Good luck and blessing to you on this next step in your story!
Dear Susan, congratulations on the decision to downsize! In the last 4 years, my husband and I have downsized from a 5 bedroom house in Canada to a 3 bedroom chalet in the Netherlands and just recently to a 2 bedroom apartment in the UK.
I did take early retirement 3years ago but during the pandemic it was too boring and also I was too far away from my adult children and now my grandson, so went back to work in the UK.
Anyway, I have a lot of experience with downsizing for ourselves as well as elderly relatives so would be happy to share pointers, tips and advice. I have followed your blog for years. You have saved me money and stress! I have even purchased a couple of your clothing items over the years.
Wishing you the best of luck with your move and hoping to share my experiences with you.
You may share any tips you think might be helpful here for everyone to benefit, Wendy. Thank you!
Susan, this post could not have happened at a better time for me. I just signed retirement papers, and although I am excited, I am anxious as well. I definitely need to take some time over the upcoming months to purge as we are open to traveling and possibly relocating. I am looking forward to seeing how you and others are handling down-sizing and purging.
Thank you so much for addressing this important and timely issue. We are nearing the completion of a remodel of our retirement home but are dragging our feet on clearing out and preparing this house for sale. I’m overwhelmed with purging our large houseful of stuff that’s accumulated over our lifetime. I look forward to your words of wisdom and insights on your process of downsizing your home and know they will be encouraging and helpful for many of us.
Blessings on you as you make another transition in your life, you can resist or embrace it and it sure seems like you are!
Thank you for your help and encouraging words for many of us in a new season of life; it is greatly appreciated and needed, thank you.
Listen to Joshua Becker on You Tube. He gives the best practical advice on why and how to downsize and get rid of things we no longer want but feel guilty about. MEMORIES ARE IN OUR HEAD AND HEART, NOT OBJECTS.This helped me immensely to not feel guilty about getting rid of things from my mom,grandmother or close friends. I even moved into my mother’s house 5 years ago out of guilt, b/c she held on to it her whole life, for me.
Now I am searching for 1 bedroom apartment for less housework and no yard work. Hope this helps,GOOD LUCK!
Wishing you all the best Susan and looking forward to reading about this new change in your life. I remember all to well being the adult child who was in charge of moving my parents from our childhood home that they lived in for 48 years and then organizing 3 garage sales. Then my father passed and moved my mom twice. Those moves were a piece of cake compared to the first move. Each move taught me a lot and my husband and I both decided we had too much stuff so we started selling all the extra tools, home decor, items not being used and with the proceeds we took a trip to Alaska. Well, last June my husband passed and now I will be going through things again as I can. We cleared the land and built this house together so I am not ready to move yet, plus I still enjoy the yard work, but also know the day may come when it may be too much for me to do alone. (We don’t have any children.) There have been times already that I think, I really only use the living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath, the other rooms and full basement are really extra. Lots to think on and pray about. Right now, I take comfort in what we built together. Thank you for such a timely post. I will be looking forward to reading about this very important next step for you. (You are three months older than I am and I appreciate all of your posts.)
My husband and I downsized, and moved to another state three years ago. I didn’t like taking care of a bigger house. We moved there when our children were young. With both of them married and out of the house. We finally moved. It took me three years to convince my husband we needed to move. My oldest daughter moved to Georgia a few years before us. I hate the cold, and my husband finally deceived he did too. We now live in a small manufactured home, on the side of a small mountain. And I love it. It’s quiet, and my grandkids are less than a half hour from us. So if you are like us, and you keep too much, just buy a big shed to store things in. That’s what we did.
I will be very interested in seeing how you navigate your new normal with a further downsizing. Something we all need to consider as we “age into our homes” or “age out” of them! Thank you for sharing.
Judging from the responses to your downsizing plans, many of us are in the same phase of life and are willing to share experiences. What a treasure trove of helpful knowledge! My sister is a successful downsizer, having moved from 3200 sq ft to 1800 and finally 1500. 3 bedroom bungalow. She looked for a town with a hospital, vibrant downtown, and outdoor activities, as well as an energy efficient solar home with minimal yard-native plants and mulch! One bedroom serves as their office and stationary bike room, A second bedroom has a queen Murphy bed and a drop down table anchored to the wall. This is her quilting room that converts to a guest room when needed. They have pared down their hobbies, keeping only what they currently use. Years ago they gave away items that no longer suited them and enjoy acquiring a few new things to suit their new lifestyle. They live in the moment and enjoy being active. They don’t miss the large house, yard and unneeded objects. She’s my role model for how to age gracefully and embrace life fully.
Family china thoughts: buy neutral everyday China and keep a few serving pieces from the heirloom china. Use these with your everyday china on special occasions so you still have memories without keeping the whole set.
I am about to embark on a brutal edit myself so look forward to your future blogs even more than usual. I find myself in the position of knowing that there is more time behind me than ahead of me and this is an opportunity to make the future as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. So here goes….
Hello Susan, I appreciate your upbeat and pragmatic attitude towards living life. It is helpful and inspiring. I’ve moved countless times. I’ve also had to settle the estates of both of my parents. These steps help me understand that objects, in general, weigh you down. Their value is not so much inherent as imbued with the meaning we give to them. So, exercise that freedom to assign and reassign value at will! The one downfall I’ve had is not wanting to put into trash what is still useful. I’ve sold many things at very low price online at FB Marketplace or the OfferUp app. I’ve almost always had easy transactions with the occasional (and annoying) no show. It is also possible to give away things in your neighborhood using Freecycle. I wish you luck and fun in lightening your load!
Hi Sue..well you are doing it! Good for you! I would suggest watching “Home Edit” on tv and also the Marie Kondo show. Both are great for decluttering and getting rid of things. Love those shows!
I am! I can’t wait to tell you all about it after the dust settles.
I look forward to future article on this subject.
Would love your opinion of all the “ baby doll “ dresses we are seeing. Doesn’t seem the right thing for me. I’m 68? Love to know your thought
Go for it if the dress flatters your shape and doesn’t make you look larger. It is better for most ladies if it is somewhat fitted in the bodice and then flares out below the bust.
We are beginning the process of clearing out our home with a future retirement/move in mind. I am overwhelmed with what to do with everything. Are you going to sell things? Donate them? Please share some of your thoughts on this process. I will be following along and learning from you. Best wishes on your move!
Hi Susan, I admire your healthy attitude about change and I wish you all the best with your future plans. I’m not as flexible as many people are and I wish I were. Change can be difficult for me because I enjoy the ease that stability and predictability provide.. Another way of saying this is that I prefer my old computer to anything new because I don’t want to spend time learning how to use the new one. I’ve found that most new things today require too much attention to keep them working safely and efficiently.
This past February, I injured my knee and then re-injured it twice. This experience so rudely awakened me to my aging body and how vulnerable I am. Without a knee, it’s quite difficult if not impossible to do many every day things. Every one of my daily tasks instantly became a burden. Driving was impossible for a few weeks. Since this happened, I’ve been shedding items from my home. When it’s not easy to vacuum or dust, unnecessary items become quite obvious! I’m doing the same shedding in my closet ( especially with shoes). I feel much happier when I don’t have too many choices and too many things to care for.
We sold family home and rented a small cottage for one year. The house we next bought was a bit bigger than cottage, we gained a sunroom. We learned that we needed two living spaces to feel comfortable and that the tv needed a room with a door. I thought I had gotten rid of our excess before we went into the cottage. As others have found, it was just the first step. Even though we ultimately bought more space, we were still glad to get rid of clutter, of extra AND ALL THOSE WORK CLOTHES!
Susan, when your post arrived today, I was afraid you were announcing the end of your blog. Thankfully, that’s not the case.
We need to downsize and get rid of too much stuff after living in the same house for 33 years. I want to move, but my husband doesn’t. Our daughters are after us to move and correctly argue that the neighborhood doesn’t suit us anymore. So I’ve decided to pretend to move which is another way to convince myself to de-clutter and get rid of stuff. Then I came across this article today…
Good luck, Susan, with this big task. Thank you, readers above, for your interesting stories and good advice.
Thank you for sharing that helpful article, Elizabeth. I will return to blogging about this experience in a few days. I had five showings of the house yesterday, so my work life is on hold.
As I was a little late for the party, I did not read through all the “Replies” so hope I am not being repetitive. I retired seven years ago. My advice is to be very careful that your new digs are 1) financially flexible, and 2) as wheelchair accessible as possible.
I am no expert in finances, but got caught on buying a co-op where I cannot get a reverse mortgage or a home equity loan. I live in California, so most of my net worth is in home equity but I cannot get to it unless I sell. Hopefully by the time I need cash for the expenses of “aging in place,” these financial instruments will be available.
I DID remodel my co-op for wheelchair accessibility. Please make sure you can get a wheelchair in your bathroom, and if possible, to your shower. Wide hallways and doorways are helpful, too.
I know you do your research, so hope you have investigated “aging in place.” Best of luck!
Susan, I wish you only the very best on the next exciting chapter of your life. I always look forward to your blogs, but even more so as you downsize. I have recently been smacked in the face with reality and know I must downsize, minimize and simplify my life and home. Blessings and peace. ……Sunny
First I decided what I wanted my new life to be and decided to get rid of what didn’t fit. I did a three things list every day, two chores and organizing a drawer or shelf. I put things I didn’t need or like in a box for St Vinny’s. After a few months I had a lot less stuff.
Susan, wish you the very best in this next phase of your life. Change is always around the corner. We are downsizing now, or trying to. Our best to you and may your days and nights be filled with the best life has to offer.
I hope that once you’ve come out on the other side that you’ll mine your experience for posts.
We’re currently waiting for our Mother’s new apartment to be ready for move-in, looking around at a home she’s lived in since 1969. I got some good tips reading through the comments here. Take your giveaways to Goodwill every day really rings true. I think my Mom has gone through boxes marked ‘give-away’ multiple times!
Susan, my husband and I downsized a year ago and we are very happy with the move. We gave away many possessions and sold almost all of our furniture through a consignment shop in our area. It seems many people are shopping consignment shops since furniture is difficult to get these days.
Good luck to you! I hope you will be as happy as we are with the change.
Re: downsizing, I have been watching a beautiful YouTube channel lately and this woman has downsizing/living in a small space/simple living perfected to a beautiful art, literally. She lives in Korea with her family of four in an apartment and has a beautiful and serene lifestyle, in my opinion. Her small balcony/terrace garden is gorgeous, meditative, and even brings food to her healthy home-cooked meals too! Not sure how many big-house-Americans will relate to this lifestyle as it’s a different mindset, but I sure love how she lives as a longtime student and practitioner of simpler living myself. Her YouTube channel is named Cardsu. Her cats will keep you smiling too if you are a cat person.
With your unique flair you wrote what I have been trying to articulate for years. Thank you for “editing” my thoughts as they were just a jumble. I feel more peaceful for having read your words and know they reflect my thoughts perfectly. I look forward to following your process and journey. Thank you.
I’m so glad that covering this subject has been helpful to you.
I am looking forward to hearing everything this change will bring about…Especially the struggles with having one partner ready to downsize and the other not so much…we have a 200 year old home in need of constant care and a very large yard…also several boats we enjoy cruising on….my husband does not want to downsize, says he is not ready yet…I am 80 and in good physical health and he is 74 and still playing hockey with the “old fellows”…I am realistic about what the future holds….
So enjoy your sharing of your life with “us”!
We downsized from a two bedroom two story home to a one level accessible townhouse when we retired at age 65. It felt a little early but has been a good decision. When a health issue arises and you can’t be discharged home from the hospital because you can’t get into your home, upstairs to the bedroom, into the bath, to the toilet in time, or be able maneuver the wheelchair from room to room it will be too late to make the needed changes. And you never know when something will happen. Even if you think you can get help to get into your home and then just live on one level…what if there is a fire and you can’t get out? If you wait too long someone else will be making decisions for you and the independence you crave will be lost because you didn’t make changes when you were able.
My husband and I downsized from a large 4 bedroom, 2 living area house to a transitional apartment, then to a condo we purchased a little over a year ago. When we sold the house, I got rid of a lot of furniture and some “stuff,” storing what didn’t fit into our apartment in a garage rented with the apartment. When we moved to the condo, we got rid of a few things but mostly brought it all with us. Ten months later, I was able to retire from full-time employment last December. Since then, I have been working my way through the boxes and tubs of things I thought mattered to me, but what I’m finding is that I value space and ease of cleaning much more than stuff and local charities have been the recipients of my possessions.
Hi, Susan! I just saw that you are downsizing and fully understand all you said above. After living in my house for over 40 years, I’m trying to sell it to move to a much smaller place.
With my children living in a fairly different area of this huge city and the heavy traffic we have to face to visit each other and the fact that this house and garden are too big for just the two of us we decided to move and, more importantly, to downsize.
Going from a 4,500 sq feet place to a 2,000 sq feet one is proving to be real challenge. So I will be reading about your experience carefully from now on. Thanks for sharing!
All the best,
Susan, you have no idea how helpful your post was for me today. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I am 70 and in the process of “trying” to release myself from the emotional attachments to “things” I have and no longer need or serves me in anyway. This “stuff” is so draining for me, but I have struggled in letting go. Your words have helped me to put this all in perspective. Thank you for your words of wisdom on how to approach this in a sensible way and to let go of things I no longer use or need…..
I have been following you for a number of years and want you to know how much I have enjoyed and how much I have learned from you. Hopefully you will continue to share for many years to come. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you, Nancy. I’m so happy that this post was helpful to you.
Hey from Chattanooga. I’m 69 and would love to downsize. Wherever did you get the energy and stamina? I start and can’t finish a project.
My daughter with diabetes and a rare autoimmune disease and her grown son live with me. They aren’t any help. (Another convo) Anyway I wish you the
Best in Johnson City. Is that TN. My autistic son lives in Greeneville. I’m new here so I can’t wait to read all your style tips. Btw impressive resume.
Yes, I’m in Johnson City, TN. When all the tasks were complete, I must admit I needed a couple of days to rest and recover. I was exhausted with bruises and scratches from top to toe. I found it easiest to check off one task at a time rather than looking at the big picture. For example, I started months ago by sorting out the memories and other things stored in my massive attic.
I definitely understand your decision to downsize. Over several years I saw MY parents struggling with where to live and all the things they needed to get rid of as their health continued to decline. Seven and a half years ago my husband and I downsized in house square footage and items in preparation for retirement. Our home has been paid for since we bought it. We’re so happy we downsized when we did. I’m sure you’ll love your decision, too.
That is wonderful advice. My husband and I had such a chore getting his parents’ home sold and all their stuff sold that we couldn’t pass onto family and friends. Sadly, many of the items that my mother in law cherished such as china, sterling and a china cabinet had to be donated or sold because no one wanted them. The really sad thing is that I can’t remember a single occasion where we used the “good” china because it was to be saved for some reason which now is irrelevant. Why do possessions take such a hold of us? You have made a very admirable decision to deal with this head on and not wait until you are forced to. I hope I can be that determined when my time comes also. Unfortunately my husband has inherited some pack rat tendencies so it might be difficult
I am also downsizing into a condo. Our current home has stairs leading to a lower finished level.
I am 74 and am fully active. But hate those stairs. I follow you faithfully and love your elegance and style.
I always try to dress well and have been told I look ten years younger than I am.
I have donated a ton of clothes to the salvation army because of a twenty pound weight
Loss,( intentionally) .You have made me see that owning more classic pieces is liberating me from buying trendy and fashionable clothes. Your sense of style is wonderful, so thank you for your advise.
Good luck with your move. Pls keep on blogging!!!
Thank you, Kate. I will continue blogging as I get settled into my routine.