Downsizing Tips for Empty Nesters

At some point, most aging adults will face the likelihood that they will need to downsize from their current living situation. There are many reasons why downsizing is popular among older adults such as wanting to be closer to grandchildren, simplifying their lifestyle with less “stuff”, addressing their partner’s medical needs or their own, or to cut costs to save for a fun retirement. Changing your lifestyle that you have been living for the last 30+ years can seem daunting and stressful, but we are here to help!


Downsizing can be emotionally taxing. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you have a plan to downsize. Here are some tips to help you or someone in your life downsize their living situation to make that transition into retirement easier. 


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Tips to Make Downsizing Easier


Make A Plan


No matter how long you think this process will take, it will inevitably take longer than you planned. Give yourself time to create a plan of attack on how you plan on downsizing. Create a realistic timeline for yourself so that you can set benchmarks you can actually achieve to stay on goal.


Rome wasn’t built in a day. Going through the entire house you’ve lived in will take time and you don’t want to make rushed decisions about keepsakes and belongings just because you didn’t give yourself enough time. Give yourself a couple of weeks to maybe even a couple of months to go through your belongings, sorting through what you want to keep, donate, pass along to friends/family, and trash.


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Start Sorting Smart 


Most people have things in their homes that they know they want to get rid of. If you are a hoarder, like me, you have lots of piles of things you want to get rid of. And that’s a perfect place to start! Start smarter by getting rid of things that first come to mind when decluttering your home.


Another piece of great advice is to start your decluttering process in an area with little to no emotional attachment. Think of this as your possible mud-room/laundry room, a linen closet, a guest-bedroom closet that’s full of clothes that never see the light of day. These are some examples of good places to start decluttering. 


A big part of sorting smarter is understanding your needs and your future needs. If you are moving from a large home or townhome into a small tiny house, you won’t need as many towels, sheets, chairs, etc. You need to know what type of space you are moving into so you can plan accordingly when sorting through your belongings.


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Do’s & Don’t of Decluttering


  • Don’t keep duplicate items - do you really need all those pots and pans? Nope!

  • Don’t make a Maybe pile - Only Yes or No piles here!

  • Do pack all your keeper items first, then decide what to do with the items that didn’t make the cut.

  • Don’t move the stuff you don’t want - moving isn’t cheap so be diligent when sorting and just know that less is more when it comes to stuff.

  • Do sell items that you won’t have room for - outdoor tools and clean office furniture sell well at garage sales or for consignment.

  • Don’t be afraid to sell your things, yourself - apps like OfferUp, Letgo, ThredUP, Poshmark, Depop, VarageSale, 5miles, Shpock, and Facebook are here to make selling your items easier.

  • Do let go of items that have been sitting on a shelf or in a closet for over a year.

  • Don’t take all your collectibles with you - pick out a couple of items that have the most value to you, and either donate or sell the rest to someone who will enjoy them also.

  • Do take photos of your collectibles - a collection of nutcrackers or Hummel figurines(hi, Mom) takes up a lot of space when being stored. If you take photos of your collection, you can always look at them on your phone or print them out to display on the walls at your new place.

  • Do turn boxes of photos to digital - check out Fotobridge or Scan My Photos and you can thank us later!


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Emotional Toll of Downsizing 


As you start going through your old photo albums and start moving souvenirs from past family vacations, the memories from these sentimental items might start to creep forward in your mind. We all deal with our emotions differently, so just know it is okay to stop decluttering and let the nostalgia and happy memories have their moment. It’s a great feeling to remember exactly what you were doing, who you were with, what country you were in when you look at something special you own. 


Decluttering can bring up a lot of memories and emotions for people as they start planning this next chapter of their lives. You are not alone in this journey and no one can take those memories away from you! Just remember to stay on course, and keep the possessions that bring you happy memories and not clutter.


Another great tip we recommend when decluttering is getting your friends and family involved in the process. Sharing those memories with your grandchildren is absolutely priceless. And since younger generations are usually more technologically inclined than you may, or may not be, they can also help you sell those items online.


Bonding over the memories in your old house, going through old photos and sharing generational stories together is one of the best parts of decluttering with family and friends. Your family is one the most important things in your life, not the clutter around you so take that as motivation to have your family help you in the transition process. 


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Senior Moving Options


Since you have packed up all your belongings, decluttered your house and donated everything you realized you could live without, it is finally time to move. Are you planning on asking family members to help you move? Or have you looked into full-service movers to help you make your move? 


We found a great moving option online that is known as senior move specialists. Whether you are moving into an assisted senior living facility, a nursing community or into a smaller home or townhome, these senior movers are there to help you. Check out the National Association of Senior Move Managers to find a senior move specialist near you!



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A Tiny House - Downsizing Made Easy


Hopefully, when you started your plan to downsize, you had your final destination in mind. Are you moving into an apartment complex? Are you moving in with one of your family members? Are you selling everything and living off-grid in an RV?


If you don’t know exactly what that next step is, we would like to share an opportunity with you that is an affordable downsizing option for the next chapter of your life. We understand this option won’t fit everyone’s wants or needs, but it might be one option that hasn’t been presented to you yet, so… what if you moved into your own Tiny House? 


Our Tiny Houses are 399 square feet and are all first-floor, furniture-friendly homes. This means you can keep your queen-sized bed and not have to climb upstairs into bed every night as some other tiny home manufacturers build. We also build small and large porches that can be added on to any tiny home for additional, functional space.


Those smaller, trendy tiny homes are very cute but are not usually built for someone who is planning to downsize. Even if you are fit, they are not the best long-term housing option.


We design and build our Tiny Houses 4+ feet wider than most RVs/campers and are crafted with full-sized furniture-friendliness in mind so that you can personalize your tiny house to fit your lifestyle and fit all your most prized belongings.


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Tiny House Movement


One of the best parts of the tiny house movement for seniors is that now, tiny house senior living communities are popping up all over the country. Not only do you get to live on your own in a cute, energy-efficient tiny home, but you can also live in a community of people just like you. You get to keep your independence by living in your own home and now, you have less home to take care of because you have more important things to do like spending time with your grandchildren, picking up a hobby you put off for 60+ years or road-tripping the country to visit all 50 States. 


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There are many great reasons to go tiny, such as living with less non-essential “stuff”, having a smaller environmental footprint in a smaller home, having less laundry to do(yaaas), and living closer to the ones you love. But the best reason to downsize to a Tiny Home is to continue your independence in a home of your own.


We want to help you downsize, so if you are interested in downsizing to a tiny home, or know someone who is, you can check out our tiny home floorplans here.


Let’s start living Tiny, today!

About the author

Kira Hovancik is social media manager of Legacy Housing Corporation. She loves all things Tiny Homes, the Dallas Mavericks, Pinterest, -- as well as netflix & chillin with her bff.