Many Boomers  are tired of waiting for the real estate market to improve to sell their homes might want to consider making a move now. The housing market appears to be stabilizing and home sales are picking up. And, while owners may not get as much for their homes as they would have several years ago, they won't pay as much for a new place either.

So if you're ready to make a move, here are  downsizing tips:

Have a plan. Think about what kind of lifestyle you want. Do you prefer an urban setting? Or do you need a yard? Do you want to be part of a community that offers lots of activities and amenities such as golf courses and swimming pools? Or are you a more independent type who seeks out opportunities on your own? 

Consider a short distance move.  Many downsizing Boomers would rather stay here, right on Vancouver Island, and travel south for a few months in the winter.

So many baby boomers are simplifying and getting rid of the big house and all the chores, to free them up in the summers as well. Nanimioities know there is so much to explore here right on Vancouver Island.  The townhouse, patio home, or condo leaves  the landscape work, watering, and  snow shoveling is taken care of for the complex to take care of.

If you love to boat, hike, travel to see your kids and grandkids, there is not too much holding you back.

Age restricted? Before the move,  decide whether you wish this to be your last move. Think carefully about whether or not you want to live in a neighborhood with young families.

Most 55+ want to   move into a neighborhood with people their own age who shared their interests. It is great to be around people with some of the same things in common.

Consider cash flow. The downsizing phase of life usually means you won't be earning as much money as you did when you were younger. "Think about cash flow,"  What are your sources of cash? How long will you work? How much can you expect from CPP and OAS, or a pension? Will investments generate enough income to cover expenses? Many Boomers think they'll sell an expensive house and buy a cheaper one, resulting in a nest-egg ready to draw on for living expenses. "In my experience, people find their downsized house isn't that much cheaper than their family home they sold, however, with less maintenance it ends up being a more affordable lifestyle, with time to do the things you enjoy.

Get a mortgage. The Canadian Dream may be to live mortgage free, but it often makes sense to have a mortgage, even a small one. Assuming you make a profit when you sell your current home, the proceeds could be invested and used for living expenses. If you sink all the proceeds from the sale of your house into a new house, you may not be able to generate enough cash to cover expenses.

Make a smart move. Before the move, focus on how you want to live. Think through your new lifestyle and which items will make that possible. "People may not think enough about why they're moving,"  If you're moving to a community that provides outdoor maintenance, you won't need the shovels and lawn mower. Think about using the extra room in the new place for the hobby you've always wanted to start, instead of saving it for guests who rarely visit. "Look forward, not back,"

Downsize thoughtfully. If you're selling a house, you'll probably spend time de-cluttering the place so it looks good for prospective buyers. But don't stop there. Sell unwanted b unwanted items on eBay, or give to family, friends, charities. However save family treasures that can't be replaced.  If you don't have room for all the treasures, give them to friends or relatives who can appreciate them. And if cleaning out the basement seems overwhelming, , "Make it manageable. Tackle a desk drawer first."

Here are some great ways to get started.

 

How to Get Started

  • Start with the rooms you use the least: In most family homes there are rooms that are not always used on a daily basis, such as guest bedrooms, basements, or living rooms. Start the sorting process in these rooms and avoid cluttering the areas of the home used regularly.
  • Start with large items: In order to feel you are making progress, in each room start with the largest items and move towards the smallest. For example, identify what you will do with the furniture before you start on the knick-knacks.
  • Have a sorting system: Sort items by using stickers, making piles, or making detailed lists of what will be kept, what will be given away and to where, and what is still undecided.
  • Write down family history: Take the time to write down special memories or any family history that is connected to special items. This information will be cherished for generations to come and will contribute to the value of family heirlooms.
  • Work in scheduled blocks of time: Plan to sort items for periods of no more than two hours at a time. The process of revisiting memories and making decisions about items you have lived with for many years can be emotionally difficult. You will feel less overwhelmed and make better decisions if you take regular breaks and allow yourself time to digest what is happening.
  • Start early and don’t rush yourself: Be sure to plan plenty of time for the sifting and sorting process. Take moments to laugh at old pictures, read old letters, and grieve for losses. If you can’t decide what to do with an item, set it aside and return to it later. Work at a pace that is comfortable for you and your situation.

What to Do With All This Stuff

  • Keep the items that you treasure the most: Make a list of items you refuse to part with and keep that list in sight as you sort through other possessions. You may need to amend this list as you come across new things but it will remind you that everything is not of equal value.
  • Consider bequeathing items now: Identify those items you want certain family members to have and consider what items you are willing to bequest now. Remember, you may get more pleasure out of seeing your granddaughter enjoy your china at the next family event than knowing she will have it after you are gone.
  • Get rid of things you no longer need: Be realistic about what items you use regularly and what items you are just used to having around. The electric carving knife you use at Thanksgiving may not be as necessary as the toaster oven you use every morning.
  • Consider having a garage sale or home auction: Having enough items that are likely to net a profit (furniture, antiques, electronics) may make the effort of having a garage sale worthwhile. Alternatively, if your possessions are potentially of substantial value, consider holding a home auction. You can often hire a service agency to catalog and appraise your possessions and coordinate a home auction for a percentage of the profit.
  • Donate to charity: For those items you cannot give away as gifts or sell for profit, make a tax deductible donation to charity. Often traditional charity organizations will pick-up donated items. Consider thinking of specific organizations for specific items, for example, donating your professional wardrobe to an abused women’s shelter or employment assistance program; donating books to the local library sale; offering furniture to the Red Cross for fire victims; or giving old instruments to a school music program.
  • Have the kids remove their stuff.  Don’t hesitate to tell the adult children it is time to collect their childhood belongings and store their own mementos. Give them a deadline that works with your schedule and warn them that anything leftover will be donated to charity. You may be surprised at how much they decide not to store themselves

 

 

 

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Diane Stasiuk

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