Downsizing Dilemmas. Where and How do I Begin Getting my Home Ready for Retirement?

Updated: Jul 13

I was recently on a panel discussing retirement options and where & how to start the downsizing process. It is overwhelming. So many decisions to make, directions to go. You have lived a life in a large house, had children who have flown the nest, and now it's time to 'let go' of excess 'things' and surround yourself with the things you love. How to squeeze all your possessions in two rooms and a study. Where to start? Lets look at the Downsizing Journey to help you decide where to go next.

Everyone's journey is different.

Whatever you do, don't compare where you're at now to your friends, siblings or neighbours transitions. Everyone has a different path and different way of getting there. The diagram above is a broad journey into retirement which is a slice of things to consider. Looking at a flow diagram of decisions can give you some clarity and also pose some more questions, which need answering. But it demonstrates your beginning and end destinations. Right now you may have your house on the market, so the next steps concern your possessions and what to do with them. Or maybe you haven't considered getting your affairs in order. Do you know where the paperwork is? Once you have made the decision to downsize to a smaller home, commit by making a plan to start your journey.

Start with pen and paper and start now.

Time to put the kettle on, find a quiet space and put pen to paper. Even grab your calendar so you can mark milestones on it. Which milestones? Putting your house on the market, settlement date, calling removalists etc... Concerning the contents of your house. Start with one room at a time. It may be 1 room per week, or 1 room per month. Look at the contents and ask yourself, will it fit into my new abode? Do I want it to fit? Where could I rehome it? Would someone else I know enjoy it? As you consider each item, write a list of action points and put it on the door, ready to be crossed off. Create three piles, buckets or boxes - 'keep', 'donate' and 'bin'. Make sure the back of your car is free so you can fill it up with donations and drive to the local charity drop off.

Embrace the experts.

Now is the time to ask your family and friends about their experiences with handymen, gardeners, removalists and anyone else who can help you get to your end goal in one piece. Word of mouth recommendation is gold. Calling in help can be a weight off your shoulders particularly when it comes to tasks you haven't done before. Have a budget in mind and communicate this when getting quotes, as tradesman can be competitive. A popular vehicle for removing excess furniture and homewares is selling online. If you are not comfortable doing this you can ask your local Professional Organiser to help. Not only are you rehoming your excess items, but getting paid for it too!

The Swedish have coined the term 'The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning' for the downsizing period when you get your affairs in order and free yourself from a lifetime of clutter. The book by Margareta Magnusson is worth a read if you need some inspiration. it's not as morbid as it sounds!

I hope I have given you a starting point for your downsizing journey. Embrace it as it comes. Now go and put the kettle on!

Adi is a professional declutterer and home organiser living in Brisbane with her husband, three boisterous sons and a lovable Burmese cat - Milo.

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