Making the decision to leave the family home and downsize to a smaller, easier to manage retirement apartment can be a daunting decision.
If you are someone who is living in a large house, and are feeling overwhelmed at the sheer thought of moving, rest assured this is a normal emotion and you are not alone. We spoke to Lorraine Cox, Director and Founder of Downsizing with Ease, who has successfully moved over 100 residents into Greengate Villages. Here is what she had to say:
How do you approach downsizing from a home you’ve lived in for 40 years?
Firstly, go easy on yourself and understand that downsizing is likely to stir up some emotions. I recommend you start early if you decide to move. Downsizing takes time so if you can chip away at it, room by room, over a couple of months, you will reduce a lot of the last-minute stress.
I always recommend that you start by asking your family and friends if they would like any of your unwanted goods. You’ll likely have some beautiful pieces of large furniture that are too good for the tip, but too big for your new home - if you can pass these items on to family and friends, then do it.
If there are pieces that you can’t get rid of and would like to donate to a charity, make sure you speak to them a few months before your big move. Many charities in Sydney are busy and have 3 – 4 weeks waiting time for collections.
One client of mine had a reverse house warming party. After donating all of the items she could, she put stickers on the furniture she no longer wanted and invited her friends and family around. By the end of the party, most of her unwanted items were gone, which saved my client a lot of stress as well as the cost of having the items removed to the tip.
How do you cut the clutter?
Every week, when putting the bin out, make sure you discard some small unwanted items such as old newspapers and cards. Go through your clothes and donate things you no longer wear to your local clothes bin. Even if you only clear out one drawer a week, these two easy tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment and you’ll see things are starting to happen.
Remember, once you’re in a retirement village you won’t be catering for the whole family like you used to - so you’re not going to need five frying pans and ten dinner sets! If you have not used items for a few years get rid of them, you don’t need it. I often say to my clients, let the family have you over for those special occasions, or remember, you can arrange with your village to hire out their function room and have all your family come to you, without any of the hard work.
Also, make sure you measure your new home to ensure the items you are bringing will actually fit. Why pay for a packing and removal company to take these items, only for you to pay a second time to have them removed?
How do people feel after they’ve downsized?
I moved quite a few people into St Patrick’s Green, and a lot of them were stressed and anxious leading up to the big move. Once all of their moves had taken place, and they’d had a few months to settle in, I hosted an afternoon tea for them at the village. What was so special about that day, was the difference I could see in all of them. They were relaxed, happy and had made some wonderful new friends in such a short time. The comment from almost all of them: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
What other advice do you have for people who are starting the downsizing journey?
Over the last 21 years, I’ve assisted over 3000 people move into over 150 different retirement villages, and I always say: if you’re thinking about it, don’t wait - move and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Remember, downsizing your home will not downsize your memories. If you would like more information you can call Lorraine from Downsizing with Ease on 1300 795 526.