By Harriet Hodgson
After they retire many people move into a smaller apartment, condominium, or town home. Simple as it sounds, downsizing takes lots of planning and time. Many retirement communities have long waiting lists and if you are thinking of downsizing you need to start now.
1. Put your name on the list. You may have to wait 10 years to get into the retirement place you have chosen, so you need to sign up now. You may also have to pay a deposit, which should be refunded if you do not move there.
2. Ask or floor plans. Having a floor plan will help you to see which furniture will fit and which will not. You may wish to get rid of large items now and replace them with smaller ones.
3. Put documents in a safe place. You do not need to keep every check you ever wrote. However, you do need to keep recent bank statements, financial transactions, and legal documents (Power of Attorney, wills, car titles, etc.). Store these documents in a safe deposit box if you have not already done so.
4. Sort your clothing. Your next place may not have as much storage space as your present one, so it is wise to sort clothing regularly. If you have not worn it in a year you probably do not need it. Donate extra clothing to charity or your church rummage sale.
5. De-clutter the kitchen. This can be so time-consuming that you may have to do it in stages. Throw out spices that are more than a year old. Give away extra appliances, dishes, silverware, pans, and storage containers.
6. Cull magazines and books. This is also time-consuming and you may have to do it in stages. Keep your beloved books and donate the rest to the public library. Nursing homes will be glad to have your extra magazines.
7. Check table and standing lamps. Over the years lamp cords may have become frayed and sockets unreliable. Decide which lamps you like most and repair them if necessary. Give the others away.
8. Clean out the garage. The garage is often a dumping place for extra stuff like clay flower pots, gardening tools, and seasonal items. Having a clean garage will make you feel better. Give extra items to your neighbors or charity.
9. Give things to your family. You will only have room for selected items in your next place. Ask your kids and grandkids to choose the heirlooms and/or furniture they want. Giving away these things now will give you pleasure and cut moving costs.
10. Keep your home market ready. The one thing you do not want to do is fall behind on home repairs. Paint walls, fill cracks, and refresh or renovate your kitchen and bathroom(s). Your market-ready house should sell quickly when the time comes. Then you can focus on making your new place a gem.
Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find other reviews on the American Hospice Foundation Web site (“School Corner” heading) and the Health Ministries Web site.
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