Everything keeps getting bigger; the average size of a home in the U.S. is over double what it used to be, and costs have grown as well. That leaves the average American with much more space than necessary, and it often equates to a hole in their pocket. Thankfully, many seniors realize they can stop the money hemorrhage by downsizing their space. 


Downsizing means less time and money put into a home that’s larger than necessary, and it means more time and money invested into your golden years and overall happiness. With less homes on the market due to the COVID-19 pandemic, completing your downsize may not be possible for a while, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning. If you’re thinking about downsizing, ask yourself these questions.


What Do You Need in a Home?

You likely can answer this question yourself, but you can always enlist the help of a real estate agent or family member if needed. The answer will change from person to person and couple to couple, but there are a few things that are constant from one to the next: You need a home that is within your budget and accessible as you age.


Usually, the kitchen and bathroom in a new home will need work. For example, many seniors opt for a bathroom that provides grab bars, a walk-in shower, and a taller toilet.  Depending on the scope of the job, between one to two months will be needed to remodel a bathroom. 


You’re also looking for a home that’s accessible in regards to its location. Think about whether it would be difficult transportation-wise, and how close you would be to your usual service providers and amenities. And of course, consider whether it’s affordable. If you have renovations to make and a move to plan (an interstate move averages $4,300), every dollar counts.


What Do You Need? 

Ask yourself this question throughout the entire moving process, from downsizing your stuff to finding your next home. Do you need a closet overflowing with clothes you haven’t worn in years? Do you need multiple totes full of décor for every holiday? The answer is usually no.


When you move into a smaller home, space will be harder to come by. Save yourself the stress of packing and moving items that you’ll eventually have to get rid of anyway by unburdening yourself ahead of time. You’ll feel lighter and less stressed as you start getting rid of excess items, especially if you own too much stuff.


As a rule of thumb, if you don’t need something or haven’t used it within the past year, get rid of it. Sell or donate what you can, and recycle or trash the rest. Go through each room and get rid of at least half your things. If you have knick-knacks or sentimental items you can’t seem to part with, take photos of them before sending them to family members that also feel an attachment. You can create a scrapbook full of memories once you’ve settled into your new place.


What Can You Move On Your Own?

Don’t risk hurting or over-exerting yourself when moving. Instead, pay for movers to handle anything you cannot and see if their other services are affordable as well. Pack what you can yourself to save money, then call in the pros.


Purchase whatever packing supplies you need, and ask local grocers and liquor stores for boxes that you can recycle following your move. As MakeSpace suggests, if the boxes aren’t strong, use them for packing linens and towels rather than fragile valuables. Label each box clearly so it can be dropped in its coordinating room. 


Remember to pack a small suitcase full of your toiletries and a few days’ worth of clothing, so you won’t need to scramble through boxes in search of essentials like soap. 


Moving is challenging no matter what, and downsizing is particularly tough. As you sort your belongings and your options, remember this is for your future. Think in terms of meeting your needs, and you can look forward to a smooth transition.