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A Guide to Help Seniors Prepare for Retirement Living

When you were younger, you likely wanted a large home with plenty of space for the kids to grow. Maybe you needed a big backyard, full garage, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and space to entertain. Ottawa is, after all, a beautiful place to live 12 months a year!

But as time passed, the kids moved out, and you started to realize you might have a bit too much space. At some point, you decided you don’t really want to be pushing a lawnmower when you’re pushing 70.

If you’re contemplating downsizing in retirement, or even before, you’re not alone.

Many seniors are choosing to downsize to senior apartments so they can make the most of their retirement lifestyle.

Downsizing helps cut down on labour-intensive property maintenance, freeing up time, money, and energy for the things that truly matter to them.

A low-maintenance lifestyle is often the main goal of downsizing. While it might seem difficult to sort through a lifetime’s worth of belongings, keeping a plan and set of goals in mind can help.

If you’re looking to move into senior apartments in Ottawa, or simply want to downsize to a smaller home, we’ve got a few tips to help you get started.

Why Downsizing is Good

Downsizing to live in senior residences provides a stress-free retirement without the constant maintenance of home ownership. As you age, you’ll likely start to resent having to climb a ladder to clean eaves, push a lawnmower around the yard, or repaint the house.

Even if you’re a fan of the physical activity, retirement income has some stricter limits. You don’t want to use up so much of it maintaining a house larger than you need, and you certainly don’t want to outsource the work.

Downsizing frees up a bit more capital and helps keep maintenance to a minimum. Moving into senior apartments or communities, you get to live alongside like-minded neighbours, too.

With so much to enjoy without the stresses of owning a home, downsizing can make your life happier and healthier!

Common Misconceptions About Downsizing

It Feels Like the End of the Road

Moving into a retirement community or downsizing isn’t the end of the road! Far from it, by simplifying some aspects of your life, you’re free to pursue your passions and enjoy your retirement to the fullest.

On a more practical note, social isolation is a major contributor to depression and anxiety disorders. Downsizing and moving into a new neighbourhood or senior living community can help get you out of your shell, making new friends, staying active, and enjoying life.

The likelihood of health complications, as mentioned before, increases as we age. Senior apartments and retirement communities are built around various supports to help you stay happy and healthy.

Downsizing Is Bittersweet

For many people, downsizing and moving to a retirement community is actually an exciting and liberating process. Far from the sad feeling of saying goodbye to a home, many people actually see downsizing as the beginning of a new chapter.

That said, some sadness is totally normal when you say goodbye to your family home. But that would be the case if you moved, no matter what!

The sadness of letting go of belongings and their homes disappears quickly as you get involved in you new community, try new activities, and make new friends.

It’s Overwhelming

You can downsize your home without feeling overwhelmed. Get the help of friends and family, start small, and start early so you won’t feel rushed.

Start Downsizing Early

No matter the task, rushing makes for more stress. Avoid the extra stress and start downsizing early on, at least one month before you move.

This way you can take your time and not feel so overwhelmed by the fast-approaching moving date.

Sort through one room at a time, take breaks, and give each item some thought before deciding whether to keep it or not.

Know Your New Space and Your Needs – Plan A Visit to Your Retirement Community

Visit your new retirement community before you move to get a sense of life in your new home. This will help make the move less scary.

This will also help you determine what you can keep and what to get rid of. For example, if you’re moving to a one-bedroom home, then two sets of sheets should be enough.

Making Your Plan and Setting Your Goals

To plan for what you will take with you, you must first have a good idea of the space you’re moving into. So when you visit your new home, measure the rooms and storage space.

Then plan for what will go in each room by mapping it out at home and on paper. If a piece of furniture will fit and will be used well in the room, then keep it.

Also plan to take only your favourite things that will fit in your new home.

Start Small and Eliminate Rooms You Won’t Have in Your Retirement Home

Start going through items in a small room with little emotional significance, such as the laundry room, bathroom, or linen closet. Once you’ve tackled the smaller rooms, you can start moving your way through the home to bigger rooms.

A rule of thumb for downsizing is to eliminate rooms you won’t have in your new home. So, if you won’t have a garage, attic, or basement, then you’ll need to get rid of the items in these rooms.

As hard as it may seem, remember that you won’t have the space in your new home.

These are the toughest rooms to tackle, especially since they are used for storing a lifetime’s worth of things. Some items will be easy to dispose of, but others may have strong sentimental value.

Yes or No Piles Only!

It can be difficult to part with certain belongings, especially if they bring back fond memories. But you have to think about your space in your new home.

So do yourself a favour and don’t make a “maybe” pile of things you might keep. This pile will end up large, waste your time, and cause you more work and stress in the end.

Instead, decide “yes” or “no” only. As you sort through your home, pack what you want to keep, and leave the rest unpacked so you can decide whether to donate, sell, or give away these items.

If you use an item regularly and you have room for it in your new home, then keep it. But if it’s been left untouched for a year or more, then you don’t need it.

You don’t want to move a bunch of things you don’t want, need, or use. It will just waste your money and energy during the move.

Consider Passing Down Heirlooms Early

Experience the joy of gift giving by passing down family heirlooms and other legacy gifts early.

If you already planned to leave your family certain items, then consider passing them on now. And ask your family if there are any items they would like to have. This will help you downsize and make for a fun gift-giving occasion.

Take Your Time and Enjoy the Process

As you go through your belongings, allow yourself time to reminisce. Enjoy the nostalgia and let the tears flow if you need to.

You can also involve your kids and grandkids in the process. They can help you pack and put things up for sale online. And you can share memories and tell stories about your home and belongings.

Make the most of your time with your family in your home. And remember that you will be able to make new memories with your family in your new home.

It can be hard to leave your home and belongings, but it’s all just stuff. At the end of the day, it’s your family who makes the memories.

Dealing with The Emotional Toll

Change is scary for everyone. And when it involves moving to a new home and getting rid of your belongings, you may be apprehensive. But the earlier you downsize, the easier it will be.

It’s important to stay positive during this transition in your life. Look forward to all the new experiences you’ll have. And think about how easy life will be when you don’t have to maintain a large house any longer.

In your new, downsized, clutter-free home, you will spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your retirement.