Downsizing a Home: Tips for a Stress-Free Move to Senior Living

June 15, 2021

Bigger isn’t always better. People downsize for many reasons. Empty nesters find that a smaller home is easier to maintain, the younger generation may save their money for retirement or travel, and an older person may need more care, security of safety. If you are a senior looking to downsize these tips are for you!

Caucasian elderly couple downsizing from a home to move into a Priority Life Care Assisted Living Community.

Here are a few reasons seniors choose to downsize:

  • You are unable to maintain or keep up with home repairs and cleaning
  • Your home feels to large and empty without children
  • You are looking for a safer and more accessible home
  • You are missing social engagements and meeting people
  • You want to be closer to family

Whatever your reason for downsizing, the benefits will sure help you destress and feel well organized. The hard part is – Where to start? The following tips will help you feel empowered and find relief through the downsizing process!

Start Right Away

The more time you have, the easier it be to go through your home. Depending on the time of your move, you can spend as little as an hour a day working to organize and declutter. It’s never too soon to start if you know you will be making a move in the near future.

Make Mindful Decisions

Before starting to go through your items, create four (4) stations to help you sort your items. For items you decide will need to go, they will have these four options: Giveaway, Donate, Sell, Trash or Recycle. As you go through you things, ask yourself when the last time you used an item. Why have you held on to this item? Is your item replaceable?

USEFUL TIP: Use the KonMari method. Choose a grouping of items at a time (clothes, books, collectables, etc.) If an item no longer “Sparks Joy,” it’s time to depart with it.

Giveaways (items to pass on)

You will find items that have much sentimental value to you but may not fit in your new senior living digs. Many senior living communities also advise to not bring your expensive items, like jewelry, in the event they are lost. Reach out to family and friends to find your loved items a good home.

It will also be helpful if friends and family can stop by frequently to pick your giveaways. It will be a bonus to see them more frequently and have some help with your downsizing.

If you cannot find a home for items, you can memorialize them in a book of photos. Take a photo of each item and write notes or a story telling why it is so important. You can then choose to donate or sell your item.


For non-sentimental items that are not ready to be thrown away. Donating them is a great idea and for a good cause. Some companies will even pick the items up from your home.

Items to Sell

If you have a lot to sell, why not have an estate or yard sale? It could help cover the cost of your move or for new décor or furniture in your new place. There are plenty of online market places that make it easy to sell. Be sure to check out any selling and safety guidelines for each marketplace before choosing to sell online. Here are just a few online marketplaces :

Trash / Recycle

Items that have no value should be put in the trash or recycled. The opportunity to recycle certain materials may vary by town.

Start with the Big Items

The thought of going through an entire home can be overwhelming. Choose one room at a time, and make a list of areas of you home that you would like to see decluttered first. When you tackle each room, make your big decisions first and then the small ones.

It is also important to understand the measurements of your new living space. Think about what you will need in your new home, what items are most important to you, and what will fit.

Questions you should when evaluating large items:

  • Are there washer/dryer hook ups?
  • Will you need a refrigerator and will your current one fit in your new place?
  • What furniture do you use the most?
  • Do you have any large sentimental items? Will you have space for them or will they be better passing them to family members or selling them?
  • Do you have any large collections or china that you care about? Will you keep or gift as family heirloom?
  • Do you have a car? Will the community have transportation available?
  • Do you have a special hobby? Will there be room in your new apartment, or is there another room at the community to store your items?

Moving On to the Small Items

After evaluating the large items in a room, look for groupings of items that aren’t regularly used or visited. Places like the attic and garage tend to accumulate items that are easy to remove from the home. You may also find there are many memories hidden in these out of the way nooks. Refer to the Make Mindful Decisions before deciding to keep anything, especially if you haven’t seen it in years.

When It’s Time to Pack

When it’s time to pack up and make the move, clearly label you items that are moving with you. From furniture to your toiletries, it will make the move and the unpacking easier.

Deciding to more into a senior living community is not always an easy choice. For some, it is a necessary or urgent move so the senior may remain in a safe environment and can take advantage of the support and care needed. Whatever the reason, know that you are not alone. Priority Life Care communities are here to help you. Use our community as a resource for all things senior living to feel more comfortable in choosing a new home for you you’re your loved one.

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