How to Declutter and Downsize for Retirement

Written By

Machaela Casey
A small piggy bank sits on top of a moving box with a note attached that reads "Downsizing." Packed moving boxes sit in the background of an empty room.

Make Your Retirement Life Smaller and Better By Moving With Less

By Downsizing

The decision’s been made: you’re retiring. And, you have big goals for this next stage in life. You’ve decided to downsize. In a smaller, cleaner space, you can focus on enjoying your golden years.

A cup filled with coffee sits on top of a napkin with notes that read "Declutter. Trash. Sell. Donate. Recycle. Keep."

But before you move, you need to get rid of a lot of stuff. We understand it’s not easy to downsize for retirement and have put together some tips to help with the process before you move.

Start with a Plan

Know the square footage and floor plan of your new place. Then, measure existing furniture to make sure that it will fit in your new space. The reason why is simple. You need to know exactly what will and won’t fit into your new home. You don’t want to arrive only to find you have nowhere to put your boxes and furniture.

Also, consider storage options in your new home- closet, attic, garage, and basement spaces. Finally, don’t forget about outdoor areas. Determine what grills, patio furniture, and flower boxes you’ll be able to bring with you.

Once you have studied your floor plan, it’s time to start decluttering. Give yourself at least six weeks before you move to begin getting rid of items.

Tackle the Paperwork

Begin by lightening your paper load. Odds are, if you’ve lived in your home a long time, you’ve accumulated a lot of paper. The good news is, almost all of it you no longer need. Recycle all old newspapers, magazines, junk mail, and catalogues.

Then, head to your office or library. Set aside an afternoon or two to go through all of your medical records, insurance bills, and other important papers. To avoid identify theft, you’ll want to shred many of these documents. You can shred items yourself or take them to a local office supply store and they’ll do it for you. Many communities also offer free paper shredding events quarterly.

Digitize Your Media

Next, look for a way to streamline your media collection. Look through photo albums, video cassettes, and film reels. See what photos, tapes, and reels can be digitized. Upload digital files to a cloud account or a media distribution channel that you can share memories with family and friends. Or, consider gifting albums to a loved one.

Prepare to Purge

Now it’s time to go through everything else. Move through your home, room by room. Make three piles in each room: one for items to throw away, one for items to donate, and one for items to sell. Be ruthless.

If you haven’t used an item in more than a year, you most likely won’t use it the next year. And remember, you don’t want to go through the hassle of moving items if you’re never going to use them in your new space.

What to Throw Out

Be prepared to throw away any items that are broken or stained beyond repair. This may include clothing, books, shoes, or furniture. You don’t want to donate or sell items that are not in good shape-unless it’s an antique. Nobody wants to buy something that’s not in like-new condition.

What to Donate

Give away things that you no longer need but may be of use of someone to else. Donations are usually lower value items that aren’t worth the hassle of selling. This category might include clothing, inexpensive prints, books, used furniture, or extra cookware. Many nonprofit organizations will pick up donated items for free by appointment.

Donations are also tax deductible. If you decide to donate to a charitable organization, make sure to inquire what items the organization may not take. Certain things like baby furniture and outdated electronics aren’t always accepted.

What to Sell

Try selling unwanted items that remain popular and in quality condition. Items that sell well include like-new furniture, electronics, designer clothes, collectibles, mirrors, and rugs. For convenience, consider selling items online. Just make sure to stay safe when buying or selling items over the internet.

Get Rid of a Car

Consider how many cars you’ll need at your new location. Many retired couples find that they only need one vehicle, if they need one at all. If you do plan on selling a car, try and take care of that before you move. It’s just one less thing that you’ll have to worry about, and selling a vehicle might provide a nice bit of cash for your move.

Moving Services Needed for Retirees

Now that you’ve decluttered, you’re ready to move. Moving out of your old home and into the new one can be made a lot easier with support from the right moving company.

At Nelson Westerberg, we have conducted all kinds of moves, and we’ve helped retirees transition into a new home and a new way of life. We have helped seniors with local moves and long-distance moves. We offer a full range of services to support your move. We always create a customized move to provide you with exactly what you need. Some of our most popular services include:

White Glove Moving Services: Our premium white glove moving services will handle all aspects of your residential move. We’ll send a team of professional packers to your space and individually pack up all items for transport. We can even move heavy, bulky items like safes and pool tables. Have antiques, or other collectibles? No problem, we can move those, too.

Vehicle Hauling: Depending on your situation, you may not want to drive your car to your new home. For example, you may not want to put wear and tear on your vehicle. Or, maybe it’s just more convenient to fly to your destination. In any case, we can provide vehicle shipping services to help make your move easier. We can move cars of any make and model along with boats, RVS, motorcycles, and more.

Storage and Warehousing: During a downsize, you may need temporary or long-term storage for your items. If you’re moving to be closer to your children or grandchildren, you may want to set aside items for them without moving those items into your home. We offer a full range of storage solutions, from small, climate-controlled units to large facilities large enough to store your extra vehicles.

Small Shipments: If you’re moving into a small condo or assisted-living facility, you may want to consider our small shipment service. This is a special service that we offer for orders under 5,000 pounds.

Get Moving on Your Downsize for a Better Retirement

Your retirement is a time to move towards a simpler, more fulfilling stage of life. In addition, it’s moving to a place that is better equipped for you in your retirement. When downsizing, you need a plan to reduce your items. Then, you need professional movers who will assist you with a stress free move.

When you are ready to we can help you with all of our vast moving resources like for interstate moving for seniors to help with understanding what you need to do when you move as a senior.

At Nelson Westerberg, we’re the movers to help you move into your retirement with ease.