Congratulations on moving to a retirement community and stepping into your next chapter. We know it’s a big decision. Downsizing means spending less time working on your home and more time enjoying the benefits of community living.  However, we know downsizing can be intimidating, stressful, and often overwhelming.  Half the battle is figuring out what to do with all the stuff you’ve collected over the years. But, if you go about it the right way, downsizing can be a positive experience for you and your loved ones. Here are our five tips for downsizing to a retirement community to get you on your way.

1. Make A List

For the move to go as smoothly as possible, you’ll want to start by making a packing list.

A packing list will help you:

  • Better organise your belongings
  • Make unpacking easier
  • Ensure that you don’t forget anything
  • Guarantee the safe transportation of your belongings.

Decide What You Absolutely Need

We understand that parting with something as simple as a unique tea mug can be difficult.  That’s why we recommend starting with the necessities such as kitchen items and toiletries. You might be surprised at how much easier it is to tackle the living room and bedroom once you’re in the groove of things.

You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time for packing though, as, more often than not, it will be a trip down memory lane as you dig up old treasures. 

To save time, categorise your list into personal items such as medication, clothing, and shoes. Make sure to list the ‘must have’ items under each category. Be methodical and move from room to room, identifying the things you’ll need in your new home as you go.  You can use colour coded stickers to help quickly identify what’s what.  For example, green could mean ‘necessity’, while orange is a ‘maybe’ and red is a ‘donate or discard’.

When making a list make sure you:

  • Include any items you need that aren’t available in your retirement village
  • Set packing goals for each day. This prevents any last-minute blunders

Don’t forget, anything that you can’t take with you can always be passed down, donated, or repurposed for others to enjoy.

2. Make Frequent Visits Before You Move In

When you’re looking for the right retirement community, you’re looking for more than just a new home. You’re looking for a support system, somewhere that has social activities, and it must have the right amenities that fit your lifestyle, needs, and budget. Bring your loved ones with you before moving so you can feel the space out and imagine where you would place your favourite items.

Use this time as an opportunity for deciding what not to bring and what won’t fit in your new space together.  That way, when you return to your home, it will be easier to organise your packing.

When you do make visits, ask yourself, does this village or community meet your expectations and needs? Is there anything missing that you will absolutely need?

Here are some things to look for to get you started:

  • Does it have the amenities you need
  • Will your furniture fit in the new space
  • What furniture won’t fit
  • Do they offer housekeeping
  • Are there 24-hour security and emergency call services
  • Do they provide a laundry service
  • Are there any transportation services
  • How are the meals and snacks
  • Check out the social and cultural events, activities, and programs
  • Make sure there is plenty of visitor parking

3. Try Not To Get Too Sentimental

Having to downsize is not an easy process for anyone to go through and getting emotional when coming across sentimental items you’ve had for years is normal.

To help avoid getting sentimental, try the following:

  • Set a packing timeframe
  • Encourage your family or a friend to keep you on track
  • Make use of the keep, donate, and trash method
  • Set aside a small space for treasured keepsakes

Ask yourself these questions when decluttering sentimental items:

  • Would you buy the item at full price if you had to buy it yourself?
  • What if someone you don’t like gave you the item? Would you still keep it?
  • Does the item bring back happy memories?

Answering no to more than one question is grounds for letting go of the item. If feelings of guilt begin to creep in, remind yourself that you’re not letting go of the person or the love they have for you.

4. Sorting Through Your “Stuff” Is Not Easy

We get it, sorting through items collected over a lifetime is not so black and white. However, in our lifetime, we come across thousands of items that are sentimental in our lives. In fact, you might have let go of a few previous sentimental items in your youth. We figure, if you’ve likely done it before then you can do it again, it just takes a little bit of planning and courage. 

Unfortunately, downsizing to a retirement community will require letting go of items you thought you would never have to.  To solve this dilemma, separate items into either a donation (a way to give new life to an item) or a ‘maybe’ category.  Sort items based on importance, sentimental value, and practical use.

5. Stay Positive, You Have Support

In the beginning, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed with emotions as you sort through all your belongings and come to grips with the inevitable move. However, there are a ton of positives that come with moving. 

Retirement communities can offer you a better quality of life than you could have expected at home. For one, there will always be someone to mow the lawns for you. 

Living in a retirement community is an opportunity to make new friends, something that can be difficult as we get older. 

You’ll have plenty of time to indulge in new passions and hobbies. In fact, many new movers often feel re-energised once settled. 

Finally, a retirement community offers professional caregivers that are highly trained and certified to help you maintain your quality of life for as long as possible.

Continue Your Care In A Retirement Community

At CareAbout, we help you understand what Home Care support and government subsidies are available to you or your loved one.

Already have a Home Care Package? That’s great!  You can continue receiving your care while living in a retirement community. 

However, if you need some assistance, we’ll connect you to a quality provider who can meet your needs and budget. 
Just make sure to reach out to us for help.