When your needs change, your home may need to change with them.
Homeowners are constantly living through change. From empty nesters who just don’t need the space, and couples or parents who use home equity to travel or pay for children’s tuition, to seniors moving into retirement facilities, downsizing can be a new reality.
It can be also be stressful, but downsizing specialist Anney Ardiel said there are ways to ease that transition.
“Most of my clients are (primarily) 80 or older; downsizing from a big home where they raised their kids, to a condo,” she said. “It’s definitely a thing that has negative connotations, but (all) it means is you have more stuff than you can fit into your new space. Sometimes we are downsizing from 3,000 to 700 square feet, so a lot has to go.”
Ardiel, who runs Act Together Moving Services, said the first place to start is the space you have in the new place. She encourages people to think about their current lifestyle, and in that respect, some items that have been accumulated will naturally eliminate themselves, based on usage or lack thereof.
Many downsizers don’t keep a formal dining room, she added, so the big dining room table and hutch are often among the first big items to go.
“The next step is deciding if family members, (perhaps) younger family members might love a dining room set? If family doesn’t want it, you can sell it,” she said. “The market is flooded, so you won’t get as much value, but you will still be able to send it off to a new home and make a little money.”
After starting with family and then trying to sell, a good option, she said, is to donate any excess goods to those in need.
“With that process very little will end up in a dumpster or landfill. And it’s surprising how much can be donated with the different organizations. A lot of people think they have trash, but they could be treasure to somebody.”
Potential donation options include Salvation Army thrift stores, Women in Need, and Ardiel’s own namesake Anney’s Closet.
Anney’s Closet provides free household goods to women of all ages who are clients of various social service agencies and are making a fresh start. It was founded when Ardiel saw youth just out of the foster system, and single mothers, barely have anything to furnish their living spaces.
Items that may seem to be destined for the dump, such as building supplies, piles of wood, nails, screws, tools and other items, can be donated. Other examples include passing along yarn to knitters and craft clubs, and donating sewing machines to local theatre companies for costumes. Ardiel said matching up the items with the right recipient is something a downsizing specialist like her can help with.
“I think the very best tip … is to try to enjoy the process. Give things you no longer need to someone that really needs them,” she said. “Try to make a difference to someone’s life and it will make you feel better about downsizing.”