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Home Downsizing Strategies for Seniors – A Case Study

My grandparents have downsized…twice! The first time was when they moved to Florida from New Hampshire about 20 years ago. Then they downsized again a couple years ago when they moved back to New Hampshire to share a home they built with my aunt and uncle. Since they are so experienced with downsizing strategies for seniors, we asked Grandma how they downsized and still remained good friends.

This is what she said: 

In our case, there were several things to consider before actually making choices about which of our possessions to let go of.  Since we would be going to a different climate from South to North, our Florida furnishings probably would not be appropriate since they were white furniture with pastel colors. Then we had to eliminate one bedroom, a music room with piano, and the kitchen and dining room since we would be sharing a kitchen with our daughter.  She had all the essentials for the kitchen and dining room. Additionally, we had our “collections” and “stuff” and all the outdoor pool supplies and lawn care equipment and tools. It wasn’t easy to let it all go, but we knew it was the thing to do, due to health concerns that suggested the need for help in the near future. We loved our time with southern living and had wonderful neighbors and church friends, so this was also a factor in our feelings of loss, even though we were excited about the future.

We were fortunate to sell our Florida house to a neighbor so his parents could be near him. He wanted most of the furniture except the furnishings of one bedroom. That was good. In relation to letting go of the rest, we had a giant two-day yard sale and put all the kitchen dishes, etc. out, with all the collections, books, pictures, and clothes that we knew we would not need or have space for. Most of the lawn equipment and tools also went, some to our children and some to special friends.

I should mention that we never saw the house we were moving into except in the construction drawings, and we knew it wouldn’t be finished when we made the move, so there was some guesswork involved. That part produced a little stress, so I think it would be better for seniors who are downsizing to see their space before they move. Everything turned out well, but, trust me, it was an adventure for both of us at age 85. 

My grandparents’ plan was based on downsizing strategies for seniors that they found on the Internet, which advised them to make three piles: 

  1. Things you want to keep if possible.
  2. Things to sell in a yard sale or estate sale, with what was left going to charities.
  3. Things that should go to the dump.

“We were fortunate to have a fairly long period in which to decide what to keep and what we could part with,” Grandma added. “But however you do it, fast or slow,  letting go of some things is hard to do because their value is more a matter of the heart than their value in dollars. So it’s easy to imagine how having to make these kinds of decisions can lead to conflict between those who must decide.” 

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