Storage Tips for Retirees and Seniors Downsizing Their Homes

Elderly couple sitting on couch in living room with plants, books and a bookshelf.

The biggest perk of retired life versus a daily work routine is, of course, all the time you’ll get back. When you have more time on your hands, you may also find yourself short on space—whether you want to make way for hosting family, a home exercise room, or new and old hobbies alike.

Downsizing is a common and often much-needed journey that many seniors embark on, but it’s rarely an easy one. After all, you’re sorting through an entire lifetime’s worth of belongings. Go Store It Self Storage is here to offer storage and downsizing tips for retirees, from the rationale behind a downsized lifestyle to the ways that a self storage unit can help streamline the process.

Why Downsize After Retirement?

The word “downsize” may have a negative connotation if you’re thinking in terms of layoffs at a company. But when it comes to downsizing your physical possessions—whether it’s the size of your home itself or the volume of items inside––it’s a choice that can prove to be therapeutic and liberating. Believe it or not, minimizing clutter that’s accumulated around your home can maximize your life in retirement.

six reasons to downsize after retirement

There’s a variety of reasons that seniors decide to downsize, including:

  • To live a simpler lifestyle without excess
  • To focus more on hobbies and traveling
  • To reduce maintenance and upkeep around the home
  • To reside in a more accessible environment
  • To save money on bills and mortgage payments
  • To save time for both you and family when sorting through items later
  • To make it easier to relocate to a more favorable location
  • To get organized, which reduces stress and promotes peace of mind

Packing, Moving, and Downsizing Tips for Seniors

If you’ve decided to commit to the lifestyle change that accompanies downsizing, you might be wondering where to begin. Luckily, Go Store It has put together a step-by-step guide with moving and downsizing tips for seniors in retirement.

Decluttering: Begin with a Clean Slate in Retirement

Downsizing is not a transition you can achieve overnight. Sometimes, it’s not even achievable within a month’s time. That’s why people so often choose to downsize in retirement—there’s less pressure to do it all at once and more flexibility to do a little at a time while still being thorough. The process should start with bite-sized chunks so you can clear enough space to even sort through all your belongings. That’s where decluttering comes in.

Cutting the clutter out of your life is all about expelling things you no longer use or need. Look to your visible surroundings to evaluate what you can get rid of, donate, hand down to someone else, or pack away for when you move into a new space. First, assess large items such as appliances and furniture. This will help you open up the greatest amount of room possible for the remainder of your decluttering journey. Next, set aside sentimental items you know you’ll want to have time to look through later. Think things like treasured collections, family photo albums, and other valued belongings.

Hold a Family Decluttering Day

Anyone who has moved homes before remembers what a daunting task it can be. It’s physically and emotionally draining enough to unearth years’ worth of memories from the depths of your attic, basement, and closets.

When it’s time for seniors to comb through all their belongings to decide what should stay and what should go, it can really ease the burden to have company over who can double as a supportive team of helpers. Coordinate a time for a group decluttering session with friends and family who can offer a hand and extra pairs of eyes to help clean out your home as efficiently as possible. Who knows? Maybe what would have otherwise been a tedious and lonely undertaking could instead be a day full of fond reminiscing.

Another reason it’s a good idea to bring your loved ones into the mix? They can help determine which items they would inherit as their own—and which items would not be useful. (Truthfully, you’re not doing your kids and grandkids a favor by leaving behind all your earthly possessions to sift through!) Plus, due to lower rates of parenthood and homeownership among the Millennial generation, they are simply less likely to have the extra storage space for all the stuff you pass on.

Sorting Through Your Life’s Possessions in Retirement

However hard you try to set up the process up for success, the reality is that you’ll likely still face resistance to letting go of items collected throughout your lifetime. What if you end up needing something later? What if you want to save that old dresser for your grandchildren?

It sounds cliché, but the best advice is to simply take it one day at a time. And when it comes time to start saying goodbye to longtime belongings, take it one room at a time. Try to tackle the smallest rooms first, or start with spaces containing items with which you have the least emotional attachment. Get rid of duplicates, and don’t hesitate to start selling or giving things away. (Garage sale, anyone?)

If you have an idea of where you’ll live next, work backward by eliminating any items you know you won’t have a room for when you downsize. One sorting strategy is to categorize everything from each room into boxes labeled:

  • Keep
  • Store Away
  • Donate/Sell
  • Throw Away
categories of keep, store away, donate/sell, and throw away

It’s easiest to first eliminate the more obvious items you know you won’t need again. Refer to the one-year rule: If you haven’t used something within the past year, you probably won’t use it within the next year. That said, go through and see if you can get rid of the following:

  • Duplicate furniture (beds, dressers, chairs, tables, etc.)
  • Duplicate kitchenware (spatulas, pots and pans, plate sets, glasses, etc.)
  • Outdated tech gear and media (computers, cords, DVDs, CDs, etc.)
  • Outdated paperwork and files (old bills, receipts, etc.)
  • Extra linens (bed sheets, comforters, pillows, etc.)
  • Unused fitness equipment
  • Gardening tools and other landscape equipment
  • Books you’ll never read or revisit

Packing and Moving Tips for Seniors and Retirees

Once the destinies of all your possessions have been mostly determined, downsizing will begin to feel like a reality as you transition from the decluttering and sorting stage to the packing and moving phase. Stay organized by keeping in mind the following packing pointers:

  • Ensure you have all the necessary packing supplies to safeguard your items during the move.
  • Do not over- or under-pack boxes, and use cloth, bubble wrap, or wadded paper to fill empty spaces.
  • Pack heavy items in small boxes for easier handling
  • Label and pack boxes by which room they will be unpacked in the new home.
  • Use a thick marker to label which boxes to unload first.
  • Prepare a container for what you might need during the move (such as toiletries, keys, chargers, medications, and important documentation).

Also, an increasingly popular packing and downsizing option for seniors and retirees is to find a senior move manager—a professional who can assist older adults and their families at every step of the process, from the emotional aspects of consolidating one’s belongings to the logistics of moving day. If you’re transitioning to an assisted living community, there may be staff who can help move furniture or heavy items. Make sure to ask about the best route for carrying items inside, whether it’s a back door, stairwell, or elevator.

Think About Storage Space

Meaningful belongings can make us sentimental, and the thought of letting them go can make us panicked. You never know when these things might be of interest or value to someone else down the road.

Although the goal of downsizing is to rid your home of excess, don’t fear: Self storage units are here and can be the perfect solution for items you haven’t quite found a place for. Reserved storage space that’s move-in ready during downsizing can streamline the process. No matter if you’re holding onto memorabilia or kitchen appliances that are still in working order, you can always find self storage for your overflow. To keep your things properly stored, protected, and accessible, keep in mind these handy storage tips:

list of storage tips for downsizing

Downsizing: Make Room for What Matters in Retirement

When all is said and done, downsizing shouldn’t mean you leave behind your smaller prized possessions and memories that make your house feel like a home. Holding onto keepsakes is a great way to remember what’s important to you.

Instead, think about how you want to reap all the possible benefits that downsizing can bring for seniors and retirees—including a more economical lifestyle free of clutter and stress and full of indulging in personal relationships and hobbies. You should arrange and settle into your new, clutter-free space with only your best interest and happiness in mind.

Still Need More Space After Downsizing? Go Store It!

To downsize your home means to minimize the clutter that’s been building up for years. Doing so can lift a weight off your shoulders and allow you to enjoy retirement to the max. However, there’s no need to get rid of belongings that might still have personal or monetary value, even if you don’t have room for them at home anymore.

When you’re looking to open up space ASAP, self storage is the best and quickest way to do so. You can rest easy knowing your collectibles, artwork, equipment, and more are protected in your storage unit while you enjoy a tidy, organized home. Let Go Store It be your items’ home away from home by finding your ideal storage solution and reserving a unit online today!

More From Go Store It

Find a Unit Right for You Today!

Rent or Reserve Now