Downsizing to a smaller senior apartment on your own or at a senior living community is multi-step process. If you are moving from your own home, you’ll need to ready it for selling, weed out furniture you no longer want, possibly purchase furniture that fits your smaller space, and find creative ways to make the most of your new square footage.
Cut down on stress by preparing well in advance. Depending on the amount of furniture you have and your local housing market, this could be a few months to a few years from the time you actually move out. That means starting the planning process at least 2-3 months down the road. This time frame can be used to sell or donate furniture, measure your current furniture to see how it fits in your new space, and purchase new items as necessary.
Ideally, you should begin decluttering your home well before the packing process. You’ll probably notice a lot of stuff you didn’t even know you owned. While some decisions may be easy (that ragged pair of slippers definitely should go in the trash), others require some thought. You might own a few items simply because of abandoned goals. That treadmill in the basement might have once served a purpose, but now it’s become a handy place to hang your clothes. The upside to a senior living community is that you’ll most likely have access to fitness center, so there’s no more need for your own heavy workout equipment. Do you have books that you’ve never read? Donate them and take advantage of the library instead. Use your space for items that you’ll actually use, not remnants of your abandoned resolutions.
Get Rid of Your Items
Once you’ve figured out which pieces need to go, you’ll need to decide whether you want to sell, donate, or put items in storage.
Your standard, run-of-the-mill items can be sold at garage sales or through online marketplaces. Ideally, you’ll want to set up your garage sale during neighborhood-wide or city-wide garage sale events. If you’re selling online, be sure to include thorough descriptions of your items with size, color, age, exact price, etc. New clothing that has designer labels can typically be sold at consignment stores. Remember that you’re selling these items because you won’t have room for them anymore ⎯ don’t turn down low offers just because of pride. Your end goal is to have all your unwanted items gone by the time you move.
Your easiest option is to load your unwanted items into your car and drop them off at a thrift store. Not only are you potentially helping out someone in need, but you’re also making your job easier! Some charities will even come pick up your items for you if you can’t make the drive yourself. Locally, Goodwill Stores, Hope Gospel Mission, Bethesda Thrift Shop, and Savers are good donation options.
If you’re on the fence about an item, put it in storage for six months instead of moving it into your apartment in your senior living community. If you haven’t thought about the item in the six months that it’s been collecting dust, it’s time to move on. You can find a storage unit near you and decide if the price of the storage unit is worth it.
Some items may be worth a pretty penny, so any items that are rare, old, or collectible should be set aside for appraisal or research. Once you’ve established a price point, you can try selling them online through Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist, or selling to an antique mall. It may be worth the drive to sell your items to an antique mall in a larger or wealthier city. Keep in mind though that fine china, silverware, and that special china hutch may not necessarily appeal to collectors. Do your research before tying to sell your antiques.
One of the worst things that can happen during a move is mismeasurements. A couch that can’t squeeze through a door frame or a coffee table that takes up half the room, can represent a real problem. You can prevent these mini-catastrophes from happening in the first place by measuring your furniture and floor plan TWICE before you move. You’ll want to pay particular attention to your bed, sofa, and any other large items that will need to fit through several doorways.
If there isn’t a floor plan for your new residence available online, ask if you can go in and take some measurements yourself. Having a floor plan will help you visualize where windows and doors are when you’re making furniture purchases or planning where furniture will go.
Figure Out In-Home Storage
Once you come to terms with the fact that you’ll have less storage space in your new senior living apartment, the next step is to take inventory of the storage space you will have and determine which items are worth keeping. Keep in mind that many retirement communities offer residents small storage spaces.
When it comes to closet space, realize that if you are transitioning from a walk-in closet to a smaller closet, you may want to hang up clothing items that are in season. Other items can go in the bottom drawer of a dresser or be stored in the top shelf of your closet. Also, using shoe cubbies can help keep your smaller space organized.
Your new senior apartment may have fewer kitchen cupboards. If so, you’ll need to go through and choose your must-haves. Having more than one set of silverware isn’t necessary if you won’t be hosting many meals in your home. Luckily, many senior living communities like The Classic offer restaurant-style dining, with up to three chef-prepared meals a day.
The best storage containers are stackable, see-through, and made of plastic. That way, you can stack vertically to accommodate your smaller space and easily identify which container you want to remove from the stack. It never hurts to label either.
Tips for Interior Design and Furnishing Small Spaces
Small-space living means you can enjoy shared senior living community living without all the maintenance. And in your private senior living apartment, you can dedicate time to personalizing your senior living apartment space. The following are some interior design tips to make the most of our new apartment.
- Don’t worry about fitting all your activities into a small apartment. Most retirement communities will have common spaces for hobbies like sewing, painting, woodworking, and more.
- Purchase furniture that’s multi-functional like a multi-sided book shelf that also works as a coffee table.
- Use folding chairs that you can bring out when you have guests.
- Make sure your furnishings are even-toned to make your smaller senior apartment seem more spacious.
- Use high-mounted elements, like bookcases and cabinets.
- Use a large china cabinet or hutch to store food if your apartment doesn’t have a pantry.
- Make the most of movable pieces. Invest in utility carts with wheels so you can shuffle items around as needed.
- Avoid clutter by storing knickknacks in drawers or…throwing them out.
- Go for quality over quantity. Find statement pieces that will make the room pop.
- Invest in ottomans with tops that lift to store blankets and pillows.
Moving into a senior living community gives you more opportunities to visit your new neighbors and cuts down on home maintenance. Plus, you’ll have extra money to spend on new hobbies.