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Downsizing Tips for Seniors

How to Prioritize Your Belongings When Moving into Independent Living 

The day has come, it’s time to downsize and lighten your load before moving into your new independent living apartment. Downsizing and moving into a new home can be difficult, and sorting through a lifetime’s worth of belongings and possessions can be a daunting task. In order to help you out on your next move, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite downsizing tips for seniors:

Figure Out Your Floor Plan

Before you start your move and downsizing process, it is important to understand the space you will be moving into. Take measurements of every room, get dimensions for every piece of furniture, and create a room-by-room floor plan to maximize space. Free online tools like RoomStyler & HomeByMe make plotting out your room dimensions easy. Graphing paper is a good option as well.  

Take notes and document

Before you start moving items around, take a moment to snap a few picture and document how your rooms were setup. It will save you time and provide a sense of normalcy when setting everything back up in your new space. Documenting items will help keep track of everything throughout the moving process. Missing something? Labeling and recording items will help when you need to go searching through boxes of stuff that might have ended up in another room. 

Take your time

Moving can be stressful, and it is important to pace yourself throughout the process by starting early and starting small. Working your way up to rooms with more emotional attachment is a good idea. Start with rooms like the garage, office, or laundry room. Over time, the workload will be less and less and you’ll have a clear mind to work on the more important rooms. 

Make Yes or No Piles

Deciding through years of belongings will certainly bring up some fond memories and it will be tempting to put some things in the “maybe” pile. We recommend only sorting in “yes” or “no” piles since the “maybe” pile often times grows to be the largest one. Take a hard look at every item; if you use it regularly then you should keep it, if it has been sitting around unused for a long amount of time, chances are you aren’t going to be using it in your new space either. 

Eliminate rooms you won’t have

Most likely you’ll be moving into an apartment with less space than your previous home. You might not have a garage or home office anymore, and working your way through these items can be difficult. The good news - these spaces are usually ripe with items for consignment stores or an estate sale. Many people start by picking out the items they do not want and packing the rest. Sometimes it’s better to stay focused and work backwards, pack the things you do want first, and then leave the rest for resale or donation. 

Give away family heirlooms

Anything valuable will be in good hands with your family members. Pieces of furniture or items of importance may be given to someone within the family. Knowing your heirlooms are still close and available for you to enjoy when the times comes can be reassuring. 

Sell or donate items

Just because you need to get rid of some items doesn’t mean you have to throw them out. Consider donating to donation centers like the Salvation Army or Goodwill. There are many people who would put it to good use, giving your belongings a new home for years to come. Got something more valuable? With a little bit of know-how, you could make a good amount of money posting your items for sale on popular marketplace sites like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace. 

Use it as a time to reminisce and bond

Downsizing and picking through old belongs doesn’t have to be work all the time. Stop, take a break, enjoy looking through some old photographs, school drawings, etc. and reminisce on the beautiful memories of the past. Moving can be the prefect time to connect with family members and live in the nostalgia of your life. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have for moments like these. 

Consider storage units

Sometimes there is just not enough space for all the things you need to keep. There is nothing wrong with renting a long-term local storage unit to keep your belongings secure and safe. There are numerous options all around that include temperature-controlled environments and 24-hour access. Summer and winter items come to mind when deciding whether to invest in a storage unit, ski’s bicycles, golf clubs, deck chairs, etc. are all great examples of items that might take up too much space in your new living situation but are of value to you that you would like to keep. 


Downsizing is no easy task; we hope these tips help you and your family in the process. Change can be a good thing, a perfect time to start fresh and reminisce about the pas at the same time. Grab some family members and an open weekend, start small and enjoy the process. Have any additional tips that have helped you throughout the journey? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.