5 Tips on Reducing Clutter Before Moving to a Retirement Home

Moving from your house into a retirement home can make for a difficult time, as there are many emotions stirred up by leaving a home, as well as a seemingly endless list of things to do and decisions to make before moving day.

One part of moving into a retirement home that many people struggle with is downsizing into a smaller physical space, as this involves parting ways with some, maybe even most, of the possessions we have accumulated over the years.

This ‘stuff’ runs the gamut from small to large -- jewellery and baseball cards to furniture and even vehicles -- and figuring out what to take and what to leave can be one of the hardest parts of re-sorting yourself into a retirement community.

However, there are some tips and shortcuts that can go a long way to helping you declutter your house and bring with you the items that truly mean something special.

Make a list of what you want in your new home

Before going room-to-room and physically experiencing your possessions, grab a pen and paper and draw up a list of the items you think you absolutely must have in your new retirement residence.

This helps focus your mind and get it thinking about what you really have a connection with -- old vacation postcards, a music collection -- and what doesn’t immediately jump out to you as important.

As you do start working your way through your possessions, you can expand this list with a section of items that are going to be given away to friends or family and donated; this planning will make what can feel like a major task into more manageable steps.

Label what goes where

As you build out your list of what goes, what is given away and what gets trashed, turn the abstract into action by creating labels for each outcome. By physically labelling your items, you not only ensure everything ends up where you want it, but you will also feel more in control of the downsizing process as you see everything neatly labelled and organized.

Start early and give yourself time

Don’t want until the final weekend before your move to declutter. Begin the process one or two weeks before.

Getting a head start has several benefits: it lets you lock down your declutter schedule and make sure you don’t get left without a moving van or extra sets of hands to help out. And it gives you time to arrange a more major sell-off event like a yard sale or listing items online.

When you have your advance timeline set, you can begin the process bit by bit, starting with 15 minutes a day of downsizing time that will grow in length as you approach the day you finally move into a retirement residence.

Declutter one room at a time

Thinking about a whole home’s worth of items to sort, take or leave is really stressful -- a home is a large space with a lot of stuff in it, and thinking about downsizing in its entirety makes many want to not do it at all (or hire a company to do much of the work).

But when you approach it by thinking about decluttering one room at a time, everything becomes much more manageable, both for the amount of items and the mental toll downsizing can take.

You can even scale your steps to the micro level, focusing on one section of a room or closet or dresser at a time as you move through an entire room. As an added bonus, when you are done cleaning out a single room, you will be able to immediately see and feel the progress you are making. This will give your motivation a real shot in the arm!

Try the one (or five) year rule

When it comes to those items that you are on the fence about parting with, ask yourself this question: Have I used this in the last five years?

If the answer is yes, then try a follow up: How about just in the last year alone?

Though there are exceptions to this rule (we may not have ‘used’ our family photo album in several years, but of course are not going to part with it) it can help clear your mind in understanding what has sentimental value and what does not.

This rule is especially useful for items like clothing or jewellery and accessories. If all they’ve been doing is collecting dust for the last half-decade or 12 months, what are the odds you are going to start using it again in your new home?

Moving into a retirement home can seem overwhelming, but it really breaks down into a series of smaller decisions. To find out how you may feel about downsizing your possessions before making the final decision to move, it is good to know the size (and spatial feel) of your potential new home.

That’s why Sundial Lakeview Retirement Residence is always open to provide a friendly tour of our suites to those who are thinking about making the move, but still need to experience what the change will actually feel like before deciding. To book a free tour, please contact us today.