Category: Minimalism

Downsizing Tips for Seniors

Downsizing Tips for Seniors

10+ Best Downsizing Tips for Seniors

Getting ready for retirement? Need all that space? Or can you save money by moving? There are our best downsizing tips for seniors.

When it comes to space, sometimes less is better. Less space means less to fill. Less stuff means less money spent, less clutter, and less moving expenses.

Moreover, it means more freedom. Freedom to travel, create and do whatever will make your retirement truly happy and enjoyable.

downsizing tips for seniors medicarelifehealth article

We spend the majority of our working lives accumulating and growing. Retirement gives you the opportunity to slow down and decide what is necessary for your happiness and what is just clutter.

Downsizing in America

By the year 2030, there be about 73 million people in the U.S. aged 65 and over, and many older Americans tend to move into smaller spaces as they age, according to an article in Press Connects. If your plan is to downsize, there’s a lot to accomplish before you can start enjoying your new lifestyle.

If you are looking to save money in retirement, downsizing will do wonders for your budget. This is especially true if you still have a mortgage to pay while retired. Depending on your home equity, downsizing could allow you to buy a paid off smaller living space, or significantly reduce your mortgage.

10 Best Downsizing Tips for Seniors

Downsizing your living space is one of the best ways to not just save money in retirement, but also to give you a fresh start. Here are the best downsizing tips for seniors as you enjoy retirement.

Here are a few tips to make the adjustment go smoothly:

Tip 1: Give yourself plenty of time

It’s best not to rush the downsizing process. Give yourself several months to go through your possessions and decide what you want to do with them. Usually that means deciding to keep them, sell them, donate them or throw them away. It’s best to start this process well before you move everything to a new place, so you don’t have to end up doing it twice. Consider how much you own, what your current schedule is like and how much you’ll need to downsize when you’re coming up with a timeline

Tip 2: Set small goals

Downsizing is a big job, so it’s best to tackle it in small steps. This can mean deciding to clear out one room of your home at a time, or donating a certain number of boxes to your local thrift store each week. Regardless of how you decide to measure your success, be sure your goals can be easily accomplished within a few days so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Downsizing Tips for Seniors from

Tip 3: Have a vision for your new home and lifestyle

If you want to retire to Florida, don’t hold on to all your winter coats. Or, if you know you’ll be traveling more, consider getting rid of large pieces of furniture that you probably won’t be using that much. Just because an item is serving you well now, doesn’t mean that it will be practical for your new life in retirement.

Tip 4: Start by getting rid of duplicates

Who needs three pairs of tweezers? We can accumulate a lot of random things over the years, and sometimes we end up owning duplicates of the same items. Choose the one that’s in the best condition and donate or sell the rest.

Tip 5: Try the Marie Kondo method

If you’re not sure whether to keep something or not, take a note from professional organizer Marie Kondo. She recommends only keeping items that “spark joy” in you. If you see an item and it floods you with happiness, or you’re excited about finding it, you should keep it! On the other hand, if an item just doesn’t excite you, you can get rid of it without feeling much guilt.

Tip 6: Set a day aside each week to downsizing

You’ll never get all your downsizing done if you don’t give yourself time to do the work. Try setting aside one day each week to work on your downsizing project. Invite people to come help you, or set up arrangements to have some items hauled away. That way things are done all on one day instead of disrupting your weekly routine.

Tip 7: Take note of things you’ll be moving

If you have items you know you’ll want to take with you, be sure they’re properly labeled and packed. Invest in good quality storage containers and labels so things are easy to find and stay safe through your move. This will come in very handy if you need to keep more things in storage when you move to your smaller home.

Tip 8: Give yourself mini deadlines

Hold yourself accountable by giving yourself deadlines. For example, give yourself the goal of having the garage cleaned out by September, or get your washer and dryer donated by the end of the weekend. This helps keep things moving in small, easy-to-manage steps.

Tip 9: Keep it fun

Moving is never really all that fun, but you can still find ways to make it a little entertaining. Maybe you can give yourself time at the end of the day to reminisce over old photos you find, or let yourself take a break and enjoy an old record you forgot you owned. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few breaks here and there to relax and enjoy the process.

Tip 10: Don’t get discouraged

If you feel like you own too much stuff, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, 60% of seniors said they owned more things than they need. The same survey found that 75% of seniors felt somewhat or very reluctant to move due to the number of things they own. It’s certainly not an easy process to downsize, but simplifying your life can open you up to entirely new possibilities in the future.

Bonus Tip: Becoming a minimalist

It is never too late to change your relationship to your possessions. Minimalism is a movement that goes hand-in-hand with downsizing for seniors. Moreover, older people all over the world are embracing minimalism.

Minimalist Living

Conclusions on Downsizing Tips for Seniors

Moving on to the next phase of your life is exciting, but no one ever tells you how much work retirement is. Taking your journey one step at a time, and being kind to yourself will go a long way in helping you reach your goals.

Extra Ways to Save Money In and For Retirement

Cash Budgeting and the Envelope system provide an easy way to save money

Cash flow is king in retirement. In addition to downsizing, check out these other articles offering ways to save money, and earn extra money, in retirement:

Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living, Minimalism, Conscious Consumerism, Simple Living, The Joy of Less, Decluttering, Downsizing… Perhaps you have encountered these words recently and realized this is a movement spreading across America. Minimalist living is nothing new, but weary Americans coming off the consumerism roller-coaster, are discovering it again.

Minimalism Across Generations

Millennial Minimalism

Minimalism is appealing across generations, but it seems to be most appealing to the Millennial Generation. The Millennial generation (born 1981-1996) grew up with the high spending of the 1990’s and the bubble bursts of the 2000’s. Exiting school with a poor job market and lots of debt shaped the way Millennials see the world. Moreover, the highlighted effects of climate change from global consumerism are concerning to this generation which will most likely live to see the effects of our changing weather.

According to Forbes, 78% of Millenials would rather spend money of experiences than on stuff. (59% of Baby boomers say the same thing.) Millennials are opting for smaller house, smaller carbon footprints, and sharing cars/tools/etc. They are decluttering and donating the remnants of their early spending, and the mainstream is taking notice.

Baby Boomer Minimalism

Can baby boomers be minimalists

The Baby Boomers are noticing too. As we mentioned, over half of the Boomers said they would rather spend money on experiences than things. However, this number is far below the Millennial count, and Boomers have a much more complicated relationship with things.

The Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) grew up with rapid U.S. economy growth, the rise of the suburbs, and the marketing of the “American Dream.” As a result, Boomers were the generation of accumulation. Generation X (born 1965-1981) was not far behind in picking up where the boomers left off in consumption of stuff.

Now, the Baby Boomers are entering retirement in droves (10,000 Boomers each day reach retirement age) and sometime after this (hopefully a long time after this) they will pass. What happens to all their stuff?

Unloading Your Stuff for Minimalist Living

Minimalist Living by Generation

Here is the new reality: the generations after you do not want your “stuff.” Heirlooms to one generation are now the junk of the next generation. This is not to say that nothing is precious. You might have a few very special objects that can be confidently passed down. However all the china, crystal and large pieces of furniture that were once considered essential and now considered (heavy) burdens.

Step number one will always be – STOP buying more stuff! Once you have accepted this concept as more than theory, it is easier to move on to step two – minimizing your stuff.

Traditional Downsizing and the Rise of Sweedish Death Cleaning

Let’s say you are a Baby Boomer (as an example, this applies to all ages), with a average to above average living space and perhaps even a storage unit. You have accumulated many things in a large amount of categories including clothes, shoes, accessories, kitchen wares, furniture, decor, outdoor tools, camping gear, exercise equipment, beauty supplies, cars, holiday decorations, etc.

How does the responsibility of this amount of stuff make you feel? Moreover, who will inherit this responsibility when you are gone?

There are several ways to look at this situation that fall along the spectrum of minimalist living:

The 4 Phases of Minimalist Living

Let’s look at each step on the journey:


Organizing is not minimizing. It is taking what you have, sorting it out and putting into a manageable system so you can use it and enjoy it effectively. It can be helpful to you, and those that have to sort through your stuff later, but it does not take away any of the burden of material things.

Organizing will always have a place in the process of minimizing. You will need to organize what you have at every step in the minimalist journey. In addition, organizing will get easier as you let go of more and purchase less.


Decluttering is the first step in embracing minimalist living. It involves not only a physical shift of letting go, but also a mental shift into what it means to live more with less.

Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, brought decluttering into the spotlight in 2014. (As did her Netflix special a few years later.) It is still a great book to start you on your journey of letting go and learning to find the joy of living with less. Are you unfamiliar with this book? The premise is to only allow things to exist in you life that “spark joy.”

For example if a pair of shoes does not bring you joy – get rid of them. If you have 10 shirts in your closet, but only 2 shirts make you feel good and look good (i.e. bring you joy) then you have 8 shirts too many. Kondo also has a very effective system of gathering, sorting and deciding what stuff stays and what goes.


Minimalism by Generation

Downsizing goes beyond decluttering and challenges us to face our mark on this world and what we might leave behind. In this way, we consider how our current living situation is affecting our own happiness and the happiness of those around us.

For example, consider the size of your living space. How much space you live in affects your comfort level, but it also dictates the amount of responsibility (or burden) you have. Your space size decides how much time you spend cleaning and maintaining and how much money you spend doing these activities. It also affects those around you by the amount of energy you use (your carbon footprint) and the amount of resources you use to maintain your home.

When you pass, your responsibility (burden) for all of your things becomes someone else’s responsibility (burden). The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is a very recent book on an old subject. It is dedicated to helping people unload their stuff now, so their loved ones will not have to when they pass.

When done in the Swedish fashion, downsizing and decluttering becomes an act of love. Moreover, it becomes a journey that allows you to share experiences and meanings behind objects and heirlooms, before you part with them.

Minimalist Living

Finally, after you have organized, decluttered, and downsized, you may just be ready to embrace a minimalist life. Minimalism asks you to let go of anything that does not serve you or bring you happiness. It favors quality over quantity, and conservation over consumerism.

More than any of the other step, minimalism is a lifestyle. You get to define what simple living means to you. Maybe it means only owning 30 items of clothing or letting go of a large house or an extra car. Minimalism can free up your cash now that you have stepped off the consumer wheel. Maybe that means you can retire early – or even retire at all!

Above all, minimalism can give you freedom. It is amazing how much stress and pressure comes from our accumulation and maintenance of our stuff. If you are looking for a guide to start you on your path to minimalist living, then I have a few recommendations:

  • The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own. This book by Joshua Becker is an excellent starting point for any curious reader. It was one of the first minimalist books I read, and it reached me right where I was at – in my suburban home with a crowded garage.
  • Project 333. For those of you that want to create a minimalist life, but would like to start smaller, Project 333 will help you minimize your wardrobe. This is a website/blog that will challenge you to evaluate what you really need in regards to clothes, shoes and accessories.
  • The Minimalists. This website will lead you to articles, podcasts, movies and other resources that will help you discover more about minimalism and the people that practice it.

Going Forward with Minimalist Living

Whatever stage of life you are in, it is good to know that it is not to late to minimize! It is just going to be a lot harder for some. Starting small with one specific area or project will help. As will understanding that letting go of stuff is a journey. We are never really done, and choosing a minimal lifestyle is an everyday process. However, it is worth is when you consider all the benefits: time freed up, money saved, resources conserved, and stress relieved.

the four phases of minimalist living