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Are You Ready to Downsize?

Downsize Has Its Upside

I recently attended the Upside of Downsizing Conference here in Portland. While the conference was designed for seniors, I sat there thinking the topics we discussed were also applicable to members of other generations wishing to downsize or thinking of their loved ones. We all have different reasons for wanting to downsize. Those reasons include wanting to simplify our lives, reduce our expenses, or protect our health and personal safety. But the effect of downsizing seemed universal. So many people reported an increase in freedom to pursue interests they love and the feeling that a burden had been lifted.

Many of us, however, put off the decision to downsize until it’s almost too late. We wait until there is a crisis forcing us to make a change. Unfortunately, we don’t usually make our best decisions in times of crisis. The biggest idea I took away from the conference was that we need to prepare and begin to think about downsizing sooner than we think. I know from personal experience, it’s hard to give up our stuff, our personal space, and something we may have worked so hard to obtain. So we postpone weeding out our belongs and planning for a time when we need or want less, to avoid the conflicting feelings we have inside of us. But what if we started thinking about it now, and gave ourselves the time to work through these issues and to identify how and where we would like to go forward?

Here is a list of a few advantages for beginning to plan sooner than later:

  • Give yourself time to grieve. Yes, downsizing is a grieving process. We’re letting go of things we love and maybe even a home full of wonderful memories. Use the extra time to work through the emotions.
  • Make your wishes known. Is it time to update your will or trust? Do your loved ones know what your wishes are in case things fall apart? Do your loved ones understand that downsizing is what you want to do and that you want their support?
  • Develop a plan. Begin to look at where you want to downsize and decide which option is best for you. Search for professionals who can help you manage the process, such as a professional organizer, Realtor, or senior moving manager.
  • Help loved ones by having a plan. Yes, your loved ones will worry about doing the right thing if a crisis occurs. In fact, your loved ones may be worrying already. I know I’m already thinking and wondering what my family will do to help my mother if she can no longer live on her own.

Are you Ready?

I got home from the conference and realized it was time for me to start an honest conversation with all of my family about all of our wishes before we’re faced with a sudden and quick decision. I’m starting to think about my own living situation – trying to imagine how I could live with less, where and how I want to age, and what is really important for my happiness. I’m even thinking about downsizing sooner than later. All that freedom sounded kind of good to me.

Lisa Ratzlaff|Broker Licensed in Oregon|SRES

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