I started by looking at new homes and seeing how little storage there was and how easy it would be to take care of it. Next, I gave the kids first choice for anything they wanted and then took some I thought they would want later. I then picked out what I really wanted and started selling the rest. The more that goes the more you see that can go. Is your partner on the same page of downsizing? It hurts to see how little it sells for when you remember what you paid for it.
Then I began giving the gifts that I had bought for gifts to friends. No stash of gifts means more room. Next, donated lots of books to the library and then gave to the salvation army. I have hear of people using ebay to sell things which could work. I just did not want the hassle.
Then, the clothes....I got rid of anything I could not currently wear. I kept one expensive favorite elegant dress and shoes. Salvation army and Goodwill bags again. It is amazing how much room in the closet there is.
Then, the pets. I keep them until they die. They are family...but I had rescued on dog from a friend who was dying of cancer and he needed more time with me than I could give him. I knew I wanted to travel. So, I placed an ad and got a wonderful home for him with stay at home mom and grandma. He loves kids and has more attention. I still miss him. Cat...my daughter took her cat.
Plants and orchids I sold for a song...let someone else enjoy them. Simplify life I kept telling myself.
Last, all the make up and creams and girly stuff. I sorted and tossed. I now have several years worth of the stuff I love and will move it. I don't need to buy anything new for a long time. I think I would treat myself when I was stressed by buying that. Now, less stress and lots of fun girly stuff to use up.
Finances...well. Setting it up online makes it easy not matter where I live. You can get started anytime and in any room. It does hurt and feels like a loss. It also feels like a new beginning.
Hope this helps.
Unless you have family that will keep you in the same neighborhood, I would encourage you to look at a number of "age restricted" communities around the country. This is a decision we made six years ago and have never regretted it. We have made a number of new, great friends and love our life. Newer communities are generally better than older ones for many reasons. Reply to me if you want to know more. Take some time and visit a few, talking with residents at the community center, looking around the neighborhood, etc. Investigate community finances, costs, etc. Make sure it works comfortably within your budget.
A technique we have used to "de-clutter": In the kitchen, take all utensils, pots and pans out and put in boxes on your counters. As you use them, put them back in the drawers. After a few months, whatever is left in the boxes you will likely never use so those things go to charity. Same with clothes. Get some portable racks and put in your bedroom. Take clothes out of closet and put on racks. As you wear them, put back in the closet. After xx months, whatever is left on the racks ... you get the idea. Books you will never read again - give local library the first shot. What they don't want give to charity. Then get a KindleDX for your future reading. 3,500 books can fit on one device and you can change the size of type (very cool as our eyes age).
I am interested in your statement that a new retirement community would be a better choice than an established one. I wonder if your research showed that the older community had social groups already in place and fitting in could be more difficult than in a just opened community where everyone was new and open to meeting their neighbors.
So far I am the one about to scout out possibilities for our new home. We will be staying in, or close to, NJ as we have a large family living nearby. I have actually visited only one community so far and while the unit was spacious and had great potential...it lacked something important to me: a "city" within walking distance and access to public transportation to NYC. Both my husband and I still drive but I'm looking ahead to the time when that might not be available to us and yet we'd still want to be up and about.
Thank you for some very practical, do-able steps! You even touched on the biggest problem (from my point of view)..my husband is a "Saver!" and as yet is nowhere ready to do the downsizing that will be necessary. I'm not sure how that piece of our relocation will be worked out but...I'm optimistic that when the moving truck pulls into the driveway, we'll be ready. For now, I'm going to use your experience as a guideline for me. I also will be looking at the active 55+ retirement communities here in NJ. I have a very good friend who insists that once I find a place I love and that my husband does, too, we'll be more than ready to clear out what we don't need and pack up the rest to take with us.
Thanks again for your good suggestions...
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