Maybe the kids have grown and left. Maybe the maintenance is getting harder and harder. Perhaps you’ve just reached the point in life where cutting grass, raking leaves or shoveling snow is just not how you want to spend your time. Just as likely is you want to simplify what has become a taxing and jam-packed life in the 21st century.
The reasons are many for the now very common lifestyle change known as downsizing.
Often the desire and the decision to downsize is the easy part. We often intuitively know when the time has come to make what can be a dramatic change in our living arrangements. It is the next stage, when we have to actually start taking the actions required to accomplish this goal, when things get hard.
First of all, if you own your home, placing it on the market is a very big step. Some folks may be in a financial situation that allows them to proceed before their existing home is sold. This is not true for others, and they need to be at least very close to a final sale to proceed with the move.
We see both situations arise, and the latter presents a more challenging process but one that can be smooth if approached properly.
Waiting until the house is under contract to begin the decision-making process is not a good idea. Which of your possessions you plan to keep and which you plan to jettison is often the hardest decision you have to make. Often folks are surprised at this when it really gets down to reality.
Real estate sales come with deadlines and closing dates, and the new buyer is often anxious to move quickly, putting great pressure on you to make these decisions in a hurry.
This can be easily avoided by beginning the thinning-out process as early as possible. If you need to be rid of a large number of items to fit into your new space, you may want to discuss your situation and plans with a professional who specializes in personal property liquidations.
We frequently work with clients in planning living estate sales to assist them with this difficult task. The one suggestion we always make is to call in an estate or liquidation firm as early as you can. All your decisions may not be made, but they can help you get started and make it easier for you in the long run.
Deciding what goes and what stays with you for some people is easier than for others, and we have found no two situations exactly the same. Sometimes the choices are easy — if you are going from a five-bedroom home to a two-bedroom home, then three bedrooms of furnishings will not be going with you.
Deciding on other furnishings and items can be more difficult but is made easier if done systematically and not in a rush. Once again, a professional can help with a lot of this. One good question to ask yourself about items you are on the fence about is how often do you use it followed by how useful will it be in your new home.
Furnishings for your new home, particularly if you are doing a true downsizing with less space, will most certainly have to be evaluated based on how useful it will be. Choosing pieces that provide maximum storage capacity while meeting space constraints is important. As counterintuitive as it seems, you actually may find yourself buying new furniture pieces during your downsizing while you toss others.
Is downsizing right for you? Only you can answer that question. But if your answer is yes, by planning ahead, making good decisions and getting help from professionals who know the process, you can experience what can be a very positive transition in your life.
Chuck and Connie Hamsher are collectors of 20th-century art and owners of The Purple Moon in downtown Charleston, which specializes in mid-century, industrial and contemporary home furnishings, art and accessories. Follow The Purple Moon on Facebook or visit it on the web at www.thepurplemoon.com. Chuck and Connie can be contacted at 304-345-0123.