If you’ve made the decision to move into an independent living community, congratulations. The opportunities that wait ahead will no doubt help you create the retirement lifestyle that you have dreamed about and deserve.
But another decision you’ll need to make is not only what to take with you but also what to leave behind. Carefully consider every item, as each will impact how successful you’ll be able to create a new space that truly says you’re home.
Most new residents of independent living will be downsizing. And although this can seem like a daunting task, it’s also a perfect time to clear out the clutter and start off fresh. The number of years in a home often represents that many years of accumulations. But for most people, not everything was actually worth keeping.
If you’re considering what to hold onto and what to let go of, there are many articles and books you can follow. But here are 3 top suggestions to remember as you go through the process:
Make a plan: Before you begin going through closets, sit down and outline your strategy. Decide what you can and cannot live without. It can be easier to start with the non-sentimental items first and then work your way through each room or categories, such as clothing, jewelry, furniture and kitchenware.
Touch everything once and make a decision: Commit to finalizing an item’s fate before moving on to the next. Otherwise you’ll continue to keep circling back to the same items. Facing years of storage or boxes to go through can make it tempting to put off the decision until later. But it’s much easier to make it now and move on.
Avoid creating “maybe” or “storage” piles: Make the decisions now, as recommended above. You’ll need to be selective about what you take with you when you move, so be realistic and decisive. Try to avoid renting a storage unit since people tend to leave these units untouched for years. If it’s something you can’t bear to completely part with, see if you can find a good home in the family.
During the planning stage, it’s just as helpful to understand what you shouldn’t take along. Here’s a short list to help get you started. Consider leaving behind:
Your house may be filled with figurines or artwork from some of your favorite trips but it’s best to choose only a few of the more meaningful pieces to go with you. Even though your new home should be the perfect size for your new retirement lifestyle, don’t miss out on the opportunity to begin without the clutter. Make it a fresh start. Many people say they were pleasantly surprised at how good it felt to live with fewer things and more open space.
This is also a great time to consider how best to make your new home a safe living environment. One of the leading causes of falling are throw or other area rugs that can cause you to trip. You’ll also want to plan around the locations of outlets for your lamps or other electrical objects that need plugging in so you can avoid having extension cords in the way of foot traffic.
In your current home, you may be storing a second or third set of glasses or everyday, holiday and china dishes. It’s not uncommon to have several placemats and tablecloths, bath towels and sheets. Go through kitchen cabinets and linen closets to pare things down. One good set of dishes, glasses and flatware, pots and pans and enough towels and linens to get you through a week is a good goal.
You may be moving from a home where you had overstuffed chairs and sofas, large coffee tables, armoires, dining hutches and sideboards. Independent living homes are designed to eliminate unneeded space. Take advantage of this time to decorate your rooms with just the right size furniture. Smaller is better when you want to create as much clear space as possible.
Your home may have a kitchen eating area and dining room, or a family room and living room, so you’ll need to choose what to leave behind. What do you have that would be the best fit? And if #4 describes your furnishings, it may be time to give away or sell the old and shop for the new. Before you do however, make sure you have the measurements and layout of your new home so you’ll know how much space you have to fill.
Many people live with closets, storage spaces or garages that are at least partially filled with boxes that haven’t been opened in years. Instead of continuing to move these collections everywhere you go, take the opportunity to deal with the contents. If you find something that you’d like to stay in the family, start your search for who that might be. If not, donate.
At Westminster at Lake Ridge, we design our homes to be the perfect size for your active and engaged retirement lifestyle. Our options include spacious cottages or lovely apartment homes, all with open spaces and well-equipped kitchens. You will also have the opportunity to personalize your home to make it truly your own, including adding a screened-in porch, built-in entertainment center, a gas fireplace or granite-topped kitchen island.
We invite you to join our residents who are embracing their retirement life by participating in the activities and taking advantage of the amenities in our community. Even if you downsize your things to move here, you won’t be downsizing your life.
Call (703)794-4631 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.