You’ve worked hard your whole life. Your kids are grown and gone — and may have even taken their stuff to their house and out of your basement.
Now, that huge house seems like a lot to keep up. That grand staircase is getting hard to climb, and that huge yard is not such a pleasure to tend as it used to be.
Also, you may be tired of shoveling snow and looking for a warm climate so that you can lean into that retirement lifestyle.
But the thought of packing up (and getting rid of) 50 or 60 years of accumulated treasures may be difficult. Not only from the emotional standpoint but also from the strictly logistical. How will you ever do what you need to do to clear out, clean up, and move your household, especially if doing so means significant downsizing?
Here are some ways that you can ensure your long distance moving is less pain and more pleasure.
Think ahead when it comes to big transition like this. Start planning months or even years before the actual move.
Even if you plan to stay in your current home for several years, you can begin looking at downsizing some of the items you currently have in storage. If your adult children are still storing items from their childhood, give them a deadline. And have those items remove or dispose of by that date.
Begin working your way through closets, basement, garage, and workroom. Think of places that you have accumulated items that you no longer need.
This way you’re decluttering gradually but on a large scale. This will help keep you from having to make as many decisions when it is already time to move.
Try not to look at the moving plan as a whole too often. Think of smaller tasks like clearing out one closet or one cabinet.
Set aside an hour each day to clean out. You can either sell, dispose or give the items as a gift. If you will be moving within the next year, start thinking seasonally.
As you put up the holiday ornaments, think about which ones you will want in your new space and which ones should be passed down to your children.
As you finish gardening for the summer, think about what yard tools you will no longer need in your new home.
Breaking this large job up into smaller components will help keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
Plan for the New Space
Once you got your new place, use the square footage to help you make decisions.
If you are in a 3000 square foot home but you are moving to a 1500 square foot condo, you will need to downsize by half. Let that inform your decisions regarding furniture, books, clothes, and other items.
Also, look at your furniture. Decide if it can realistically fit in your new space or if it will look unwieldy and too large there.
Similarly, think about whether your current furniture, clothing or accessories fit your new home’s ambiance. For example, large, dark, antique mahogany furnishings, no matter how lovely, may look out of place in a contemporary condo at the beach. Heavy, formal drapes, no matter how expensive, will not work well in a small craftsman bungalow.
Take a Tip from Konmari
Marie “KonMari” Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant and author. Her advice is to take each item in hand and ask yourself if it “sparks joy.” If not, do not keep it.
This may seem a bit silly to some, but it can help you clarify why you are keeping some items and what you might let go of. You could be keeping things out of guilt or because it was expensive. If you’re not sure what to do, you should probably give them or throw them away.
Look at this as an opportunity to surround yourself with clothes and furnishings that truly give you pleasure when you look at them.
Pack a first night box or a suitcase with the essentials you will need in order to function in the coming days. You don’t want to arrive on moving day and have to look through a house full of boxes to find a medication or a nightgown.
In fact, it might be wise to spend a night or two in a hotel, at least until you start to get your home in order. That way you are always assured of a good shower and a clean bed at the end of a tiring day of unpacking.
Ask for Help
Start asking trusted friends or relatives early on to help with your move. Enlist your children and grandchildren to help with packing. Sometimes, having someone come over and keep you company can be a big help as you sort through and make decisions about certain items.
And when someone asks “What can I do?’ tell them! Ask them to stop at the grocery store if needed, or to pick up a prescription for you. People want to help and it is gracious to allow them to do so.
Making a move after retirement can be an exciting and joyous experience. By taking control of the move and planning ahead, you can ensure that it is memorable for the right reasons.
Part of what will help is having a great, reliable moving company to do the heavy lifting.
Fill out the Quote Finder and let us connect you with one of our professional, pre-screened movers today!
Alex Sherr is the founder of Long Distance Moving, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.