Preparing to Rightsize to a New Home
Baby Boomers are currently retiring at a rate of about 10,000 per day and many are planning to move into a new home that meets their evolving needs and lifestyle. Just as moving into a larger home for your (then) growing family was a monumental occasion a few decades ago, so is moving into an appropriately sized home for your upcoming empty nest, retirement, and golden years.
I never did like the term “downsizing.” It’s about rightsizing, being in the right amount of space – not being bogged down cleaning empty rooms you never use or paying to heat/ cool space that is rarely, if ever, utilized. It’s about freeing yourself, physically and mentally, to enjoy more important things.
Moving can be an arduous undertaking, but anything that’s worth doing is worth doing right. With proper preparation, you can make the transition to this exciting new chapter in your life as easy as possible. Follow these steps and you’ll be rightsized in no time!
- Prepare mentally: Have an objective in mind and a timeline to accomplish it. You may already know the floorplan of your new home or have a good idea of what size home you’d like to be moving into. How much “stuff” will fit in your new space, and what don’t you have a space or need for any longer? What haven’t you used in longer than you care to admit? Strategize before you begin to rightsize your belongings to your new home.
- Talk to your family: Perhaps they’ve always loved a piece you would be willing/needing to part with before your move into your new home. Why not pass the heirloom along now, instead of paying for it to be stored and possibly discarded in the years to come? Let your cherished belongings find a new, appreciative home sooner rather than later.
- Hire help: You do not need to do this all yourself. Interior designers, organizers, movers–they all can make this a much easier project for you, with a better end result. Put their professional skills to use and lighten your load.
- Sort: What is being gifted to friends and family? What is to be donated to charity? What is to be sold/ auctioned/ consigned? Make the tough decisions now or you’ll find yourself needing a storage unit for cherished items that may never see the light of day again. What a waste that would be! Nor do you want to start living in a new home that is overstuffed and uncomfortable. If possible, as you sort, move things into separate rooms. If your space doesn’t allow for that, use color-coded tape to designate items into categories before you start packing and dispersing. Mark “KEEP” on the thing you are taking with you.
- Move and Settle In: All your preparation pays off as you move into your new home and get settled in. You’ve made the hard decisions and now it pays off. It’s an incredible feeling when all the pieces fall into place. While all the planning in the world doesn’t make this an easy process, it sure does make it smoother, less stressful and much more successful.
Now that you’ve rightsized your home, what’s next? Travel? Retirement? Pursuing that passion project or a new business? More time with family and friends? Whatever the motivation, you’ve earned this–enjoy it! Scaling your home to meet your needs is just the beginning of an exciting chapter of life.
Long Distance Moves: Take Control!
Perhaps retirement means finally buying that much-anticipated dream home. Or moving closer to the kids and grandkids (aka “baby chasing”)…or relocating to that warmer climate you’ve always dreamed of. Often these dreams require moving to a new state.
If it’s been a while since your last relocation or if it’s your first-ever out-of-state move this all can be a daunting prospect. A long-distance move just has more moving parts than a local or in-town move. Don’t get overwhelmed, it’s just like eating an elephant–one bite at a time! Here are some pointers:
First of all, begin preparations no less than 2 months before your intended move date. If you have physical limitations or time constrains you may want to start sooner.
2 months prior
- Space Plan for your new home. Identify what to take with you, or to sell, donate, or pass on to family and friends.
- Sign paperwork for your new home: If renting–-the new lease. If buying– keep in mind that closing usually takes 30-45 days.
- Hire your mover or reserve your truck if you’re getting family and friends to help.
- Pack important paperwork (like birth certificates, marriage licenses, medical records) NOW, where it won’t accidentally get misplaced or packed where you can’t easily get to it.
- Make travel arrangements if necessary: flight or hotel
1 month prior
- Packing will be your main project at the 1-month mark unless your mover is packing for you.
- Set up utilities and your change of address.
- Get organized. Keep a running To-Do list of things you want to get done before the big day.
- Notify your insurance companies, banks, and any other institutions you do business with regularly, that you will be moving and update those records.
2 to 3 weeks prior
- Check your To-Do List: Are you running on schedule? If not, delegate–get help from family or friends.
- Refill your family’s prescriptions: have extra of each so you don’t run out before you find a new pharmacy and get the prescription transferred.
- Service your vehicle(s): change the oil, rotate the tires, have it inspected bumper to bumper, especially if you are driving it a long distance to your new home.
- Meal plan and try to use up as much food as you can from the freezer and pantry. Perishable food is hard to transport safely, and canned goods are quite heavy. Consider donating unopened items instead of transporting them to your new home.
- Return any borrowed items you found while packing, including library books.
1 week prior
- Pack your suitcase: Include enough for the duration of your trip and for the first week or so once you arrive. Don’t forget phone and computer chargers, prescriptions, and clothing appropriate for the weather in your new hometown.
- Make sure everything is labeled: Going, Not Going, Fragile, Load Last, etc.
- Confirm travel arrangements and moving reservation (Rental moving truck or moving company)
- Check your To-Do List again, just to make sure.
1 Day prior
- If your appliances are going with you unplug the water and electrical lines now, including your freezer, so it can defrost and be cleaned prior to loading it onto the moving truck.
- Clean the house as much as you can, to save you time later when you’re trying to hit the road or make your flight.
- Pack last-minute items that you’ve needed up until now: These might be best packed in your suitcase since they are things you use daily.
- Get a good night’s sleep—tomorrow’s the big day! Get excited about this new adventure and chapter in life.
Being prepared and in control of the situation brings such a sense of peace. Moving long distance is an amazing opportunity and with the right preparation, it can be a smooth transition!
Moving on a Fixed Income
In planning a major move, you can try to do it yourself (which frankly doesn’t sound appealing at any age!) or you can hire a moving company.
If you choose the latter, we’re excited to share some tips on how to get a full-service move, on a budget:
- Purge! if you haven’t used an item in a year, do you really need to keep it, pay to move it, and find a place in your new home to store it? It helps if you try to envision your belongings getting a second life with appreciative new owners.
- Plan your move during “off season.” Moving rates, just like vacation rental rates, are higher in peak season. Your moving budget will typically go much further if you’re able to plan your move January through April. Day of the week can also impact moving rates: Fridays and the weekend are sometimes considered premium days because demand is higher and the crews are likely to be on overtime, thus driving the cost up for the customer. When getting your moving quote, be sure to ask if there are days you should consider for the lowest rate possible.
- Get multiple moving estimates, three the magic number. Usually, two of them will be close and one will be notably higher or lower. Get referrals from friends, neighbors, and family—and check reviews online. Make sure the quotes are comparable: same cubic feet or weight, same services including pickup and delivery dates, number of movers required, and same damage protection coverage.
- Pack the boxes yourself, which can save $1,000-$3,000 or more of your moving cost. Many movers offer free used boxes to customers so be sure to ask. You can also search Facebook marketplace for free moving boxes. Be careful about getting too frugal on packing materials: grocery and other retail boxes are not suitable for moving due to their irregular shape or insufficient sturdiness. If you do have the movers pack anything, let it be your dishes and fragile items. Then you know it will be done properly and covered under the damage protection plan.
- Be prepared. Everything that fits in a box (that you are packing yourself) should be packed before the movers arrive. If they must prepare unplanned items for transport it will add time and cost. Know where things are going in your new home. Communicate clearly to the moving team: confusion on moving day can result in delays and added costs.
- Consider moving small or lightweight items yourself, especially if you’re moving locally. Every time you go back and forth to your new place, load your car with lamps, bedding, clothes, and smaller boxes.
- If moving interstate, be open to unconventional moving options. These include ABF trailers or PODS—or for smaller moves, “crate and freight” options. You can still hire a local company to load these for you, so you don’t have to do the heavy lifting. However, be aware of the differences in (or lack of) damage protection with some of these options and longer delivery windows.
Often times Baby Boomers haven’t moved in a decade or more, having stayed in the same home to raise their family. There may be some sticker shock when you get a moving quote but by considering some of these cost-saving options you can move on a budget and still not have to do it yourself!