Navigating the Trials of Downsizing

retirement downsizing
retirement downsizing

Downsizing comes with a million emotions. There’s no avoiding it. Whether you’re downsizing on purpose, by personal necessity, or are being forced to, there is a lot of stress and moving parts that comes along with consolidating or purging your things (or sometimes a loved one’s things). Two different families that I know have recently been struggling with extremely different ends of the spectrum when it comes to downsizing. Both ended up needing a little extra time and space, and turned to a storage unit.

One friend’s grandfather, who has been on his own since his spouse passed away, now cannot live on his own, and the family is helping him downsize and move into a facility that is more conducive to his situation. Well, like with many things when it comes to families, what to do with all of his “stuff” has become an issue. Does he keep his car? Who would get his car? He still can go fishing and wants to go, but there isn’t room for any of his gear. Who should have to store his gear? And the list of questions goes on and becomes more complicated. In order to sell his home while the spring/summer moving season is in full swing, the family members, and Grandpa, opted to put all of his things into storage—including his car. A centrally located storage unit and space for his car has helped to alleviate some of the issues and buy the entire family more time to figure out what needs to stay and what can be sold and who gets what. The goal is to reduce the size of the unit that Grandpa will need and have a storage space that will just hold what he needs and his seasonal clothes and, of course, fishing gear.

On the flip side, a friend is trying to downsize from a home that fit her family of five down to a fun, retirement condo on the coast. The struggle is real when it comes to what to do with all of her treasured items. While she no longer wants the much-adored dining room set of her mother’s and neither do any of her her 20-something kids, she cannot stand to sell it or give it away. If only the dining room set were the end of it; excess holiday decorations, furniture, clothes, yard equipment, and more have filled her storage unit. In order to organize and arrange her new condo, she and her husband opted for a climate controlled storage unit to safeguard their valuables. Since letting go is proving to be impossible and their new, much smaller abode is making them happy, keeping things in storage is the only viable option—that is until she finally wears down her kids and convinces that family heirlooms are retro-chic memories and not just “old junk” that should be gotten rid of pronto.

No matter how you look at your displaced items, if you aren’t ready to let go of them yet, don’t. Rent out a cheap storage unit near by and hang onto your things until the proper solution comes about. There’s no reason to look back with regret if you don’t have to. Enjoy the freedom of a smaller, less-maintenance home and still keep your things!