Downsizing your life for a smaller home


PEGGY PATENAUDE – You’ve made the decision to downsize to a new home that better fits your lifestyle.

You’ve contacted a real estate agent and you’re on the way to listing your current home and making an offer on something new.

Now it’s time for a critical task: downsizing your life to fit your new home.

Some people are minimalists and some people are hoarders.

If you find yourself in the latter category, you may need these tips to determine what to save and what to lose.

Out with the old. If you haven’t used something for six months or more – unless it’s an heirloom or antique – chances are you don’t want it and won’t use so you might as well lose it.

Discard any items that are old and shabby (rugs, towels, window treatments, bedding, lampshades etc.) and don’t replace them until you are in your new place and can access any storage space. This is especially important for redundant items. How many separate sets of bed linens do you really need for the guest room? Will your new home even have a guest room?

Toss items that are beyond repair and likely never to be used again. Don’t look back.

Renting a dumpster you can place in your driveway gives you incentive to trash even large items. It’s liberating to see your junk disappear. You’ll surprise yourself with how easy it is to ditch basement, attic, and closet clutter. Don’t forget to rummage through drawers and cupboards.

Trash or treasure? Anyone who has ever watched Antiques Roadshow or Storage Wars knows that valuable collectibles often lurk hidden away in unexpected places. Your attic, garage or storage rental can hold collectible valuables and other treasures. Get aged items in good shape appraised to determine if it’ll make you some cash. Sell unused items in consignment shops, eBay, Craigslist and other online outlets. Be sure to understand privacy policies and to protect your personal security and safety when selling to strangers who’ll come to your home.

Certainly retain sentimental items, but those big and bulky pieces may feel more at home in a friend’s attic, a family member’s home or other location where the owners consider it a meaningful item worthy of display.

Contact a cause. Big Brothers and Big Sisters to the Epilepsy Foundation and your local church, social agencies, non-profits and community groups are looking for gently used household items. It’s a satisfying feeling to know your former belongings will serve a worthy cause.

Consider your new lifestyle. Will you need a washer and dryer if there are laundry facilities at your new home? If lawn care comes with the new home do you really need that lawn mower? Sell them or give them away.

Remember, downsizing means downsizing. Not just the size of your home, but the size of your lifestyle. The more stuff you can do without, the more liberated you’ll feel.

Go ahead, purge. When you are settled into your new home, you can take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the simplicity of your smaller space – now that you have more room.

Peggy Patenaude is a real estate agent with downsizing “go-to” experience at Prudential Home & Doherty in Andover, MA. After only 9 years in the business, Patenaude racked up 58 awards and in 2010, a challenging year, sold $18,500,000 worth of property.

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