4 Great Tips to Downsizing as an Empty Nester

If you’re dreading the thought of having your children move out of the family home once they’re grown, have no fear! It’s really nothing to be afraid of. Here are 4 great tips to downsizing as an ’empty nester’.

My ‘children’ are 21, 24 and 28, and I’ve been what society calls an “empty nester” for a little over a year now. But in the years preceding ‘the big move out’ you’re probably terrified at the thought of what needs to be done in order to make the transition from full-time parent, to empty nester.

It’s amazing how much shit a family with kids can collect; from scooters and sports crap, to grad dresses and old school instruments. Over the years, our pile of ‘stuff’ just got bigger and bigger. Little did I realize that that “pile” would be mostly mine to deal with when each child flew the coup. Your household is likely no different.

I’d known for years leading up to that glorious day, that I was going to do one simple but major thing once the last kid was gone; start my brand spanking new adult life, from scratch.

My plan was to leave the suburban house that I raised the kids in, and move to a condo downtown, but if I was going to start my own new life, I had to toss everything from the ‘old’ one. In order to start from scratch, I’d have to emotionally detach, and sell or give away everything that we’d collected over the years, and in many ways, I looked forward to it. At first, it was difficult. I mean, there were years of emotional blood, sweat and tears in just about everything that I touched.

At first, I felt almost as though I was throwing out irreplaceable chunks of my children’s younger years, but once the living room/family room stuff was gone, it became much easier. It was almost as if that was the emotional point at which there was no turning back. I had a thick glass dining room table that I absolutely adored. I swore that I’d be buried with that thing, but it had to go too. It’s probably the one thing that I had the hardest time parting with. But I’m still glad that I did.

There are four major things that need to be done, in order to downsize and start with a clean slate;

  1. Start researching what kind of place you want to move into

This is exciting! Before you do anything, you should absolutely know what kind of place you’d like to move into when the kids are out of the house. Do you want to move to another detached house? Or are you looking forward to a ‘true’ downsize, and a move to a condo in the ‘big city’?

Whichever you’re leaning towards, you should begin your research as soon as possible to get a feel for what the market holds for you in your neck of the woods.

  1. Sell or give away any and everything

This is by far the most difficult part of the process, but I promise you, it’s worth it.

First, get your kids to come and take any/everything that they want to keep for themselves. That includes old GI Joe’s and Barbie’s or doll houses that they want to keep for their future children. That stuff’s not yours to worry about anymore

Crack open Craigslist and get to work. Take pictures of, and list anything that has any value. Don’t be too optimistic; this is Craigslist after all, and people who get on Craigslist looking for something, are expecting to get it at a literal steal. So if you’re expecting to get big dough for that sofa that you paid $3k for 6 months ago, this isn’t the place to sell it. Donate anything that you couldn’t sell but is still in great shape to your neighborhood thrift store. Take everything else to the dump.

  1. Don’t put ANYTHING in storage.

This is probably the most important part of this whole endeavor.

Why?

Because things that go into storage, rarely see the light of day. Which means that you’ll be paying for storage ‘til the day you die. And I mean that literally. Grandma’s old dining room set? Don’t put it in storage. Give it to a family member. Put that thing in storage and it’ll be the year 3000 before someone opens the door and scrapes the dust off, and you’ll be paying for it monthly until then. What a waste.

  1. Put your clothes into a suitcase, and move into your new pad

A suitcase.

That’s literally all you’ll need to take with you to your new life. Granted, you’ll keep any photos and trinkets that you simply can’t part with, but that’s a whole lot different than renting a moving truck to cart your old stuff into your new place. Pour a glass of wine on your first night, crack open your laptop and get busy shopping for your new interior 🙂

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