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Do's and Don't of Downsizing Your Home

The kids are grown and out of the house and maybe even having kids of their own now. The home you’ve had for a couple decades has served you well, but suddenly it’s a bit big for what you need. When you’re still working and healthy, it might be the right time to consider downsizing to a smaller home and a simpler life.

By 2030, the population over 65 will increase by 80 percent as baby boomers age, the oldest of which turn 70 this year, according to the National Association for Senior Move Managers. Many boomers are proactively decluttering their lives and downsizing while they can still make decisions without medical needs dictating their next move.

If you’re downsizing or helping a loved one to do so, know that you’re not the only one who feels a bit intimidated. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help make the process a positive experience.

Don’t set an unrealistic timeline. Just as you wouldn’t want to rush into buying your first house, take your time finding the right home and downsizing your or your loved one’s belongings effectively. Jennifer Pickett, associate executive director for NASMM, a network for professionals who deal with the needs of seniors, notes that the downsizing process is likely going to take longer than you imagine. “If you think for one instant you can do this in a weekend or two, it’s not going to happen. Forget about it,” she says.

Regina Leeds, professional organizer and author of “Rightsize … Right Now!: The 8-Week Plan to Organize, Declutter, and Make Any Move Stress-Free,” says establishing a timeline is important to avoid dragging out the process. “It shouldn’t be open-ended because it’s not going to be fun,” she says.

Leeds’ book advises on how to get through the process of organizing and moving in eight weeks, but “if time is no object,” she says, expect to take six months to go through all your belongings, establish what you’re going to sell, give away or trash, put your current place on the market and purchase or lease your next home.

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