Tips for downsizing and moving

Senior woman sitting on the couch using her iPad

Congratulations on your new home!

Moving to a new home can be stressful, but making the move to a senior living community means a low-maintenance lifestyle and the possibility of focusing on what you love to do most.

Downsizing and boxing up a lifetime of possessions can be challenging, but these tips will help you save on a moving bill and cut costs in your new home.

1. Get a floor plan of your new space.

Having the dimensions of your new home can help you identify what furniture will fit, and what you should sell or donate.

Take a look at the room configurations on the floor plan, and visualize what will work best in the space.

Many Good Samaritan Society locations offer floor plans to download.

Or you can request a hard copy from your new location's manager.

Will you be able to take your sofa, loveseat and two armchairs? Or just a sofa and one armchair?

Do you have a spot for the curio cabinet? Is there room for the dining room hutch?

Understanding the dimensions of your new space makes downsizing easier, and avoids the possibility of moving furniture that you don't have room for. Selling your extra items can give you more floor space – and funds. 

2. Take note of the community's amenities.

This can highlight what you may want to bring with you, and what would be duplicated.

Find out things like:

  • Is your kitchen furnished?
  • Are meals served?
  • Does the community take care of the building and grounds maintenance?
  • Do you have laundry and housekeeping services?
  • Is there an on-site exercise space?

Knowing which services are provided can help you quickly remove your refrigerator, lawnmower and treadmill from your moving list — or verify that you'll probably want to put free weights, a microwave or your vacuum cleaner on the moving truck. 

3. Go digital.

You can save a lot of space by digitizing things like photos, music, videos, movies, and legal and tax documents.

Consider donating the books, CDs, movies and file cabinets you no longer need to a library, senior center or nonprofit in your community.

External hard drives, USB flash drives and cloud storage subscriptions are affordable, safe, easy to use and portable alternatives to moving hard copies of bulky items.

Ask friends and family members to help you transfer information, or look into services that will transfer your information for you.

Also consider swapping your CDs, books and videos for e-books and streaming services.

View resources for saving family photos  

4. Properly dispose of hazardous materials.

Go through your garage, basement, workshop and closets carefully. You probably won't need the old cans of paint, half-used fertilizers and pesticides, gas canisters and other harsh chemicals you used around your house and yard.

Contact your local fire department or solid waste agency for instructions on the proper disposal of household hazardous wastes.

Ask about local drop-off programs and upcoming collection days. 

5. Let it go.

Storage space is probably going to be limited in your new senior living community. This means you'll have to be mindful of what comes with you in the move.

Heirlooms and collections can be tough to give up or downsize.

But ask yourself:

Does this object bring me joy, or does the idea of it bring me joy?

Do I need 40 pieces in my collection to bring me joy, or will just five do the trick and still make me happy when I see them?

Am I ready to let these items bring other people joy in their homes instead of mine?

The memories you associate with these items are not the same as the objects themselves — the love you feel for the people who gave them to you, or the moments you received them in, will be in your heart and mind always.

Start with the rooms in your home you don't use often. Many of these things are likely space-fillers or extras you won't have much emotional attachment to.

Then move on to the spaces where you spend the most time — like your living room, kitchen and bedroom — where you know you'll need some more time to sort things.

Take one room at a time so you don't feel overwhelmed. Be realistic about how much space you'll have for all your possessions.

Sort or mark each item into one of these categories:

  • Keep: Clothes, utensils and items you know you'll need and use every day, beloved keepsakes, favorite decorations and possessions that make you truly happy belong on your "must pack" list.
  • Give to family members or friends: If you have pieces you love but you know you won't have room for, offer them to friends or family members who would treasure the pieces.
  • Sell online or in an estate sale: Items you no longer need or want but could be worth the time to sell include things like appliances, tools, furniture, collections and antiques.
  • Donate: Ask your favorite local charities what they need — such as furniture, clothes or books — and donate what you can to them. Some resale locations will come and pick up any donations you're ready to part with; others have locations where you can drop off donations yourself.
  • Throw away or recycle: Piles of paper, items that are broken or unusable, and clothes with extensive wear and tear are ready to head to the trash. 
Click here for additional resources that may help your move.

By being intentional about what comes with you in the move, you won't need a storage unit, and you'll know that your new home will be filled with the things that bring you the most joy.

Good luck with your move! We wish you many blessings in your new home.

Find the housing and support that fits your needs 


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