How to Downsize: 6 Steps for Helping Your Parents

When it’s time for you to help your senior parents to transition to a smaller home perhaps a condo, apartment or retirement community, it can be an overwhelming experience for the entire family. Fortunately, there are steps you can take prior to any move to help your parents (and yourself) with down-sizing or as I like to call it “right-sizing” for their new lifestyle. Here are my suggestions:

1. Discuss together how much square footage your parents really need

Most people are unrealistic with how much room they think they need to live in and they value storage over getting rid of stuff they don’t need anymore so this is a sensitive area but one you must talk about right away. As your real estate adviser, I am happy to show you and your Mom and Dad local apartments and condos – so you can see for example, what 900 square feet looks like and get a good idea of what it will cost to live here or there. Also in order to keep your parents safe during the pandemic, I will often v-tour the property for my clients in a live link, so they can view it from the comfort of their living room.

2. Once your parents choose their new home

Try to obtain a floor plan of it so that you can help them visualize the space and decide where the furniture will go.

3. Sort and organize 

This will take some time but so worth it as you help them decide what items to keep, junk, recycle or donate. Keep in mind that it’s unlikely that all of their current possessions will fit in their new place so be prepared to discuss letting go of some cherished items and help your parents deal with their thoughts and feelings over down-sizing.

4. Schedule the moving truck for a weekday morning 

Most people who move, do so on or close to the weekend, so schedule the moving company for mid week. Also, reserve in advance – the apartment or condo elevator in your parent’s new building – most will only let you move in during the hours of 9:00 am – 5:00 pm in order to minimize disruption to the other tenants.  A few days before the move, gather any valuable, important papers and medications in a tote bag so that you can transport them yourself.

5. Contact the home insurance and utilities providers

Most landlords require proof of tenant insurance so ensure that your parents do contact and inform their current provider of their change of address and living situation. Ask the insurance representative if all possessions are insured during transit. Notify all utility providers at least a month prior to the move in order to minimize any service disruption and to save any extra fees charged due to a last minute cancellation.

6. Hire a Senior Services company

for this important transition – most of these organizations offer a free one hour consultation right in your home and their staff will do most of the above-mentioned jobs including, cleaning the former home and arranging for any repairs prior to putting it on the market, packing and unpacking both locations, plus completely setting up their new home so it feels like home. In Niagara, I recommend,

It’s not easy to help your parents with such an important change but it doesn’t have to mean down-sizing in a negative way if they and you can keep an open mind on how to approach and discuss it together – the future is just as fulfilling and rewarding in a smaller home – especially one that is the “right-size”!


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