I now realise this is probably the classic guide to how not to downsize. Moving house is up there with death and divorce as we know, and it certainly gets no easier as you get older. Mum and Dad downsized a few years ago now, but I still remember it as a complete car crash. I’m not sure we could have avoided it, but there are definitely things we could have done differently.
The Decision to Downsize
It wasn’t the family home, but my parents had retired there, so the house was particularly special to them – the home they had always dreamed of and had worked hard for. The decision to downsize came after another long, cold winter when the oil wasn’t delivered on time and the house was freezing for weeks on end, the drive was a terrifying skating rink and the fact that they had to drive everywhere for anything suddenly started to be an issue.
The first problem was finding a suitable house. At the time, my parents were in good health, so the thought of looking for a home that would be practical ‘forever’ didn’t really cross their minds. Key was access to shops and other amenities, as well as the location of friends and neighbours. These were the priorities – not grabrails or walk in showers, easy access and no steps, or all the things that have subsequently become increasingly important, like proximity to family and public transport.
What needs to go in the Downsize?
Second was how to think about downsizing – what goes forever/what goes to the new house? This took months of Dad mostly walking round the house with a clipboard and writing down items of furniture along with its potential fate, which then changed the next time he walked round the house. And this was before they found a house when of course it all changed again because of the dimensions of their new place.
Third was clearing out before the move. Mum had accumulated 50 years of sheets, pillow cases and linen – some still unopened from their wedding. The move from sheets and blankets, to duvets, and back again had meant there was a fairly extensive bedding collection; and then there was all Dad’s stuff, kept on a “just in case” basis like the 2 lilos from circa 1968, and every copy of his preferred newspaper from significant dates over the last 50 years… Somehow over the weeks and months prior to the move we managed to whittle all this down.
Downsizing – The move
Fourth was the move itself. Despite endless trips to the dump, the charity shop and other willing takers, we hadn’t downsized enough stuff. The removal company were amazing and did their best, but the new house was just box city, and a bit like tetris, trying to fit everything from the boxes into their new spots in the new house proved a challenge beyond us all. We finally managed it, after another round of trips to the dump, the auction house and the charity shops. And of course the garage, which is still home to those 2 lilos – just in case…
And you might want to get some advice from the professionals at The Home Mover.