The tough part is over. You’ve worked for years. Saved. Planned for retirement. Now what?

Do you stay in the large home where you raised your family? Do you sell it and buy a home in Florida? Do you spend more time traveling? There are so many questions that need answers as you near retirement. It’s not just an emotional decision, it’s also a financial decision. Here are some things to consider.

Financial Concerns

Do you leave high tax states like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut, Wisconsin? Or maybe the answer is to divide your time between your current state and Florida. Learn if you can be taxed as a Florida resident here:

Do you have equity in your home? If so, selling your home could be an opportunity to live debt free and have more disposable income to travel and enjoy hobbies that you’ve put aside for years.

Have you thought about the cost of living in your current home and state? Make a spreadsheet outlining all of your annual expenses from mortgage, taxes, home maintenance, utilities, snow removal… Now compare to purchasing a home where you would like to retire.

Retirement & Family Connections

Worried about leaving your family and heading south? Talk to them. It’s almost a guarantee that when you move south, you will become the most popular family member – especially during the winter months. When you choose your southern home, consider whether or not you need room for guests. Do you have kids and grandkids that will spend their school breaks with you? If so, make sure you have plenty of room to accomodate them.

“I found out retirement means playing golf, or I don’t know what the hell it means. But to me, retirement means doing what you have fun doing.” – Dick Van Dyke

Retirement Needs vs. Wants

You probaby don’t need nearly as much as you think. Look at all of your possessions and ask yourself, “do I need this or do I want this item?” Storage in Florida homes tend to be much less than in northern homes. There are no basements. No attics. No barns or outbuildings. Storage units are kind of like Dunkin’ Donuts – they are on every corner. But, they are expensive. When a friend moved to Florida he thought he would just move everything from Ohio and deal with it later. He not only paid for the expense of moving, he also paid over $10,000 in storage fees before he finally donated all of his dark furniture and unwanted items. Don’t make that expensive mistake. Decide what’s coming and going before the movers arrive. Save yourself the headache and expense.

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Keep, Donate or Sell?

Moving from a large house can sometimes be difficult. You have likely accumulated “things” for 30+ years. In Northern homes, most have the benefit of vast storage areas including attics, basements and garages. If you are considering a move south, most homes do not have basements or usable attic space. And, depending on city or town, lots can also be smaller and might have restrictions on storage buildings. Instead of paying to move all of your things that you will likely not need, take the time to sort through everything. If you are in the beginning phases of a move, start sorting through cabinets, drawers, garage and more – now! Grab your iPad, find your favorite Netflix show and start sorting through things. Guaranteed, it will reduce stress as you get closer to your moving day. Here’s how to tackle all of your stuff. Begin by setting up four bins;

  1. Keep: Only add items to this bin if you are 100% certain you need to keep these items.
  2. Donate: Have things that are in good condition that someone else would appreciate? Consider donating items to local charities. Remember animal shelters love donated towels.
  3. Sell: Consider having a yard sale, posting on Facebook Marketplace or other online sites.
  4. Garbage: If something is in questionable condition for donating; get rid of it.

Here are a few recent posts to help you downsize.

Antiques & Family Heirlooms

It’s more likely than not, that your children do not want your antiques. If they don’t want them it’s up to you to sell them. Don’t leave it for your kids to manage later when you are not around. They don’t know the history of each piece or the value. You probably have more connections to possible buyers than they do. If you don’t want these pieces in your downsized home, get rid of them now.

Planning Your Next Chapter

Downsizing can sometimes be difficult. It means saying goodbye to a home filled with memories – children’s birthday parties, holiday gatherings, graduation celebrations, grandchildren playing in the backyard… But, when you downsize with a purpose, the move can be a life event to look forward to. It is an opportunity to make new memories in a new home. Your new home can become the family vacation and gathering place for years to come.

If the thought of downsizing is overwhelming, ask family members and friends to help. Take the time to relive happy memories. Play old family movies, put in an old CD, laugh and cry over the memories. Perhaps even plan a farewell party once you have successfully sorted through years of memories. And, once you are settled into your new home, invite everyone you know to help create new memories.

Additional Downsizing Resources:

How to Know It’s Time To Downsize Your Home by Bill Gassett

Downsizing Tips for Seniors by Anita Clark

Downsizing & Decluttering 101 by Michele Bee Bellisari

How to Live Like a Local in Naples, Florida