Downsizing can be the right move in a variety of situations
Cindy Beaudet owns and operates Destinations Seniors Downsizing, a Calgary company helping seniors “declutter, downsize and decide what stays and what goes.”
“I tell them the first thing to do is to call their kids and tell them to get their stuff out of the basement,” said Beaudet.
Most of Beaudet’s clients have been in their homes for more than 40 years.
“It’s so overwhelming for them. They’ve been in a house for 40 or 50 years, and now they’re moving to 587 square feet of space,” she said.
After Beaudet instructs downsizers to unload their children’s belongings, she says it’s best to start with the smallest room in the house and go through everything, deciding what to throw away and what to donate.
“I always recommend, ‘take all your memories, those are what are most important to you,’ ” she said, adding she also suggests people leave behind large furniture that occupies a lot of space.
A challenge Beaudet frequently encounters is people who don’t want to let go of items because they paid good money for them.
“Something is only worth what someone will pay for it … People don’t want your old cutlery or your 1988 Winter Olympics glasses from Petro-Canada with half the gold edging chipped off,” she said, adding that old plastic containers and Tupperware are among the first things to greet the garbage when downsizing.
Beaudet also advises people against taking up valuable space with things they are saving for their kids.
“Your kids have their own stuff,” she said, adding that younger generations have embraced minimalism and have no interest in acquiring the family silver or the 12-place setting of Royal Doulton in English Rose.
Ashley Corcoran is one of those members of the younger generation who aspires to live a minimalist lifestyle. In her mid-twenties, she and her fiancé recently downsized from a one-bedroom-plus-loft apartment in Killarney to a basement suite in Montgomery with a shared kitchen.
Corcoran says the primary impetus for the move was the desire to save money on rent.
“We decided to downsize so that I could travel,” she explained, noting her fiancé is still attending university.
The move resulted in the couple unloading their living room furniture and many of their kitchen supplies.
“We were happy to sell it,” said Corcoran. “If you spend less money and time on things, you can spend more time and money on doing things.”
It’s so overwhelming for them. They’ve been in a house for 40 or 50 years, and now they’re moving to 587 square feet of space.
Mike and Nancy Besner are part of a demographic often associated with downsizing: empty nesters. Though still a few years away from retirement, the couple’s four children have all moved out of the family home in Millrise.
“We had a lot of extra space we weren’t using, so we decided to sell it or rent it out, and move to a smaller place,” explained Mike Besner.
The couple has purchased a condo in Walden Place, a new development by Cardel Lifestyles in the southeast community of Walden, only five minutes from their current residence.
The Besners will be downsizing from a two-storey, four-bedroom home to a 1,000-square-foot condo.
“We want to use the equity in our home to subsidize our retirement,” said Besner, adding they decided to act now because of market conditions. “We purchased at a good time and got a good price.”
As for what the couple will do with all the items they’ve acquired over the past 20 years, they will be going online.
“We’ll be busy with Kijiji,” laughed Besner.
Currently, the Besners have a garden, a lawn and a pool to look after. Besner says the move to Walden Place will allow them to spend their time doing other things. In fact, the convenience of living a maintenance-free lifestyle was another draw to downsizing.
“It’s nice to have a manicured lawn and a garden, but you can have that with condo living as well,” said Besner. “The grounds are well kept.”
Sometimes downsizing is necessary even when there no plans to move.
Local playwright Caroline Russell-King downsized recently when she and her husband converted the lower level of their three-bedroom bungalow in Woodbine into a one-bedroom suite for her parents.
“We had to downsize a lot. We got rid of a whole library of books,” said Russell-King, who turned to Facebook to help her unload her possessions. “We did giveaway Wednesdays … It was good to let go of a lot of stuff.”
Russell-King’s advice for others considering downsizing is simple and to the point: “Do it. It’s only stuff.”