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rb-35_webTired of being tied down by the expense and upkeep of your family home? Are household chores weighing you down now that the kids have moved out and their so much extra space? Are you considering moving to a retirement destination or senior living community to make the most of your golden years? You might be a retiree considering downsizing!

If you are, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. It can be such a relief to go from a sprawling family home to something just for you, or also a significant other if you are married, and the occasional overnight guest. Downsizing can be easier if you tackle it proactively, before health problems or emotional stress become as big a factor. It can be difficult to let go of a home where you have made many memories, but it can also be fun and freeing to celebrate your retirement by getting situated to enjoy it completely.

The best place to start your downsize project is by getting a sense of where you are downsizing to. If you are moving to a retirement community, for example, start with what is included in your unit. Is there a kitchenette? Where are most meals served? What is the square footage? Are there plenty of common areas where socializing will take place? You might want to ditch the expansive sectional couch, for example, and replace it with some small loveseats or arm chairs for when you want to entertain privately in a smaller space. You may not need to bring all your kitchen appliances if most meals are provided—just a microwave or toaster and some dishes for when you want to fix a snack or quick meal on your own.

This is also a good chance to decide what your absolute-must haves might be. It may be worth it to you to use some of your square footage on a china cabinet that holds your beloved antiques than to have room for an extra chair or desk. You may want to bring an heirloom dresser and downsize your bed from a double to a twin. Now is the time to think about what your truly want to keep and what you’re simply used to having around or that you bought to fill your current space.

Once you have a sense of your must-haves and must-gos, the rest is simply a process of sorting everything in between into different categories. Some things you may decide to save and bring with you. Others might be sold or donated. Others can go to loved ones who will appreciate them. It can be fun and surprise to see what you’ve accumulated around the house. One thing is for sure—downsizing can be a very empowering way to start a new phase of your life!