Do the math: How to reduce stress, clutter when moving

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An Internet search reveals these Top 5 most stressful situations: Death of a loved one; divorce; job loss; major illness; and moving.

For many elders, along with moving comes its exhausting, haunting cousin - downsizing.

Downsizing, defined as "getting rid of stuff you should have dumped years ago but could never emotionally part with," seems to generate more stress than the packing, hauling and unpacking of one's belongings in the new home.

Here's an easy math problem that some folks have not been able to figure out: You move from a 2,500-square-foot house in which you've lived for 20 years into a 1,200-square-foot condominium - and expect to have room to bring everything you own.

Sad to say, those folks end up with boxes, still packed, stacked up in the living room.

When moving to a retirement community (or anywhere, for that matter), it is imperative you take the time to assess your "stuff," such as clothes, anything kitchen-oriented, books, etc.

Some of these items can be sold through a consignment store, or donated to a thrift store as a tax-deductible donation.

Typically, your children are not going to be interested in your stuff unless you have antiques or something of sentimental value.

So, how does one survive this incredibly stressful event?

Some have managed the move completely on their own, but not without some collateral damage.

Children can be extremely helpful; however, they don't always live around the corner and sometimes are not able to schedule a trip.

Here are a few helpful tips that could make this nightmare event seem more like a stroll down the beach:

  • Be realistic: Take measurements of your new place.

Know how much wall space you have for furniture and wall accessories. It will be less, much less. Closet space will be at a premium.

Do yourself a huge favor, and donate everything you haven't worn in the past 12 months.

  • Ask for help: If your children can't help with the move (and even if they can), have someone assist you with this monumental task.

Consider hiring a moving professional who offers a host of helpful services like space planning, packing, donation-disposal, settling and so forth.

Or recruit a friend who has the time and energy to help you coordinate all facets of the transition.

  • Schedule a mover: Make the inquiry at least 30 days prior to your planned move.

There have been times (April seems popular) when movers are booked solid for weeks at a time.

You don't want to have a specific "move-in date" and then find out there are no movers available.

  • Take your time: This isn't a one-day project or even a one-week project. Give yourself plenty of time to tackle this very important life event.

The new mantra is "Less is more," which means life gets even better when we have less "stuff" cluttering our world.

Downsizing, no doubt, is difficult. But, if we are honest with ourselves, it can be quite uplifting to have a new palette to paint the next chapter - with plenty of elbow room.

Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head. www.TheSeabrook.org

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