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Downsizing Takes Patience, Planning, Personnel

group of older friends from Dublin Ohio apartments having fun and laughing

Experts say there are guidelines for downsizing. These hold true for transitioning to an apartment, condominium or retirement community, or simply trying to de-clutter the nest.

Central Ohio residents wondering about the best ways to go about downsizing—you are not alone. An estimated 120,000 Central Ohioans are expected to downsize during the next 15 years after they turn 65, according to a forecast of baby boomer aging trends by Arthur Nelson, a professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah.

Nelson forecast that 65-and-older householders would account for 56% of the demand for new housing in Central Ohio between 2015 and 2040. This is a significant share, considering that this age group made up only 19% of this demand between 1990 and 2010.

Just getting started with the downsizing process can be the most difficult step.

Luckily, there are a number of local and national companies designed to assist retirees with every step of the downsizing process. For example, organization experts and realtors can be powerful contacts for older adults looking to un-clutter their homes, divest themselves of possessions, purchase a smaller home, and all-around, simplify their lives. Many older householders find that giving up their possessions is one of the hardest things to do, and when it comes to the kind of home they seek, it's usually something smaller with much lower or no maintenance needs. Increasingly, some Columbus apartment developers are designing housing to address the demand for low-maintenance, single-story homes with open floor plans and amenities specifically targeting the lifestyles of empty nesters and retirees. There are a growing number of retirement communities, luxury apartments, and condominiums in Central Ohio, each targeting different sets of consumer tastes.

woman unpacking in her new Columbus Ohio apartmentOne of the first considerations to make when downsizing is the financial feasibility of housing for the future. Unlike previous generations, retirees should face the fact that their children probably do not want their home. Further, hanging on to a home for security’s sake may not be the best investment. Of course, some downsizing households will choose to keep their homes and modify them to allow for aging in place. But in this case, they have added costs of renovation and still have maintenance responsibilities. Some will move to condos with fewer exterior maintenance requirements, but still with significant capital investment. So increasingly, renting has become an attractive option for many older adults for financial reasons, or for those who want to be able to shut their doors and travel, or just take a pause before investing in another home.

Those who choose to sell their homes and rent will have liquid assets to invest as they choose, and more flexibility in terms of the next move. These folks tend to crave choices, and may want to make a geographical move, but householders who choose to rent after downsizing often do so to collect their thoughts, solidify a plan for the future, and regroup as they enter the empty-nester lifestyle. This world can include travel, freedom from maintenance and property taxes, and freedom from caring for their kids.

Treplus Communities are luxury apartments designed by empty nesters, for empty nesters. Two new Columbus apartment communities (Hawthorne Commons in Dublin and Redbud Commons in Pickerington) are designed to incorporate the elements that former homeowners desire the most (privacy when they want it, community when they desire it, attached garages, gourmet kitchens, and large units with one-story, open floor plans. Treplus Communities understands the downsizing household and two of the partners, Ann Arthur and Jane Arthur Roslovic, recently spoke at Downsize Columbus, an event especially designed to give guidance to empty nesters and retirees looking to downsize.

Treplus Communities understands that getting rid of possessions can be difficult; even heart wrenching. There are organizations and individual consultants who can gently, empathetically assist downsizing householders with this often-emotional task. Being prepared, planning, reading about how others handle downsizing, and seeking practical assistance can help ease the process.

Stephanie Sisco, home editor for Real Simple magazine, has five tips for downsizing:

Don’t guess, calculate.

Taking the measurements of your new condo or apartment and planning what furniture and belongings will fit helps you envision where everything will go, and what won’t fit.

Treplus Communities understands that when moving from a single-family home with plenty of storage, it’s difficult to make such a radical step down in square footage. Our units are outsized—1,600 to over 1,800 square feet, not including the attached garages, with plenty of pantry, closet and cabinet space. Universal design features guarantee easily accessible living for the years ahead.

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Giving items away to charities that you love helps you to feel better about getting rid of them. Make lists of items, and match them with the appropriate charities. This often eases the heartache of parting with much-loved items that makes downsizing so difficult. Giving family treasures to children or relatives is a lovely way to keep these items in the family.

Our concierge service connects our residents with the appropriate services for them--to help them through the downsizing process. So when you are ready to make the move, take some help from experts who will care for your belongings as they are moved into your new apartment.

Take on your belongings.

Tackle things methodically, starting with the least sentimental articles and moving up to photographs, mementos and treasured belongings. Keep only what you truly love and truly need.

Hawthorne Commons and Redbud Commons offer one- and two-bedroom units (and some have dens) that are designed to be as solid as your single-family home. Vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors and open floor plans make for an enticing and homelike atmosphere—a great place to call home.

Enlist help, and remember to breathe.

“It really helps to have someone by your side, helping you stay focused,” Sisco says. “It could be someone from a moving company, a professional relocator, a friend, a neighbor or a family member.”

Relocation specialists will help you make the many decisions that come up when downsizing. They have practical ideas, they will encourage you, remind you to take breaks every now and then, and take on the tasks that you may find just too difficult.

Make it quick.

To avoid prolonging the unsettled feeling that often comes with  moving, try to unpack the boxes and get everything in place in a matter of a few days. This will help you to relax and enjoy your new place sooner.

Treplus Communities wants to welcome all of our residents into our Columbus apartment communities that have been designed just for them. Our management, concierge and maintenance staff will be ready to help you with anything you may need to feel more comfortable and at home. We love our communities, and hope you will, too!