How to Stay Organized When Downsizing Your Home for Retirement

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We all know that moving is tough. Not only do you have to sort, pack and haul your items to their new destinations, but you have to let go of objects that hold sentimental value.

Staying organized through this process can seem close to impossible, but the key to a smooth transition into retirement is preparation.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Downsizing does not happen overnight. You will need plenty of time to sort, pack, and move your belongings. If you wait until the last minute, you are more likely to throw everything in boxes and have a huge mess to sort out in your new home.

Write a list of everything you cannot live without—all the things you really need, everything you love, and things that are irreplaceable. The list will help you stay organized and on track.

Enlist Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That could be physical help with moving boxes or emotional help with making the hard decisions. Sharing memories with your loved ones can make sorting and organizing less overwhelming.

Do you have so many belongings that you don’t know where to begin? Time to bring in the experts. Senior move managers are specially trained to help older adults through the process of downsizing. These professionals can help you develop your move plan, organize and sort your belongings, arrange the removal of unwanted items, and even unpack and set up your new home.

Measure Your New Space

Before you start to move, measure your new home. See exactly how much space you have to work with. Will your current furniture fit, or will you need to buy something new?

You have the opportunity to start fresh. Make organization a priority before you even move. Resist the urge to fill every corner with furniture—it will only create more places for clutter to pile up. Invest in organizational shelving and make sure everything has a place.

Divide into Piles

Go through each room of the house and methodically sort your items. Make large piles of items you don’t want to keep and then subdivide these into giveaway, throwaway, and sell piles.

Sorting can be the most difficult part of downsizing. It forces us to confront our own bad spending habits. Be realistic when deciding what you need. Those pants you bought five years ago with the price tag still on? The designer rug rolled up in the corner that you got on discount? What about the bread maker you got for Christmas one year? If you haven’t used these items yet, chances are you never will.

Don’t Forget Sentimental Value

You may not use it regularly, but does it bring you joy to own? Does it have a history that you can’t bear to part with? While you need to be strict with yourself when downsizing, you shouldn’t forget about sentimental value.  Don’t throw away anything you would regret later.

Create a separate pile for sentimental items and don’t let it get too big. Set the pile aside for a while, return to it later, and ask yourself again if you truly need it. To create lasting memories, you can always take a picture and then pass the item along to someone else.

Label Your Boxes

After you’ve given or thrown away what you’ve decided not to keep, you are left with what you want to bring. Do not try to fill all the empty space in your new home. Leave some room for future purchases—and to breathe.

With less stuff, it should be easier to sort your belongings and put them into labeled boxes. Try sorting by location—when you unpack, you can bring the boxes labeled ‘kitchen supplies’ right to where they need to be.

Keep Essentials Close

When moving, the last thing you want to discover is your medications got lost in the shuffle or that your favorite pillow got sorted into the donate pile.

Pack a bag of essentials like toiletries, reading glasses, medications, pajamas, and a change of clothing. Keep it separate from your moving boxes where you can easily get to it. You don’t want to be running to the store the first night in your new home because you can’t find anything you need.

Live with Less Stress

Downsizing into a new home can be a breath of fresh air. After all of the hard work, you can settle into your new place with just what you need, and no more.

Downsizing means less stuff to unpack when you arrive and less to clean once you get settled. It is easier to stay organized when you have designed your new home to be organized from the start. Be free from clutter and live your golden retirement years with ease.

 

**Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Create the Perfect Place for Kids to Dream and Play

Stylish light for kids room

image source: gcastd.org

 

Not many rooms in your home have such a huge design potential as a children’s bedroom. While living rooms and kitchens, for example, have to meet certain functional criteria and more rigid interior design rules, when decorating this room, you can often allow yourself much more creativity and freedom. This is because you are creating a one-of-a-kind space that reflects your child’s interests and personality. So let your imagination loose and involve your kids in the process to get the perfect bedroom for them to play, learn, and dream. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Kids Room 4

image source: decor.966v.com

A Corner to Play

Kids will always be kids whose favorite activity is to play. Try to set up a play area for them that they will love to spend time in. It does not have to be anything pretentious. Just a few toys and a colourful rug and you have already provided them endless hours of fun. Since play is an essential part of a child’s cognitive and motor development, make sure to add those toys that promote this development, such as building blocks, puzzles, balls, or musical instruments. But limit the number of toys in order to limit the amount of mess. And put plenty of baskets and shelves in the room with labels that will help your children put the toys back to their designated place after the playing time is over. This will teach your children organization from an early age.

Kids Room 2

image source: orkogold.com

A Corner to Learn

Setting up a cozy reading nook is the best way to encourage your little ones to read. Just like play, reading also improves imagination and other cognitive skills. And fostering the love for reading and learning in your kids will later make school a lot less stressful for all of you. Place a comfy chair in one corner of the room and install bookshelves at a hand’s reach, so your children could grab a book whenever they want to set out on a reading adventure. Don’t forget a good light! To reduce eyestrain, put the reading nook close to a window and install reading lamps for bedtime reading sessions.

Kids Room 5

image source: hgtv.com

A Corner to Create

Playing is fun and beneficial, but creating is even more so. Let your kiddos’ creativity reach its full potential by providing them with an art station. Stack this station with crayons, markers, collage paper, watercolours, notepads, and other art supplies that will inspire them. It is also an excellent idea to exhibit their artworks on the walls. This will lend a more personal feel to the room and make them feel proud.

Kids Room 3

image source: decor.966v.com

Whimsical Decoration

As we have already mentioned, a child’s bedroom is not meant to impress, but rather to amuse. This gives you the freedom to incorporate colors and décor details that you would not dare to use in any other room in your home. Wall decals are also a very popular detail in children’s bedrooms, since they are both effective and practical. If you are not artistic enough to paint a mural on your own, decals will do the job and you can take them down easily once your kids outgrow them. Wallpapers have also made a comeback. The colors and patterns of kids wallpaper are entirely up to your child’s preferences. You can also use leftovers from other rooms to make wallpaper collages. If you have not tried washi tape, you have to do it now. The things you can achieve with just a few rolls will leave you speechless. Besides, the tape is usually made of natural and recyclable materials like bamboo, hemp, tree bark, and rice, so it is completely child-friendly.

Your children will love and appreciate their personal space however you arrange it. Just keep in mind that safety comes first. So taking all measures of precaution should be your primary concern, especially if your kids are still toddlers.

**Lana Hawkins is an architecture student from Sydney. She enjoys writing about interior decoration and renovation, which she does regularly for Smooth Decorator. Lana is interested in sustainability and green building, as well as landscaping.

Happy Homeowners: The Wedemeyer Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Blog” is about Rebeca Wedemeyer, who purchased her new home in our Crown community in Maryland over a year and a half ago. Rebeca’s shared with us some of her thoughts and experiences with M/I’s building process!

Rebeca

Rebeca and Maxi

M/I HomesIs this your first M/I home? What convinced you to choose M/I over another builder?

Rebeca: This is my first M/I home. The floorplan and layout are what sold me – hands down. It was creative and current and struck the right balance of relaxed and sophisticated.

M/I HomesWhat is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

RebecaI have the Picasso plan. There are several features I love. Unlike many townhome layouts, the front door (which is on the ground floor) opens to a spacious and well-lit family room. It’s perfect for inviting neighbors in for a glass of wine at the spur of the moment – which I do often!  Also, the main level has an open floorplan with plenty of windows that are perfect for entertaining and just as perfect for a relaxed night at home. And of course, the rooftop terrace and loft are delightful. Finally, I absolutely love the windows. They are virtually floor to ceiling and there are plenty of them!

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Plenty of windows in this fabulous living room!

M/I HomesOverall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

RebecaI had a great experience. I moved from across the street and had had my eye on this development and the specific lot I picked. I got to start from scratch and select features to my taste.

M/I HomesDo you have any fun memories from building process?

RebecaLike most of us, I’m busy so I was glad the process was smooth and hassle-free. That said, some of the guys on the job got a big kick of me and Maxi (my 5-pound fox terrier) visiting the site often. I guess that’s the hazard of living across the street. They always seemed to enjoy the break!

M/I HomesWas there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

RebecaThe community itself is very well-designed. But when I saw the M/I Picasso model, I was sold!

M/I HomesWhat do you like about your neighborhood / community?

RebecaThere are several things I like about the community. First, there is plenty of space between homes. We have two-car garages and driveways which means there’s quite a bit of space between you and the neighbors behind you. It’s quite spacious in the front as well which is very unique in a townhome community. Also, they’ve done a great job creating green spaces and meeting places throughout the community. I have an end unit which overlooks a large landscaped brick pathway which leads right downtown. Neighbors and I will often meet on the benches to chat.

M/I HomesAnything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

RebecaWell, I would say the old adage – location, location, location – holds true. It’s worth your time to ensure that the location itself meets your lifestyle. Not only the general community but also the lot itself. I chose a “premium” lot with extra charges that were hefty. My friends thought I was nuts! Now that I’ve been here for a year and a half, they all get it. I’ve got the most beautiful views of green spaces and because I’m located literally in the center of the community on the walkway, I know all of my neighbors. I think sometimes people can be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to buying a house but living space and community are very important to me and there are few investments as reliable as real-estate. So why not live where you want.

M/I HomesWhat is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

RebecaI have organized three block parties since I’ve lived here. Without a doubt meeting all my wonderful neighbors and helping to build a positive community has been a real blessing.

M/I HomesWhat is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space that you would like to share?

RebecaThat’s a tricky one. I have several “favorite spaces” which is one thing I love so much about the home. In the mornings, I love sitting downstairs on the first floor with my morning cup of coffee. The paint colors look beautiful in the morning sun and unlike many ground floors, it is always cozy. On most evenings, I like curling up on the couch in the living room. I can see the entire community and often passing neighbors will look up to see if I’m around and want to come walk dogs together. In the winters, Maxi and I love the family room fireplace (off the kitchen) and we tend to spend a lot of time there. I also often work from home and have built my office right into the main living area. It’s beautiful. Finally, the kitchen is one of my favorite spots. It’s both beautiful and well-designed. I often use the expansive island as my “standup office,” and of course, when I have people over, we rarely make it to any other part of the house!

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Rebeca’s spacious kitchen and large island

M/I HomesWhat was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

RebecaI’m fairly decisive and have had a new home built before so I didn’t have any surprises. No surprises is a good thing!

M/I HomesAny suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

RebecaI’d suggest asking to meet a homeowner or two with your same home plan. Most people are happy to show off their new home and they can often answer simple questions for you and also let you know what they’d do differently, if anything. Also, and this applies to any builder, take a risk and upgrade some features that are important to you. You’d be surprised how much a few key aspects can change the entire feel of your home. For me, I wanted the top of the line hardwood, kitchen cabinets, and iron pickets for my stairs but was just fine with the basics on other options.

**Rebeca lives in the DC area. When she’s not relaxing in her lovely M/I home with her dog Maxi, she can be found socializing with her neighbors.

Thinking About Buying in Chicago?

By Tali Wee

If you’re considering moving to Chicago anytime soon, you’ll be glad to know that it’s ranked one of the top buyers markets and best places for first-time buyers.

The housing market across the country is still highly competitive, outpricing first-time buyers who typically have smaller down payments than other shoppers or investors. Zillow evaluated major metros nationwide to determine markets with the most opportunity for first-time buyers, looking at home values, affordability, inventory and the amount of competition from all-cash buyers. Chicago was ranked fifth, with a median home value of $203,700. Homeowners in Chicago spend 14 percent of their income on their mortgages.

Homes move so quickly in many markets that shoppers must make snap decisions to compete, leading to a stressful or regretful experience. Fortunately, inventory is high in Chicago, allowing buyers time to shop around before making the serious decision to purchase. Chicago ranks second in the country as the best buyers’ market for 2016. The extensive inventory grants buyers more negotiating power with sellers. Plus, sellers offer more price cuts to prevent homes from sitting on the market too long.

If you’re less interested in available properties and more drawn to custom homes, the city also offers several new construction developments. Burlington Meadows is a small community in North Naperville offering single-family homes, wooded views, and spacious backyards. Lehigh Station is also in Dupage County, in Aurora, offering more contemporary townhomes surrounded by walking paths and quick access to retail and restaurants.

The Lakewood Prairie community is located in Joliet, about 45 miles southwest of the Chicago Loop, offering single-family homes along with a club house including a pool, tennis court, sand volleyball area, and playground. Kearney Glen, near Lakewood Prairie, is a new development of single-family homes with open floorplans, offering community attractions such as a pond and playground. Depending on what you’re looking for, you should be able to actualize your dream home in one of the many communities near Chicago.

Whether you’re customizing a new home, landing a move-in-ready property or adding your own touch to a fixer-upper, you’re likely to have some of the best buying luck in Chicago this year. 

For reference:

Top Buyers’ Markets

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Chicago
  3. Baltimore
  4. Hartford, CT
  5. New York/Northern New Jersey
  6. Miami
  7. Indianapolis
  8. Jacksonville, FL
  9. Virginia Beach, VA
  10. Orlando, FL

Best Places for First-Time Home Buyers

  1. Indianapolis, IN
  2. Pittsburgh, PA
  3. Memphis, TN
  4. Cleveland, OH
  5. Chicago, IL
  6. Oklahoma City, OK
  7. Louis, MO
  8. Houston, TX
  9. Tampa, FL
  • Birmingham, AL

Happy Homeowners: The Lawrence Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Interview” features Nichole and Jason Lawrence, who bought their home in Cincinnati.  The Lawrence family shared their experience of the entire homebuilding process with M/I Homes, from choosing their homesite to making interior design choices and were excited to share their experience with us!

View More: http://marialynnphotography.pass.us/lawrence

M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Nichole: Yes, this is our first M/I Home. The quality of an MI Home is what really stood out to us. Some of our family members have built custom homes and we felt that M/I’s quality felt custom. We would choose M/I again and again.

M/I Homes: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

Nichole: We could not be happier with our home!! We are so thrilled with how easy the process was and how beautiful our home turned out. Its better than we imagined.

M/I Homes: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

Nichole: We built the Sorrel Classic floorplan. We love how open the kitchen is to the family room and the morning room. We also love the loft on the second floor. It’s a great place to watch movies and hang out as a family. And of course my personal favorite is the fact we have TWO walk in closets in the master bedroom. I love all the space and storage in this home!

M/I Homes: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

Nichole: Our M/I experience was fantastic! Everyone we worked with was top notch! We picked our lot and the floor plan and we built the home. This was our first time building a home and M/I did a great job communicating the process and answering any questions we had.

M/I Homes: Do you have any fun memories from building process?

Nichole: We loved the Design Center experience. Being able to go to M/I’s beautiful Design Center and picking out our options was so much fun. We also enjoyed seeing the house progress every week. My husband and I would meet after work every Friday at the house to see what was done that week. It was so cool watching the house progress and taking photos. We have a great photo gallery of our house being built that we will be able to look back on.

M/I Homes: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

Nichole: We saw our floorplan as a model home in one of M/I’s communities in Lebanon. We fell in love instantly. As soon as we walked into the model I could see our family in that home and I knew at that moment I wanted to build.

M/I Homes: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

Nichole: We were the first ones to move into the community. Its been so great watching the community grow and getting new neighbors! The location of Greenshire Commons is one of the best features. Its so close to the highway and to our family and friends. Also, the view is stunning. We have seen some beautiful sunsets since we have moved in.

M/I Homes: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

Nichole: Think long term. My husband and I know we will be in this home for a long time, so when we were building and choosing our options, we tried to think about what we will need in the future so we don’t outgrow the home too quickly.

M/I Homes: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

Nichole: We had my son’s 2nd Birthday party at our new home a couple weeks after we moved it. It was so great to be able to fit all of our family in one space!

M/I Homes: What is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space that you would like to share?

Nichole: One of my favorite spaces is our kitchen. I love our huge island and our double oven. The kitchen has so much space and storage room. We love it!

Lawrence Kitchen

M/I Homes: What was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

Nichole: How easy the process was. M/I was a great builder to work with. I expected it to be more stressful but everything went smoothly and I felt like M/I did a great job taking care of us through the entire process.

M/I Homes: Any suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

Nichole: As I said before, think long term and ENJOY the process. Building our home was so much fun and it was a great experience. There will be hiccups along the way, but M/I does a great job at explaining the process and getting things taken care of that may go wrong. At the end of the day, we have a beautiful home that our family will create a lot of memories in for years to come.

***Nichole and Jay have been together for 14 years, married 8. They met while they were working at Penn Station Subs together. They have a 2 year old son named Aiden and a boxer named Kimi. They were both born and raised in Cincinnati, on the West Side! They lived in Chicago for a couple years after graduating college, then moved back home to be close to family (like true west-siders). They both enjoy running and biking and they try to compete in a couple races a year.

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