Updated: Aug 8
Moving house at any time of life can seem like a daunting prospect and if downsizing is part of that process it can seem even more overwhelming.
For older clients, especially those living alone, it can be a real challenge going through a house full of belongings and deciding what to keep and what to let go of. Family members may not be local, or may not have the time or ability to help.
However, the good news is that downsizing doesn’t have to be a stressful process. We have helped many people in that situation, and have developed a good understanding of how to make the whole process easier and simpler.
We thought it might be helpful to highlight exactly how we can provide support during the downsizing process by means of a case study.
This is a real life client that we worked with recently and we hope that telling the story of how we worked with him and what we were able to help him with will be useful to others.
We were asked to assist an older gentleman with a move from a large 4 bedroom, detached house in the Cotswolds with garden and garage to a two bedroomed retirement apartment with no garden or garage.
He wisely contacted us some time prior to putting his house on the market, which meant that by decluttering and staging his property we could assist him with getting the best price and a quicker sale on his existing home.
The entire process was quite stressful for him, as not only was he leaving a much loved family home, but he had also experienced several close bereavements in a short space of time. We therefore had to work with patience and empathy while also being quite practical and encouraging.
We worked with this particular client over a period of about 18 months and during that time we gently decluttered his home with him. Some sessions were quite short as the decluttering process could be emotionally overwhelming, however it is always good to remember when in this situation that even short sessions push you further towards your goal.
Although we knew that the planned move would be to a smaller home, the actual property had not been identified when we first started working with him. We talked through what he wanted from the home he would move to, in terms of whether he wanted something on the ground floor, whether he wanted a garden or communal area, what facilities he wanted in the wider area, how much help he felt he would need close by and of course the layout of the accommodation itself. This was beneficial to him as it clarified in his mind what he wanted, and beneficial to us, as we were than able to better assist him in his search. We contacted relevant retirement complexes and agents to send brochures and details and then arranged viewings.
Alongside this we continued to help with decluttering his home. As he was downsizing there was a lot of kitchenware and other household items he no longer needed, as well as clothes, ornaments, old toys, household and garden tools, items of furniture, and so on.
We were able to take many of the smaller items we sorted during this time to local charity shops, and also assisted with offering/selling some of his things on Facebook. Some went to local preschools or other community groups. This is all part of our service and we always aim to "rehome" belongings rather than sending them for recycling or throwing them away. Although it can sometimes be hard to part with things, our client was comforted by the fact that others were benefiting from his unwanted items.
Once his destination home was identified we were able to start making decisions about the bigger items of furniture and white goods that he was not planning to take with him. There were several options open to us, depending on the condition of the piece:
Some charities will collect furniture to sell in their shops; however it is important to mention that upholstered pieces need to have a current fire label and the pieces need to be sellable.
With this particular client, his removal company offered a disposal service for larger items and this was the option chosen by our client. In fact this was part of the incentive package offered by the vendors of his new retirement home. While we feel this is a great option, decisions still need to be made about what to take and what to let go of, and this is something which we were able to help with.
If you are moving into a retirement community it is definitely worth checking all the extra services they are able to offer, and we are very happy to liaise with them to make this work smoothly.
For the other items that were not sellable we arranged for the local council to collect them for disposal. This was done by pre-booking a collection of up to 3 items and leaving them curb site for collection. There was a fee of £25 for this, which might vary depending on which council you come under.
Finally we obtained skips to help us clear the remainder of the unwanted and unsellable items from the garage, shed and garage. The great advantage to this is that it is a quick and convenient way of clearing. It is a good idea to plan the booking and filling of the skip to ensure that it is not sitting on your driveway costing you money for longer than needed.
We had to arrange for chemicals and paints to be collected by a disposal company as they are unable to go into a skip. However, it is possible to take these to your local recycling centre for safe disposal if you choose and this would be a cheaper option, although this is not something we can do on your behalf.
As the move drew closer, we met with the removal company and the client on site. This was a big help to our client as we were able to reassure him about how the whole process would work - after all, moving is something we have done many times!
We worked with our client to confirm what was to be packed and what should be disposed of. Stickers were put on all disposal items. We were able to pre-pack some of the more personal and sentimental items, even including an overnight bag with the things the client would need for his first night in his new home. The kitchenware, china, and other items were all professionally packed by the removal company.
We arranged for the house to be professionally cleaned once the client had moved out, so that it was left clean and tidy for the new people to move into.
On the day of the move we met the removal company on site. Whilst the packing and loading was being done we continued to sort, do a final quick clean and check all the rooms as they were emptied.
All items that needed immediate access on arrival at the new property were in a clearly marked box and loaded last so that it could be removed from the lorry first at the destination home. A kettle, mugs, and some biscuits for the removal crew being the most important items!
Our final task before locking up was to take photos of the gas, water and electricity meters final readings to pass to the client.
On this occasion moving in day at the new property was the following day. Despite it being some distance away from the Cotswolds, we were happy to help with this part of the process as well. We worked alongside the removal crew, with the clients family helping, to get the apartment ready for him to move into.
As with any house move the priority was to unpack the kitchen followed by the bedroom and bathroom. Our feeling is that as long as you have somewhere to eat and sleep, other unpacking can be done on the days following the move. Once the bedroom and kitchen were sorted we were able to continue on with the living room and spare bedroom. By the end of move day the apartment was mainly unpacked and looked homely and welcoming.
Several weeks later we were asked to return to help our client with the final pieces of unpacking which was a real delight for us as we were able to see that he was happy and settled in his new home.
We hope the above has given you some idea of the scope and depth of our services.
We really are able to help with all the different areas that need to be coordinated during a move:
Decluttering at a pace that suits each client
Helping to identify suitable properties
Staging the house ready for sale
Working with the removal company
Unpacking and making the new house feel like home
Of course each client is unique and we can flex our services to suit your needs and budget.
By using a professional service such as ours much of the overwhelm of downsizing can be alleviated, leaving you free to settle in and enjoy the process of creating your new, simplified life.
If you would like to have a chat about how we could help you with a forthcoming move, a general declutter or home organisation please contact Sue on 07989 603263 or Claire on 0772 0887205 or visit our website at www.newleaves.info