Maybe you’ve been dreaming of leaving the city’s frenetic pace behind for retirement in the country. Or you’ve recently begun to hear the siren’s call of condo living beckoning you to scale back.

As retirement gets closer, kids grow up, and lifestyles change, people tend to think about what’s next. For a lot of us, that means packing up the family home and finding a spot to live happily ever after. While it can be a lot of fun to envision your retirement pad, there’s a lot to consider before making the move. Whatever the reason, if you’re thinking about downsizing, we’re here to help.

Set Some Goals

As is the case with many of life’s major events, having a plan in place can go a long way to help ensure a smooth transition. Some of the key things to consider include:

  • Money- as in, how much you want to spend, what you expect to get for your current house, whether you want to rent or purchase, and so on. Is your retirement well-funded? Are your savings sufficient? These are all things you need to know.
  • Time- Is this something that needs to happen now or would you feel better having downsizing as a long term goal?
  • Lifestyle needs- do you anticipate going car-free? Is close proximity to restaurants and cultural hubs important? Do you want to be near family and friends? Think about your current wants and future needs and add them to your list.

Do Some Research

Thinking about downsizing is well and good but you need to know what to expect. What do real estate prices look like in the area you’re interested in? What are real estate prices looking like where you currently live?

Talking to a licensed real estate professional can help you make sense of the rapidly changing markets and give you an idea of what makes the most sense for you.

Start Scaling Back

A great way to prepare for the transition to a smaller space is to start downsizing your possessions well in advance. This is a good time to take stock of what you have, what you need, and what you can do without.

Thinking about getting rid of items you’ve had for decades can be hard but realistically, you can’t bring it all with you. Think about having a yard sale, donating, or helping your newly independent kids get a start by passing on some furniture and housewares. Not only is decluttering an important step in the downsizing process, it can be incredibly cathartic.

Get Your Affairs In Order

Downsizing provides a great excuse to make sure that you’ve got your ducks in a row. This is the time to revisit your will, talk to your family about capacity planning, and take stock of your finances.

Getting help from a pro can go a long way in providing peace of mind and ensure that you get things right the first time. Working with a lawyer who is well-versed in both estate planning and real estate can save you a lot of time and mitigate issues before they arise.

Whatever downsizing looks like for you, make sure that you set yourself up for success. Taking the time to do things right usually pays off in the end.