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One step at a time

Charlestown’s moving expert offers valuable tips that take the stress out of downsizing

Created date

October 11th, 2017
Vera Ballard

Charlestown Personal Moving Consultant Vera Ballard has helped hundreds of people move to the popular Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md.


Over the last four decades, the average size of a new home in the U.S. increased by more than 1,000 square feet from an average size of 1,660 square feet in 1973 to 2,687 square feet in 2015. 

For many Americans, having more space means having more stuff. In fact, the self-storage industry has been the fastest-growing segment of the commercial real estate field for four decades running; nearly one of every ten households currently rents a storage facility. That’s four times as many self-storage facilities in the U.S. as Starbucks.

More and more seniors are finding happiness isn’t measured by square footage and discovering the benefits of downsizing to a smaller home. But how do you organize and declutter a house you’ve lived in for 30, 40, or even 50 years? 

Start small

The answer: Rome wasn’t built in a day; the key is to start small. Then, whether you plan on one day downsizing to a more manageable home, relocating to a retirement community, or retiring and traveling abroad, the hard work will already be behind you.

Every Erickson Living community, like Charlestown in Catonsville, Md., has its own local personal moving consultant who provides complimentary coordination of all realty and moving needs, including downsizing, home staging, packing, and selection of a real estate professional.

As part of that service, Charlestown Personal Moving Consultant Vera Ballard provides in-home consultations to assess priority list members’ downsizing needs and also works closely with accredited downsizing and staging professionals to make each person’s move to Charlestown effortless and stress-free. 

Here are some tips from Ballard to help you get started:

Set aside time. Plan to only spend one hour each day sorting through your things. It can be an emotional activity, so don’t overdo it.

Organization is key. Stay organized by creating five groups: items to keep, items to be sold, items for charity, items for family members, items to throw out.

Take inventory. As you box up things, make a running list to post on the outside of the box so you know exactly what’s inside without opening it and removing the contents.

Measure twice, move once. Figuring what to keep can be a challenge. If you already have plans to move, it’s helpful to get a floor plan of your new space with measurements of each room. This will help you determine what you can comfortably fit. 

Think it through. If you can’t make a decision on what to do with an item, set it aside until you can give it further thought.

Love it or list it. Arrange for an estate sales agent to hold a sale for those items you would like to sell. Or try selling items on eBay or through local consignment shops where they sell your items and you receive a percentage of the sold price. 

All in the family. Make a list of all the heirlooms and items you would like to stay in the family. Send each family member a list asking them to mark which items they would be interested in and send it back to you. Then organize a family get-together so you can distribute those items. Be sure to share your memories before giving them the item so they know and understand its importance. This will make them appreciate your generosity even more.

Baby steps. Dispose of items gradually each time you determine which items to throw out. This way you’re not overwhelmed with bags and bags of trash to remove all at once. 

Get the picture. Take photos of important things you will leave behind. This might make the “letting go” process much easier.

End goal. Remember why you’re organizing. The goal is to simplify your life. So whether you’re just toying with the idea of downsizing or ready to box up everything and hit the road, getting a head start on organizing will pay off in the long run.  

If you are considering a move to Charlestown and would like more information on how Erickson Realty and Moving Services can help you, call 1-800-481-0935 today. It all starts with a simple in-home consultation to assess your specific needs and customize a plan tailored just for you.